Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 and to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2007

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

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 goods and services tax and harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures proposed in the March 19, 2007 Budget but not included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2007, which received Royal Assent on June 22, 2007. Specifically, the Excise Tax Act is amended to

(a) increase the percentage of available input tax credits for GST/HST paid on meal expenses of truck drivers from 50% to 80% over five years beginning with expenses incurred on or after March 19, 2007;

(b) increase the GST/HST annual filing threshold from $500,000 in taxable supplies to $1,500,000 and the annual remittance threshold from $1,500 to $3,000, both effective for fiscal years that begin after 2007;

(c) increase the GST/HST 48-hour travellers’ exemption from $200 to $400 effective in respect of travellers returning to Canada on or after March 20, 2007; and

(d) implement changes to the rules governing self-assessment under Division IV of Part IX of the Excise Tax Act to ensure that GST/HST applies appropriately in respect of intangible personal property acquired on a zero-rated basis and consumed in furthering domestic activities, applicable to supplies made after March 19, 2007.

Part 2 amends the non-GST portion of the Excise Tax Act to implement measures announced in the March 19, 2007 Budget. Specifically, the excise tax exemptions for renewable fuels, including ethanol and bio-diesel, are repealed, effective April 1, 2008.

Part 3 implements income tax measures proposed in the March 19, 2007 Budget but not included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2007, which received Royal Assent on June 22, 2007. In particular, it

(a) introduces a new Working Income Tax Benefit;

(b) eliminates income tax on elementary and secondary school scholarships;

(c) eliminates capital gains tax on donations of publicly-listed securities to private foundations;

(d) enhances the child fitness tax credit;

(e) expands the scope of the public transit tax credit;

(f) increases the lifetime capital gains exemption to $750,000;

(g) increases the deductible percentage of meal expenses for long-haul truck drivers;

(h) provides tax relief in respect of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games;

(i) allows for phased-retirement options for pension plans;

(j) extends the mineral exploration tax credit;

(k) enhances tax benefits for donations of medicine to the developing world;

(l) streamlines the process for prescribed stock exchanges;

(m) introduces an investment tax credit for child care spaces;

(n) introduces a new withholding tax exemption with respect to certain cross-border interest payments;

(o) prevents double deductions of interest expense on borrowed money used to finance foreign affiliates (the Anti-Tax-Haven Initiative);

(p) eases tax remittance and filing requirements for small business;

(q) introduces a mechanism to accommodate functional currency reporting;

(r) provides certain tobacco processors that do not manufacture tobacco products with relief from the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Surtax; and

(s) provides authority for regulations requiring the disclosure by publicly traded trusts and partnerships of information enabling investment managers to prepare the tax information slips that they are required to issue to investors on a timely basis.

Part 4 implements the disability savings measures proposed in the March 19, 2007 Budget. The measures are intended to support long-term savings through registered disability savings plans to provide for the financial security of persons with severe and prolonged impairments in physical or mental functions. Part 4 contains amendments to the Income Tax Act to allow for the creation of registered disability savings plans. It also enacts the Canada Disability Savings Act. That Act provides for the payment of Canada Disability Savings Grants in relation to contributions made to those plans. The amount of grant is increased for persons of lower and middle income. It also provides for the payment of Canada Disability Savings Bonds in respect of persons of low income.

Part 5 implements measures that provide for payments to be made to provinces as a financial incentive for them to eliminate taxes on capital under certain circumstances.

Part 6 enacts the Bank for International Settlements (Immunity) Act.

Part 7 amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 to permit phased retirement arrangements in federally regulated pension plans by allowing an employer to simultaneously pay a partial pension to an employee and provide further pension benefit accruals to the employee. These amendments are consistent with amendments to the Income Tax Regulations to permit phased retirement.

Part 8 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purpose of Canada’s contribution to the Advance Market Commitment.

Part 9 amends the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act to authorize the National Energy Board to regulate traffic, tolls and tariffs in relation to oil and gas pipelines regulated under that Act.

Part 10 amends the Farm Income Protection Act to allow financial institutions to hold contributions under a net income stabilization account program.

Part 11 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to provide for an additional fiscal equalization payment that may be paid to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. This Part also specifies the time and manner in which the calculation of fiscal equalization payments will be made and it amends that Act’s regulation-making authority. In addition, this Part makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 12 amends the Canada Education Savings Act to clarify the authority of the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development to collect, on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency, any information that the Canada Revenue Agency requires for purposes of administering the registered education savings plan tax provisions.

Part 13 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to an entity, designated by the Minister of Finance, to facilitate public-private partnership projects.

Part 14 implements tax measures proposed in the October 30, 2007 Economic Statement. With respect to income tax measures, it

(a) reduces the general corporate income tax rate;

(b) accelerates the tax reduction for small businesses;

(c) reduces the lowest personal income tax rate, which automatically reduces the rate used to calculate non-refundable tax credits and the alternative minimum tax; and

(d) increases the basic personal amount and the amount upon which the spouse or common-law partner and wholly dependent relative credits are calculated.

Part 14 also amends the Excise Tax Act to implement, effective January 1, 2008, the reduction in the goods and services tax (GST) and the federal component of the harmonized sales tax (HST) from 6% to 5%. That Act is amended to provide transitional rules for determining the GST/HST rate applicable to transactions that straddle the January 1, 2008, implementation date, including transitional rebates in respect of the sale of residential complexes where transfer of ownership and possession both take place on or after January 1, 2008, pursuant to a written agreement entered into on or before October 30, 2007. The Excise Act, 2001 is also amended to increase excise duties on tobacco products to offset the impact of the GST/HST rate reduction. The Air Travellers Security Charge Act is also amended to ensure that rates for domestic and transborder air travel reflect the impact of the GST/HST rate reduction. Those amendments generally apply as of January 1, 2008.

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

Dec. 13, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Dec. 10, 2007 Passed That Bill C-28, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 and to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on October 30, 2007, be concurred in at report stage.
Dec. 10, 2007 Failed That Bill C-28 be amended by deleting Clause 181.
Dec. 4, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is quite right. In putting all of its emphasis on tax reductions for large corporations, the government has failed to realize that a lot of people are going to be left out.

It is not a figure of speech to talk about a prosperity gap in Canada. If we look at the most recent statistics published by the most neutral source available in this country, Statistics Canada, and we divide income into five brackets, those are called quintiles, we will notice that it is the middle quintiles, literally the middle class, that has been the hardest hit in the past 20 years.

Contrary to what we might hope because Canada is a prosperous country, the people who are working hard in this country, the middle class, are actually taking home less than they were in 1989. That is not an opinion. That is a matter of documented statistical fact.

The people at the highest end of the earning spectrum are earning up to 25% more than they were in 1989, but if individuals are in the middle quintiles, the third, the fourth or the fifth, chances are they are among Canadians who are actually earning 4% to 5% less even though they are working harder.

More and more families have two breadwinners. That does not take away from the fact that modern families are having more and more difficulty making ends meet. That is the way things are in my province of Quebec and that is the way things are in a lot of other places in Canada. It is a crying shame that the Conservative government does not understand that.

What is equally scandalous is that the posers from the Liberal Party of Canada, who love to talk about the role of food banks and community groups and things of that nature, have been sitting on their hands. They are in fact backing the Conservative Party. They are maintaining the Conservatives in power. We find that scandalous.

Canadians have a right to know that the Conservatives are being kept in power because of weak leadership in the Liberal Party of Canada and that party's incapability of coming to any real decision. The Liberals keep voting for all of the government's bills, including this one.

It would be interesting to see, after all his posturing and posing and chest thumping, the leader of the Liberal Party, when he gets back from his Christmas holidays, become Mr. Tough Guy when it comes to the Conservatives. It will be really funny to see what he is going to do with Bill C-28 if it is carried over until after the holidays. I think I know. He will do what he has done with every other Conservative bill, sit on his hands.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this debate gives us a golden opportunity to remind Canadians of the disastrous effects the Conservative government's policies are having on the economy.

Bill C-28 is barely getting any reaction from the Liberal Party of Canada, but that is nothing new. I must admit that as a new member in this House, it is a wonder to me to see how—and my colleague from Toronto just talked about this—some people who are close to the Liberal Party of Canada have managed to pass themselves off as being concerned about poverty and food banks. In fact, the Conservative government is currently granting tax reductions and giving big gifts to the oil companies and the banks. But Liberal members are doing nothing.

If the current government manages to force the passage of Bill C-28 before Christmas by virtue of its seat count, then we will miss out on quite the show. The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada has publicly said that he wants to make sure Canadians understand that, after the holidays, the fun will be over, that he will prove the skeptics wrong, that we will have to hold him back or he might hurt the Conservative Party. What we have seen instead this fall is a Liberal Party of Canada that is keeping the Conservatives in power.

I would like to say a few words about what that means. Before becoming a minister in Quebec for a number of years, I was part of the opposition for nine years. I know what it is like to be in the opposition. The job of the opposition is to do two things: make the government accountable, in other words, be the public's conscience and ask the right questions, but at the same, hope that our policies will one day lead us to power. In other words, it is our job to be a government in waiting.

In the NDP, we have clear policies and we are absolutely ready to be in power. Just look at the depth of talent on the NDP benches in this House. We are a political party with a great number of people who have extensive experience in public administration. It is absolutely extraordinary to see the Liberal members sitting on their hands when they could be defeating the Conservative government if they voted just once with us. But they will not. Why? I guess they must be happy enough with the Conservatives' policies or they would be helping us defeat them.

Day after day, they criticize Conservative policies during question period, and at the end of the day, when the time comes to vote against the Conservatives, the Liberal Party drops the ball. It does not have the political courage to stand up and vote. Last night, we witnessed an unprecedented spectacle in this House during the vote on Bill C-28, which is now before us. This is the Conservatives' Christmas bill, their $14 billion gift to oil companies and banks. Some Liberal members showed up to vote against it because the infamous Atlantic accord was part of this bill.

How many of them showed up? Ten or so. Not even enough to form a party in Parliament. The so-called official opposition can no longer call itself a recognized party in Parliament because the members of the official opposition no longer even show up to vote. They are afraid they might defeat the government on what might be considered a matter of confidence.

People who made the mistake of voting for the Liberal Party of Canada are really questioning that decision. The members of the NDP are telling people to take a good look at our policies and who we are. When I look at my colleagues who were once ministers in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario or, in my case, Quebec, people with a great deal of experience in education, industry, their churches and their communities, I realize that the NDP possesses the kind of wealth and social vision to do a good job of running a government that would renew Canada's reputation as a peacekeeper, international cooperator and environmental steward.

What do we have instead? We have a Conservative government that is embarrassing Canada internationally and that drew us into the quagmire of war in southern Afghanistan. Only the NDP has adopted a clear position against the war in Afghanistan, in favour of the withdrawal of our troops and a comprehensive, stable process for the development and maintenance of lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The Conservatives are embarrassing Canada on the world stage by not trying to achieve an objective that is supposedly shared by all political parties, that is, committing 0.7% of our gross domestic product to foreign aid. In that regard, they are the worst government in the history of Canada since the 0.7% objective was adopted. We are farther than ever from that objective, which is so crucial if we want to help our fellow human beings around the globe.

We need look no further than the conference currently under way in Bali, Indonesia, to understand just how much the Conservatives are embarrassing us. We sent our pitiful Minister of the Environment there to embarrass us. It is bad enough to have to watch his buffoonery here every day when he gets up and talks about a file on which he clearly has not done the least bit of work. He reads quotations and spews nonsense of that nature, when what Canadians really want to know is what will be done to fulfill our obligations to future generations.

Those who have the opportunity should go to McGill University to meet the extraordinary people who work at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law. These people understand that sustainable development is not just a slogan invented over the past few decades. Sustainable development is a legal obligation we have towards future generations.

Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol five years ago, even though this protocol is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. Because Canada ratified it five years ago, it is part of Canada's domestic law. The Kyoto protocol is an international obligation, but it is an integral part of our law, which means that it is a legal obligation.

The Conservative government prides itself on respecting law and order. Yet this law and order government is becoming irresponsible and even an international outlaw because of its disrespectful behaviour toward future generations. It is casting a shadow over a generation of Canadians who have worked hard to earn our country the utmost respect of the international community when it comes to the environment.

I know that whenever the Kyoto protocol comes up, the Conservatives inevitably point to the seats opposite them and say it is the Liberals' fault, because they did nothing for 13 years. We agree, and we will always agree that the Liberals did nothing. On the contrary, instead of meeting the Kyoto target, which is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 6% compared to 1990 levels, the Liberals saw emissions increase by 33% in the 13 years they were in power. This is shameful, and it is the worst performance in the world.

Eddie Goldenberg, the former Prime Minister 's chief of staff, was kind enough to remind us, during a recent presentation to the London Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, that when the Liberals signed the Kyoto protocol, it was purely because of public opinion. He said that it was to galvanize public opinion. Eddie Goldenberg is admitting that, as was the case with the Kelowna Accord and all other Liberal measures, their actions were exercises in public relations.

This is why the NDP now has such support in Quebec and the other provinces. Citizens realize that the Liberal Party of Canada is but an empty shell, a creature of the 1960s designed to keep Quebec in its place and now being superseded by political parties that understand that what is truly important in life is to look after our neighbours and our society, and that we have to look after our planet.

That is the NDP vision. Unlike the Liberals who have never looked after these interests, unlike the Conservatives who do not wish to do so, and unlike the Bloc who cannot, the NDP is the only political party with representation throughout Canada, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, that speaks to Canadians about real issues.

One of the nicest compliments I received in the recent byelection in Outremont was from someone living at Father Dowd Memorial Home. After my presentation, a severely handicapped gentleman beckoned to me and said something that touched me deeply. He said that it was the first time that a federal candidate had come there and spoken about human beings rather than about the Constitution, or disputes, or differences that too often are the subject of debate in Quebec.

Like those voting in the Outremont byelection, many Quebeckers have realized that the NDP is the only credible party in the House of Commons speaking for peace, the only credible party speaking out against war in Afghanistan, and the only party standing up for the environment. Our leader has a great deal of experience in environmental issues. This very afternoon, he is introducing an important bill that has received support not only from David Suzuki, but also from the Pembina Institute. This bill would put us on the path toward real greenhouse gas reductions so that we can respect the right of future generations to experience the same standard of living, the same quality of life and the same living environment we have experienced. That is what the NDP is all about. We are a political organization that puts people first, unlike the Conservatives.

This brings me back to Bill C-28, which is before us today. The primary goal of this bill is to use State moneys for their intended purpose, that is, to help people, to help with infrastructure, and to help create programs for people. We want to give that money to people. Who do the Conservatives want to give that money to? They want to give it to big oil companies and banks.

The outcome of all this is bizarre because the overheated oil industry pushed the value of the loonie up. Such a high Canadian dollar is making it very hard to export products. As a result, people across Canada are losing their jobs. Many people in New Brunswick and Quebec who work for Shermag have recently lost their jobs. This is not because the company is badly managed. In fact, it is an outstanding company that makes quality products. The Conservative government does not seem to understand that. It has destabilized Canada's relatively stable economy made up of primary resource sectors, processing sectors, a manufacturing sector and, of course, an oil sector based mainly in the west. There was wealth, but there was also balance.

The Conservatives are in the process of killing the manufacturing sector, getting rid of not just workers, which is bad enough. Because of this, many families will have to do without come Christmastime. This is primarily because the Conservatives could not care less about people's lives. They are not interested in helping people. Their only motivation is an economic dogma that has convinced them, even if they are wrong, that the last thing a government should do is get involved in the economy. But by proposing tax cuts, regardless of the size of the business or profits, they are, in fact, getting involved in the economy. Some oil companies in the west would get $40, $50 or even $60 million presents all at once.

These businesses, in western Canada, will earn even more in the oil sector. This will create a greater imbalance in our economy and will destabilize us even more. It will push the dollar even higher, which will cause an even greater drain on the manufactured goods sector of the economy, the industrial sector, particularly in the east, in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

These are good jobs being lost, and the Conservative government does not care at all. It does not care because it does not believe that the government should get involved, any more than it believes the government should get involved in the environment. There are important things to be done with a little vision.

There was a press conference today with the leader of the NDP and Daniel Breton, who is the president of the Coalition Québeckyoto. Daniel Breton is a visionary.

Today, he drew a comparison to what Quebec managed to do in the 1960s, when it decided to be the master of its own destiny. This operation in Quebec, which was called, “Maîtres chez nous”, was decried, castigated and criticized. Some predicted the worst, that this would fail. Some 40 years later, where are we now? We have Hydro-Québec, a government corporation that is a world model of good management. Quebec will be able to produce 4,000 megawatts—or 4,000 times a million watts—thanks to wind energy, now that these projects are being built or have been approved and are going through.

This is clean and renewable energy. With a little vision, a little self-confidence, we could do the same across Canada. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have absolutely no self-confidence and they certainly have no vision. They do not believe for an instant that the government can play a role in this.

This makes me think that if the Conservatives had been in power in Europe during the planning of the high-speed trains, which now crisscross Europe at 300 km an hour, they never would have been built. This required vision and confidence in the fact that government has a role to play and can be a driving force in achieving these big projects.

If our government here in Ottawa had just a bit of vision, Canada could become a world leader in clean and renewable energy. In remote villages the woods were cut a long time ago, but a tremendous amount of forest biomass was left behind. In fact, tens of millions of tonnes of forest biomass was left to slowly release carbon. Instead of allowing that to continue, imagine using infrastructure already in place, namely the roads and bridges that are already built, to transport this forest biomass to what would become a methanol production plant.

We can use ethanol, we can produce wind energy, we can use hydraulic power and wind power to produce hydrogen. We could become a world leader in hydrogen energy, which is clean energy and is renewable for future generations. But no, we are digging up the oil sands. We are in the process of using relatively clean fossil energy, namely natural gas, to melt the sand and extract, at a high environmental cost, the bitumen contained in the oil sands of western Canada. It is outrageous. It is the antithesis of sustainable development. It is absolutely not sustainable. This cannot last long, but such is the Conservative government: it does not believe in the future.

We in the NDP have a vision for the future, a vision that takes into account our primary, unending and inescapable responsibility towards future generations. And we will do everything we can to meet those expectations. We will oppose this government and its far right plans. We will oppose the war in Afghanistan and we are the only ones who oppose it.

Indeed, the Bloc Québécois supports the Conservative government regarding the war in southern Afghanistan until 2009. Its members are still unable to explain why it will suddenly be a bad war in 2009, yet it is not a bad war right now. The Bloc Québécois owes an explanation to voters. Bloc members had a very hard time explaining this in Outremont.

The Liberals are responsible for the debacle in Afghanistan and they are also responsible for the worst performance in the world when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. They too have some explaining to do to voters.The Conservatives, on the other hand, who incessantly hide behind Liberal negligence and incompetence, will have to explain themselves to future generations.

They must stop hiding behind the Liberals to make excuses. They must stop hiding behind the United States, China, India and Brazil and trying to justify the unjustifiable regarding how the oil sands are being developed in the west. It is starting to have a destabilizing effect on our economy and even on the planet. And this government is the primary driving force. We, on the other hand, will do all we can to propose a vision of the future, a vision of hope, a vision that takes into account our obligations towards future generations.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons we have such a crisis in the manufacturing sector is because of the high dollar. Why do we have a high dollar? One of the major causes is the fact that we are increasingly a commodities dollar, a petro-dollar.

What happens when we give across the board tax cuts, as we are debating in Bill C-28, is that we reward the oil and gas sector and the large banks and insurance companies, which are already making multi-billion dollar profits, and we further threaten the manufacturing sector, which is the most value added, most beneficial sector of our economy in terms of the spin-off jobs and the overall value.

The handling of the manufacturing crisis and the boom in the commodity sector is just exacerbating this situation. It is jeopardizing our manufacturing sector. I do not know whether it is from a bias toward the polluting industries, the oil and gas sector, or a lack of experience with the manufacturing sector, but we could do permanent damage to our valuable manufacturing sector and, frankly, we will see the impact of the current high dollar, not tomorrow, not next month but in two or three years to come. We have not seen the worst of this yet.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-28 and to express my opposition to it.

It is a fundamentally wrong direction for Canada. It is explicable that the Conservatives, who tend to take us in the wrong direction, could present an economic statement of this manner to the people of Canada and therefore bring in this bill, but it is impossible for me to understand how the opposition could de facto support this direction, which is absolutely the wrong one for Canada. I want to elaborate on my concerns about this statement and why I believe it is the wrong direction.

As I said earlier, one of my major concerns is around the tax cuts and what they mean in terms of eroding the resources that we need collectively to build this country. If we want to not only maintain our standard of living, maintain our industrial sector, maintain a level of civil society, but also to improve all of those things, and improve the environment and improve our social climate, and deal with the major issues facing us today, and improve our economic standing in the world, then gutting our fiscal capacity to act is not the way to do it. I want to address the very serious issue of tax cuts.

This statement continues not only the present government's but also the previous Liberal government's mistaken path of huge corporate tax cuts and other tax cuts. It takes us down the wrong path for Canada. Over the next five years the revenue that pays for the things Canadians say they want, the programs and services, and all of the things we tell each other we want, will drop by $60 billion based just on this economic statement.

I remember when there was a huge debate because the previous government failed to bring in a national child care program that was going to cost us $2 billion. What a terrible shame that with all of these resources we have failed to invest in our children.

There are cuts to the GST, to personal income taxes and to corporate income taxes. The latter, which by 2012 will drop to 15% from 21% today, is really an outrageous corporate giveaway. This notion of having to attract investment, cut taxes lower and lower and do away with more and more for the people of our country is nothing but a race to the bottom. It really is quite unworthy of a developed country such as Canada.

As I said earlier in the House, this latest economic statement really is the continuation of a 20 year race to the bottom in terms of trying to cut our way to prosperity which clearly has not worked. It diminishes our country.

There has been a conscious plan by the current Conservative government and previous Liberal governments over the last 20 years. They were supposed to have been looking out for the interests of our country and yet they have cut $250 billion out of the fiscal capacity of this country, out of the revenue we need to act on behalf of Canadians and in fact build our country.

I ask Canadians to think about the difference this revenue would have made in our country and the kinds of things Canadians say they want. Canadians are repeatedly frustrated that their politicians are not acting on the things that we have forgone because of these tax cuts. I want to list some of them.

One of them is a national child care program to invest in our children, a program that invests the money where it counts most, in the very early years of our children's lives.

Another is a national pharmacare program. Yes, we have a medicare program thanks to Tommy Douglas and the NDP, but no one's health should be jeopardized because they lack the funds to pay for the pharmaceutical drugs they need.

Yet another is a home care program. Whether it be disability, illness, age, whatever the cause, people are best cared for in their own home. They should have the care they need to be able to stay in their home. It is more economical for society. It is better for the person to be able to stay in familiar surroundings. It is the best kind of care we can deliver for people who want and need to stay in their home. We have failed in this area.

Another is social housing. I have spoken many times in this House about people in my riding of Parkdale—High Park who have fallen through the cracks because of the high cost of housing in the city of Toronto. There are many people who work below the poverty level. People who work for less than $10 an hour simply cannot afford the level of private rental housing that is available in the city of Toronto.

I am very proud that in our community as a result of a community initiative a very small housing facility just opened last weekend, thanks to the help of the United Church. We are so far from being able to address the needs of Canadians when it comes to affordable housing. It is quite shocking. In my city over 75,000 families are on the waiting list for affordable housing. These families are not going away. Their lives are not improving. They are not getting off the list. The list just keeps getting longer and longer. Even those families who are not on the list for affordable housing are often paying a greater and greater amount of their income for their housing needs. Many working and middle class families are getting dangerously deep in debt. They are very concerned about what any change in interest rates could mean for their finances. There is a huge stress on families today because of the lack of affordable housing.

Add to that the challenge of tuition fees for young people who start out in life with tens of thousands of dollars in debt heaped on their backs. What a way for young people to start out , to look at building their career. It is a time when they want to take chances, to travel, to try new things, to learn new things. Instead they are saddled with phenomenal debt because of the lack of investment in post-secondary education by a government that would prefer to give it away to very profitable corporations.

I must speak to the staggering infrastructure deficit in our country. It is huge. It is getting bigger, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. We are falling further and further behind each and every year because of the lack of investment by the Conservative government and previous Liberal governments to maintain, improve and grow our infrastructure. Whether we are talking about water and sewage, roadways, transit, social and community infrastructure, the lack of investment means that our cities are in very poor shape.

We have seen bridges fall down in Quebec. We have seen drains break in the middle of winter in downtown Toronto, which have to be repaired on a case by case basis, at a huge extra cost. We see gridlock on the streets of our major cities. Someone has to explain to me how this is good for business. How does this gridlock in our crumbling infrastructure make Canada a more competitive country? How is that good for business? It is not.

Whether it is the board of trade or other business organizations, right across the country everyone knows it is bad for business. It is a drag on our competitiveness as well as being a terrible drag and a terrible burden for people who live in our communities who are trying to go about their daily lives.

The lack of transit infrastructure means that people spend hours stuck in traffic. People are moving further and further afield from the centre of our major cities which means they have longer commutes. They get stuck in rush hour traffic. It is a vicious cycle which the current government is doing nothing to help, and the Liberals when they had the chance with many surplus budgets did nothing to help. We have to address the issue of infrastructure in our cities.

It is tragic that we have had the opportunity because of surplus budgets to make these investments but have not done so. I see a lot of back patting by the Conservative government and by previous governments about how deficits and debt have been reduced. What I see is that the debt and deficits have been pushed off the plate of the government and on to the back of individuals.

I see people with more and more personal debt. I see people in my community going to payday lenders and rolling over debts week after week. They are spiralling further into debt. I see that anxiety about how to make ends meet being shuffled off to the individual. It is the least efficient way to deal with collective needs.

I cannot go out and buy my own piece of subway or road. I guess I could buy my own personal swimming pool, but I would rather invest in our community facilities, our community swimming pools, our community child care centres and schools. These are the things that we build together. When we put our tax dollars together we can build so much more than if we each take our own little piece and try to scratch and scramble and invest it ourselves.

We see so many people who believe the advertising of the investment companies and they put their money into mutual funds. People throw their lot in with the market and then find that when they need the money it is not there for them, that the money is lost because it has been gambled away. What we really need are secure retirement incomes. There is no better system than the Canada pension plan, where we all pool our money together so that everyone's money is secure and it is there for seniors when they need it.

If we want to take some of the $250 billion that the government has forgone through tax cuts, why not invest more of that money and make life better for seniors? Why not give more of that back to seniors?

By the way, the billion dollars that the federal government has shortchanged seniors by miscalculating the cost of living could be given back to seniors too. That is another billion dollars that seniors would be very glad to have.

The argument for cutting taxes is that it will make companies more competitive. I think it is important that we do well in the economy and that businesses be competitive and do well in the world, but I would argue that even on the basic grounds of making Canada more competitive, I do not think this tax cut agenda is doing it.

In 1999, the year before the previous prime minister, the member for LaSalle--Émard, introduced his huge tax cuts, Canada was fifth in the world in competitiveness and--

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously Bill C-28 is an important bill because of what it does not do.

It does not address the crisis in homelessness and poverty.

It also does not address the crisis in our employment insurance program. As the member quite rightly pointed out, it was gutted by the previous Liberal government to the point where in my own city of Toronto I know that almost 80% of unemployed workers do not get employment insurance. That is where we are today. It used to be that about 80% of unemployed workers got EI.

Could the hon. member comment on the failure of both the current and the previous government to address the crisis of poverty but also on the contribution that the devastating changes to the employment insurance system have made to that crisis?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

I will not respond to that. It is beneath contempt.

I will take a few moments to comment on the remarks that came from the Conservative member for Macleod this morning. He spoke to the positives he saw in Bill C-28. I understand his perspective. It is the government perspective and the benefits as he sees them. He advised the House, as we heard again in question period, of 388,000 jobs, mostly full time he said, created in the country this year.

To me that begged the question. In which sectors was there this exciting job growth and could the people in the companies of the manufacturing sector expect a plan from the government to protect the existing jobs and to help create new ones in one of the core sectors of Canada's economy? To the present time, I have not been informed as to where these jobs have been created and in which sectors. I look forward to hearing that news at some point.

However, during the remarks by the member for Macleod, he offered the words to the effect that the Conservative government had taken a decision not to favour one sector over another to provide tax relief to address growth in all of Canada.

I nearly jumped out of my chair at those words. The manufacturing sector in Canada, particularly in my community, is in crisis. We are being told that they are not being favoured. We never asked to be favoured. We have asked for a plan for a strategy from the government to address the needs of this core sector of our economy to assist them and their companies.

In this modern age we often hear the words “a holistic approach to issues and problems”. Quite often that refers to health, but I suggest this is what is needed relative to dealing with our manufacturing crisis today.

The Conservative government simply has to get with the times. If it believes it can deal with our economy solely by tax cuts and then let the chips fall, Reaganomics, or the economics of trickle down, has been discredited and has been branded a failure worldwide. The government must step back from this simplistic approach to economics, step back from the tax cuts for the rich corporations, hoping something trickles down to the ordinary hard-working Canadian.

The government must move to a place where it begins to operate with that holistic view of running the country, an approach which ensures everyone benefits together, not the rich first and something else for the rest at another time, but to where everyone together benefits from the great wealth of the country.

Twenty per cent of my community live in abject poverty. They want to work but do not have a job and cannot even begin to find one. They know the bill does not one thing for them. The question is this. Who are these favoured companies and favoured corporations referred to by the member for Macleod. Without reading a single word of this statement, without a single economics course, because they have been well trained by previous Liberal governments, Canadians can tell us that it is the banks and big oil and gas companies that will reap the benefits immediately from Bill C-28, just like they did for years under the Liberals.

The member for Macleod also talked about the NDP mended Liberal budget of 2005. I did say mended, not amended. That is because we mended it by taking $4 billion plus from the corporate tax cuts and forced the Liberals to put these saved dollars, saved fiscal capacity, into transit, and I see this in Hamilton today with new ecobuses on the street, into education and into housing, the same housing we heard the Conservatives taking credit for just earlier today in the House.

Now the Liberals, who are finally seeing the dollars put together in the budget for their corporate friends, are going to sit on their hands. They are not going to stop this.

The needs today are pressing and will worsen in the future. What is missed by so many here, or they are at least hiding from it, is the lost fiscal capacity of the country. What I found interesting was seeing the government members spend so much time this spring taking credit for the dollars flowing from that NDP modified budget. Again, we heard that repeated in the House earlier today.

With Bill C-28, as with the previous Liberal government, the Conservatives are continuing their corporate welfare program, with large corporate tax breaks very similar to the ones proposed in 2005 by the Liberals. It is estimated that these corporate tax breaks will reduce tax income for our country by $14 billion a year.

This obvious concern should arise for the Liberals. As I said, what about the lost fiscal capacity of the federal government in years to come? We know and members will have heard repeatedly throughout this debate that Canadian cities are facing a huge infrastructure problem.

I want to reiterate that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities demonstrated in its recent report that there is an infrastructure deficit of $123 billion. I have not heard one word in the House to refute that report. Nobody is saying that it is inaccurate. Nobody is saying that it is not true. In fact, it is almost like it does not exist. I cannot understand how the Conservatives can ignore it. How can the Liberals let them? This is beyond belief.

I am going to take a moment to offer a suggestion to the government. I have already spoken about the common sense of Canadians and how a number of them in my riding of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek have been quick to point out to me their surprise when they see that the Conservative government, with its surpluses, is not prepared to invest in my community's needs and community needs across the country.

The government is not prepared, in the words of my constituents, to use common sense to prepare for our future and to repair some of the infrastructure from our past. The people of my riding understand the need to pay down debt, but they cannot begin to understand why such huge payments are being budgeted when there is already so much need in the country.

There is the need to address the infrastructure problem. There is a need for affordable housing. We heard the member for Sault Ste. Marie talk of the tragedy of homelessness across the country. We have heard that 42 people died last year as a result of homelessness. There is also a need for a national drug program.

However, the embarrassing level of poverty in the country is the one piece that should be the catalyst for anybody and any government to act. I have offered that small piece of advice to the government.

Another small piece that I would offer is the need to deal immediately with the $500 per year mistake. Senior are owed that. I think it would be incumbent upon the government to act on that immediately and pay seniors what they are owed.

If there is any reason to redirect the wealth of the country into new programs aimed at eliminating poverty for thousands of men, women and children, I would have to say that this is the reason I stand in the House repeatedly on Bill C-28. In many cases, I am repeating many of the words I have said before, but they have to be repeated over and over again until the shame of poverty in Canada is eliminated.

I had breakfast today with the High Commissioner of India. Many Canadians have a view of India as a desperately poor country, but that country has a strategy such that it is setting about the elimination of poverty in India by the year 2020. Whether it succeeds or not, the very fact that India has that concerted effort is an example that this country must follow.

We had the grand vision of eliminating child poverty by the year 2000. We need another grand vision for Canada. We need leadership from the government and we need it to address poverty now.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-28 one more time and I do so because of the significance of the implications for my riding of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. Clearly Hamilton East—Stoney Creek and the entire community of Hamilton have a lot vested in the budget document, more because of what it does not do than what it does do.

Before I comment directly on Bill C-28, I will like to take a few moments in response to—

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 3:25 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know members of the NDP are trying to filibuster and are running out of things to say, but they have to stay on topic.

We are talking about Bill C-28, at third reading. Every comment made has to be about the substance of the bill. They cannot go on one tangent or another about what they do with money. They have to talk about the issues of Bill C-28. I would ask that you bring them to order.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it seems to be only NDPers in the House who are asking the intelligent questions about Bill C-28. The member's question is a very valid one.

We saw gutting of the health care system under the Liberals continued under the Conservatives. There are the recent cutbacks that I just cited in terms of the overall cutbacks to government departments. Rather than making sure the money is being adequately invested and ensuring that our health care program is adequately funded, the Conservatives are taking exactly the same approach as the Liberals.

The member for Sault Ste. Marie has raised an important question. It is important to note that health care is a major part of the competitive advantage for Canadian companies. Study after study has shown that Canadian companies are far more competitive because they do not have to pay health care benefits as they do in the United States. We have a major competitive advantage.

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have ever attempted to match corporate tax rates to that effective competitive advantage that companies get through the health care system. They just keep slashing corporate tax rates down to the bone without taking into consideration that the support for the health care system is a major competitive advantage.

If the government wants to help the corporate sector, why does it not invest in health care? Why does it not invest in a pharmacare program that would allow corporations to have an even more effective competitive advantage without slashing the federal government's ability to help ordinary Canadians?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the Conservatives are awake in the House now. Hopefully, they will actually read the bill and exercise their due diligence by voting against it.

It is important for Canadians to know where these tax gifts are going. I do not think any Conservative member would be opposed to that because they believe in accountability.

The EnCana Corporation saw $6.4 billion in profit in 2006 and the Conservatives want to give it more. Shell Canada saw $1.7 billion in profit. Suncor Energy saw $2.9 billion in profit. Husky Energy had $2.7 billion in profit. Talisman saw $2 billion in profit. That is the list of Conservative beneficence and generosity. The Conservatives just shovel it out of the back of a truck to the corporate sector.

Bill C-28 contains nothing for poor Canadians, nothing to deal with the housing crisis or the income crisis, and nothing to deal with the post-secondary education crisis and the crisis on aboriginal reserves. It contains nothing to deal with the crisis among Canadians with disabilities. We simply see no reference to any of that. Why? The Conservative government is so profoundly out of touch that it thinks the greatest priority for Canadians right now is to shovel tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector.

The government does not take care of veterans or aboriginal people. It does not take care of poor working families that have been working their fingers to the bone over the last 20 years and average over 200 hours more of work as commuting times increase and as the overall quality of services deteriorates given how irresponsible the Liberals were when they were in government. The Conservatives are not addressing any of that.

They will say that Bill C-28 has a slight adjustment in the lower levels for income tax payers. However, it is important for Canadians to know that there is one thing that will help them in terms of income tax and that is a net benefit of $15 a month for average families earning less than $30,000 a year. The government is giving tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector but it is giving families $15 a month.

I come from British Columbia and I have seen this kind of hocus-pocus with tax cuts under the Gordon Campbell government. It did the same thing. It gave massive gifts to its buddies in the corporate sector while lower income families were given $15 or $20 a month. It turns out that all families earning less than $80,000 a year, which is the vast majority of Canadian families, actually ended up paying more user fees than they received from that small tax break.

As I mentioned earlier, the massive cuts that the Conservative government is making in all the services I just mentioned from the Library of Parliament documentation, essentially gives poor working families $15 a month to adjust for the user fees or the deterioration of services that they will see right across the spectrum of federal government services.

That is not what Canadians want. Canadians want an effective federal government. They want an activist federal government that will use money wisely but put it where it counts the most. They do not want a government that fritters away, in this appalling irresponsible way, tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector.

The government had a choice. It could have taken a different direction from the failed, corrupt Liberal government but it chose to take exactly the same route, which is why we oppose Bill C-28.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would again ask the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster to try to keep his remarks as closely as possible to the third reading stage of Bill C-28.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The theme is the giveaway. The giveaway that happened last Thursday is similar to the giveaway we see in Bill C-28. I know the hon. member does not like to hear that, but the reality is such that he has to understand that shovelling billions of dollars out the door to the corporate sector, which is what is contained in Bill C-28, is entirely inappropriate.

Why? Because of the current economic situation that most Canadians are living through.

When the finance minister rose to give the supplementary budget update, he was talking to Canadians, two-thirds of whom have seen a decline in their real income since 1989. Two-thirds of them have seen their real income fall. The middle class, the lower middle class and the poorest of Canadians have seen their real incomes fall, in most cases catastrophically, yet what we have seen over the past 20 years of economic policy is essentially a giveaway to corporate CEOs and corporate lawyers.

Bill C-28 continues in that theme. We saw it under the former Liberal government and it is continued under the current Conservative government. Is that in Canada's interests? Not at all.

The fact that most Canadian families have seen their debt load double over that same period, the last 20 years, begs the question: what should have been in the economic update? It is a very simple question.

What we have is corporate giveaways on a massive scale to the most profitable companies in Canada. That is the priority of this so-called new government. It certainly mirrors the priorities of the old Liberal government. We see the same old same old. We see the same economic approaches.

What could have happened? We should have seen investments in our industrial sector to protect manufacturing jobs. We have lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs over the past few years. We have had closures of factories in British Columbia, where I come from, and massive job loss in the softwood industry. As a result of the softwood sellout, in the past year we have lost 10,000 jobs in the softwood industry alone. That has devastated and gutted softwood communities from coast to coast.

Essentially we have seen the gutting of the manufacturing sector and the gutting of the softwood industry. We have seen case after case. I know that Conservative members do not want to hear reality. They prefer to hear from corporate lobbyists, but my goodness, it is about time that Conservatives started to listen to main street rather than Bay Street all the time.

We saw that under the Liberal government. The Conservatives said they would be different. We see it with the economic update, this Bill C-28 that we are discussing. It is the same old giveaway of Canada's public resources. There is no attempt to put in place an industrial sector. There is no attempt to actually address what Canadians are living through. Instead, the government just said, “Let us give this money away”.

The Conservatives say they have a surplus, but it is a myth of a surplus. I will point out just one of the key facts that the Conservatives seem to have completely forgotten in this entire debate. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities came forward after years of Liberal cutbacks and has estimated the infrastructure deficit at about $125 billion. What is worse, that deficit increases by nearly $20 billion each and every year.

What is the transportation and infrastructure deficit? It means that our highways become more dangerous, including the highway overpasses. We saw the collapse in Minnesota because appropriate attention was not given to updating the highway overpasses. Many fear that could happen in Canada.

We are seeing the lack of an ability to access fresh water. We have seen that in places such as Walkerton and North Battleford, yet there has been no investment by the federal government to actually improve our access to fresh water across the country.

Let us talk about waste management, with a city such as Victoria continuing to spew raw sewage out into the Juan de Fuca Strait. The Liberals did nothing on it. The Conservatives said they would be different. Instead, it is the same old same old for waste management.

As well, it is the same for the whole range of public transit. We have seen a substantial underfunding of our public transit facilities across the country, which means that Canadians have fewer options in terms of getting to work. We know that commuting times are increasing at the same time as overtime is increasing. People are working harder and longer weeks, yet they are getting less take-home pay.

Bill C-28, the budgetary update, deals with absolutely none of those issues. Instead, the Conservative government has made cutbacks to the justice system, to the environment, to agriculture, to fisheries and oceans, to public security, to Indian affairs, to the health care system, to international trade and industry, and to human resources and skills development.

It is the same old, same old. We went through it all with the Liberals and now, with Bill C-28, we are seeing the fiscal irresponsibility of the Conservative government. It is cutting the essentials. It cuts back on the basics and then says that it has a surplus so it should give it away to the corporate sector.

That reminds me of the little boy who took $3 from his mother and went to the store. He was supposed to buy essentials for his family, for his brothers and sisters, bread and milk, and then to bring those essentials home. Instead, he spent three-quarters of the money on candy and then came back and told his mom that he had a surplus, that he had not bought any of the essentials and that he had frittered the money away.

What we are seeing from the government is that it is frittering the money away on corporate tax cuts on an ongoing basis and not taking care of the essentials, whether we are talking about our basic infrastructure, what our cities and towns need to ensure there is a decent quality of life for citizens, or whether there is an industrial strategy in place that actually provides good, family sustaining jobs. We are not seeing that.

The government says that people can work at Wal-Mart because that is all it will give them as an industrial strategy. After people are laid off from good, family sustaining jobs, because the Conservatives and Liberals have done nothing about this over the last 20 years, they are taking part time and temporary service jobs that pay much less and do not allow them to sustain their families, which is why, for two-thirds of Canadian families, their incomes have declined.

If that is not an income crisis, I do not know what is. However, we will not hear a word about that from the Conservatives, like we did not hear a word about it from the Liberals either. There is just a consistent negation of everything that is happening on the main streets of our country, including, as the member for Sault Ste. Marie mentioned, the fact that tonight, 300,000 Canadians will be sleeping in parks and homeless shelters across the country in the middle of winter. If that is not a source of national shame, I do not know what is.

The Liberals did nothing. They eliminated the housing programs, so they provoked the crisis. All the Conservatives have done is take the NDP money from the NDP budget and told everyone that it had put $1 billion aside. That was NDP money for housing, but it was only a start. We recognize that we are dealing with a housing crisis and that we need more than $1 billion to actually deal with 300,000 Canadians sleeping on the streets of our country tonight, and hundreds of thousands of Canadian families that are just a paycheque or an action away from losing their homes.

We knew that money was only a start in the investments needed, but for the Conservative government that is all it is willing to give. It is just taking the moneys that were put aside by the NDP and that is it.

None of the essentials are taken care of. The NDP has been saying that Bill C-28 should contain a national pharmacare program so that families, that are going into debt and seeing their incomes eroded by escalating drug costs, will actually have some supports.

The NDP is the only party in this House talking about that, in the same way that Tommy Douglas, the greatest Canadian and former NDP leader, put in place a health care program. We are saying that Bill C-28 should have had a national pharmacare program, but it does not.

It has no industrial strategy and no support for post-secondary students who are facing massive debt loads and lower incomes once they get out of university, and, since most jobs created today, the Wal-Mart jobs, do not come with pensions or any sort of supports, we are talking about a life of what is essentially indebtedness.

We take these kids, who worked their way through university, and have them start out life with a $30,000 debt load. As Statistics Canada tells us, they start with lower salaries and then, when they get the jobs that they can get with the laissez-faire government, the same as the Liberals who did not seem to give a darn about the middle class or poorer working Canadians, students simply end up, once they have finally paid off their student loans, facing a life where there are no pensions beyond what is contained in the CPP and the GIS.

We know the government has done nothing to address the underfunding of the GIS, this rip-off of seniors. Nothing in Bill C-28 deals with the fact that the cost of living has gone up faster than the GIS, which means that seniors are being ripped off by the Conservative government, as they were ripped off by the former Liberal government.

Nothing in Bill C-28 addresses any of those concerns. It contains nothing about the farm crisis and agricultural incomes, and nothing about the poverty that first nations are living under, the deplorable state on reserves across the country. It contains nothing to deal with the fact that five million Canadians with disabilities are the poorest of the poor Canadians. Half of the homeless are Canadians with disabilities and 40% of those need to stand in long lineups at the food banks for food, which we never see the Liberals and Conservatives actually addressing. The lineups at the food banks are becoming increasingly longer and 40% of the people who need those food banks just to survive until the end of the month are people with disabilities. Nothing in Bill C-28 addresses that either.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

December 11th, 2007 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are in third reading of Bill C-28, not Bill S-2. The member is talking about a completely unrelated piece of legislation. This is third reading, where the member needs to be very focused. I know it is tough for that particular member to be focused, but we do ask that he debate the bill that is before the House at third reading, and its details.