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Conservative MP for Niagara West—Glanbrook (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 57.30% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House February 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth and fifth reports of the Liaison Committee regarding committee activities and expenditures.
Interparliamentary Delegations February 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the election observation mission at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Kyiv, Ukraine, from October 26 to 29, 2014.
Employment February 5th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, our government understands that across this great nation, mums and dads know what is best for their families. This is a fundamental difference between our party and both opposition parties.
That is why this past year we have helped hardworking parents throughout Canada by introducing the family tax cut and enhancing the universal child care benefit.
Could the Minister of Employment update the House on the action we are taking to help Canadian families?
Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I certainly would love to entertain that. That is a great question.
The question is around debt. Where I cannot foresee where the budget is going to be in terms of paying down debt, what I can assure the member is that we are going to move back to balanced budgets. That is the first step we need to look at. We cannot even entertain paying down additional debt at this stage until we get a balanced budget. That will be the first thing we do, and it was mentioned in my speech. As we balance the budget and reduce debt, we would reduce interest. When we reduce interest, that frees up money to provide more programming. That provides the opportunity to present tax cuts. That also provides the potential for additional infrastructure, et cetera.
To my hon. colleague's question, it is important that we continue to reduce and come back to balanced budgets so that we have options. Then we can move forward with a new budget that would give us those options, with maybe some suggestions that come up in the new year.
Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges small-business people have in this country is that they are expected to wear many hats. When a small-business person, a man or woman, starts a business, he or she needs to be part HR, part finance, part marketing, part administrator, and operator.
What we heard from people across the country was this. I remember sitting around the table, and it was the same thing, whether it was in Ontario or B.C. It was what they are required to provide. Sometimes there is duplication. Sometimes it is like they are being asked the same thing two or three times, whereas if they just talked internally, they would actually have what they need.
In larger companies, there are finance people and accounting departments that will handle some of those things. I think of what happens when a company goes public. One of the biggest things that happens when a company goes public is that its accounting department swells by two, three, four, or five times because of the amount of compliance it is required to have when it is publicly traded. We get that.
What we are talking about are the small-business people who have to do multiple things. Maybe they have to pull a shift, because someone called in sick, or maybe they have to figure out how they are going to hire someone and put ads in the paper, et cetera.
We are looking at not affecting the safety and security of Canadians. We are trying to remove some of the duplication. We are trying to ensure, as I mentioned in my speech, that we take a small-business lens approach, which is absolutely key if we are going to look at it from a small-business point of view. Yes, we still require these things, but how can we make it easier for small-business men or women to provide all these things and still run their businesses successfully and create the jobs we need as Canadians?
Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, to address some of the things the member talked about, I mentioned that as we look to streamline the regulatory burden or framework, the challenge still remains that we have provincial and municipal legislation, red tape, and regulations, which continue to be a challenge.
I know that a number of years ago the Progressive Conservative government in Ontario had a red tape reduction commission under Mr. Harris that looked at reducing some of these things. Unfortunately, what has happened over time is that additional burdensome red tape has crept back in, which is one of the things we need to be mindful of, and I know that is what the one-for-one does. It is trying to create a new mindset when we look at how we can do this. In my remarks I talked about different agencies and government bureaucracies posting online what they are thinking about doing and then working with industry to find a way to actually do a good job with it.
I think it is a mindset that we need to look at. We could go around the country and consult, but unless we are prepared to sit down and make it a part of the way we look at how we do business, then I think we will have a hard time making it stick. I know that—
Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, one of the things we will not jeopardize is the health and safety of Canadians, and that is something we will continue to look at. However, it is only practical, as we look at increased regulations or the threat of increased regulations and rules, that we manage all these things. We understand that if we want to bring in a rule or regulation that there may be other ones that we need to remove to make sure that we continue to keep the burden of red tape down.
One of the things that concerns me is the fact that, as a government, we have done a great job in reducing red tape but there is still more work to be done at the provincial and municipal levels. I think that one of the biggest challenges we have is that we go ahead and reduce red tape, which is good for businesses, but the provinces need to also step up to do these things, as well as the municipalities.
When I talk to small business people, they tell me that one of the biggest challenges they have is complying with all the paperwork, the forms, and all the things that need to be done.
I will just reiterate for the member that we have no intention of jeopardizing the health and safety of Canadians, which is paramount in what we do. However, we need to find ways to help our business people succeed, by making sure we remove some of the obstacles that make it difficult for them to do what they need to do, which is create jobs and wealth for people in this economy.
Red Tape Reduction Act January 26th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka for his insightful comments earlier on the importance of Bill C-21. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the House for allowing me to rise today to speak to why I think it is important to support Bill C-21, the red tape reduction act.
As members know, Bill C-21 is an important piece of legislation when it comes to how the government relates to and engages with one of the drivers of Canada's economy, which is small business.
As one of the members of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, I feel privileged to rise to speak to this issue today. One of the key drivers of the commission was that helping businesses succeed in Canada requires doing all we can as a government to decrease the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses. Bill C-21 represents a strong step toward accomplishing this goal for many reasons.
In my time today, I would like to focus on one of those reasons in terms of the importance of enshrining into law the government's one-for-one rule. This rule, which has been in effect since April 1, 2012, has already proven to be effective in controlling and even reducing red tape regulations that hurt small business. It works by placing strict controls on the growth of regulatory red tape for businesses by applying a very simple principle: for every new regulation that is added that imposes an administrative burden on businesses, one must be removed. In addition, regulators must offset any increase in the administrative burden as a result of regulatory changes with equal reductions in existing regulations.
Canada is one of the first countries in the world to give the one-for-one rule the added muscle of legislation, making it the most aggressive red tape regulation in the world. What is more, we know that it works. The one-for-one rule has already proven successful in system-wide controls and regulatory red tape that impact businesses. Specifically, as of June 14, 2014, it has resulted in a net annual reduction of over $22 million in the administrative burden imposed on businesses, estimated annual savings of 290,000 hours in time spent dealing with regulatory red tape, and a net reduction of 19 federal regulations taken off the books.
By giving the one-for one rule the added muscle of legislation, this Conservative government has clearly demonstrated just how committed it is to reducing unnecessary regulations for businesses. We know that time spent navigating red tape is valuable time that small-business owners could otherwise use to grow their operations and create jobs.
When I speak about red tape, I am referring to the unnecessary and undue compliance burden placed on small businesses. A compliance burden is exactly the time and resources spent by businesses to demonstrate compliance with federal government regulations. It can include planning, collecting, processing, and reporting information; completing forms and retaining data required by governments; inspection costs; and time wasted waiting for regulatory decisions and feedback.
There are many areas of Canada's economy that benefit from discreet regulation, like safe food, air space control, workplace health and safety, and so on. However, every regulation that requires paperwork, equipment, or training imposes compliance costs on a business. At some point, regulations get into diminishing return territory when the cost, time, and effort required to comply with the regulations outweigh the benefits conferred by the regulation.
Our Conservative government recognizes this red tape problem, and through measures like the one-for-one rule, it is taking measures to curb it.
A couple of years ago, I participated in the Red Tape Reduction Commission, which consulted a wide cross-section of Canadians for ideas on reducing the onerous administrative overhead for Canadian businesses. What I heard was the feedback of hard-working small-business owners who were absolutely fed up with over-regulation, tedious paperwork, and valuable time wasted.
This past week, I stood proudly by our Prime Minister, fellow members of Parliament, and the executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the CFIB, Laura Jones, in the Niagara region. Through talking to and hearing the stories of small businesses within my riding as well as Canadian small-business representatives like Ms. Jones of the CFIB, one thing becomes immediately clear: red tape heavily limits the ability of small businesses to grow.
I would add that the CFIB had Red Tape Awareness Week last week, from January 19-23. This is actually very good timing as we introduce this legislation. I would also mention that I had a chance to work with Ms. Jones on the red tape reduction round table, and it was a great experience.
To put it in the words of our Prime Minister, red tape and administrative burdens all represent “a silent killer of jobs” in this country. Although Canada has been recognized by the OECD as having a sophisticated and mature regulatory system that continues to maintain high levels of health, safety, security, and environmental protection, the OECD has also recommended that reducing undue regulatory costs would help to improve Canada's economic performance.
Let me be clear. Applying the one-for-one rule and giving it the legislative shape it requires to fulfill its mandate does not in any way compromise the presence of important health and safety regulations. Put simply, we are not repealing health and safety standards. We are making it less of an administrative nuisance to comply with them.
Canadians can count on this government and its regulatory system to uphold the public trust and to continually enforce the health and safety standards that protect everyday Canadians.
One of the aspects of the red tape reduction plan I am most proud of is the level of public consultation and transparency that informed its approach. As a government, we listened to the advice provided by small-business owners from across the country, and we reflected very carefully on that advice.
We understand the necessity of enforcing regulations that maintain Canada's high standards for safety and protection. We believe that regulations can and should co-exist with freeing businesses from unnecessary, costly, and time-consuming red tape.
I would like to remind my hon. colleagues that reducing regulatory red tape was one of the commitments we made to Canadians in October 2012, when we first announced the red tape reduction action plan. This plan is one of the most aggressive in the world today for reducing red tape, and with its implementation, Canada is bringing a new level of discipline to how we regulate and create a more predictable environment for businesses.
I would like to update members on the progress we have made in this important effort. In all, the red tape reduction plan introduced six system-wide reforms to the federal regulatory system to limit regulatory creep and to free up small businesses to focus on what they do best, which is to grow and create jobs.
This plan has helped businesses meet challenges in the areas of payroll, labour, and trade. It has further introduced time-saving measures, such as single windows and electronic submissions.
We have made substantial progress in implementing the reforms outlined in the plan. As well as the one-for-one rule, a number of other reforms are advancing well. For example, federal regulators have stepped up efforts to ensure that new and existing service standards are publicly posted, making the approval process for complying with regulations more transparent for business. In addition, departments have posted 40 forward regulatory plans on their websites, providing early notice of upcoming regulations so that stakeholders can provide input and prepare for their implementation.
All of these initiatives are proving their value and are further demonstrating this government's commitment to a transparent and safe system for business growth that is not weighed down by unnecessary red tape.
We have also saved small businesses in Canada $75 million annually through the application of the small business lens.
In the fall of 2014, the government published the administrative burden baseline, a key commitment of the action plan that clearly tracks the total number of requirements that impose administrative burdens on businesses.
Finally, we have also put into place a regulatory advisory committee. This committee's main task is to provide the President of the Treasury Board with advice on the fairness and reliability of the government's annual scorecard report.
We recently published our second score card report during Red Tape Awareness Week. It shows that we continue to eliminate unnecessary rules and costs that have been a source of frustration for Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, while maintaining high standards for the protection of the health and safety of our citizens.
The bottom line is that this report confirms that we have made tangible progress in cutting red tape for Canadians and businesses.
Let me now turn to a few examples of how departments are putting the red tape action plan into action. There are numerous examples. I am thinking of the launch of buyandsell.gc.ca at Public Works and Government Services Canada and the modernization of food safety regulations through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Safe Food for Canadians Act.
There is also the launch by Canada Revenue Agency of the new online mail service for Canadian small businesses. The service allows businesses to communicate with CRA online, helping streamline their interactions with the agency.
CRA also launched My Business Account, the online enquiry service where business people or their representatives can ask the agency tax-related questions about their accounts online and receive answers online. I know one of the things we heard over and over again was the frustration of business people to call and not be able to get anything actually in writing. That made it difficult for them when they called someone, were bounced around, and went to different people. This is a very direct response to what we heard in talking to small business people.
As well, CRA introduced a one-stop web page for businesses, allowing them to easily find information and service options relevant to their tax situation.
In addition, Statistics Canada has improved communication with survey respondents to better explain the purpose of business surveys. The changes include redesigning printed material and improving a section of its website.
These are just a few of the many departmental actions that are under way to reduce red tape. The one-for-one rule and other red tape reforms demonstrate our resolve to improve Canada's regulatory system and help businesses focus their energies on seizing new opportunities. They are part of the broader commitment to ensuring Canada is playing its A game when it comes to creating the right environment in which businesses can grow and create jobs.
Bill C-21 is smart legislation that would help Canadian businesses become more productive and succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The red tape reduction act would require that regulators take seriously the requirement to control the amount of red tape imposed upon businesses, and the related costs. The legislation is also designed to be tough. It would challenge regulators to think through how regulations could be designed and implemented in ways that would not impose unnecessary red tape on businesses. While it would be tough, it would nevertheless offer a great deal of flexibility. The government's commitment to maintaining Canada's high standards for health and safety is unwavering and will not come at the cost of helping small businesses succeed.
The legislation would also be timely. As members know, one of the government's top priorities is creating a climate in which businesses can innovate, invest in the future, and create economic growth and jobs. That is why, despite what is happening in the global economy today, Canada has and continues to post one of the strongest job creation records in the G7, with more than 1.2 million jobs created since July 2009.
I would add that over 85% of those jobs created since July 2009 are full-time positions and almost two-thirds are in high-wage industries.
Looking ahead, this government believes Canada is positioned for sustained economic growth. We are one of the few countries that can boast of having both declining taxes and low debt. Our government remains committed to eliminating the deficit. This would ensure we continue to create a business climate here in Canada that invites investment, prosperity, and growth. Canadian businesses have to be playing at the top of their game to succeed and to compete in a global economy. This is especially true in uncertain times, such as those we have faced since the 2008 global recession. By reducing debt, we could free up tax dollars that would otherwise be absorbed by interest costs. We could then reinvest that money into things that matter to Canadians, such as health care, public services, or lower taxes. I would add that reducing debt would also strengthen the country's ability to respond to economic shocks, such as global financial crises.
It is worth remembering that, when the hard times arrived in 2008, Canada was in a position of economic strength compared to our international partners. This allowed us to put in place one of the most comprehensive stimulus packages in the world. At the time, international observers such as the International Monetary Fund were predicting that Canada would have one of the fastest recoveries. I am proud to say that these predictions have come true, given our relative economic, financial, and fiscal strength.
Our red tape initiatives all demonstrate the government's ongoing commitment to helping Canadian businesses succeed, and they are part of a broad strategy that is present in almost everything we do. We only need to look at the recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study analyzing the ease of paying taxes in 189 countries. The study, called “Paying Taxes 2014”, found that a business in Canada takes 25% less time than a business in the United States to prepare, file, and pay its taxes each year. Furthermore, the study said that Canada is the only G7 country to rank among the top 10 countries based on the overall ease of complying with tax obligations.
Balanced budgets and responsible fiscal management have been keys to helping small businesses succeed, as well as to our success as a country.
Through real action such as enshrining the one-for-one rule in law, we are making the regulatory system more conducive to economic growth. We are creating a more predictable environment for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, and we are freeing entrepreneurs from the burden of regulatory red tape.
Our government is focused on the drivers of growth and job creation—innovation, investment, education, skills, and communities—underpinned by our ongoing commitment to keeping taxes low and returning to a balanced budget. This is our plan for Canada. I hope members of the House will join us in enshrining the one-for-one rule into law to help Canadian businesses succeed.
I talked about how this all fits together and I look at the acronym TIRE, which this government has used: T is for taxes and trade; I is for infrastructure, investments, and immigration; R is for R and D, red tape reduction, and relationships; and E is for entrepreneurship. If I could just go through those, members will see how it all ties together. I talked in my speech about how we look at reducing red tape, but that is just one thing in a large array of things that the government has done to make Canada more competitive.
I will start with the T for taxes and trade. Our government looked at reducing taxes for business to make us more competitive on the world stage. In addition to that, we have fostered additional trade deals—the European free trade deal and all the numerous deals that this country is working on right now—because we realize, as a net exporter, that we need to sell our goods and services around the world. There is no way that 35 million people could sustain the type of GDP that we have come to enjoy without the ability to trade. That is the T in TIRE.
I is for infrastructure, investments, and immigration. We have continued to move forward on immigration reforms to make sure we look at bringing the best and brightest people into this country. We have looked at continuous investments. We look at the Detroit bridge that stalled under the previous Liberal government. We have worked hard to make sure we can get our goods and services to the U.S. in a timely way given the fact that it represents one of our largest trading partners at over 75%. We have spent money on massive infrastructure, and we will continue to commit to infrastructure over the next 10 years as we realize that is important for the sake of our country.
I talked about R and D and trying to make it more targeted, more specific, and more timely. I have just spent my whole time talking about red tape reduction, which is absolutely huge.
The last letter is E for entrepreneurship. Our government has started a venture capital fund, or we have set aside $400 million where we could try to attract, realizing that it is tough sometimes for companies to get started. One of the issues that continues to be there is access to capital. We believe we can continue to create the climate in this country. We will not only continue to lead the world in development but will continue to lead the world in jobs, and Canada will be the best country in the world in which to live, to work, and to play.
Interparliamentary Delegations December 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly respecting its participation at the 23rd annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 28 through July 2, 2014.