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Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 52.50% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Seniors December 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to answer my colleague's question today concerning the efforts our government has made on behalf of seniors from coast to coast to coast. I welcome the opportunity to respond to the concerns of the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.
First, his assertion that nothing is being done at the federal level for seniors is completely and utterly false. This is exactly why our government wants the information for seniors and information for caregivers portals on our seniors.gc.ca website. These new programs introduced by our government allow seniors, their families, and caregivers to easily find information on federal, provincial, and territorial services that seniors can utilize.
As members know, seniors' issues are the responsibility of all three levels of government in various jurisdictions across the country. Just this fall, we published another helpful resource, the Government of Canada—Action for Seniors Report. This demonstrates how the government works across departments and agencies to support seniors. Visiting this website or reading through the report reveals very clearly that there is a great deal being done for seniors by the federal government.
For example, largely owing to the sound management of our public pensions, Canada now has one of the lowest levels of seniors poverty in the world. Further to that, since 2006 our government has implemented the biggest increase in the guaranteed income supplement in over 25 years, which lifted hundreds of thousands of seniors across the country out of poverty.
While every bit of financial support helps our seniors, we also recognize the importance of staying active and staying engaged. This is why the National Seniors Council recently released its “Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors”, which has some key information on how to tackle this issue of isolation and inactivity by seniors. One way is through the new horizons for seniors program. New horizons program funding supports projects for intergenerational learning.
However, there are seniors in Canada who need more help. It pains me to say that the estimates we have say that between 4% and 10% of seniors experience some form of abuse. That is why we adopted the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act. This act sets tougher penalties for elder abuse. We also developed financial literacy strategies that specifically respond to seniors' needs.
Those are just a few of the many programs and services that we have provided for Canadian seniors across the country.
I would like to address one further thing that the member across spoke about, and that is health care issues. As we all know, the delivery of health care in Canada is within provincial jurisdiction. The Government of Canada's role is to ensure that the provinces have the resources to provide equitable health care service for seniors and for all Canadians from one end of the country to the other. That is why we have increased health care transfers to the provinces each and every year we have been in office, and those increases will continue. We are actually now increasing money to the provinces at a rate that is higher than the rate at which many provinces are increasing their own spending on health care.
A lot of the issues the member across the way put forward we actually agree with. We agree that there needs to be more seniors' housing. We agree that there needs to be better health care for seniors in many measurable areas of health care. The provinces have been given the resources by the federal government to deliver adequate, equitable, good health care for seniors across the country. It is up to the provinces to put programs and policies in place to deliver those health care programs.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this family tax package that we have put together is going to deliver tax relief to every single family in Canada, from coast to coast to coast.
For a single parent with two children making $30,000 a year, this is going to be a significant increase to the revenue of that family. If the children are under six years of age, there will be an increase of $720 for each child, over $1,400 in additional money in their pockets that they did not have before. If the children are older than that, or there are three or four young people in a household all eligible for this increase, we are talking thousands and thousands of dollars in their pockets that they did not have before.
We have also doubled the children's fitness tax credit.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, what is true is that Canada would be the first country in the G7 to emerge from the recession with a balanced budget since the great recession of 2008. That is what is true.
When the member talks about what the Liberals did under Paul Martin, he should remember that it had to be in response to what the Liberals did in the 1990s, when they decimated the health care system and the education system by slashing billions of dollars of transfers to the provinces. We all remember Rae days. We all remember hospitals being closed. We remember clinics being closed. We remember nurses being laid off and having to go to the United States.
We all remember the damage that did to our health care system, destabilizing the health care for our seniors and our young families. We did not have the infrastructure we needed to enjoy this recovery. It is only now that I believe the health care system is starting to recover, because of the support of this Minister of Finance, and this Prime Minister, and this government.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, what the provinces can count on is a continued increase in the amount of money they will receive from the federal government in terms of our health care transfers. In my own province of Nova Scotia, this year, for the first time, transfers from the federal government to the province eclipsed $3 billion.
Let me put that in perspective. The entire revenue of the Government of Nova Scotia is $9 billion. A full third of that comes directly to the provincial government in transfers. We have actually increased the amount of transfers in health again and again. This will continue because we are going to set a floor of an over 3% increase in transfers from the federal government to the provinces each year, and most years it is going to be far more than that. This is more of an increase in the amount of money that the federal government is transferring to the provinces than the provinces are increasing on spending in health care themselves.
If any provinces are complaining about health care transfers, they should take a look at their books. They can count on increases to health care transfers from the federal government from now in perpetuity.
Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-43, an act to implement the budget. As we know, the focus of our government is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and there are many measures within this bill that support that focus, that priority, of the Government of Canada.
I would like to start by talking about where we were back in 2008 when the biggest recession since the Great Depression struck our nation and many nations around the world. In fact, 62 million people around the globe lost their jobs during that recession due to global economic instability. However, since then, Canada has fared far better than most countries in the world in terms of job creation and recovery. In fact, since the pit of the economic recession in July 2009, Canada has created 1.2 million net new jobs, with employment all across this country. This has allowed our government to move toward a balanced budget and deliver on many promises made in the 2011 campaign.
The federal tax burden is now at its lowest in 50 years. People are paying less in taxes than they did in part of the Diefenbaker era. Things are going well in Canada. We have more employment, more growth, and larger projected growth than any other country in the G7. The IMF and KPMG both predict that for this year and next year we are going to have very successful job growth, job creation, and overall economic growth in this country. Canada is on the verge of a great economic and prosperous time, and we are going to keep putting measures in place so the people of this country can benefit from it.
What has allowed us to do this? What has allowed Canada to do so much better than many other nations emerging from a global economic recession? I believe it was our commitment as a government to balance the books and then use surplus spending to invest in tax cuts and to support jobs and economic growth. This was a commitment we all made on this side of the House as we went door to door in the 2011 election. We committed to first balance the budget and then to reinvest in Canadians by lowering taxes, supporting young families, and reinvesting in jobs and growth.
There are some members of the House who believe balancing the budget will happen by itself and that we do not need to focus on that, but it is hugely important. The only way to balance a budget, whether it is a household budget, a municipal budget, a provincial budget, or a federal budget, is to make it is a huge priority and put a plan in place to reach that balanced budget in a targeted amount of time. That is what this government did following the 2011 election. We kept our commitment to the people of Canada by putting the economic action plan in place, with the goal of balancing the budget within the mandate of this government, which we have.
It is not easy, and it does not just happen by itself. To do it, there are really three choices a government can make to balance the budget. The first choice, and I would argue the easy way to do it, is simply to raise taxes. We have seen governments and previous administrations, both provincially and federally, try to balance budgets on the backs of Canadians by raising taxes: raising business taxes, raising income taxes, raising fees. That, I would argue, is the easy way.
We saw the NDP government in Nova Scotia try to do this a few years back. It raised taxes to try to balance the budget. This government gave the Canadian people a cut in their GST sales tax, or HST in some provinces, like mine, in Nova Scotia. When we cut the GST federally from 7% to 6% to 5%, almost every Canadian was able to benefit from that tax reduction, except in my province of Nova Scotia, where the provincial government came right in behind and almost immediately raised the sales tax by 2%.
While in New Brunswick, right next door to my riding, people were paying 13% sales tax in the combined HST, in Nova Scotia we were paying 15%. A border riding like mine saw jobs flowing across the border. Gas stations were shutting down, because between that and the increased fuel taxes in Nova Scotia, people could pay far less a litre in New Brunswick than they could in Nova Scotia. While everyone else was benefiting from this cut in the sales tax, the people in my province were not, because the provincial government decided to do that in an effort, it argued, to balance the budget, which, in fact, never really happened. That is the easy way to try to balance the budget: by simply raising taxes.
The second way a federal government can try to cut taxes is by eliminating, cutting, or reducing transfers to the provinces. Transfers to the provinces pay for education, put teachers in classrooms, pay for educational assistants for special education students, and provide other support services in every school.
Those transfers pay for our health care system so seniors across this country can enjoy the health care they deserve in an equitable health care system, from one end of the country to the other. That is why we have these transfers. It is so the provinces can deliver their constitutionally designated role of delivering effective, equitable health care from Newfoundland all the way to British Columbia and to the north. That is what Canada is all about. We are all in this together. That is why those transfers are so valuable.
The Liberal government in the nineties chose to balance the budget, coming out of an economic recession, on the backs of the provinces, on the backs of our seniors, and on the backs of our children by reducing those valuable transfers to the provinces. Significantly cutting those transfers, I believe, destabilized both the education system and the health care system in many provinces across this country. It was an effort, arguably, to balance the budget.
The third way a federal government can try to balance a budget is not by raising taxes on the people and cutting the valuable transfers to the provinces that need those dollars so desperately to deliver those effective services I talked about. The third way is to look at how the government spends money. We can look at ourselves, look across federal departments to see what we can do to save money for the Canadian taxpayer so we can get the budget balanced and start making targeted investments for the future of all Canadians.
In 2011, that is what we promised to do, and that is a promise we have kept. We have delivered on that promise, and now we have the budget balanced and are moving forward.
Every department across the board had to look at reductions. With targeted savings, usually in back-office services, making sure that we protected front-line services, particularly in the regions of this country, we were able to slowly move the budget to balance. Now, on schedule, we have a balanced budget in this country due to excellent fiscal management by the Prime Minister, former finance minister Flaherty, and the present Minister of Finance.
This government has moved Canada to a balanced budget, and that gives the government the financial flexibility to deliver the other promises we made when we all went door to door during the 2011 election. I am speaking of things like income splitting for families, the family tax cut, and an increased UCCB. Support for young families across this country is a target of this government to ensure that the future of this country is protected.
By raising the universal child care benefit, we are supporting the next generation of Canadians in getting the child care they need. We are supporting the next generation of Canadians in getting the education they need. We are now focusing on changes to our education system, changes funded by the federal government through our post-secondary support for apprenticeships, a $100-million program for interest-free loans for apprentices across this country.
Budget 2014 supports our young people and our young families and is delivered under a balanced budget format.
Now that the budget is balanced and we are moving forward and are keeping those commitments to Canadian families, what is the next step for Canada? Where can we go? The future of this country is bright. We have worked so hard to come so far from the great recession of 2008. The strong fiscal management of this government and this party, led by our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, will support the bright and prosperous future of this country.
I hope the opposition will stand in support of this legislation on Monday night, because it is in the best interest of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Status of Women December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we are making advances in low-income housing. We are supporting families with tax reductions. We are investing in child education. We are investing in apprenticeships to support young people, young families, and young women to get the education they need to take available jobs in this country.
We are getting the job done, but every one of these initiatives we put forward, the opposition, time after time, votes against. When are they going to stand up, finally, for young people in this country and support them in getting the jobs and training and success they deserve?
Employment December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we have introduced the family tax cut. This provides support to every single family with children across the country.
We have increased the universal child care benefit. For young people under age six, it will be increased by $60 a month, or $720 a year. For children aged six to 17, it is also going to be increased to $720.
We are getting the job done for families from one end of this country to the other. We ask the opposition, if they truly care about child care, if they truly care about young families, to please stand up and support this legislation.
Petitions November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present a petition from hundreds of Canadians to introduce legislation to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to include torture committed by non-state actors, private individuals and organizations as a specific and distinct criminal offence.
Committees of the House November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled supplementary estimates (B) 2014-2015.