House of Commons Hansard #142 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

7:30 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, because the hon. member brought up the tragic history of the Liberals in government between 1993 and 2006, I thought I would ask him if he is as concerned as I am about the hidden agenda of the protest party opposite with respect to trade. I know when the Liberals were in opposition many years ago, they too were concerned about trade. They said that they would cancel NAFTA and all of our trade agreements, but as soon as they got into power, they realized how important trade was to the economy.

We have heard the member for London—Fanshawe talk about how bad NAFTA is for Canada. She seemed to imply that the NDP would cancel that agreement. I wonder if he has some comments on cancelling trade agreements.

I will be meeting with the Liberal member of the provincial legislature this weekend. The Liberal government in Ontario is cutting thousands of jobs. I wonder what advice the member would give to me so that I can speak to the Liberal member of the provincial legislature. Perhaps I could have a copy of his speech so I could give it to the Liberal member of the provincial legislature.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not play games here. If he wants to read my speech, he can get Hansard tomorrow morning and provide it to anyone. He can get a paper copy or get it electronically; it is up to him.

I personally always have been pro trade. I believe that as a trading nation, we are advantaged by having trade agreements that are respected both by us and the countries with which we have the trade agreements. I have had some difficulties with the way the Americans have treated the free trade agreement because sometimes I wonder if, indeed, they see it as free trade as opposed to trade that suits them. We have had these kinds of experiences.

As a trading nation, we benefit from trade agreements. As long as trade agreements are fair, negotiated openly and transparently and are respected, no one will have any problems with me.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 18th, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Brampton West.

I am thankful for the opportunity to stand and support Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and the important measures it takes to enact economic action plan 2012.

Specifically, I would l like to speak to two important sets of amendments in this bill that would impact telecommunications consumers and help attract foreign investment. Both of these are important components of the Conservative government's ongoing plan for Canadian jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

This long-term focus rings especially true in the case of the government's agenda in telecommunications and in foreign investment. Indeed, the amendments put forward to both the Investment Canada Act and the Telecommunications Act in Bill C-38 would promote investment and innovation and would strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers and families. Moreover, the measures contained in the bill would create jobs and promote long-term prosperity in every region of this great nation.

I would like to begin by addressing the changes that Bill C-38 would make to the Telecommunications Act.

I think all members in this House would agree that the Canadian telecommunications sector has entered a critical phase of its development. The private sector is beginning to make significant decisions on massive capital investments across the range of Canada's telecommunications services. Our government's job is to ensure that an appropriate regulatory framework is in place, one that encourages both investment and competition to ensure that Canadians have access to high-speed broadband networks and innovative wireless services at competitive prices.

Our government is building on our strong record of encouraging greater competition and consumer choice in telecommunications. That is why this past March we announced a series of new measures for the telecommunications sector designed to prepare the sector for the expected growth and transformation on the horizon.

These measures included the reform of foreign investment restrictions and the release of a framework for the upcoming 700 megahertz and 2,500 megahertz spectrum options. Furthermore, our government will improve and extend the existing policy on roaming and tower sharing to further support competition and slow the proliferation of new cellphone towers for the benefit of all Canadians.

These reforms, which our government has developed, consulted on and announced as part of our comprehensive approach to the telecommunications industry, are now before the House today as part of Bill C-38. These amendments to the Telecommunications Act would lift foreign investment restrictions for telecom companies that hold less than a 10% share of the total Canadian telecommunications market, supporting access to capital for the companies that need it most.

Let me be clear. Our government is working to promote greater investment and competition in our telecommunications sector. We are not lifting foreign investment restrictions for broadcasting. This change has been the subject of extensive consultations by our government, and has been recommended by two external review bodies, the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel and the Competition Policy Review Panel.

Again, the changes proposed in Bill C-38 reflect both the feedback received through consultations and the work of the independent review panels. It is little wonder they have been so warmly welcomed.

As Mobilicity, a Canadian wireless provider, told the finance committee during its study of Bill C-38:

[We support], with open arms, the changes to foreign ownership rules. Easing foreign ownership restrictions can potentially make raising capital easier, or decrease some of the costs to capital.... If easing foreign ownership can lower the interest on borrowing--or the cost of capital--by one dollar for Mobilicity, this is one extra dollar that Mobilicity can use elsewhere to lower plan costs, improve the network, or bring a better quality of services to Canadians.

I would also like to briefly address the portion of Bill C-38 related to the do not call list. These changes would reinforce the government's commitment to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.

The do not call list allows Canadian consumers to register free of charge to reduce the number of unsolicited telephone calls they receive. Telemarketers are prohibited from calling consumers who are registered on the list. To date, the list has more than 10.7 million registered phone numbers.

Currently, the operation of the national do not call list is fully funded by telemarketers, while investigation and enforcement costs are funded by taxpayers. The amendments put forward as part of Bill C-38 would allow the CRTC to recover the cost of do not call list investigations and enforcement from the telemarketing industry itself, and not ask taxpayers to foot the bill. The CRTC would be permitted to establish fees for this purpose.

I have spoken about the important changes to the Telecommunications Act, but I would now like to take a few minutes to speak about the proposed changes to the Investment Canada Act, changes that would enhance transparency and the review process while continuing to promote job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity in Canada.

Once again, I think all members of the House can agree that foreign investment brings with it benefits to our economy and to Canadians all across the country. Canada has the fortune of being one of the top destinations in the world in which to invest and do business. What does that mean for Canadians? The fact is that foreign investment encourages high-paying jobs for Canadians and brings some of the most productive and specialized firms in the world to Canada.

It is important to remember that foreign investment works both ways. For Canadian businesses to expand and compete successfully throughout the world, we must demonstrate to our trading partners that we understand protectionism is not the path to economic growth. Our government has fostered a long-standing reputation for welcoming foreign investment. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that significant investments will continue to be reviewable under the Investment Canada Act.

The amendments proposed in this bill would provide the Minister of Industry with a greater ability to publicly communicate information on the review process while preserving commercial confidences. The amendments would allow the minister to disclose publicly the fact that he has sent a preliminary notice to an investor that he is not satisfied that the investment is likely to be one of net benefit to Canada. This would also allow the minister to publicly explain his reasons for sending the notice as long as it would not prejudice the Canadian business or the investor. These amendments strike the correct balance between transparency and confidentiality.

As Philippe Bergevin of the C.D. Howe Institute told the finance committee during the study of Bill C-38:

--I believe the measures are positive.... The measures that are aimed at facilitating the disclosure information....are definitely welcome steps. Increased transparency enhances predictability in the application....which obviously is positive for both investors and the public at large.

I have spoken about how the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill would improve competition in foreign investment rules to reaffirm Canada's growing reputation as a destination to do business. These amendments are part of an integrated and forward-looking policy and investment promotion agenda in economic action plan 2012, which underpins our agenda for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

In closing, to keep our economy strong in a time of global uncertainty, I strongly urge all hon. members to lend their support to this important piece of legislation.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions to ask the hon. member who just finished speaking.

I am particularly interested in telecommunications. I worked in public policy in that field.

I think two aspects of the budget and the budget implementation bill pose a real problem. The first concerns auctions and involves the decision to forget the good we did in the last auction, in 2007—if I remember correctly, it was the AWS spectrum—and to allow set asides, the band frequencies reserved for new entrants so that they can be competitive. The government's decision will give the three companies—Bell, Telus and Rogers—a major advantage over new entrants, which is quite problematic.

The second aspect concerns the provision allowing companies with less than 10% of the market to be sold to foreign interests. What will happen if a company—such as Vidéotron or WIND Mobile—is eventually bought and attains 15% of the market, while another company, such as Bell, Telus or Rogers, drops to 15%? Will these two companies play with different rules, even though they have the share of the market?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, just to review, the measures in Bill C-38 included the reform of foreign investment restrictions and the release of a framework for the upcoming 700 megahertz and 2,500 megahertz spectrum auctions. Furthermore, as the member opposite knows, our government would improve and extend the existing policy on roaming and tower sharing to further support competition with all companies and slow the proliferation of new cell phone towers for the benefit of all Canadians.

These reforms that our government has acted on were through consultations with companies all over the world and were announced as a comprehensive approach to the telecommunications industry and have the support of many of the players in the telecommunications industry.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member might be able to provide some comment. People from coast to coast have a great deal of concern with respect to the government's decision to increase seniors' eligibility to retire from age 65 to 67 and why the government has made the decision to go in that direction, ultimately believing that Canada is in a financial position today, and will continue to be into the future, of being able to provide senior support at age 65. I wonder if the member would comment on that issue.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure seniors are supported, and by raising the eligibility in the year 2023, which gives us lots of time to prepare, we will be able to maintain that support for seniors.

Raising the age from 65 to 67, in answer to the member's question, is imperative because we want the financial support to be there for seniors. We cannot think about just today. A good, solid, stable government thinks into the future to provide all Canadians with financial stability.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague a question regarding feedback she may be receiving from her constituents. She is a great member of Parliament who is very well connected, spends a lot of time in her constituency and listens very closely to her constituents. I am wondering if she could comment on their reaction to the display we saw last week when the opposition used very extreme tactics to delay this bill and the implementation of a piece of legislation that would create jobs and further our economic growth. Were her constituents supportive of those kinds of delay tactics or are they looking for our government to continue on the path we have set out, where jobs, growth and the economy are our focus and priority?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents said that it was interesting to note that in 2010 the opposition parties allowed the 2010 budget, which was actually 900 pages, to pass. That was twice as long as the 2012 budget, which is 450 pages. Since the Conservatives had a minority, the opposition could have significantly changed the budget or voted down the budget then. Yet in 2010, they put forward 62 amendments and let the budget pass. Here we were the other night sitting saying the same thing over and over again.

The feedback from my constituents is that our government is doing the job, getting the job done, and they want this bill passed.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing her time with me today, so I can add my voice to the debate on Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. I know this piece of legislation has had substantial debate in the House, despite the cries from the opposition that it has not. We have had extensive debate, so I will try to find a way to add my own unique perspective, although I suspect we may be going over some well-tilled soil today. I will talk about creating jobs, balancing the budget, OAS, reforms to EI and research and development.

Creating jobs has always been a priority for our government and we lead the G7. We have created 760,000 net new jobs. The vast majority of these are full-time, well-paying jobs. However, that is not enough. We are going to move forward with an enhanced labour market focus and a number of targeted investments that would help respond to the current labour market challenges and meet the longer-term labour needs.

These are some of the highlights: $50 million would be invested over two years in the youth employment strategy to help young people gain the necessary skills and experience; $6 million would be invested to expand the third-quarter project to key centres across the country to help employers find experienced workers who are over the age of 50; $21 million would be spent over two years to help unemployed Canadians find jobs more quickly. The investment would enhance the content and timelines of the job and labour market information that is provided to Canadians who are searching for employment. Finally, $30 million over three years would go into the opportunities fund to enable more Canadians with disabilities to obtain work experience with small and medium-size businesses.

In addition, we are on track and will continue to balance the budget. It is an important part, to keep tax low and keep our debt low. Over the past year, we have found fair, balanced and moderate savings measures to reduce the deficit. Overall, the savings we have found represent less than 2% of program spending and less than 0.3% of the economy. In fact, over 70% of the savings found are in operational efficiencies, such as reducing travel expenses by using virtual tools such as teleconferencing and video conferencing; reducing duplication across departments by combining administrative functions such as human resources, financial services and IT; and of course one of the things driven by the Treasury Board, replacing paper publications with online content.

We also have to look at OAS. Our government is committed to sustainable social programs and a secure retirement for Canadians. The facts on OAS are absolutely clear. The number of Canadians over age 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million over the next 20 years. The OAS program was built when Canadians were not living the longer, healthier lives they are living today. Consequently, the cost of the OAS program will increase from $36 billion in 2010 to $108 billion in 2030. Meanwhile, by 2030 the number of taxpayers for every retired person will be down to two from four, as it stands currently. In order to ensure the sustainability of OAS, the age of eligibility would be gradually raised to 67 starting in 2023 and would be fully implemented by 2029. We have ensured that all Canadians would receive substantial notice of these changes so they could plan for their future. Despite the fearmongering we hear from the members on the opposite side, these changes would not affect any current retirees or anybody who is close to retirement. The proposed changes to OAS would put it on a sustainable path so it would be there for Canadians when they need it.

Going forward we plan to provide certainty with respect to EI premiums, because businesses need certainty, especially small businesses.

We would limit any increases in EI to 5¢ each year until the EI operating account is balanced. Once the EI operating account is balanced, any future increases would be limited to a maximum of 5¢. Small business drives the economy and it needs this certainty.

In addition, we have agreed to extend the temporary hiring credit for small businesses. This would be available to approximately 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were at or below $10,000 in 2011. We would reduce small business payroll costs by approximately $205 million.

In addition to the legislative matters in Bill C-38, it also includes investments. There would be $74 million to ensure that EI claimants benefit from accepting work and $387 million to align the calculations of EI benefits with local labour market conditions.

We all know that to have a successful economy we have to have a competitive economy, and one of the key drivers for a competitive economy is research and development. Since 2006, our government has invested $8 billion in research and development.

In October of 2011, the expert panel submitted a report to the government with its findings on how we could improve the R and D program in Canada to help our companies grow and become globally competitive. The economic action plan begins to implement the expert panel's recommendations. We would invest $1.1 billion over five years for direct research and development support and make available $500 million for venture capital. We would also include $400 million to help increase private sector investments in early stage risk capital and to support the creation of large scale venture capital funds led by the private sector. We would invest $100 million to the BDC to support its venture capital activities; $110 million to double the supports to companies through the industrial research assistance program; $14 million over two years to double the industrial research and development internship program; $95 million over three years, starting in 2013-14 and $40 million per year after that, to make the Canadian innovation commercialization project permanent and to add a military procurement component. There would also be $67 million in 2012-13 as it refocuses on business-led, industry relevant research.

There would also be changes to the environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. These changes are designed to streamline projects so that we would have security and knowledge when we are moving forward with our investments. There would be time limits set for the assessments, so that businesses have certainty as to when they would be able to move forward with their projects. That would stimulate investment in this country, especially in the resource sector where we have to move forward.

There is a requirement that opportunities for public participation be provided during the assessments and that participant funding and a public registry, including an Internet site and documents, would be established.

Economic action plan 2012 proposes $50 million over two years to protect wildlife species at risk. The Species at Risk Act is one of the government's main conservation tools to protect wildlife species and maintain healthy ecosystems and preserve Canada's natural heritage.

There is so much in this piece of legislation to support. Surely there are things in the legislation that even members on the opposite side, who vote against virtually every piece of government legislation and have voted against every budget we have put forward, can find something to support and will support us on this budget.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right; there is so much in the budget. Sure there is some good stuff in the budget, but there is a lot of bad stuff in the budget. One of the other members mentioned it a while ago; it is what is hidden in the budget.

Let us just check it out. On the OAS, which the member has spoken of, it would be much more difficult for people to receive their OAS when they should. Is he not concerned with the fact that today we found out that there are more seniors living in poverty? Is that not a reason why we should have kept the OAS at age 65?

Perhaps he could advise me and clarify the record. If people are only able to receive their CPP disability until age 65, would that be extended to age 67? Perhaps he could also talk about the impact that would have on the provinces, especially on social services.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we brought forward the largest increase in the guaranteed income supplement in 20 years to support our seniors, and as I said in my speech, nobody who is currently retired is going to be affected by the changes to OAS.

Why do we need the changes in OAS? The opposition can keep saying we do not need to have the changes. However, at least since the mid-1980s we have known we were going to have to do something. We knew that back in 1997 when we did revisions to the CPP. At the time, we were doing so much that we did not think we could add one more layer, so we did not do it, although we certainly talked about it. We did not do it at the time because we were doing so much else.

We have to get it done. Who said that? David Dodge, the former governor of the Bank of Canada. We stand on good authority when we say that changes need to be made to the OAS system.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the weekend I was in my community. I was speaking with a Ph.D. in a science area. I will not be too specific because I do not want to compromise this individual.

He is a researcher. He is scandalized by the changes the government has made through this budget to the funding of science in Canada. Essentially what he told me was that the government has changed its approach from one of funding research that would develop and choose its own winners and losers to a situation of the government now choosing its pet projects. That seems to me to contradict the whole philosophy and ideology of the party opposite, which is to let the free market flourish and let winners and losers emerge by themselves.

I would like the member's comments on that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

7:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question was.

We believe in science-based research, absolutely, on this side of the House. My friend is talking about the environment, and I am happy to have the opportunity to talk a little about the environment. Let us talk about a few things.

Since 2006, there has been $1.1 billion for the eco-energy home retrofit program, $1 billion for priorities such as green energy generation and transmission, $1 billion to support pulp and paper mills to reduce greenhouse gases.

That is just a start. I could keep going. I do not think my friend wants me to—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.