Budget Implementation Act, 2007

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Jim Flaherty  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 implements income tax measures proposed or referenced in Budget 2007 to

(a) introduce a tax on distributions from certain publicly traded income trusts and limited partnerships, effective beginning with the 2007 taxation year;

(b) reduce the general corporate income tax rate by one half of a percentage point, effective January 1, 2011;

(c) increase the age credit amount by $1,000 from $4,066 to $5,066, effective January 1, 2006;

(d) permit income splitting for pensioners, effective beginning in 2007;

(e) introduce a new child tax credit of $2,000 multiplied by the appropriate percentage for a taxation year, effective beginning in 2007;

(f) increase the spousal and other amounts to equal the basic personal amount, effective beginning in 2007;

(g) increase the age limit for maturing registered retirement savings plans, registered pension plans and deferred profit sharing plans to 71 years of age, effective beginning in 2007;

(h) expand the types of investments eligible for registered retirement savings plans and other deferred income plans, effective March 19, 2007; and

(i) increase the contribution limits for registered education savings plans and expand eligible payments for part-time studies, effective beginning in 2007.

Part 1 also amends the Canada Education Savings Act to increase the maximum annual grant payable on contributions made to a registered education savings plan after 2006.

Part 2 amends the Excise Tax Act to clarify the legislative authority that allows the Canada Revenue Agency to pay refunds of excise tax directly to end-users, where fuel subject to excise has been used in tax-exempt circumstances. It also amends that Act to repeal the excise tax on heavy vehicles and to implement the Green Levy on vehicles with fuel consumption of 13 litres or more per 100 kilometres. It also provides an authority for the Canada Revenue Agency to pay a refund of the Green Levy for vans equipped for wheelchair access.

Part 3 implements goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures proposed or referenced in Budget 2007. It amends the Excise Tax Act to exempt midwifery services from the GST/HST and to zero-rate certain supplies of intangible personal property made to non-GST/HST registered non-residents. It also amends that Act to repeal the GST/HST Visitor Rebate Program and to implement a new Foreign Convention and Tour Incentive Program, which provides rebates of tax in respect of certain property and services used in the course of conventions held in Canada and the accommodation portion of tour packages for non-residents, and establishes new information requirements in the case where rebates are credited by the vendor.

Part 4 implements other measures relating to taxation. It amends the Customs Tariff to increase the duty-free exemption for returning Canadian residents, from $200 to $400, for absences from Canada of not less than 48 hours. It amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to clarify that when a federal corporation listed in Schedule I to that Act pays provincial taxes or fees, wholly-owned subsidiaries of that corporation also pay provincial taxes or fees. It also authorizes the Minister of Finance to make payments totaling $400 million out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Province of Ontario to assist the province in the transition to a single corporate tax administration. This last measure is consequential to the October 6, 2006 Canada-Ontario Memorandum of Agreement Concerning a Single Administration of Ontario Corporate Tax.

Part 5 enacts the Tax-back Guarantee Act, which legislates the Government’s commitment to dedicate all effective interest savings from federal debt reduction each year to ongoing personal income tax reductions. That Part also commits the Minister of Finance to report publicly at least once a year on personal income tax relief provided under the Guarantee to Canadians.

Part 6 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to set out the amounts of the fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and the territorial formula financing payments to the territories for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2007 and to provide for the method by which those amounts will be calculated for subsequent fiscal years. It also authorizes certain deductions from those amounts that would otherwise be payable under that Act. In addition, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 6 also amends that Act to provide increased funding for the Canada Social Transfer beginning on April 1, 2007, and to provide for the method by which the Canada Social Transfer and the Canada Health Transfer amounts will be calculated for subsequent fiscal years, including per capita cash allocations. It also provides for transition protection.

Part 7 amends the Financial Administration Act to modernize Crown borrowing authorities.

Part 8 amends the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act to permit the Minister of Finance to lend money to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Part 9 amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act and the Winding-up and Restructuring Act to allow the Governor in Council to prescribe the meaning of “eligible financial contract”. Those Acts are also amended to provide that, after an insolvency event occurs, a party to an eligible financial contract can deal with supporting collateral in accordance with the terms of the contract despite any stay of proceedings or court order to the contrary. This Part also includes amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Winding-up and Restructuring Act to provide that collateral transactions executed in accordance with the terms of an eligible financial contract are not void only because they occurred in the prescribed pre-insolvency or winding-up period.

Part 10 authorizes payments to provinces and territories.

Part 11 authorizes payments to certain entities.

Part 12 extends the sunset provisions of financial institutions statutes by six months from April 24, 2007 to October 24, 2007.

Part 13 amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to provide the Minister of Public Works and Government Services with the power to authorize another minister, to whom he or she has delegated powers under that Act, to subdelegate those powers to the chief executive of the relevant department. That Act is also amended with respect to the application of section 9 to certain departments.

Part 14 amends the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act to allow the Minister of Finance to provide funding to the Agency for activities related to financial education.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 12, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 12, 2007 Passed That this question be now put.
June 12, 2007 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Business on the day allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
June 5, 2007 Passed That Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
June 5, 2007 Passed That Bill C-52 be amended by deleting Clause 45.
May 15, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
May 15, 2007 Passed That the question be now put.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to address that in the affirmative in a moment but there is more that we should know about in terms of the business we are doing.

We will continue today with Bill C-42, the quarantine act, Bill C-58, the railway transportation bill and Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted).

Tonight we have the emergency debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 that the Speaker has determined should proceed.

On Friday we will call Bill C-33, the income tax bill and Bill C-6, the aeronautics bill.

Next week is got the job done week when the House has completed the nation's business for this spring's session. During the got the job done week we will continue and hopefully complete the business from this week, as well as some new legislation and legislation that will be out of committee or the Senate.

The list of bills that are currently on the order paper, in addition to those I have identified for this week that I would like to see completed by the House before the summer recess are: Senate amendments to Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act.

There are also the following bills: Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts; Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Bill C-53, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

Another bill includes Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans).

By the end of next week, Canadians expect that the Senate will have completed its consideration of budget Bill C-52 without any amendments so that they can relax for the summer with the knowledge that $4.3 billion in the 2006-07 year end measures will be in play.

If there are amendments, we will have to be here in the House to respond and protect measures that might otherwise be lost, such as a $1.5 billion for the Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change; $600 million for patient wait times guarantees; $400 million for the Canada infoway; $100 million for the CANARIE project to maintain the research broadband network linking Canadian universities and research hospitals; $200 million for protection of endangered spaces; and much more.

The BudgetOral Questions

June 14th, 2007 / 3 p.m.
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Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue.

In the Budget Implementation Act, 2007, we committed to giving $135 million to reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, unelected Liberal senators are delaying Bill C-52.

We hope that the opposition members will support our development efforts for the Afghan people. Were they not the first to demand more money for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan and Kandahar?

HealthOral Questions

June 14th, 2007 / 2:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Liberal MP for Bramalea—Gore—Malton made a statement in the House praising Rick Hansen for his dedication to raising research funding to treat spinal cord injuries. Yet this week the member voted against a budget that gave the Rick Hansen Foundation $30 million to continue its important work.

Could the Minister of Health convey to the House what will happen to that funding if the Liberal Senate delays the adoption of Bill C-52?

Budget 2007 Implementation ActStatements By Members

June 14th, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals do not recognize the fiscal imbalance, and now they are voting against Bill C-52.

The bill is now before the Senate, which is comprised of a majority of unelected Liberal senators. If the bill is blocked by the Liberals in the Senate, it will result in the loss of more than $4 billion in tax breaks and funding for programs to the end of the 2006 fiscal year, including more than $1 billion to help provinces reduce patient wait times and $1.5 billion for provincial environmental initiatives in support of projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Leader of the Liberal Party should show a bit more leadership by urging irresponsible Liberal senators to make the interests of Canadians their priority, to respect the will of the House of Commons and to vote for bill C-52.

June 14th, 2007 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Anders

That's very kind of you, sir. Thank you.

I see people up and getting around. Stay in the room. We have some other things to deal with.

There is this issue of when the House will break. I don't know. I have no crystal ball on these matters. My general sense, for whatever members wish, is that I believe the government whip is waiting to see what will be done with Bill C-52, or the budget, in the Senate. If the Senate sees fit to have that budget bill move out of there without significant amendment, then I think the House will rise for the summer. If the Senate makes substantive amendments to the budget, then I think the House will wait until that bill has a chance to come back and be re-amended by the House.

Anyhow, that's all in the hands of the Senate, and I understand there were probably discussions with regard to this amongst the official opposition caucus on Wednesday morning, which I was not privy to, but I'm sure the issue was raised.

That being said, we do have questions. A lot of other committees are wrapping up their business and closing down for next week, pending the House closure.

Monsieur Gaudet, I notice you had your hand up.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget.

I listened to the member for St. Catharines talk about how the Conservative government is setting up the new seniors council. After the Conservative government talked about not having patronage appointments, what it has done is it has disbanded the National Council on Aging, an organization that had been set up by our Liberal government, and has started a new seniors council. The council basically has the same mandate and the same terms of reference, but there is one noticeable difference: it is stacked with Conservative appointees. This is not strictly a budget matter, but I had to comment on it.

This budget lacks vision. It lacks a direction for Canada. It is a collection of some sundry items, but it has no cohesion. There is a large amount of spending, spending in the wrong areas and spending that is going to be inflationary. In fact, we are already finding that it is inflationary because of the intended actions of the Bank of Canada to deal with it. We knew it would be inflationary. If the spending had been put in the right places, it would not have been as inflationary and might have had some benefit. The spending is in the wrong areas. Let me give an example.

Of course we know the Conservative government wants to reduce the GST, but in doing so, it increased personal income taxes, which any self-respecting economist will say is not good economic policy.

The government has also reneged on the Kelowna accord, which was providing many benefits to our aboriginal people in terms of housing, schools, clean water and many of the basic needs that aboriginal Canadians in this country need. The government has reneged on that.

The Conservatives have failed to deliver the funding required to implement the early childhood development agreements that had been negotiated in good faith by our Liberal government. They set up this phony child care program which does not really provide any spaces for child care in Canada.

The finance minister stood in this House, and I will never forget this, and said that the acrimony with the provinces and territories had been resolved, it had been fixed. He said that the so-called fiscal imbalance had been dealt with. I remember thinking how naive can a finance minister get. Certainly that came home to roost in spades when Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and many of the provinces said that this budget fails to deliver on equalization, that it reneges on the promise with respect to the Atlantic accord.

Income trusts are another good example. The Conservatives campaigned on the idea that they were not ever going to tax income trusts. What did they do? They broke that promise. They have come in now and taxed income trusts with hardly an apology. They wrote off about $25 billion to $30 billion in capitalized value of Canadians who counted on the word of the Conservative government not to tax income trusts. That promise was broken.

Many of us in the House would agree that the income trust question needed to be dealt with, but there were ways to deal with it in a much smarter and a much more fair way for all Canadians. In fact, the grandfathering that the government chose was not fair. It could have been done in a much more equitable fashion. In fact, I think there was an argument to be made to go back to the original raison d'être of income trusts, which was to help with the capitalization of energy companies and with property management companies. What did the government do? It brought in this measure which really hurt many Canadians who were saving for their retirement.

The government through the finance minister has come out with provisions with respect to the non-deductibility of interest expense. What the Conservatives tried to do was deal with some tax evasion measures, in other words, where income by companies is put into low tax or no tax jurisdictions and the interest expense is put into the jurisdiction of Canada and treated as an interest expense.

Yes, there was some abuse of that, but what the government has done is taken the measure to a ridiculous extreme. It has created the unintended consequence, or maybe the intended consequence, I am not sure how clearly the government thought this through, that companies in Canada will be put at a disadvantage when trying to acquire companies abroad.

The income trust decision of the government and the interest non-deductibility measures mean that Canadian companies are going to be targets of more takeovers, more takeovers than we have seen already. The list goes on of Canadian icons such as Inco, Falconbridge, Hudson's Bay and many other companies that have been taken over by non-Canadian interests. Takeovers of energy companies are going to increase, given the income trust decision, and also of companies in general, given the non-deductibility of interest measures.

What does the government do? The industry minister sits on his hands while the world goes by. He argues that the markets will solve everything and that the government should not be an interventionist. The government is finally going to respond and is proposing to make some changes to the Investment Canada Act, but I suspect it will be too little, too late.

There is one aspect of the budget that I think is particularly devastating. The budget provides no real initiative to enhance Canada's productivity, nor to enhance the rate of innovation in Canada. We have some productivity challenges, especially with respect to our neighbours to the south, our major trading partner, and this budget does nothing with respect to innovation or research and development.

We look back to the mid-1990s. Our government inherited a $42 billion deficit in 1993. In three short years, with the cooperation and the commitment of all Canadians, that deficit was eliminated and our government began on the path of reinvesting in research and innovation.

We created the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the CIHR, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. We set up research chairs across Canada. We also provided some funding for the indirect costs of research overheads. We changed the brain drain to a brain gain.

When a number of my Liberal colleagues and I visited the MaRS project in downtown Toronto recently and we went to the Hospital for Sick Children, I was saddened to learn that some of that brain gain is in jeopardy. We met researchers from all over the United States who had come back to Canada based on the research environment here, but they were thinking that maybe the research environment here in Canada was not so wonderful after all.

There was a lack of commitment to funding for the CIHR in this budget. There was a paltry increase. The CIHR also has some serious challenges with respect to continuity of funding. If a researcher who is an expert in his or her field cannot set up the team that he or she needs and set up a research program over a number of years, then that research is in jeopardy. That is what is happening.

There is also a significant problem with respect to the indirect costs of overheads. Our Liberal government took some measures in that area, but more needs to be done to ensure that the research environment continues here in Canada.

I will talk briefly about crime and safe streets. In our 2006 election platform, the Liberal Party promised a complete ban on handguns. In fact, the then prime minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, came to my riding of Etobicoke North and committed our party, if elected to government, to a complete ban on handguns.

Just this weekend, again in my riding of Etobicoke North, there was another murder, a drive-by shooting. It was a senseless cowardly act. One person is dead and three are injured. This happened because of the proliferation of handguns.

It is true that handguns are coming across the border from the United States, and that is why our government made more commitments at our border to stem the flow of guns coming from the United States into Canada. More needs to be done on that front. However, the reality is that many handguns are stolen from collectors

Instead of backing away from the gun registry, which is what the Conservatives are planning to do, they should be investing in the gun registry. They should be banning handguns.

We know that putting $1 billion into arming our border guards will have no deterrent effect on the people in Chicago, Boston or wherever, who run guns or drugs into Canada. These people are not sitting around thinking that now that Canada has armed border guards they had better not run the guns or drugs into Canada. Instead of using $1 billion to arm our border guards, that money could be put into much more useful endeavours.

This budget fails on a number of accounts and I will be voting against it for sure.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-52. I believe very strongly that if the government had wished, it could have brought this bill forward earlier for debate. The record will show that during a three week period this bill could have been debated, but here we are today with time allocation on the bill.

To me, the message that this budget brings to mind, and I have been here since 1993, is that it divides so much. It has pitted province against province. It has pitted the wealthy against the poor in our society, those with children against those without children.

Governing is not just about writing cheques after a bill has been passed. Governing is about real leadership. It is about developing policies that find substance in a budget, a budget speech coming from a throne speech and that is implemented through an act of Parliament.

I do not think that Canadians want a country where people are just told to fend for themselves. There are things that a government provides, services through its programming to individuals in society. I believe and hope that all members in this House want a united and strong Canada, hopefully led by a government that will change in due course, and we can get a real commitment to meeting our country's challenges and making our lives better in this country.

I have been in my riding many times since the announcement of this budget. What do people recall about the budget? I have to say that in my constituency office, people have been coming to talk to me, and the things they talk about are issues with respect to some of the smaller museums in my riding, issues with respect to literacy cuts that happened during the course of this government.

I was at a chamber of commerce meeting once and it talked about the money that went out in this budget, the volume of dollars. I chaired the finance committee three times when we were the government and this is the highest spending budget we have had.

Yet, what do people really think that they got from this budget? It is like telling people that in the last budget they got a 1% GST cut. Who noticed it? What they really noticed is that they did not have a child care space for their child.

In this budget, there was money given to graduate students, but what about undergraduate students? Undergraduate students received nothing in this budget.

We need to be talking more about productivity. We need real productivity in all of our industries in this country because now those industries have the challenge of a rising dollar. I have heard the stories from people in the manufacturing sector to the auto sector. They have been coming in and talking about how this will affect not only them, but if they are not productive in their industries, they are going to lose their jobs in the communities. They are going to lose their lifeblood and that will change the communities that exist all across the nation. This is not a regionalized situation, but we have heard today and other days how this is upsetting people.

The finance minister talked in his budget bill about peace with the provinces. I do not think so. The headline yesterday in a national newspaper was talking about the potential of the Prime Minister suing provincial governments. I have never seen that before. That is not peace. It certainly is not equitable in transfers. Our Atlantic province members are saying that. We see the cries from the Saskatchewan province and premier as well.

I want to go back to child care because I was recently called to a meeting with my local board of education, the public board of education. There were members of all political stripes there, NDP, Conservative and Liberal. That is the makeup in the London region in southwestern Ontario. The board was trying to convince people of how necessary real child care spaces were, that people needed these in their lives. This is something that last year's budget was going to create: 125,000 new child care spaces. It is a year later and there is not one.

We used to do a budget consultation that actually listened to what people told us. I chaired that report, “People, Places and Priorities”. That financial report called on our government at the time to create the child care spaces because Canadians needed them. Families needed them. Single parents needed them.

We have a token amount again. The government is putting some money out there as an incentive for industry to create these child care spaces, but it is not in the business of child care provision. The industry is in the business of producing whatever it is it produces, but it is not child care spaces. It wants the experts and people deserve to have the experts in these organizations, people who know what they are doing.

When last year's budget hit this House, it really did hit this House. It terminated agreements that were made by ministers with all of the provinces and territories. It was a go forward because there was a real need here. That need is still there. This was an investment and there has been zero delivery.

Again, if people listened to the consultation, they would have heard that there is not going to be uptake again even though there are small amounts of money put out. It will just not work. We need children and families to be supported.

The $1,200 that last year's budget brought forward, I do not think a lot of people realized until this year's tax return time that it was taxable. So the average family had $400 out of the $1,200 taxed back. That is a new first for a child care tax. But what is lost in this shuffle is that there is now a universal benefit going out that we abolished in the past.

These were failed things where everybody got the money. We had child tax credits that went to the most deserving, the families that needed that money, not to the high income person who has money and it is not going to make the impact it would with a targeted approach.

I have been disappointed. One of the trustees sitting at that London meeting talked about how a woman who had five young children and gets the money said that it really did not go to the education and care of her children, it went to whatever the household expenses were. Even if we gave more money to the provinces in a social transfer tax, there is no agreement saying what the money is specified for like we had with the child care agreements.

There is no control over those moneys and there is a real need here. The government has to understand that there is a real need for child care and we lost it. It took a lot of work and we have lost it now.

I want to talk about how I saw this budget spend billions and billions of dollars. I believe the real reason that this was not put on the order paper immediately is because the Conservatives thought that this was a budget they would go into an election campaign and maybe there would be an election called back in March when everybody was saying there would be one. They would then not have to put through all of these high spending things that we see here because I have never seen such a calculated buying of votes that I see in this budget plan, if it can be called a real plan because a plan would be something integrated with policy.

In my riding of London West there is a billboard against the current government on the breaking of its promise on income trusts. I hope that billboard stays there a long time. It must be costly for the people, but not as costly as it was for the people who lost their money because they believed the promise of no change in the income trusts. We know that is not happening.

We have the situation of the GST promise of the last budget. People do not even notice it. Who notices that one point loss? Now we hear that the government did not even put it in this budget. Remember when the Conservatives came to power, they said they were going to do another reduction? I can remember those commercials talking about lowering the GST, well that is scheduled for 2012, a promise long in the future.

My Sister's Place is an organization that caters to the homeless and women in need. It received a couple of dollars to take it another couple of months. It seems like the Conservatives will give funding, but there is no homeless initiative or housing in this budget plan. It is just funding until the next election.

Organizations cannot run that way. They need sustainable funding whether it is child care--

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 4:15 p.m.
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Independent

Bill Casey Independent Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to talk about the budget and the implementation bill, Bill C-52.

I want to address the hon. parliamentary secretary who just spoke so eloquently. I want to draw his attention a couple of things. He mentioned Mr. Dithers and criticized him and described the current Prime Minister as Mr. Action. I want to point out to him that it should not be just Mr. Action, but Mr. Right Action.

There are a lot of good things in the budget for my riding. It is a rural riding and I do not hesitate to say that there are a lot of good things in the budget for my riding, but it does not mean that one can break a contract. As we have heard over and again, this budget breaks a contract with the people of my province of Nova Scotia.

It is a nine paragraph contract signed by Cecil Clarke, the minister of energy at the time. It is the Atlantic accord agreement, which gives Nova Scotia 100% access to the gas and oil revenues, with no clawbacks, and it was meant to be applied to whatever equalization formula is in existence at the time.

Anyway, that is now broken in this budget that we are debating here today. Every day I hear the Minister of Finance, maybe the Prime Minister and maybe other ministers say that Nova Scotia can have the new formula or the old Atlantic accord. That simply is not true. They say over and again that the Atlantic accord has no amendments, that it is not changed. I do not know how they can say that because of consequential amendments in Bill C-52.

I want to read this into the record: “Section 220 of the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act is replaced by the following:”, and after that there could be about 10 paragraphs of replacements and amendments. Several parts of this act are amended.

As well, clause 81 amends the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act by adding another paragraph. This goes on for several amendments, replacements, additions and so on. This also includes the 2005 offshore revenue agreement that was negotiated by John Hamm. It is amended as well. Whole paragraphs are amended and definitions are changed. It is just not accurate to say that the old Atlantic accord is still available.

I hope that in these closing hours leading up to the vote tonight the government side will come to its senses and restore the Atlantic accord exactly as it was signed by John Hamm in 2005.

Members may recall that I voted against the budget on this issue. It was a difficult decision in a way, but in a way it was not. It was not a matter of policy whereby we decided whether it was good policy or bad policy; it was just right and wrong. The contract with my province of Nova Scotia was supposed to be a 15 year contract. In two years the government has made all these amendments to which I just referred. That changes the contract. It was supposed to go for 15 years, but it only went two years before the changes were made.

At this time I want to say that I did not make this decision easily. I want to thank my wife and others for helping me make that decision, because it affects her as much as it does me. It has had a big impact on my family and is going to have a big impact on whatever future I may have as a politician. My wife Rosemary was a very big part of this decision and I hope she is listening. I also want to thank my brother Dan. He is not interested in politics and does not have anything to do with politics, but he helped me because he actually gave me a non-political point of view on this.

Also, I had a lot help from friends and people in my riding association. A lady by the name of Tilly Armstrong said some things I will not forget. Her husband Dave and son Scott said a lot of things I will never forget. There were others like Jeff Hunt. Many people helped me make that decision.

I want to come back to the accord, because if the budget passes the House at third reading tonight, the accord as we know it, as it was negotiated in 2005, will be gone. Every single Nova Scotian will feel a loss if this happens. I hope that when it goes to the Senate the senators will use their sober second thought to review it again, to make sure that the right thing is done, and to make sure that the Atlantic accord is restored exactly as it was written, because once it is gone, it is gone, and I doubt that we can get it back.

I did not know a lot about the Atlantic accord until this debate came up. The more I got into it, the more I realized how magic it is and how well thought out it was, how well it was written and how it really represents the interests of Nova Scotia and provides a future for the economy of Nova Scotia.

I want to compliment former premier John Hamm, who did the negotiations, and Cecil Clarke, who was very much a part of them as well. He was the minister of energy at the time. We should all be grateful to them, but we should all also fight to make sure that this accord is kept exactly the way they negotiated it.

Another thing I hear quite often is that Nova Scotia gets this gift of $95 million under the new program. It is not a gift. It is just part of the same program that all the provinces have. It is not a gift any more than whatever the province of Quebec or any other province gets in the way of funding from the equalization formula.

However, somehow it is made out to be a big consideration for Nova Scotia. It is not. It is exactly the same benefit the other provinces get, but what it does do is take away the ability for the offshore revenue agreement to be attached to the new formula, which is what it was always intended to be.

What has happened is that under the budget the government has changed the whole concept of the offshore revenue agreement. It was originally envisioned to go with whatever equalization formula is in place at the time. It was to follow that. It is a rolling commitment to follow whatever the equalization formula is.

What the budget does is lock it into the previous formula. It changes the whole concept and the whole basic formula of the Atlantic accord. It means that after this budget passes it will not apply to the formula that exists at the time, but that is exactly what the formula was supposed to be. That is exactly what its purpose was.

This budget changes it dramatically and takes that away. I do not believe the people of Nova Scotia are going to accept that. Certainly it does not look like it to me from the response I have had, even just from my vote, and it absolutely puzzles me why I am getting this positive response, because all I did was ask the government to honour a signed contract. This is not a political promise. It is not something that was said loosely. This is a signed contract. It is signed by the Government of Canada.

I believe that every Canadian wants the signature of the Government of Canada to be honoured. It does not matter whether it is on a nine paragraph agreement with the Government of Nova Scotia or a trade deal with Washington or some kind of deal with Moscow. When Canada signs a contract, everybody in the world should know that it is rock solid, that it is solid gold and it will be honoured.

In this case, the signature was supposed to mean that the contract would be honoured for 15 years. It was honoured for only two years and now the government is changing it. In any case, it is a sad day at this point due to the fact that we have not made more progress. I understand that the premier of the province of Nova Scotia is in town today. I understand that he has met with the Prime Minister.

However, I do not think the government has agreed to restore the Atlantic accord, which is the only thing that Nova Scotians are going to accept at this point. At some point they might have accepted a compromise, but they are mobilized. Nova Scotians from every walk of life are mobilized and focused. They are crystallized on this matter of maintaining the Atlantic accord. Nothing other than the Atlantic accord will be accepted. We had it. We should continue to have it.

I think the government made an awful mistake to tamper with it. It had been going for two years. Nobody found a problem with it. It was working. It was accepted by all the other provinces. Why in the world the government brought it into the debate on the budget and tried to tamper with it and tried to change it, I will never understand. I think in the end the government is going to pay a price for it because it has opened up the whole debate again.

I hope that Nova Scotia will have the Atlantic accord restored, but I do think it is going to cause other provinces to become more animated in the debate and to seek similar agreements. It is a shame the government ever tried to meddle with this.

With that, I will end my remarks. I hope that between now and the vote tonight the premier of the province of Nova Scotia and the Prime Minister of Canada find a way to restore the Atlantic accord exactly as it was negotiated and as it was signed on Valentine's Day 2005.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
See context

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to speak to Bill C-52. Before I start, I take exception to what the NDP just said, and that is the government has not taken British Columbia into account in the budget. Prior to that, we had a Liberal member stand up and talk only about Saskatchewan.

Those members of Parliament think the government is not addressing provincial issues. We are addressing provincial issues. We are addressing issues that affect all Canadians. This is their way of twisting the facts. That is how they want to do it. The actual fact is the budget is for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We disagree with the opposition parties, but that is their way it is.

The member from Saskatchewan talked about Saskatchewan and then he went on to talk about the Kelowna accord. I remind him that a short while ago the Prime Minister made a speech on how our new government would address the issue of land claims. What is interesting is the national chief was with the Prime Minister. This is what he said:

—today's announcement...is a positive response to what our people have advocated for decades, and it is a testament to the perseverance and dedication of our people.

By this statement, he is saying that the Liberals ran the country for 13 years and for 13 years they did nothing.

Since the Conservative government has come into power, it has taken action. We know the previous government was run by Mr. Dithers. The Conservative government is run by Mr. Action. The Prime Minister has shown commitment and action. He has given a firm direction of where we want the country to go. That is reflected in the budget.

Very clearly, this is a Conservative budget with Conservative values. This is not a Liberal budget that dithers on this side or that side.

What are the Conservative values in the budget? They are restoring fiscal balance, tax relief, debt reduction, investing for Canadians, preserving the environment, improving health care, supporting our troops, supporting our farmers and supporting our seniors.

The NDP and the Liberals of course do not support it or the things about which I have talked. They want to go down to their narrow, little agenda.

Let me talk about seniors. This is what CARP, an association for people who are 50-plus, had said. Again, after years of advocating when the Liberals were in power, nothing was done. Now they stand and cry indignation about all the things which they did not do. CARP says, “After years of advocating for the age at which RRSPs must be converted from 69 to 71, this has happened as well as income splitting”. CARP is saying that this is a good budget for seniors.

Let me talk now about tax fairness, income splitting and income trusts. The previous speakers did not address the issue of income trusts. Do they really think we could have the income tax burden moved from corporations on to the shoulders of ordinary Canadians? That is what would have happened. They do not want to talk about that. That is why the government was very firm, despite the fact that we had to change the rules on income trusts. We knew tax fairness was very important for Canada. The Conservative government stands for that.

Budget 2007 carries the Conservative policies, which are good for Canadians. It addresses issues that Canadians want. Of course we do not expect the Liberals to like this budget because they never did it.

What is really very funny about the Liberals is they argue about things as if they were never in power. It is as if they had nothing to do with the situation we are in today. However, the good thing about is the Conservative government is very forceful. We know where we want to go. The Prime Minister made it very clear in the election promise as to where our direction would go. That is strongly reflected in the budget.

When the Liberals and the NDP members vote against the budget, this is what they will vote against.

The budget is about tax relief for individuals and families. It is about tax relief for businesses. It is about money for infrastructure. It is about making Canada's economy stronger. It is about reducing federal debt. It is about post-secondary education and skills and training. It is about science and technology. It is about defence and public security. It is about preserving our environment. It is about investing in Canadians, improving our health care system and most important, restoring the fiscal balance for a stronger federation.

The main point is the budget is the firm direction, the firm road map to where Canada will go, after listening to Canadians. The budget is all about that. When the Liberals and the NDP vote against this, they will vote for what Mr. Dithers and the Liberals did for the last 12 years they were in power.

I sat on that side through three Liberal budgets and I listened to the Liberals. They had this whole beautiful budget that would make Canadians feel good because they would address all these issues. At the end of the day, most of the issues were never addressed.

I am very happy and glad that the new Conservative government will tackle those issues right.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-52. I am going to speak mostly from a Saskatchewan perspective.

I have heard a few things that I am quite disappointed about from my colleagues across the floor with respect to Saskatchewan. I want to break it down and talk specifically about some of the things that I think are drastically unfair when it comes to Saskatchewan's treatment under Bill C-52, the budget of Canada.

First of all, we have heard the Conservative members from Saskatchewan boast about the spending in Saskatchewan. I think this is quite misleading from the perspective that we have also seen increases in taxes to Saskatchewan. It is from that perspective that I am going to spend a bit of time.

First of all, we have seen that taxes have been raised in Saskatchewan by tinkering with the basic exemption. Most people in Saskatchewan unfortunately earn middle to lower income salaries. What the tinkering with the basic exemption has done is cause most people in Saskatchewan to pay more taxes at the end of the year. This is not good because it clearly does not help Saskatchewan. That is one issue.

Then we have the issue of the child tax credit. It is not available to lower income families because it is non-deductible. We have a demographic in Saskatchewan, the low wage earners, who probably need this type of supplement the most but they are virtually unable to get it because it does not apply to them. The group that needs it the most is denied it. Other tax credits are not available to low income people, and again they are being shut out, for example, spousal support and so on and so forth.

The tax regime is not favourable to the majority of Saskatchewan residents because the tax treatment they are getting at the end of the day raises their taxes and does not allow them to participate in a lot of the supposed investments that the government has announced in Bill C-52. That is a concern for a lot of people in Saskatchewan right now. It has been one tax year already, and they have seen at the end of the year that holy cow, they are paying more taxes than they ever did and that is not good. They cannot find places to reduce the tax grab from the government. They are not very pleased.

Then there is the income trust fiasco. A lot of people in Saskatchewan lost their life savings because of the flip-flop that occurred. The Conservatives promised they would not do it. People took them at their word and people in Saskatchewan have suffered. We should chalk it up as another attack on Saskatchewan. People lost their life savings, and they are not very happy about that. I certainly would not be happy. I know many people who have lost a lot of money because of that broken promise, which is just one of many broken promises.

Then there is the registered education savings plan. Again, it can be argued that by raising it and changing it in the way the government did it could be good, but lower income people could not even meet the original benchmark. The government raised it but what help is it providing to lower income people to allow their children to pursue their dreams, to obtain a post-secondary education, to pursue the careers they would like to pursue? In effect they have been cut out. They are not happy with that either.

The working income tax benefit does nothing for lower income people. It does not help them scale the welfare wall. They are kept in the situation they are in because lower income people cannot access the benefit. They are not happy with that.

The gist of my speech so far is that lower income people in Saskatchewan are being left out.

The GST cut is fine but not if one does not have the income to purchase, because it is a consumer tax. Most lower income people do not have the disposable income to make large purchases so they benefit very little from the GST cut of 1%. Again it is the lower income people who are left out in the cold. They are not happy. I get calls. I talk to people, I get phone calls, and I visit different communities. People ask why they are being targeted. It is not fair.

I guess one of the biggest things on which everybody in Saskatchewan agrees is that the Kelowna accord was virtually killed and gutted. In my previous statements in the House, I talked about how Saskatchewan's share of the Kelowna accord, if it were implemented fully, would have been approximately $600 million or $700 million over five years. This is money that would have been invested in that young aboriginal population, to mobilize them into post-secondary education, to mobilize them into the workforce, to invest in housing, to improve the quality of life for aboriginal people in that province. When they do well, Saskatchewan does well.

With the Kelowna accord we would have seen aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people in Saskatchewan walking hand in hand, prospering, taking advantage of the opportunities available for them. Saskatchewan is doing fairly well. Saskatchewan just moved out of a have not status to a have status. We are worried because we do not want to slip back. Resource revenue is just that; it is one time and once it is gone, it is gone. What is Saskatchewan to do? Saskatchewan needs to firmly establish itself so it never slips back into being a have not province.

With the killing of the Kelowna accord, not only did the Conservative government abandon the aboriginal people in Saskatchewan, it abandoned all people in Saskatchewan, because as I said, when aboriginal people do well in Saskatchewan everybody does well. They would have walked hand in hand. They would have prospered and been able to capitalize on the benefits that Saskatchewan has to offer its residents.

I guess one of the big issues over the last month has been the broken promise to exclude resource revenue from the equalization formula. Very clearly, a promise was made. The Conservatives very clearly have broken their promise to Saskatchewan.

My colleagues from Saskatchewan are feeling the pressure, and I do not blame them for feeling that pressure, not only from Saskatchewan residents but I am sure from all sectors. Saskatchewan media has chastised my colleagues from Saskatchewan for their lack of action to stand up for Saskatchewan, for trying to mislead Saskatchewan with irrational numbers which I heard today. As I said previously, the Conservatives give a new definition to the algebraic term of “irrational numbers” because their numbers simply do not make sense. They are trying to confuse and distract from their broken promise. Very clearly, a promise was made and a promise was broken. That is what people in Saskatchewan understand.

People in Saskatchewan may be misled once, but they will not be misled again. People in Saskatchewan do not like to be taken advantage of or taken for granted. Do this once and they will not let it happen again. People in Saskatchewan do not think that the government cares for them, and they are going to be voicing their displeasure through many and various means.

I talked about income tax being raised in Saskatchewan. My colleagues across said, “Look, we are putting some $250 million into Saskatchewan this year”. People in Saskatchewan are paying for that because their taxes have been increased. They are paying for it because they are not able to access the tax deductions that are made available to everybody else.

At the end of the day, people in Saskatchewan are paying for their own lack of funding from the Conservative government. At the end, it is zero. I would say there is a net loss at the end of the day to people in Saskatchewan because of the way the Conservative government has manipulated the numbers.

It is a shame to mislead the people in Saskatchewan, but it is more of a shame to take advantage of lower income people who work very hard to make a living in Saskatchewan. Instead, they see their taxes are being raised. They are being marginalized even more. They are being given no support and then there is the promise that has been broken. It is unfortunate.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007.

Bill C-52 is an economic plan that will reduce taxes for hard-working families, pay down debt and invest in Canadians' key priorities, like improving health care, protecting our environment and making our communities safer.

In my riding of Barrie, parents are faced with the daily financial challenges of raising a family. Bill C-52 offers parents a choice in child care by making it more affordable for families to raise their children. Bill C-52 includes a working families' tax plan. This plan has three components.

First, for families with children it includes a brand new $2,000 per child tax credit for children under 18 that will help families get ahead. A constituent of mine, Jennifer Woods from Lions Gate Boulevard, called me after hearing the news and told me how much this means to single mothers like her with three young kids.

Second, this piece of legislation would end the marriage penalty through an increase of the spousal and dependant amounts to the same level as the basic personal amount.

Third, it would help parents save for their children's education by strengthening the RESP program.

The bill would also help Canadian seniors by raising the age limit for RRSPs to 71 from 69 years, increasing the age credit by $1,000 and permitting pension income splitting.

Since being in power, the Government of Canada has introduced nearly $38 billion in individual tax relief over this and the next two fiscal years.

Our government has proposed to lower our national mortgage by $9.2 billion, on top of the $13.2 billion we have put against the debt since being elected. That is the equivalent to $700 in debt relief for every Canadian. Lower debt will mean lower interest payments, which will mean lower taxes. Through the tax back guarantee, every dollar saved from lower interest payments would be returned to Canadians through personal income tax reductions.

Bill C-52 also provides a total of $2.6 billion in new health care investments, as well as an increase in health transfers. This means our government will transfer $44 billion in health care funding to the provinces and territories over the next two years.

The Canada health transfer would provide $21.3 billion in 2007-08, or $1.2 billion more than in 2006-07, to support provincial and territorial health delivery. This would continue to grow by 6% annually to reach $30.3 billion in 2013-14.

This new health care spending is positive news for my riding of Barrie. According to Statistics Canada, Barrie is one of the fastest growing census metropolitan areas in Canada and for many years now we have been faced with the challenge of critical physician shortages and an overload of pressure on our local hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital. The fund increase in health care by this budget would help hospitals like RVH by providing the provinces with more discretion to fund their needs.

Just recently it was announced that Barrie and Simcoe-Muskoka cancer patients will soon have access to Canada's first portable radiation unit at our local hospital. This new cancer treatment technology will begin to provide life-saving radiation therapy to hundreds of patients by this coming fall.

I want to specifically thank the Minister of Health and Dr. Rob Ballagh for first examining this concept last November. The announcement of this mobile cancer unit is an example of what increases in health care transfers to the provinces can achieve.

In addition to these transfers, Bill C-52 would provide $612 million to a patient wait times guarantee trust. For Ontario, this would translate into $205.4 million to the Ontario government for patient wait time reductions over the next three fiscal years.

Additionally, Bill C-52 would offer $30 million over three years for patient wait times guarantee pilot projects to assist the provinces and territories in implementing their patient wait time guarantees. Many Barrie residents will be positively impacted by this government initiative.

Since the introduction of the federal-provincial wait times strategy, the Royal Victoria Hospital has been a success story. Hospital procedures have been reduced by 19.6% for cataract surgeries, 17.9% for hip replacements, 11.8% for knee replacements, 25% for angioplasty, 23% for MRI exams and 13.6% for CT scans. Over $3 million has been directed to help RVH patients, and this has had a dramatic impact on our community.

We have seen an increase of more than 600 cancer, cataract and joint replacement surgeries performed at RVH, and more MRI hours of operation. The hospital has been able to increase MRI hours to 24 hour coverage on weekdays and extended hours on weekends. This means an additional 1,880 MRI hours for our hospital. I send kudos to the RVH management team of Scott Elliot, David Blenkarn, Janice Skot and Garth Matheson for using government resources so effectively to improve the health care in Barrie.

Another important priority that Bill C-52 addresses is the preservation of our environment. This includes $1.5 billion in the Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change, the doubling of the number of environmental enforcement officers and the creation of a new national water strategy.

I am pleased that our new national water strategy commits $12 million over the next two years to support the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. This is one of the largest investments of its kind by the federal government in Canadian history to Lake Simcoe. These funds are a significant step toward preserving and protecting Barrie's beautiful waterfront, which is the heart of the city and brings the community together. Furthermore, these much needed funds will directly help residents in the community by creating clean and safe water.

Bill C-52 also takes action to make our communities safer. Many serious crimes that we read about today include gang activity linked back to the drug trade. Bill C-52 will launch a new national anti-drug strategy to combat the use of illegal drugs.

This legislation will also provide funding to protect children from online sexual exploitation and assist investigators in suspected cases of human trafficking. We have a great chief of police in Barrie by the name of Wayne Frechette. This is the type of action that the federal government should be doing to help and support our local police forces.

Budget 2007 is an excellent one for Ontarians. In fact, several leading provincial Liberals have sung its praises. Premier Dalton McGuinty said that it meant real progress for Ontarians. The Minister of Finance said that it contains some really positive elements for Ontario. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said that it offers concrete results to Ontarians.

If Dalton McGuinty's provincial Liberals think that this budget is excellent for Ontario, that means it is a good budget for Barrie, for Ontario and for all of Canada. Perhaps the federal Liberals should follow their provincial counterparts' example.

Bill C-52 will help create a Canada that will make us proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren, a Canada with a standard of living and quality of life that are second to none. The Minister of Finance has delivered another balanced budget that builds a stronger, safer, better Canada by cutting taxes for working families, paying down the nation's debt and investing in the priorities of Canadians.

It is a good budget for my riding in Barrie, a good budget for Ontario and a great budget for Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, before question period, I was remarking that there was a number of myths and half-truths that had been propagated by members of the opposition today with respect to the budget implementation act, Bill C-52.

I pointed out that in contrary belief to what the member for Wascana had been advocating, we in fact had spent more days debating this bill than the last two budget implementation bills brought forward by the member for Wascana, when he was minister of finance. To suggest we are not giving adequate debate is absolutely a fallacy.

Let me point out two more points before I sit down and entertain comments and questions with respect to equalization and the formula respecting Saskatchewan.

One of the other fallacies is that members opposite, as well as the Premier of Saskatchewan, suggest that Saskatchewan will get no equalization money next year because of changes made to the equalization formula. That is an absolutely untrue statement. The reason Saskatchewan will receive no equalization dollars next year is because it does not qualify for equalization. Its economy is red hot. It is the third fastest rising economy in Canada. The Premier of Saskatchewan, as well as the public of Saskatchewan, should be proud of that.

Here is one thing that is true. If the previous Liberal government were in power today, Saskatchewan would receive no money in equalization this year. Why? Because the position of the Liberals is not to remove non-renewable natural resources from the equalization formula and, on top of that, put a fiscal capacity cap.

The member for Wascana said that it is not true. These are words echoed by his own leader a month ago on the Mike Duffy Live show. We can check the transcript or the film. He stated that he believed there was no equalization receiving province that should have money that would result in a fiscal capacity higher than a province that paid into it.

Saskatchewan is far better off under a Conservative regime than it ever would be under a Liberal regime.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Third ReadingBudget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 12th, 2007 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak in this chamber today to Bill C-52, the government's budget implementation bill.

I am particularly pleased to speak because I want to ensure I have the opportunity to dispel some of the half-truths and outright fallacies being propagated in debate, particularly today, by members of the opposition.

The first thing I want to talk about is the complete untruth that somehow we have been stifling debate on this important bill. We have heard it from the member for Wascana and the member for Vancouver East. They have consistently stated that the motion we brought in for time allocation today was an attempt to further curb debate on this very important bill. I assure members that is the furthest thing from the truth.

In fact, I point out, particularly for the members opposite, we have so far debated Bill C-52, this year's budget implementation bill, for 15 days. On the last two budget implementation bills presented by the previous government, now the official opposition, in the two years combined, the government had only allocated 14 days debate between the two years. In other words, to put things in context, we have spoken more days on this one bill than the last two budget implementation bills by the previous government combined.

For them to say that we have been curtailing debate is an absolute fallacy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now that we have that settled and put it to rest, let us talk about the bill itself and some of the benefits that apply to Canadians.

In particular, we know now that the fiscal imbalance situation, a concept that the previous government, and the leader of the official opposition in particular, failed to recognize, has been put to rest. More money has been paid to provinces in the form of transfers, whether they be health transfers or post-secondary education transfers, than has ever been done before, and we are very proud of that.

In addition, we have brought in initiatives to help families with child tax credits. We put money toward infrastructure. We put money toward a biofuels industry. We put money toward agriculture to help our farmers who have been suffering a decade long of income crises, from one crisis to another. We have provided Canadians from coast to coast to coast with a type of budget, presented by the type of government, that they deserve, for the first time in 13 years.

What I really want to talk about in the few moments I have before we get into question period is the question that has been predominating the airwaves today, and that is, the entire topic of equalization, whether it be the Atlantic accord or equalization as it sort of plays itself out with all the provinces besides Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. I will give a particular perspective and insight into what it has been doing to Saskatchewan because Saskatchewan has been unfairly portrayed as a province that has been hurt by the new equalization formula changes.

Again that is, at best, a half-truth, and I would suggest a complete fallacy if members really want to know the truth. Saskatchewan has not only resulted in receiving $878 million in new money, which is a $230 per capita payment, the highest of any province in Canada, but the changes we have made to the equalization formula itself are actually there to protect Saskatchewan in an essence of fairness across the board.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

The changes we have made in budget 2007 to the equalization formulation are, as promised, 100% removal of non-renewable natural resources after extensive consultations with the provinces. Both of those elements we talked about in the election platform. We promised to make those changes, and we did.

Now the question seems to be, particularly for members opposite, is that somehow we treated the province of Saskatchewan unfairly because we put a fiscal capacity cap on the formula.

Let me just say what a fiscal capacity cap is all about. This is nothing more than something that maintains a convention that has been in effect with the equalization program for the last 50 years.

Since equalization was first announced in Canada in 1957, and later enshrined into the Constitution in 1982, there has never been an instance in those 50 years where a province that receives equalization payments ends up with a higher fiscal capacity than a province that has paid into the program. Why is that? It is a matter of absolute fairness. Because the name “equalization” means simply that all provinces should have equal abilities to deliver services at relatively the same level of taxation.

This program is not intended to make a have not province richer than a have province. In fact, I point out that had the program, which introduced in budget 2007, been in effect in the 1990s, when Saskatchewan was considered a have not province, Saskatchewan would have received an additional $4 billion in revenue.

These figures are not my own making. These figures come from the department of finance in the province of Saskatchewan. Why is that? Because with a have not province, at least in the particular case of Saskatchewan, the $400 million a year that it would have received over that decade would not have put its fiscal capacity higher than that of Ontario. In other words, Saskatchewan would have received 100% of all the benefits flowing from their non-renewable national resource revenue.

What happened? Why did Saskatchewan not receive it? Because the previous Liberal government did not address the equalization program, even though there were repeated calls from the province of Saskatchewan to consider at least removing non-renewable natural resources from the formula. The previous Liberal government did absolutely nothing.

The member for Wascana is proud to stand in the House and say that when he was the minister of finance, he gave close to $800 million in his last budget to the province of Saskatchewan, and he did. Why? To try to redress all the inequities hoisted upon Saskatchewan for the previous decade.

Even with that $800 million, he was woefully short of treating Saskatchewan fairly. As I mentioned just a few moment ago, had the provisions we have placed in budget 2007 been in place during the 1990s, Saskatchewan would have received $4 billion in additional revenues.

Unless the member for Wascana commits to coming up with another $3.2 billion to give to Saskatchewan, what he did over 13 years amounts to absolutely nothing in terms of fairness. What we have done is redress that. We have made the equalization formula not only principled, but fair to each and every province.

I hear a lot of chirping on the other side and them saying “not true”. It absolutely is true. The member for Wascana knows it. I know it. I hope the people from Saskatchewan know it as well.

That is not the only thing these changes have done in terms of equalizing and ensuring that the equalization formula is more professional and a principle based program.

I understand that we have to go to question period. I will have a few moments left after question period and I look forward to continuing this discussion then.