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

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, we certainly recognize that is a busy area, which is why there will be additional resources in terms of structures and supports in that area for the busy season.

However, we need to look at the bigger picture. We see what is happening in Europe. There are two things which we as a government have to do. One is modest reductions in all departments. We are looking for 5% to 10% in savings. Two is that we need to get back to a balanced budget. We cannot hand over a deficit and a debt to our children. Every single department has made some very modest savings that will move us in the direction of getting back to a balanced budget by 2015-16, which is absolutely critical for the long-term future of our citizens.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to recognize why we oppose the budget. It is not just because it contains economic measures that will not help Canadians at all, but because it contains a wide range of measures that will in no way create jobs and growth, no matter what the government claims.

This is particularly true of clause 602 of Bill C-38. If my colleague has read the budget, she will have seen that clause 602 eliminates the clause of the Employment Equity Act that applies to companies bidding on federal government contracts.

Can my colleague explain how eliminating a clause that allows the government to ensure employment equity for women will create jobs and growth?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I sat in the finance committee and listened to officials explain in very great depth and detail each of the clauses and why they are common sense changes. We are not going to have a giant, red tape, up-front process. Anyone who has a contract with the government will need to have an equity plan as part of the contract. We are trying to reduce red tape and the burden on businesses, but in absolutely no way impacting the important issues around employment equity.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House today to support Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act.

Last week the opposition tried to block the vital measures contained in Canada's economic action plan 2012, which was first introduced in this chamber nearly four months ago. Since then, Bill C-38 has received the longest House debate and committee consideration of any budget bill over the past two decades. Indeed, it was reviewed for nearly 70 hours at finance committee and at a specially created subcommittee which heard from literally hundreds of witnesses.

Unfortunately, last week the NDP’s only concern was to delay and defeat Bill C-38.

It is not only our government that finds these tactics appalling, but Canadians right across the country do as well. Indeed, a recent Toronto Sun editorial summarized the NDP's actions as follows:

[The NDP leader's] hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame...vowing to delay the passing of... [economic action plan 2012] by playing silly [games]...with amendments and procedure....

Let us be clear. Economic action plan 2012 increases support for families, the backbone of communities from coast to coast to coast. Through the introduction of Bill C-38 our government is building our strong record of support for families across the country. These measures include, but are not limited to, the creation of the universal child care benefit, the family caregiver tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit, the children's arts tax credit, and the introduction of the landmark tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs. These measures build on an impressive record of tax relief for Canadian families.

Since 2006, our Conservative government has cut taxes over 140 times, removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls, increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free, and reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. These measures have made an appreciable difference for families all across the country. In fact, they have put over $3,100 back into the pocket of the average Canadian family.

It is little wonder that under our Conservative government tax freedom day is now over two weeks earlier than in the last year of the previous Liberal government. Our government did this without slashing federal transfers for health or education like the previous Liberal government in the 1990s did.

Unlike the opposition, we support a low-tax plan that leaves more money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families. In this bill, our government is committed to maintaining its strong record of supporting and standing up for Canadian families. That is why moving forward with economic action plan 2012 is so important.

Bill C-38 improves the registered disability savings plan, the RDSP, giving peace of mind to Canadian families by helping to ensure the long-term financial security of children with severe disabilities. Most importantly, the legislation improves access to RDSPs.

Due to provincial legislation currently in force in certain provinces, some people with intellectual disabilities are barred from opening RDSPs without compromising their legal status. This means that in order to access the plans, they would be required to be declared legally incompetent. This is time consuming and emotionally challenging and could result in unintended consequences for individuals and their families. This is an unfair imposition on disabled Canadians and their families and we are working with the provinces to correct this. In the meantime, Bill C-38 will allow a family member to open an RDSP on a relative's behalf without that individual being declared legally incompetent.

This measure has been very warmly received by the Canadian disability community. Indeed, listen to what Laurie Larson, president of the Canadian Association for Community Living, had to say:

[T]he Government of Canada heard the message of people with disabilities and their families across the country. These changes mean that people will no longer be pushed to undergo guardianship in order to access this plan.

Improving access to RDSPs is just one way that economic action plan 2012 helps support Canadian families. It also promotes more active lifestyles with continued support for Participaction and its community-based physical activity and fitness programs to promote the health of Canadian children and families. The plan also enhances the victims fund to ensure that victims of crime have an effective voice in the federal justice and corrections systems.

Sheldon Kennedy, a well-known former hockey player and victims rights activist, was pleased with this initiative and praised it by saying that this government has been listening to victims by providing funding to support recovery for victims and their families, assist with the court process, improve conviction rates and increase punishment for perpetrators.

These are not the only measures our government has taken in support of Canadian families. All across this country, parents' number one priority is the same: securing a bright and prosperous future for their children.

That is why Bill C-38 also helps to ensure that the old age security program, OAS, remains strong for future generations. Much like Canadian families, our Conservative government is dedicated to ensuring that future generations have access to an OAS program that remains sustainable over the long term.

The measures contained in Bill C-38 guide the program toward long-term sustainability with no impact on today's seniors. Economic action plan 2012 gradually raises the eligibility for OAS and GIS benefits from age 65 to 67 between 2023 and 2029. I should note that seniors who are currently receiving OAS and GIS will not see a single cent lost to these new changes. The advanced notification and phase-in period will give Canadians time to plan and prepare for their retirement and minimize the impact on vulnerable groups.

Our government believes that today's prosperity should be enjoyed by future generations. It is because of this belief that economic action plan 2012 is squarely focused on keeping Canada on track to balanced budgets, building on our outstanding record of success to date.

We all know that Canada benefits from the best fiscal position in the G7. Both the IMF and the OECD have forecast that Canada will be at the head of the pack for economic growth in the G7 in years ahead. Forbes magazine has ranked Canada the number one place in the world for businesses to invest and create more jobs. Also, for the fourth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world.

However, our government believes that we should never simply be content with our past accomplishments. We must always look forward. While the NDP and the Liberals want to engage in reckless deficit spending sprees, our Conservative government is committed to returning to balanced budgets and maintaining our favourable global fiscal position.

That is why our government is so dedicated to reducing debt. It frees up tax dollars that would otherwise be used to cover interest costs. This means lower taxes for all Canadians and more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families.

Our plan to get back to balanced budgets is working. In the past two years, we have already cut the deficit in half. With economic action plan 2012, we are building on these existing efforts by refocusing government, improving service delivery and streamlining back-office administration to achieve over $5 billion in ongoing savings for taxpayers.

Almost 70% of these savings will come from eliminating waste in the internal operations of government, making it leaner and more efficient. This better respects the hard-earned tax dollars that Canadians send to Ottawa.

Canadian families are the backbone of our country and deserve the support and respect of their government. That is why we are working hard to implement economic action plan 2012 to ensure long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadian families.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's speech and was quite fascinated by her reference to balanced and constructive spending and management of our fiscal realities by the Conservative government.

I would like her to explain the lack of proper tendering of contracts for the F-35, the outrageous price that was demanded by the manufacturer, and the failure of the government to manage our fiscal realities legitimately and responsibly.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have to recognize that this project was initiated in 1997 by the previous Liberal government. We entered into discussions regarding the F-35 with all our allies to look at what would be the next operational vehicle for our air force. We know we have to supply our men and women in uniform with the best materials they need to go into the situations we ask them to do to protect Canadians.

While no contract has been signed to this point, we continue to look at what we can do to best acquire the vehicles and supplies for our military. We will continue to do so, working in conjunction with all our global partners.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in the member's speech she mentioned the Toronto Sun and that it had mentioned the antics of the Leader of the Opposition. In its editorial on June 14, the Toronto Star said:

The opposition has rightly argued that given the scope and ambition of the proposed legislation, the bill should have been broken up and its component parts duly debated.

What does the member have to say?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the budget bill was introduced in the House on March 29. We are four months post that introduction. The bill has had the most debate in the House of any budget bill in the last two decades. It has also had considerable discussion in the finance committee as well as in a subcommittee that was established specifically to look at the bill. It is not that this bill has not been studied.

It is time for us to get on with getting Canada back on track for growth, jobs and long-term prosperity, to put money back into the hands of hard-working Canadians. That is what our government wants to do.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member; it has been two and a half months since the budget was passed. There is a difference between the budget and the Act to implement certain provisions of the budget. The budget has already been passed. We are now talking about the budget implementation bill.

Actually, I would like to go back to something that an hon. member mentioned earlier as well. I am referring to charitable organizations. Mr. Lauzière, from Imagine Canada, gave testimony before a committee and talked about the impact of statements such as the one made by the Minister of the Environment on charitable organizations and their political activities. The minister accused groups—without ever naming them—of money laundering. In addition, just two weeks ago, the Prime Minister, his leader, said:

We're certainly trying to comb through our spending to make sure it's all appropriate. If it's the case that we're spending on organizations that are doing things contrary to government policy, I think that is an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money and we'll look to eliminate it.

I think that goes against the democratic principle whereby we allow organizations that are opposed to the government to express their views in order to set the record straight and point out flaws in government bills.

Does the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora agree with the comments made by the Minister of the Environment and the Prime Minister?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, so my colleague knows, it is Newmarket—Aurora. Aurora residents would be very disturbed if they were left out whenever the constituency was mentioned in the House. I thank the good people of Newmarket—Aurora for electing me to represent them here.

We know that charities do very good work in our society and we are very thankful to the generous Canadians who contribute to those charities across the country. However, we also know that charities are restricted in what they can do with that money. This bill would put in place the responsibility for charities to focus on the mandate they have been given and on the charitable work they are to do in their communities.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I assume that I will have about three minutes to speak at this point and that I will be able to continue after question period.

I rise in the House to speak one last time about Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, or, as the Conservative government likes to call it, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act. However, this title implies the complete opposite of the kind of impact and consequences this bill will have. I would like to use my time to explain why.

Before I address the impact this will have on jobs and growth, I would like to take the time I have before members' statements and question period to talk about something the government keeps mentioning, which is the number of hours spent discussing the bill. The member for Prince Albert and some other members mentioned that we have had more time than ever before to study this budget implementation bill, in comparison to previous years.

They are absolutely right when they say that we discussed the bill for about 50 hours in committee and about 20 hours in subcommittee. But what they need to realize is that the budget implementation bill amends approximately 70 acts. It modifies, amends, adds or eliminates about 70 acts. If we average out what we do in Parliament, specifically in committee, when we study a bill, we spend four or five hours discussing it, studying it in depth and looking at the scope and consequences of it.

It is important to realize that, if we are talking about 70 different acts, that means that about 350 hours of study should have been required for a bill of this magnitude. However, we barely had 70. In addition, we could not focus on any specific elements. In part 4 alone there were about 56 divisions, 56 different acts that were affected. So it was impossible for the members, as parliamentarians, to study this bill properly. I find it appalling that the government is boasting that we spent 70 hours discussing this bill when, given its size, we should have spent over 350 hours and even longer to fully understand its scope.

I want to raise another issue that the government has, yet again, refused to comment on: the fact that there is not merely consensus, but unanimity among political commentators and analysts in Canada and Quebec, not necessarily on the content of Bill C-38, but on the way the government chose to introduce that content. The problem is that, at the end of the week, we will vote one single time to pass or reject, in its entirety, a mammoth 430-page bill.

I will talk more about this after question period because it deserves to be talked about. The government's approach is threatening the very foundation of our parliamentary system, our parliamentary democracy.

I will stop here so that we can move on to members' statements.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques will have 17 minutes remaining to complete his remarks.

Statements by members. The hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Multiculturalism
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we approach Canada Day, I think it is important to reflect on some of the nationalities that have helped make Canada the great country it is.

Three weeks ago, Mississauga held its annual festival of cultures, Carassauga, and I was lucky enough to visit most of the pavilions and enjoy the people, food and music of many great cultures.

Over the past month, Italian Republic Day, Slovenian Statehood Day, Philippine Independence Day, Polish Constitution Day and the Croatian National and Armed Forces Day have been celebrated. These are just a handful of cultures I have had the good fortune to celebrate recently and just a handful of the many wonderful cultures in the great riding I am proud to represent, Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Waves of new Canadians have constantly reached our country over the 145 years since Confederation. As we get ready to celebrate the best country in the world, let us also think about the many cultures within our great country, Canada.

Health Care
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, our country has been built on the idea that we all have a responsibility to take care of one another, especially the vulnerable. However, the Conservative government is targeting this basic Canadian value with its mean-spirited cuts to refugee health care.

These cuts will effectively deny health care to refugee applicants who need to see a doctor and who have limited or no financial means to do so. Most egregiously, some legitimate refugees will be cut off from even basic medical coverage. That means a refugee undergoing emergency surgery for a heart attack at a Canadian hospital would have to pay for it out of pocket or be denied care.

Is this our Canada?

Today, doctors and other health care professionals across the country are taking action against these cuts. I call on the Conservative government to have a heart and reverse this decision before it comes into effect at the end of June.

Owen Sound Attack
Statements by Members

June 18th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to congratulate the Los Angeles Kings on their recent Stanley Cup victory and also to recognize the Kings connection to Owen Sound.

Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound is home to the Owen Sound Attack and I am proud to say that three Attack alumni were a part of the LA Kings cup run this season. Trevor Lewis, Brad Richardson and Mike Futa all had once been a part of the Owen Sound Attack.

Trevor Lewis, who put up nine points this post-season, played his only season in the OHL for the Owen Sound Attack. Also, Brad Richardson, a key part of the Kings lineup played four seasons in Owen Sound. Finally, Mike Futa, the director of player development for the Kings, is a former Owen Sound Attack general manager. Mr. Futa has already indicated he will be bringing the Stanley Cup to Owen Sound this summer.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Owen Sound Attack appreciation barbecue and was very proud to once again see the tremendous support from the best fans in the OHL.

In closing, I would like to congratulate these three alumni and wish them and the Owen Sound Attack the best of luck next season.