Budget Implementation Act, 2009

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

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 in the January 27, 2009 Budget. In particular, it

(a) increases by 7.5% above their 2008 levels the basic personal amount and the upper limits for the two lowest personal income tax brackets, thereby also increasing the income levels at which income testing begins for the base benefit under the Canada Child Tax Credit and the National Child Benefit supplement;

(b) increases by $1,000 the amount on which the Age Credit is calculated;

(c) increases to $25,000 the maximum amount eligible for withdrawal under the Home Buyers’ Plan;

(d) introduces amendments to the rules related to Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Registered Retirement Income Funds to allow for recognition of losses in accounts between the time of the annuitant’s death and final distribution of property from the account;

(e) repeals the interest deductibility constraints in section 18.2 of the Income Tax Act;

(f) extends the mineral exploration tax credit for one year;

(g) increases to $500,000 the annual amount of active business income eligible for the 11% small business income tax rate and makes related amendments;

(h) clarifies rules relating to timing of acquisition of control of a corporation; and

(i) creates cost savings through electronic filing of tax information.

In addition, Part 1 implements income tax measures that were referenced in the January 27, 2009 Budget and that were originally proposed in the February 26, 2008 Budget but not included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008. In particular, it

(a) clarifies the application of the excess corporate holdings rules for private foundations;

(b) increases the amount that corporations will be able to pay as “eligible dividends”;

(c) enacts several regulatory amendments that complement and complete measures enacted in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008;

(d) introduces minor adjustments to the Tax-Free Savings Account rules and the scientific research and experimental development investment tax credit rules included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008;

(e) implements rules in respect of donations of medicines; and

(f) reduces the paper burden on businesses by allowing a larger number of government entities to share Business Number-related information in connection with government programs and services.

Part 1 also implements other income tax measures referred to in the January 27, 2009 Budget that either were themselves previously announced or flow directly from previously announced measures. In particular, it

(a) implements technical changes relating to specified investment flow-through trusts and partnerships and new tax rules to facilitate the conversion of these entities into corporations;

(b) contains amendments to take into account financial institution accounting changes;

(c) extends the general treatment of capital gains and losses on an acquisition of control of a corporation to gains and losses that result from fluctuations in foreign exchange rates in respect of debt denominated in foreign currency;

(d) enhances the carry-forward for investment tax credits;

(e) implements amendments relating to the computation of income, gains and losses of a foreign affiliate;

(f) implements amendments to the functional currency tax reporting rules;

(g) implements minor tax amendments relating to interprovincial allocation of corporate taxable income, the Wage Earner Protection Program and the Canada-United States tax treaty’s rules for cross-border pensions;

(h) provides for an extension of time for income tax assessments that are consequential to provincial reassessments;

(i) ensures the appropriate application of the Income Tax Act’s trust rules to certain arrangements and institutions under Quebec civil law;

(j) enacts regulatory amendments relating to prescribed amounts for automobile expenses and benefits, eligible medical expenses, and the tax treatment of foreign affiliate active business income earned in a jurisdiction with which Canada has concluded a tax information exchange agreement;

(k) introduces rules to reduce the required minimum amount that must be withdrawn from a Registered Retirement Income Fund or from a variable benefit money purchase pension plan by 25% for 2008, and allows related re-contributions;

(l) extends the deadline for Registered Disability Savings Plan contributions; and

(m) modifies the provisions relating to amateur athletic trusts.

Part 2 amends the Excise Act, 2001 and the Excise Tax Act to implement measures to reduce the paper burden on businesses by allowing a larger number of government entities to share Business Number-related information in connection with government programs and services.

Part 3 amends the Customs Tariff to implement measures announced in the January 27, 2009 Budget to

(a) reduce Most-Favoured-Nation rates of duty and, if applicable, rates of duty under other tariff treatments on a number of tariff items relating to machinery and equipment imported on or after January 28, 2009;

(b) divide tariff item 9801.10.00 into two separate tariff items pertaining to conveyances and containers, respectively, and make two technical corrections, effective January 28, 2009; and

(c) modify the tariff treatment of milk protein substances, effective September 8, 2008.

Part 4 amends the Employment Insurance Act until September 11, 2010 to extend regular benefit entitlements by five weeks. It also provides that a pilot project ceases to have effect. In addition, it amends that Act to provide that the cost of benefit enhancement measures under that Act, provided for in the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009, are not to be charged to the Employment Insurance Account. Finally, it sets the premium rate provided for under that Act for the years 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

Division 1 of Part 5 amends the Financial Administration Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to take, subject to certain conditions, a number of measures intended to promote the stability or maintain the efficiency of the financial system, including financial markets, in Canada.

Division 2 of Part 5 amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to provide the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation with greater flexibility to enhance its ability to safeguard financial stability in Canada. The Division also adds Tax-Free Saving Accounts as a distinct category for the purposes of deposit insurance. It also makes consequential amendments to other acts.

Division 3 of Part 5 amends the Export Development Act to, among other things, expand the Export Development Corporation’s mandate to include the support and development of domestic trade and business opportunities for a period of two years. The period may be extended by the Governor in Council. Division 3 also increases the Corporation’s authorized capital.

Division 4 of Part 5 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to increase the maximum amount of the paid-in capital of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Division 5 of Part 5 amends the Canada Small Business Financing Act to increase the maximum outstanding loan amount in relation to a borrower. It also increases individual lenders’ cap on claims. These amendments will apply to new loans made after March 31, 2009.

Division 6 of Part 5 amends a number of Acts governing federal financial institutions to improve access to credit and strengthen the financial system in Canada, including amendments that will

(a) provide new authority for further safeguards to promote the stability of the financial system;

(b) enhance consumer protection by establishing new measures to help consumers of financial products; and

(c) implement other technical measures to strengthen the financial sector framework in Canada.

Division 7 of Part 5 provides for payments to be made to provinces and territories, provides authority to the Minister of Finance to enter into agreements respecting securities regulation with provinces and territories and enacts the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act.

Part 6 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for various purposes, including infrastructure and housing.

Part 7 amends Part I of the Navigable Waters Protection Act to create a tiered approval process for works in order to streamline the approval process and to exclude certain classes of works and works on certain classes of navigable waters from the approval process. This Part further amends Part I of the Act to clarify the scope of the application of that Part to works owned or previously owned by the Crown, to provide for the application of the Act to bridges over the St. Lawrence River and to add certain regulation-making powers.

Part 7 also amends the Act to clarify the provisions related to obstacles and obstructions to navigation. The Act is also amended by adding administration and enforcement powers, consolidating all offence provisions, increasing fines and requiring a review of the Act within five years of the amendments coming into force.

Division 1 of Part 8 amends the Wage Earner Protection Program Act and the Wage Earner Protection Program Regulations to provide that unpaid wages for which an individual may receive payment under the Wage Earner Protection Program include unpaid severance pay and termination pay.

Division 2 of Part 8 amends the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to, among other things,

(a) require the Chief Actuary of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to report on financial assistance provided under that Act; and

(b) authorize the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to suspend or deny financial assistance to all those who are qualifying students in respect of a designated educational institution.

Division 2 of Part 8 also amends both the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act and the Canada Student Loans Act to, among other things,

(a) terminate all obligations of a borrower with respect to risk-shared loans and guaranteed loans if the borrower dies;

(b) authorize the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to require any person who has received financial assistance or a guaranteed student loan to provide that Minister with documents or information for the purpose of verifying compliance with those Acts; and

(c) authorize that Minister to terminate or deny financial assistance in certain circumstances.

Division 3 of Part 8 amends the Financial Administration Act to provide express authority for agent Crown corporations to lease their property, restrict the appointment of employees of a Crown corporation to its board of directors, require Crown corporations to hold annual public meetings, clarify Treasury Board’s duties to indemnify Crown corporation directors and officers, permit more flexibility in the frequency of special examinations of Crown corporations, and require the reports of special examinations to be submitted to the appropriate Minister and Treasury Board and made public. This Division also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 9 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to set out the amount of the fiscal equalization payments to the provinces for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2009 and amends the method by which fiscal equalization payments will be calculated for subsequent fiscal years. It also amends the method by which the Canada Health Transfer is calculated for each fiscal year in the period beginning on April 1, 2009 and ending on March 31, 2014.

Part 10 enacts the Expenditure Restraint Act. The purpose of that Act is to put in place a reasonable and an affordable approach to compensation across the federal public sector in support of responsible fiscal management in a difficult economic environment.

It sets out rules governing economic increases to the rates of pay of unionized and non-unionized employees for periods that begin during the period that begins on April 1, 2006 and ends on March 31, 2011. It also continues certain other terms and conditions at their current levels. It preserves the right of collective bargaining with regard to other matters and it does not affect the right to strike.

The Act does not preclude the continued development of workplace improvements by employers and employees’ bargaining agents through the National Joint Council or other bodies that they may agree on. It also permits bargaining agents and employers to agree to the amendment of certain terms and conditions of collective agreements or arbitral awards.

Part 11 enacts the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and makes consequential amendments to other Acts. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that proactive measures are taken to provide employees in female predominant job groups with equitable compensation.

It requires public sector employers that have non-unionized employees to determine periodically whether any equitable compensation matters exist in the workplace and, if so, to prepare a plan to resolve them. With respect to public sector employers that have unionized employees, the employers and the bargaining agents are to resolve those matters through the collective bargaining process.

It sets out the procedure for informing employees as to whether an equitable compensation assessment was required to be conducted and, if so, how it was conducted, and how any equitable compensation matters were resolved. It also establishes a recourse process for employees if the Act is not complied with.

Finally, since the Act puts in place a comprehensive equitable compensation scheme for public sector employees, this Part amends the Canadian Human Rights Act so that the provisions of that Act dealing with gender-based wage discrimination no longer apply to public sector employers. It extends the mandate of the Public Service Labour Relations Board to allow it to hear equitable compensation complaints and to provide other services related to equitable compensation in the public sector.

Part 12 amends the Competition Act. The amendments include

(a) introducing a dual-track approach to agreements between competitors, with a limited criminal anti-cartel provision and a civil provision to address other agreements that substantially lessen or prevent competition;

(b) providing that bid-rigging includes agreements or arrangements to withdraw bids or tenders;

(c) repealing the provisions dealing with price discrimination and predatory pricing, replacing the criminal resale price maintenance provision with a new civil provision to address price maintenance practices that have an adverse effect on competition, and repealing all provisions dealing specifically with the airline industry;

(d) introducing an administrative monetary penalty for cases of abuse of dominant position, increasing the maximum amount of administrative monetary penalties for deceptive marketing cases, and increasing the maximum fines or terms of imprisonment, or both, for agreements or arrangements between competitors, bid-rigging, criminal false or misleading representations, deceptive telemarketing, deceptive notice of winning a prize, obstruction of Competition Bureau investigations and failure to comply with prohibition orders or production orders;

(e) clarifying that, in proceedings under section 52, 74.01 or 74.02, it is not necessary to establish that false or misleading representations are made to the public in Canada or are made in a place to which the public has access, and clarifying that the “general impression test” applies to all deceptive marketing practices in sections 74.01 and 74.02;

(f) providing that the court may make an order in respect of cases of false or misleading representations to require the person who engaged in the conduct to compensate persons affected by the conduct, and may issue an interim injunction to freeze assets if the Commissioner of Competition intends to ask for such a compensation order; and

(g) introducing a two-stage merger review process for notifiable transactions, increased merger pre-notification thresholds and a reduced merger review limitation period.

Part 13 amends the Investment Canada Act so that the review of an investment will be applied only to the more significant investments. It also amends the Act to allow more information to be made public. This Part also provides for the review of foreign investments in Canada that could threaten national security and allows the Governor in Council to take any measures that the Governor in Council considers advisable to protect national security, such as prohibiting a non-Canadian from implementing an investment.

Part 14 amends the Canada Transportation Act to provide the Governor in Council with flexibility to increase the foreign ownership limit from the existing levels to a maximum of 49%.

Part 15 amends the Air Canada Public Participation Act in relation to the mandatory provisions in the articles of Air Canada regarding constraints imposed on the issue, transfer and ownership of shares. It provides for the repeal of the provisions requiring that the articles of Air Canada contain provisions imposing limits on non-resident share ownership and the repeal of the provisions requiring that the articles of Air Canada contain provisions respecting the enforcement of these constraints.

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

March 4, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
March 4, 2009 Passed That this question be now put.
March 3, 2009 Passed That Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 394.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 383.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 358.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 317.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 445.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 295.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 6.
Feb. 12, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
Feb. 12, 2009 Passed That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opened his statement by saying that the bill was flawed. He is right. The bill is flawed, but his party is still supporting it.

The bill is flawed in many ways. First, is the employment insurance. If the Liberals had only asked the government to amend the five week addition at the end of the employment insurance and put two weeks at the start and three weeks at the end, that would have been a good amendment, but they did not ask for that.

I do not know how the women in the Liberal caucus can sleep at night with the pay equity portion that they are prepared to support. They should be ashamed.

I have not been a member for very long, but I watched the news this weekend. I did not know why the Liberal amendment was so weak, but when I heard the report that the Harper government had dropped the $3.5 million lawsuit-

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the hon. member is saying. I understand members of the NDP had a position long ago about how the budget would look and that they would be against it.

I take the point on employment insurance. However, we have put the government on probation for the outcome of the budget, not just the measures in it, but to ensure the outcome is there and that people are adequately protected.

I look to the other parties in the House to support measures to strengthen the kind of reporting, the kind of information we need so we know what has happened. In a way we are all on probation to go beyond our political posturing and find ways to make the House measure and keep track of these dollars and see where the deficiencies may lie.

We hear mixed messages from the government today. It may be open to more things or it may not. It had better be because there are dates coming, March 23, in June and in December. If the Conservatives are not and if they want to see what Liberals will do, then they might get their chance. Probation means real measures, real progress or an alternative where the government does not continue.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have this opportunity to add my voice to this debate on the budget implementation bill, Bill C-10.

As I open my remarks, I want to go back to when the debate started this morning. My good friend, the parliamentary secretary, in his very eloquent speech, said that the government wanted to move this thing forward fast and it would not put up speakers. I would like Canadians to know that what he was really saying was he did not want anyone to put up speakers so the bill could be expedited and moved along.

We get paid by Canadians to be here and to debate these issues, and that is important. My heritage is Greek. Some years ago an ancient Greek by the name of Solon founded democracy. He believed in debate. It is through debate that we can move democracy forward.

If we do not have the opportunity to debate the budget implementation bill, how will we analyze what the flaws are? We cannot just take it for granted. I am going to get into some specifics.

In the morning, when I began feeling really frustrated, I went out for a walk, I cooled off and thought my good friend for Parkdale—High Park would start off and I would move forward.

Why did we choose to support the budget bill? For Canada and Canadians. Our constituents told us that we could not afford to spend an extra half a billion dollars plus for an election, when the result might probably be the same. It is the last thing they needed right now. We agreed with them. We agreed we had more important things to address as opposed to going back to the people.

We wanted to put up speakers to explain to Canadians what was happening. There are areas in the budget with which I am very pleased, and I will outline them, but there are areas about which I have concerns.

There is significant investment outlined for social housing, infrastructure and for first nations, which makes me very happy. There is targeted support for low and middle-income Canadians through the expansion of the child tax credit and the working income tax benefit. I am very pleased about that as well. There is investment in regional development agencies throughout the country.

We have grave concerns. That is why our amendment has put the government on probation. I believe the government will be reporting three times, and we will see if it delivered.

Today a friend of mine told me to read page 24 of today's The Hill Times, which states “Infrastructure money hasn’t flowed, says Federation of Canadian Municipalities”. It is not the Liberals who are complaining, it is the cities. Earlier today they referred to 1967, centennial year, where we had infrastructure unfolding right across the country, hockey arenas, community centres, and it was all wonderful. You remember very well, Mr. Speaker, and we were young at that time, it was a different country.

It was not the country we live in today. We did not have the billions of dollars in debts and deficits that are outlined here and the cities were functioning differently at that time. My parents were maybe paying $500 a year in property taxes. Seniors today are having to pay $4,000 and $5,000 in property taxes. They cannot afford any more tax increases. The cities do not have the ability to put up their one-third. The provinces are finding it difficult, as well. That is not how the program worked in 1967.

We hear what is going on in the United States. I have not heard President Barack Obama talk about one-third, one-third, one-third. If ever there were a time for a government to step in, if ever a nation needed help, it is now.

The area I come from, the former city of Scarborough, has a need. There are potholes like crazy in our streets, and there are unbelievable numbers of complaints. It is the greatest city of Toronto. What is happening? We are downloading to who? Through property tax increases, maybe so the cities can come up with the one-third, one-third, one-third.

I am concerned primarily because in the past the government, with all due respect, has made a lot of announcements. This is not Liberal bias. According to the papers and the statistics, the government is not delivering the programs. Let me give one an example.

When we were in government in 2006, we announced funding of $25 million for the necessary infrastructure for the Canada film festival. I was there with the former senior minister, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, Susan Kadis, a former member, Tony Ianno, the former member for Trinity--Spadina, and several others. We cut the cake, pictures were taken and we announced the funding. The funding was confirmed in that Liberal budget.

In the last election the Conservatives announced this funding. They saw me in that picture. This funding was announced almost three years ago. This is the concern I and my constituents have. There is a lot of talk, but one has to deliver. This is the kind of accountability we are talking about on behalf of Canadian taxpayers.

Under the picture, which shows the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and his assistant Chris Day, it says, “'best estimate' the department currently has is that $3.6-billion of the funds have been”, and this is the key word, “allocated”.

The Conservatives told us that this money had already been given. The key word is “allocated”. This is a quote from the executive assistant, Mr. Day. What does that mean? Allocated means it could come on the 35th of the month or maybe the 37th of the month five years from now.

The parliamentary secretary has asked why the Conservatives do not have input from the Liberals. We took a difficult situation in 1993 upon ourselves as a Liberal team and made those tough decisions, as a party, and we allowed Canadians to judge us accordingly.

The Prime Minister has said that he is an economist. He said during the election that he ran his own business, but he did not know what business he ran. He compared himself to our member for Markham—Unionville, who is an economist. He has hands on experience. He worked for a bank. I would like the Prime Minister to tell me where he applied his economist experience. This is the time he should be proving his experience.

We did not go out knocking on anybody's door. We made those decisions on our own. We consulted right across the country. Before our budget, all my colleagues held extensive consultations. I held them in Scarborough with my other colleagues from Scarborough. We brought information. We were receptive to input from the opposition, but these are different times. These are times that call for bold and tough decisions. These are times that call for pulling up our socks and being honest with Canadians.

I will tell the House of concerns that people have brought to my attention.

For example, the United States today is talking about green jobs, a green economy. Every day when the Minister of Human Resources answers questions in the House, she says that the government has invested money in training for future jobs. Have those future jobs been identified? Before investing in training, the jobs need to be identified. I have a human resources background. Before I go into the water, I want to know that I can swim.

The minister talks about retraining people. For what jobs are we retraining? We have heard the government talk about high-tech jobs, but we have also heard about high-tech companies laying people off right, left and centre. Bombardier was mentioned the other day.

The government has talked about investing in the Canadian Space Agency. That is wonderful. How many people will be retrained to become robotic engineers?

If the Conservatives have identified these new jobs, then I ask them to please let us know so I can inform my constituents who are getting laid off as well.

It boils down to credibility.

A friend of mine knew I was going to speak today so he brought me an article that was printed in the Toronto Star, on Sunday, October 5. I know I cannot use names because I do not want to be reprimanded. The article headline reads “[the Prime Minister's] tactics mislead voters”.

Canadians are worried about that. As much as we want to give the government the green light on its budget, to a degree there is a gut feeling that we are being misled somewhere. That is why it is important for speakers to get up in the House. That is why this debate is important, so we have the opportunity to express our views on behalf of our constituents.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the record. A little earlier the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance said that the NDP did not offer any proposals on this budget. Our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, met with the Prime Minister and explained to him very clearly the outline of what we believed should have been in the budget.

When I returned to this House, I came back here following the election planning on working hard for the constituents I represent, as did every member of this House. We will all recall that day when the budgetary update was tabled in the House and the glee with which the finance minister presented it. Here he was, looking at a situation where he thought he could finally nail the Liberals. That is what he was up to. There is no doubt. Then we wound up with a prorogation.

Earlier today, now that we are back, I hear the member for Parkdale—High Park talk about working together and how things are flawed. I just want to say what the constituents back home are saying. They are saying that this business of probation is just nothing more than Liberal spin because the government just cannot get the job done.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know there was not a question, but there was something I picked up that is very important. The member said that when the finance minister came back and presented his budget, he said it was to nail Liberals.

Let me clarify for the record, the Conservatives were nailing democracy, not the Liberals. They were nailing the NDP as well. They were taking away, through some of those proposals, the ability for democracy to unfold. The NDP is upset because the Conservatives said it did not offer proposals.

Let me close with this. I know the NDP is going to say that we are upset still. We are not upset. We have overcome it, on behalf of Canadians.

When the NDP did make proposals for our budget of 2005 for housing, post-secondary education, infrastructure, seniors, the environment, et cetera, and we accepted them, the NDP reneged on it. It betrayed Canadians. So we find ourselves today where we are and the NDP should not complain.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns that I have, and I think he raised it in his speech but I wonder if he could elaborate on it, is the fact that a lot of the spending that has been promised simply has not happened and when it does happen, it is in a way that is highly partisan and not in fact targeted where it needs to be; that is, on stimulus. We can use the most recent example of infrastructure where we see over three-quarters of the money going just to Conservative ridings. We can point to other examples where infrastructure money was not spent or, in the area of which I am a critic, where we are seeing the money that was allocated for crime prevention not being spent.

Given the fact that the Conservatives were really dragged, kicking and screaming, to the position where they were forced by the opposition parties to introduce the budget they did, I wonder if the hon. member could talk about what measures he would like to see and maybe about the amendment to ensure the Conservatives are held to account.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. The Prime Minister rode the wave on credibility and fairness. The amendment that the Liberal team has put forward is to hold the government to account three times a year. We want to see if indeed that money is being well spent, and he is right. The Conservatives have left unspent $88 million for disaster relief and crime prevention. That is a shame when all this money was allocated. The problem is applications, stumbling blocks, nitty-gritty, timeframes, et cetera. When an area has a need, when we need to hire more police officers, there should be no obstacle.

I believe that the Conservatives should implement certain proposals in terms of taking certain bugs out of the system so that there are no foul-ups like other programs in the past or that indeed the money goes where it is supposed to go and is spent where it is supposed to be when they allocate these moneys. The frustration that people feel, and I used the program for the Canadian Film Festival earlier on that my colleague brought up as an example, is what is we are talking about.

If we have allocated the money for, let us say, a recreation facility, or if we have allocated the money to hire more police officers, for example, or if we have allocated the money for a disaster area, get that money there. People cannot wait. We do not want another Katrina issue, where money was announced by Mr. Bush and a year and a half, two years later, people were still hurting.

We want action now. The nation needs action now. The world needs action now.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are 750,000 children living in poverty, 1.5 million Canadians cannot find decent housing, and 130,000 were thrown out of work just in January alone. This is the worst financial collapse in history and the planet is in crisis. What does it take for this country to change direction?

We had hoped for a budget that would bring about a green economic recovery where no one is left behind, a budget where funding for those who dedicate their lives to educating and taking care of our children in early childhood education centres would finally be a priority, where working parents could rest assured that they would not have to add their names to a waiting list as soon as their children were conceived in order to secure a child care space.

There are parents like Susanne in my riding who said, “I'm currently on 25 child care wait lists. I have been on many since 2007 when I was only a couple of weeks pregnant. I have put down many deposits to get on the wait list. I have toured the child care centres. I follow up regularly and with only a couple of months left in my maternity leave, I still do not have day care. My husband and I are already planning to take time off work, which is not really affordable right now”. Susanne is desperate.

We had hoped that those who have diligently paid employment insurance through their entire working lives would be able to get back that money when they need it most without having to become destitute first.

Yes, the New Democrats have a vision of a country where our artists and cultural institutions that enrich our lives would at last receive the funding they deserve and the image of the starving artist would be a myth.

In these tough times we need green jobs that would promote wind, solar, geothermal energy that would offer us a unique opportunity to save our planet, create jobs, burn less and save money. Yet, we have nothing of the sort in the Conservative-Liberal alliance budget.

We thought that these dreams would at long last become a reality when the Liberals signed on to the requirements we placed in the coalition accord, but I guess the Liberals were just too afraid to take charge. My colleague is right. They backed out and instead they support a Conservative budget that they said is flawed. They refuse to change the direction of this country. They have given up hope. They would not want to take charge.

Perhaps there is a reason. I remember in 2000 the former Liberal government came to Toronto and said, “Here is all this money for Union Station”. Not a penny of it came to Toronto. The Liberals promised millions for the waterfront. Not a penny of it came. Perhaps that is why the Liberals are afraid to take charge. That is why they do not want any change. They have given up hope.

The New Democrats are not about to do the same. We are striving to push for more action. We are striving to push for a real budget that would not leave anyone behind.

We do not believe that the 325,000 unemployed workers, this year alone, are really too lazy to find jobs. In Toronto, seven out of ten unemployed workers do not qualify for employment insurance after having paid into it all their lives. Are they benefiting from a lucrative system, I ask?

We heard from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development who said on January 30, “We do not want to make it lucrative for them to stay home and get paid for it”. It reminds me of a former government, the Mike Harris government. The same finance minister of that government said that these unemployed mothers are at home and just drink beer and watch TV. They are lazy and they do not want to find a job.

That is the same kind of ideology that is now saying that there will not be one extra unemployed worker who will get employment insurance in this country. These unemployed workers are being ripped off because they contributed. It is an insurance program. They put their money in and now they need it back. Instead, they will not get it

Members should remember that 65% of women are still ineligible for employment insurance. When we talk about the most vulnerable, the unemployed workers who are left out and left behind, they are by and large women.

That is why New Democrats believe there should be a standard 360 hours eligibility across the country, and the unemployed should get at least 60% of their earnings for up to $600 a week, for a much longer period of time than what we have now. Perhaps the minister needs to experience unemployment herself to truly understand what an increasing number of Canadians experience when they try to navigate the broken EI system.

Here are more reasons why the Conservative-Liberal budget deserves a failing grade.

There is no action to cap huge credit card interest rates and transaction fees. Working Canadians are struggling to pay their mortgages and put food on the table. Canadian consumers paid over $4.5 billion in hidden credit card fees last year alone. We all pay at the check-out counter to cover the cost of these corporate credit card benefits, even if we do not have one. It is totally unfair.

New Democrats want the banks to be required to prove, through independent audits, that their credit card and other interest rates and fees do not amount to gouging, with a public report issued by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

If we look at the environment, Canada lags behind dramatically when it comes to spending on the environment. The budget plan includes funds for clean energy; however, the Conservative-Liberal definition of clean energy includes nuclear and even coal-burning energy, and untested carbon capture technology.

What this budget bill does do is eliminate proper environmental controls for new infrastructure programs and projects. Degrading our environment is fine as long as maybe private companies can make money because right now the private sector is supposed to be building these public infrastructures, or else there would not be any matching funds.

Speaking about greed, this budget continues to reward big companies such as Imperial Oil, which had a 22% profit increase last year. All these companies will receive $60 billion in corporate tax cuts, so for every $60 going to companies, $1 goes to the unemployed. Those are completely wrong priorities and this is what our country does not need right now.

Green industry will get a cut in funding. The funding to advance science research also has been cut. Much of the infrastructure funds that have been talked about at length in this House would not flow to cash-strapped cities because they cannot afford to cost share it. The city of Toronto, for example, needs at least $7 billion to purchase new street cars and implement its plan called transit city, but it just does not have those kinds of funds to match the federal funds.

We talked about the most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the kids who go to bed hungry. Many of their parents right now earn less than $20,000. In this 500-page budget, not one single penny will go to these families that earn less than $20,000. They will not qualify for the increase in the national child benefit supplement or the Canada child tax benefit.

The poorest kids get absolutely nothing. What a shame. How could the Liberal Party say that it meets its test of protecting the most vulnerable? If the kids are in families that earn less than $20,000 are not the most vulnerable, who are the most vulnerable? I just do not understand the Liberals' logic.

Campaign 2000, a campaign to end child poverty said:

This is macho-economics that leaves women and children off the lifeboat in this recession!

With the lack of purpose for action in this budget, it's certain that rates of child and family poverty will increase and the federal government will be left with no capacity to respond. [The Minister of Finance] may have purchased new shoes for this budget but it's about time he found his soul.

This is a soulless budget because it does nothing for children. Taking care of children should be our first duty. There is not one single penny in this budget to support child care or early learning. Already both UNICEF and the OECD have said that Canada ranked last in our investment in early childhood education and we continue to do the same in this budget, even though investing in children is good for Canada, good for the economy.

The report by Dr. David Butler-Jones on the state of public health in Canada notes that for every dollar invested in children during their early years, government saves $3 to $9 in future spending on health, criminal justice and social assistance.

It is good for the economy. It is good for our children. It is good for our productivity. It is good for working parents. However, the budget has nothing in it for early learning and child care.

There is also no action to improve public pensions or shore up employers' pension plans. There is hardly anything for seniors.

The budget ignores the skyrocketing tuition and debt loads for post-secondary students. They cannot find a job. It is difficult and they do not have the money to pay their student loans right now. Why are we not looking at forgiving the interest and the principal for the time being? That means university graduates will still be saddled with thousands of dollars of debt as they enter a shrinking workforce.

What is in the budget is punishment. There is punishment for students, making it more difficult for obtaining student loans by putting an overwhelming onus on students to provide documentation, while making it easier for the minister to retroactively punish students. Imagine that. The government is punishing students in this time and as part of the budget implementation bill. I do not know how punishing students can stimulate our economy.

Working mothers are feeling the pinch with this Conservative-Liberal alliance budget. They are being left out in the cold with no options. One mother wrote to me:

I can't afford to pay for afterschool programs for my kids, plus put the 2 youngest in fulltime daycare while l work 9:00am-5:00pm, because I will be charged over $500 a week. I can't quit my job because that makes absolutely no sense...I moved in with my sister to help me get on my feet and if I don't work I can't save to get a place of my own. I can't afford to pay the regular rates for daycare because it takes my whole pay. What is a mother in my situation to do?

I was always proud to say Canada is a country of equal opportunity, the best place to live. However, it seems like I have to swallow my words because it has become so hard to live in Canada. Rent is too much, pay is too low, childcare expenses too high, tuition too high, not enough assistance for honest working people and disappointment every way you look at it.

This budget does nothing to help that working mother.

Shame on those members who are standing idly by and voting in support of this sadly inadequate budget. As they watch thousands and thousands of families fall into a cycle of desperation, despair, unemployment and poverty, I hope they remember the words of single parents, working families and unemployed workers who cannot get ahead because this budget offers absolutely nothing for them.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her analysis of the budget and what she thinks is a failure of the government to implement anything with regard to social programs.

I would like to remind the hon. member that when the Liberals were in power and brought in the budget with the cities agenda, the agenda for child care and the agenda for Kyoto, it was the NDP that joined hands with the Conservatives. The NDP members are the ones who threw away the chance for the vulnerable. That budget had a cities agenda which the cities had demanded and a child care agenda involving 125,000 child care spaces. These were provisions which their leader had asked for and got in the budget.

Now with respect to this budget, which is a hodgepodge of a lot of things, is the member trying to put the vulnerable back into an election? Does she want to spend $360 million on another election so that money would not go to the vulnerable?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
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NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us be honest about this. There are two choices. One is to have an alliance with the Conservatives. The other is not just about an election; an election is not necessary. The member probably heard the scholars, constitution lawyers and professors who said that if the House were to fall, there is a very good likelihood the Governor General would ask the coalition to govern. There is a very good chance that would happen. Why is she hiding behind this whole notion of having an election? I do not believe there would be an election because we just had an election.

One of the reasons the New Democrats will not support this budget is that it does not do anything for the most vulnerable. I do not understand why the Liberal Party would not make a substantive amendment to increase the number of people who would qualify for employment insurance, an amendment to take out the clause which removes pay equity claims from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and an amendment that would not require cities to match the infrastructure funds. I do not know why they would not put forward these kinds of amendments.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech given by my hon. colleague from Trinity—Spadina. She talked about when the Liberals were in power. As everyone will clearly recall, at that time, they did more or less the same thing as the Conservatives are doing today. They reduced the debt—which the Conservatives are not doing—but they did so by pillaging everything in the employment insurance fund, after they excluded from the system half the people who should have been eligible for benefits. That is what the Liberals did.

They can criticize the Conservatives all they want today, but my colleague knows very well that they rise every day and vote alongside the Conservatives and support their budget. It is because the Liberals continue to support them that the Conservatives can do what they are doing. Thus, that is its own coalition.

My colleague knows very well that stairs must be swept from the top down, and not the other way around. Neither of these two political parties tackled the tax havens that allow the richest people in our society to continue to line their pockets. I would like to know what my colleague from Trinity—Spadina thinks about that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely true that it was the former Liberal government that changed employment insurance so that a person now has to work 900 hours. It used to be only 180 to 300 hours. Remember back in the 1980s? People who qualified for employment insurance would get 75% of their earnings, not 55%, which is what it is right now. People could get three-quarters of their earnings. That amounts to more than $600 a week, not $447, which is the maximum amount now. There were dramatic cutbacks. At that time I was helping people fill out their application forms, the five questions with “yes” or “no” answers. It was much easier to qualify. They actually got it for a longer period of time. It was not demeaning. It was simpler. They received much more money than they put in. That system worked a lot better.

The member is absolutely right. It was under the former Liberal government that all of that changed and $54 billion of employment insurance funding was pocketed by the federal government. Workers' money was taken away and given as corporate tax cuts to big companies like Imperial Oil. We are not surprised because, after all, we are dealing with a Conservative-Liberal alliance and, ultimately, in many ways those parties work the same way, which is really unfortunate for this country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pose a couple of questions to my hon. colleague speaking on behalf of the NDP.

Our government has introduced two programs specifically on which I would like her to comment. The first is the working income tax benefit that especially helps people moving from social assistance into the workforce. It helps them over what has been called the welfare wall so that they do not lose as many benefits as they typically do in moving to the workforce. The second is the registered disability savings plan.

I would like to know specifically whether she supports the introduction of those two programs which our government has brought forward. I would also like to know whether she supports the extension of the working income tax benefit in this budget, as well as extending the deadline for registered disability savings plan contributions which is also in the bill we are debating today.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no reason that unemployed workers should go on welfare in the first place. A lot of them have a little savings. They should not have to use up all their savings, sell their trucks or cars, spend all their retirement savings or cash it out in order to qualify for employment insurance.

They should not have to go on welfare, speaking of the welfare wall. There is very little funding for welfare. It was cut so severely throughout the 1990s by the former Liberal government that there is hardly any funding left. Yes, of course, making sure that people can keep more of their funds when they work so they will not be deducted from welfare is a good idea.

A lot of unemployed workers cannot find jobs right now. By the time they go on welfare, they are trapped in a cycle of poverty because they spend so much time trying to fill in their welfare forms, justifying it, continuously finding ways to prove it and they get into a cycle of despair.

The way to go is to reform employment insurance so that unemployed workers will have their dignity. Many of them do not want to go on welfare even though they are desperate.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

February 9th, 2009 / 6:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-10, the implementation bill for the recent budget.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Rivière-du-Nord, who will probably speak tomorrow.

It is impossible for those of us on this side of the House to vote in favour of Bill C-10. This budget implementation bill is just as lacking in vision as the budget speech of January 27.

This bill lacks vision. We would have expected this Conservative government to present a real economic recovery plan. Not just a plan to stimulate the economy but a visionary plan leading to the creation of new jobs that are greener, forward looking, have value added, are innovative and more modern. Not a short-term or medium-term economic recovery plan but an economic plan with a more structured and modern approach to the 21st century.

These are not the expectations of the Bloc Québécois alone. They are also the expectations of the citizens of Quebec and of Canada. The proof is in a survey conducted between January 22 and February 1, when we were debating in the House whether to accept or reject this budget. What did the survey tell us? It indicated that no less than 93% of Canadians wanted the federal government to put in place a green job creation program to address the economic crisis. That is quite something.

What does it mean? Unlike the government opposite, Quebeckers and Canadians know full well that protecting the environment boosts the economy. They understand that the economic crisis we are going through should not prevent us from tackling another crisis, that of climate change. Why? Because not only will climate change wreak havoc socially and environmentally, but also economically.

For example, while in New Delhi on Thursday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said that failure to combat climate change would result in worldwide economic and social disaster. Failing to take action against climate change will have negative environmental, social and economic effects. Consider what is happening in Australia, where forest fires are destroying a huge swath of land and floods are wreaking havoc in another part of the country. There is no better demonstration of the major social, environmental and economic consequences that climate change will have over the next few years.

The government has no choice but to embark on a major transition from a traditional economy to a greener one. How? The government should have addressed Quebec and Canada's economic future by focusing on three elements.

First, it should have made renewable energy a major strategic focus of Canada's economic development. Renewable energy development, which creates jobs, should be at the heart of Canada's economic and technological development.

It was not for nothing that our colleagues to the south introduced an economic plan that will double renewable energy production over the next few years. Reinvesting in renewable energy will stimulate the economy and create jobs. Rather than give $5.9 billion in tax breaks over two years to the oil industry, this budget should have called for tax breaks for the renewable energy industry. That is what we should be debating with Bill C-10 today, following Germany's lead.

In Germany, they decided to give tax breaks not to the oil industry, but to the renewable energy industry, which created 90,000 jobs there. That would have had positive economic consequences: new jobs and a more sustainable, more modern economy.

Second, the strategy should have been to focus on energy efficiency, beginning with institutional buildings, as the U.S. has decided to do. We have to set goals for ourselves. The American plan calls for improving the energy efficiency of 75% of federal buildings. The U.S. has decided to go ahead with such a program for environmental reasons, and also to create jobs. Let us look at another continent: Europe. A 20% increase in energy efficiency would create about one million jobs, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Reinvesting and improving energy efficiency in institutional and residential buildings would create jobs.

The U.S. also plans to build two million homes in the next two years, whereas the goal in the budget and the budget implementation bill is to renovate and improve the energy efficiency of a mere 250,000 homes.

We have the wherewithal to come up with a real green plan, not because we are environmental romantics, but because we believe that a green plan is the basis for a future economic plan. What should the government have done? First, the government should have established greenhouse gas emission caps in order to put a price on carbon and to say we have economic tools at our disposal. The government should have put in place emission caps to enable companies that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions to trade on international markets with Europe or the U.S., where carbon credit exchanges are being set up. Canada needs to put a price on carbon and sell emission credits.

Second, the government should have taken measures such as introducing tax incentives, reinvesting in renewable energies, creating energy efficiency improvement programs and developing appropriate transportation infrastructure. The government needs to do more than just subsidize bus passes, as the commissioner said. We have to reinvest in our transit infrastructure in order to build not only sustainable transportation, but a more sustainable, forward-looking economy that creates not only jobs, but green jobs.