Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table two petitions today on behalf of my constituents of Hamilton Mountain. The first petition is especially timely, as I had the opportunity on Saturday to participate in the regional spelling bee organized by the Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association in my hometown of Hamilton.
The petitioners are in support of a bill I had the privilege of seconding last year, Bill C-276, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (literacy materials), which was brought forward by my good friend the NDP finance critic and member for Winnipeg North. The petitioners share our belief that literacy is a necessity and therefore must not be subject to taxes.
In our knowledge-based economy, the bar is constantly being raised higher on the basis of skills needed to access decent jobs, to function in daily tasks, and to participate in social and political life. Despite our technical sophistication, nearly 50% of Canadians still have difficulty working with words and numbers. It is in everyone's interest to raise Canadian literacy rates. For many Canadians, the added cost of the GST can be a real impediment. There are far too many barriers to literacy already.
The petitioners point out that removing the GST on books and audiovisual materials for literacy training in fact complements existing tax relief given to organizations that conduct literacy work. They call on Parliament to immediately pass Bill C-276.