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

March 3rd, 2009 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

moved:

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 383.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 384.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 385.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 386.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 387.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 388.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 389.

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 390.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 391.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 392.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

moved:

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 394.

Motion No. 54

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 395.

Motion No. 55

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 396.

Motion No. 56

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 397.

Motion No. 57

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 397.

Motion No. 58

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 399.

Motion No. 59

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 400.

Motion No. 60

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 401.

Motion No. 61

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 402.

Motion No. 62

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 403.

Motion No. 63

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 404.

Motion No. 64

That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 405.

Motion No. 65

Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 406.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to do what my party has been doing for a number of years, and most recently on this budget. As opposition members, our role in the NDP is to get involved with what we think is an extremely important project, which is the budget of this nation.

The budget of the government lays out its priorities and intentions and shows what direction it wants to take us. We saw the direction the Conservatives wanted to take last fall when they provided a forecast and road map that would have taken Canadians down a very interesting path. They told public servants that their rights were gone, that they would not have the right to strike, that their wages would be frozen, that collective bargaining would be suspended for however long, the intention I suppose being as long as they were in government. They wanted to rip up pay equity and play politics with funding to political parties, and we saw where that led.

The government claimed, like Saul on the road to Damascus, that all of a sudden it understood the role of government, that it got the fact there was a fiscal problem and that there was a crisis in which government had a role. Then it came up with the budget.

On the surface, one would think that was good, that the government actually saw the light. Quite frankly, it was my party working with other parties that forced the government to pull back from the precipice, to understand that there was a role for government and that it would mend its political errors by way of having a budget that would be there for people.

The amendments I put forward today illustrate how illiterate the government is when it comes to this fiscal crisis. We have talked about the Navigable Waters Protection Act, but the amendments we put forward to delete clauses of the bill have to do with pay equity, the provisions for students and equalization.

It is important to understand that the government is demonstrating exactly what the Mike Harris government illustrated when it first came into power. For those of our colleagues who were not in the Ontario legislature or the province of Ontario at the time, we know who the chief of staff is now to the Prime Minister. His fingerprints are all over the budget.

The idea is to put all ideological tenets and elements into a very large budget. I believe bill 26 was the ominous bill that wrecked the province. There were so many different things put in the budget that there was not time to responsibly deal with them in committee. Why? Because the Harris government changed the rules in committee so they could not be debated.

The Harris government made sure that all the things it wanted to do to change government, in fact take government out of the business of many of the things that it responsibly had a role in, were put into a very large bill. Guess what? Mike Harris is back. It is in this budget bill, to rip up pay equity and change environmental regulations. When it comes to students, one of the amendments is to take out the provisions.

Do members know what the government wants to do in this budget, a budget of so-called stimulus for students? The page I have open now tells students that if they make an error on their filing, the government will go after them. The government has given power to the minister to do that. The government is taking power and concentrating it. Everyone else around the world is looking at ways to open up government, to be more open to the public on how government works and to be transparent.

The Conservative government is going in the other direction. Instead of giving grants to students to ensure they can get a leg up, the government is coming in with retrograde legislation that basically says that it does not trust students and because of that it will put in a provision to ensure it can go after them and get them.

That is what this provision is all about. It has no business being in a budget bill that claims it is going to stimulate the economy.

Further to that, we have heard about the retrograde treatment of pay equity. That galls me, my constituents and many who have fought long and hard to see pay equity. By the way, I hope that by now the government understands the difference between pay equity and equal pay. I think there was a lesson on it yesterday, and hopefully the Conservatives came and took notes. I am not sure they did.

The President of the Treasury Board has the gall to stand in this House day after day, pointing to both the Government of Ontario and the Government of Manitoba and saying that it is exactly what the government is doing. I hope one day he will actually have to be held to account for his performance on this file.

What they did in both those jurisdictions was to give a pay equity commission the resources to make sure there was pay equity in the workplace. What this government does is say that the right to appeal for pay equity is gone; by the way, there will have to be negotiations; by the way, your contracts are frozen.

Who in their right mind would believe the government on pay equity? Who in their right mind who believes in pay equity would let this go through?

The government took away the ability for people to challenge it when it has gone wrong. The court challenge funds are gone. That was a couple of budgets ago. At the time the government said, and this applies to pay equity, that all the laws it would bring forward would be charterproof from then on. Let me say today in this House that the government will be challenged on this law. I will want to know, when this law is challenged and struck down, how much we paid through legal fees and through government justice lawyers having to defend this nonsense, and how much we lost in real dollars.

I can guarantee one thing: people will look back at this day and ask why this bill was ever let through. It is retrograde for pay equity, it is retrograde for women, and it is going to cost us more.

In a nutshell, the amendments are essentially trying to take out the worst elements of this budget. We hear the government saying it wants to get to stimulating the economy, so it brings in measures to take away pay equity and measures to have oversight over students. It won't give them grants, but it is making sure it can go after them and is cracking down on them. They are a big problem, and their tuition is so low. Every single member of this House paid less tuition than students pay today.

It is absolute hypocrisy that instead of providing grants, section 358 states that the government is going to go after students. It is making sure that if they omitted one thing in their file, the government will go after them. How much money is it going to take to go after students? Could that money have been put toward actually helping students? I do not know. It is not on the government's radar. These amendments are trying to take out the worst elements from an absolutely retrograde approach to budgeting.

In summary, I have to say to my friends in the Liberal Party that it is not too late to stand up for your principles. They should not let themselves be bullied. What is the difference between this retrograde legislation going through now and dealing with it in June?

We must remember that every single right and progressive piece of legislation that has been fought for in this country, when it is ripped away, does not come back soon. My friends from the Liberal Party should know that what the government is doing today is saying it is okay to do that because it is going to get a report card from it.

On this side of the House, we say it is not okay to rip apart pay equity, to go after students, and to rip up agreements on equalization.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, I completely agree that the budget is far from perfect, but I have to ask the hon. member frankly, if he is so concerned about the interests of Canadians, why he defeated the budget in 2006. That budget would have provided Canadians with universal child care, a Kelowna accord, protection for aboriginals, and an environmental protection plan under Kyoto.

Is it not more important to accept this budget with all its warts and omissions to ensure that Canadians who need the extra funding and the sectors that need the stimulus will receive it, and to ensure that the infrastructure spending that the municipalities, like my own of Mississauga--Streetsville, are crying for will take place, as well as the EI extensions to help the unemployed, the sector investment, and the subsidized housing?

If he really cares about Canadians, will he not work to help get the money flowing to Canadians who need it?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11 a.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I think my colleague would probably know that in 2006 it was the Conservative budget that we voted against, and I did it gladly. She might be referring to 2005. I was not in this House at the time, but what we are talking about now are things so reprehensible that I am absolutely not able to support it with the facets in it.

Today we are asking the Liberals and others to support our amendments, which take out those things that are so ill-conceived and destructive to our country. I would like the member to support us in making this budget bill a little less reprehensible through trying to amend the most destructive aspects.

Finally, on this business about getting money out the door, where is the infrastructure money from the last two budgets that the government has in the register right now and has not spent, but could spend tomorrow? The hon. member should not get caught by Tory traps. It is a trap the Tories set all the time. The hon. member should not believe them. They have money now. They did not spend it two budgets ago, and they could do it today if they wanted.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, let us carry this one step further. If the member would take all the chaff off the wheat, what it really gets down to is that if the budget is defeated, there would be an election, and the House would likely not return and get back to the same point of having a budget before us until next fall.

It would appear to me that the stimulus package needs to be there and needs to be there now. There is nothing that can happen months from now that is going to change the critical nature of having that stimulus in there now because of the economic lag in its impact.

Can the member advise the House of other items he is concerned about that cannot be fixed when the government is replaced? Does he not agree that if the stimulus does not come now, there is not going to be any opportunity to give assistance to Canadians when they really need it?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I am trying to get to the logic of the member and his party. They say they cannot do anything about it right now, they will ask for a report card, they will not put any amendments forward, and they will not negotiate to make it better.

We were just talking about the 2005 budget, when our party negotiated $4.5 billion in stimulus because we saw that as our role. The Liberals were in government at the time.

What do we get from the Liberal Party now in hard-nosed negotiations? What do they do? They are tough and not to be messed with: they are going to ask for three report cards and they have this nonsense about probation.

The Liberals are an opposition party. They cannot pretend to be in opposition Monday and then not on Wednesday. Can the member tell the House the difference between defeating an ill-conceived budget now and defeating it in June? By the way, that is what the hon. member's party is saying it might do, so it is about them, not about the Canadian people, and that is a travesty.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise this morning to speak to the changes proposed in the Bloc Québécois amendment.

With regard to equalization, we propose to delete clauses 383 to 392. The Conservative government has proposed similar measures that, in a way, completely change major elements it had announced in 2007.

With the change in the equalization formula, the increase in equalization payments will be much smaller, Payments will be $991 million less for the fiscal year running from April 1, 2009 to 2010. This is significant, because Quebec was counting on that $1 billion.

Equalization payments are planned well in advance. Increases in those payments are also planned well in advance, and a province like Quebec plans its expenditures and the services it will provide for the public accordingly. The federal government is using an economic crisis as an excuse to unilaterally modify a formula that had already been agreed on. That is what is known as passing the buck to the provinces.

As I said earlier, this represents a shortfall of just about $1 billion for Quebec for next year alone. Just imagine the services the Government of Quebec is going to have to take away from people. What services will it eliminate? What tough choices will the Government of Quebec have to make because the federal government decided on its own to change a formula?

One feature of the changes made in 2007 is that they were predictable. That was one of the strong arguments put forward by the Conservative government in 2007: from now on, the equalization amounts the provinces receive will be known in advance. I will come back to this later. That was a strong argument made by the Conservative government, which even said it was correcting the fiscal imbalance in this way.

We do not agree that the fiscal imbalance has been corrected, far from it. In fact, the fiscal imbalance will be corrected when the government stops collecting tax money where it has no business doing so and transfers those tax points to the provinces, including Quebec. But that is another issue.

This change, which was announced in November during the Minister of Finance's update and during a federal-provincial meeting of ministers of finance not long afterwards, and which has been confirmed, completely changed the Quebec government's calculations. Consequently, Quebec's National Assembly held a special session in January where the three political parties—I should say four political parties, since there is now a fourth one represented—unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the federal government's intention to unilaterally modify the equalization formula.

This motion, which was unanimously passed, urges the federal government to keep the equalization formula as it is now. We did not create the current formula. Rather, in 2007, the Conservative government agreed to a new formula. The Prime Minister even wrote to the Quebec Premier to tell him in no uncertain terms that “...for the first time in decades, provinces and territories can now count on long-term, predictable and substantially growing federal support for shared priorities including health care, post-secondary education, training and social programs, and the rebuilding of Canada's infrastructure.”

Knowing that these words were written by the current Prime Minister just two years ago and that today, the government is unilaterally putting an end to it, we no longer have confidence in this Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, who is the same one as in 2007.

It is a matter of trust, because a commitment was made, in the budget and in a specific letter, to be a good government. As well, a plan was promised that would reflect a strong commitment to open federalism and respect for provincial jurisdictions, notably by limiting the use of the federal spending power. That letter even added that Quebec would benefit from long-term, predictable transfer payments and new investments in post-secondary education. That was not all. In the second last paragraph of that letter, the Prime Minister wrote, “We are establishing a solid foundation based on budgetary accountability and transparency and long-term, predictable fiscal arrangements.”

All that did not last very long. Today, we are faced with a budget that shows very clearly and distinctly that the federal government is making unilateral changes to these arrangements, which were supposed to be predictable. It is nonsense for the federal government to make changes unilaterally. It ought to have called a federal-provincial conference to discuss them, since it had already made a commitment that the arrangements would be predictable and long-term. I have already referred to trust in connection with the fine words of the Minister of Finance in 2007, but that is now a thing of the past.

The people of Quebec have great difficulty in trusting this Conservative government, Once again they have been given strong reasons for not trusting it. It says things, but what good is its word? It does not keep promises. It makes commitments, but does not stick to them.

There is a myth in Canada, particularly in the west, that Quebec is the spoiled child of Confederation, the one that takes everything and gives nothing in return, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that Quebec receives substantial equalization payments, but that is just because Quebec is a very populous province. But if the whole amount is recalculated per capita, it is very clear that Quebec is not the spoiled child of federalism, absolutely not. In past years, Quebec received $1,037 per capita, while Prince Edward Island got $2,310, New Brunswick $2,111, and Newfoundland and Labrador $1,781. The disproportion is very clear and it is also very clear that these changes will have a major impact on the future of public services in Quebec, particularly in the areas of education, health, and early childhood resources.

We are therefore suggesting these changes, and we hope all opposition parties will vote in favour of these amendments, so that Quebec will be able to regain the share of the equalization payments that the Conservative federal government has abolished unilaterally, which will cause great suffering to Quebec.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, there are so many things that are problematic with the budget bill. There are so many, as someone said earlier, poison pills in this bill that when we look at it we wonder if it is a budget to stimulate and help people or a budget to change the role of government and how government works.

What is really going on here with the Conservatives? Does the member think they actually understand what is required now in terms of the government's role, or are they using this as a bait-and-switch equation, trying to put in what they need to feed their base and change the things they do not like, while saying that they have a couple of dollars to stimulate the economy on the side?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Ottawa Centre for his question. It seems as though the government has used this budget bill as something of a catch-all. It includes amendments that have absolutely nothing to do with the budget bill.

If the government really wanted to take honest, concrete steps to stimulate the economy the right way and approach its governmental responsibilities coherently, this bill would not include measures to change responsibilities with respect to navigable waters, just to avoid future environmental studies.

Nor would it include amendments to pay equity legislation that attack women's rights, or unilateral changes to the equalization formula, as I mentioned earlier, without going through the usual channels for amending the formula.

It would also not include clauses that give the government $150 million to gradually set up a single, Canada-wide securities commission that almost nobody in Quebec wants. Last January, Quebec's National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to that effect.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned legislation that the government wants to bring in—such as pay equity—that has nothing to do with the current economic crisis.

As to the building Canada fund, does the member think that the funding the Conservative government plans to inject will really help the communities not selected by the Conservatives?

Allow me to explain. Communities in my riding submitted applications for this funding, mainly for water-related projects, and they have spent in excess of $80,000 over three years. Unfortunately, they did not get the green light for their projects.

Does the member think that it will help them?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:15 a.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague raises an important point regarding the extreme partisanship practised by this government. As we know, the government was elected to represent all citizens. Normally, the citizens of all regions of the country—regardless of the party they voted for, since that is democracy—could have expected that some measures would apply to them.

There are also very real concerns about this government practising extreme partisanship. In Quebec, we have even seen public servants already following in the footsteps of MPs or ministers who have announced that certain regions will not receive certain subsidies, because they did not vote for the right party. It feels like 1940, during the good old days of Duplessis, and it is deeply regrettable. This is step backwards for democracy in Canada and Quebec.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, this is just about my last opportunity to try to convince my colleagues in the Liberal Party to change their minds about a fundamental human right which is at stake in this budget implementation bill.

We are at a minute to midnight. We are on the verge of losing a fundamental human right in this country, a right that is entrenched in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, that gives women the ability, the right, to seek justice when they are being denied equal pay for work of equal value. The budget implementation bill, Bill C-10, takes away that right.

I may have been very emotional at times in the debate, and I may still be emotional in this last chance to speak on the bill, or one of the last chances, but I hope with all of my heart that I can somehow convince the Liberals that this is a fundamental human rights issue that has to be stopped dead in its tracks today.

We owe it to the women who have struggled before us. This has been a part of the women's movement for 30 or 40 years. I go back to the mid-seventies, when the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Women and the Law, advisory councils on the status of women, and women everywhere in the labour movement, at the community level, fought with everything they had to get recognized in the true meaning of equality, which is to be paid according to one's worth.

That is what equal pay for work of equal value is all about. It is about recognizing that if we really believe in equality, we have to address the issue of job ghettos, we have to recognize that men have traditionally been in job categories where they are considered invaluable to their business, to their organization, and are paid accordingly and paid very well.

Whereas women traditionally have been placed in job ghettos, and although they may be performing work of the same value as the men, as their counterparts in other organizations, they are paid far less. They are treated as second class citizens. They are still treated as second class citizens. They are not paid according to their worth, and that is what is at stake: pay equity. It is equal pay for work of equal value. It is not equal pay for equal work, which is comparing exactly the same job, which does nothing to get women out of job ghettos and does nothing to ensure that we eliminate the wage gap in this country.

We owe it to women who have fought before us for this, and I want today to pay special tribute to Michèle Demers, who was the head of the Professional Institute of the Public Service. She died tragically recently and we mourned her loss. She fought tirelessly for her movement, for professional employees in the public service. She fought for pay equity. She never let us down, ever, and today, we are about to let her down. We cannot let her death be in vain. We must find a way in this House to be true to the people like Michèle Demers who fought day in and day out for fundamental human rights, the right to contribute one's very best, be recognized for it, and not be diminished in terms of one's status in society or treated as a source of cheap labour to be moved in and out of the economy as needed.

The Conservatives talk out of both sides of their mouths. We know from the past that the Prime Minister has said that pay equity is “a rip-off”. We know that when he was involved with the National Citizens Coalition, he said that the government should scrap its ridiculous pay equity law. We know that the Conservatives, at their November convention in Winnipeg this last year, actually redefined pay equity from what it really means to the 1950s version, calling it equal pay for equal work.

We know where the Conservatives are coming from. Yet, at the same time in the House, the President of the Treasury Board defends this new move under Bill C-10 as something progressive, something that will ensure that pay equity is maintained, because the Conservatives will legislate it and people will not have to wait so long before the Human Rights Commission.

The fact that that is not true must be connected to the real agenda of the Conservatives, so we understand where they are coming from. The Liberals should know that. The Liberals should use their heads and their hearts to finally do what is right and stand up for the women of this country. We are talking about a fundamental human right.

I would like to quote a few words from Darlene Dziewit, the president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. She said this:

I watched with great concern as the Federal Conservative government announced that it would remove women's right to pay equity from the Federal Human Rights Code. Treasury Board Minister...pronounced that such protection for women is too costly and time consuming, and as such, must be removed from the Code and into the realm of collective bargaining. He also cited the pay equity legislation that was passed in Manitoba in the mid 80s as a better alternative to Human Rights Code protection.

Darlene went on to say, “what bunk”, and I say that 100 times over; what nonsense, what bunk, what complete fabrication of the truth. She went on to say:

When a government announces its intention to remove protections accorded to any group from Human Rights legislation red flags should be raised. To use [the President of the Treasury Board's] argument, it would then follow that if any other discriminatory practice, such as discrimination based on age or ethnic origin, for example, were to prove too time consuming or costly, then that too ought to be removed from the Human Rights Code. Then, I guess there would be more time and money to pursue other, less sticky or costly discriminatory transgressions.

The question for everyone in this House, especially the Liberals, is, where do they draw the line? If they cannot stand up for pay equity, which is a fundamental human right, when will they stand up? Where is the line in the sand for the Liberals? Is it racism? Is it homophobia? Is it an attack on the rights of unions to bargain collectively? Is it an attack on people with disabilities? Is it an attack on people of colour? When do Liberals draw the line, if they will not stand up for women on a fundamental human right?

I do not know if I can find the right words today to actually impress upon members in this House, especially the Liberals, just what is at stake. We are talking about a fundamental human right, and the Conservatives are proposing to take that away completely by eliminating the right for anyone in the federal government, at any level, in any aspect of government, to take a complaint about pay equity to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. No matter what happens in society, whether one is working in the labour movement, is protected by a collective agreement, or is working in a private sector company that has none, there is no provision to go to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to pursue a fundamental human right as outlined in the charter.

There really is no legislative alternative either, because in fact this is not equal pay legislation we are talking about; this is something called equitable compensation. It does not define what that means. It does not entrench the notion of equal pay for work of equal value. The word “men” is not even mentioned anywhere in the legislation, so how in the world does one compare jobs? Is that not the essence of what we are talking about?

We are talking about comparing the value and the worth of the work that women do in our society with that which men do, and in fact trying to find ways to bridge the gap. When women are performing jobs that are at the same level of skill, education and responsibility in the workplace as jobs being performed by men, should the women not be paid the same rate as the men? Should they not be at a comparable salary range?

That is what is at stake in this bill. Gone will be the ability to pursue that kind of comparative work. Gone is the right to pursue pay equity before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Gone is pay equity forever, unless we can convince the Liberals to get off their duffs, start to stand up for their principles, speak up for what it is right, not be compromised, do what is in the best interests of Canada and stand up for equality and human rights.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:30 a.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to a motion moved by our party, calling for the deletion of clauses 383 to 392 of Bill C-10. Those clauses would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, in other words, equalization. Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill, includes a change to the formula for calculating equalization. Under the new formula, Quebec's increase in equalization payments will be cut. This change will deprive Quebec of $1 billion in equalization payments in 2009-10. In these tough economic times, a billion dollars less in Quebec's coffers is a very significant loss.

The Bloc Québécois has led the fight in this House, on behalf of Quebeckers, against the fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces. The partial correction authorized by the federal government—as a result of the Bloc Québécois' efforts—involved changing the formula for calculating equalization. The federal government, supported by the Liberals, has unilaterally decided to deprive Quebec of $1 billion.

I had the opportunity to read the letter written by Quebec's Minister of Finance to the federal Minister of Finance. Ms. Jérôme-Forget—I will mention in passing that she is not in our political camp—wrote this letter on January 21, 2009. This demonstrates the importance of the Bloc Québécois in defending the interests of Quebeckers. I will read the beginning of her letter:

Dear colleague,

In recent days, authorities of the federal government, among them yourself and emissaries from your government, have said that all the relevant information on the changes you are considering for equalization were communicated at the federal-provincial meeting of Finance Ministers in Toronto last November 3.

That is incorrect. Allow me to set the record straight.

When such remarks are made by the Quebec Minister of Finance, all Quebec members in this House, whether Conservative or Liberal, should sit up and listen, as we have done. For the past few months, the federal government has kept us in the dark. It says that the provinces were aware of the changes to the equalization formula and that it was not a unilateral move, even though it was. Once again this is a unilateral change. The federal government is again avoiding settling the fiscal imbalance. It will deprive Quebec of $1 billion. I will come back to this letter.

It is important to understand. All too often, people wonder why the Bloc Québécois rises so often in this place to defend the interests of Quebeckers. It is simply because the federal government does not keep its word. Its failure to do so will cost Quebec $1 billion in 2009-10. That is quite significant.

Equalization is not unique to Canada. It is part of this confederation—we no longer know if it is a confederation or a federation. However, one thing is certain, equalization in Canada and in other countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Australia, India, Pakistan and South Africa, has a similar purpose. The United Kingdom also has an equalization system that takes into account the special needs of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This system results in a better division of wealth within a confederation or a federation. It ensures that the poorest provinces receive a contribution from the confederation or federation. Equalization helps to balance the finances of the provinces with weaker economies.

It gives us no pleasure to defend equalization. I would prefer that Quebec not have to benefit from the equalization system.That would mean that Quebeckers are better off than those in other provinces, which is not the case.

When we are told that Quebec is the spoiled child of the federation, that is obviously a myth, and I will give examples to prove it. Let us look at the amount paid per capita in 2008-09 under equalization: Quebec, $1,037; Nova Scotia, $1,679; Manitoba, $1,732; Newfoundland and Labrador, $1,781; New Brunswick, $2,111 and Prince Edward Island, $2,310. Once again, the equalization system is not equal in terms of the money received per capita in the provinces. This is why Quebec has been asking, for a number of years, that the equalization formula be recalculated in order to correct the fiscal imbalance. If a province is receiving equalization because it is not as rich as the other provinces, the amount should be more or less the same per capita. We are trying to restore this balance.

The Conservative Party has made economic mistakes. I think that reducing the GST was a mistake. Tax payers see very little gain, and it also deprives the federal government of $14 billion. When the government saw an economic crisis on the horizon, it did as it always has, cut transfers to provinces. That is the reality. Quebec will lose out on $1 billion in 2009-10.

Quebec's minister of finance referred to the new formula in the January 21, 2009, letter. In the concluding paragraphs of her letter, she said:

I also want to raise a matter of first importance for Quebec that was raised by the Premier of Quebec at the meeting of First Ministers last January 16.

On November 14, 2008, your officials advised their provincial counterparts that changes to the equalization regulations were under consideration. These changes were announced in the Canada Gazette on December 24, 2008. One of them concerns a change to the treatment of dividends paid by Hydro One to the government of Ontario. The federal government has decided to consider this source of revenue under the corporate tax base rather than the natural resources base.

The argument made by your department is that this enterprise transmits and distributes electricity, but does not produce it.

Clearly, that is important. The minister added:

However, all the dividends paid by Hydro-Québec to the Quebec government remain included in the natural resources base, even if a good portion of these dividends results, as is the case with Hydro One, from electricity transmission and distribution activities.

Once again, this would deprive Quebec of an additional $250 million. By changing the formula, the Conservative government decided to penalize Quebec yet again to the tune of $250 million.

I am worried because, once again, the Conservatives and the Liberals, political parties that have elected members from Quebec, are attacking Quebec. That is the harsh reality in this House. People are always trying to put Quebec down. As if by some unwritten rule, Ontario gets better treatment for Hydro One, and Quebec gets penalized. This will add to the fiscal imbalance that Quebec has to live with as part of this federation or confederation—no matter what people call it, nobody knows exactly what kind of arrangement it is supposed to be.

That is why, in election after election, Quebeckers have put their faith in Bloc Québécois members to raise these issues in the House of Commons and propose amendments, just as we have done with Bill C-10. We hope that all of the Quebec members in the House will stand up and vote for Motions Nos. 43 to 52, as proposed by the Bloc Québécois.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, this budget really is an attack on women. International Women's Day is approaching and it is supposed to be a day of celebration. I think that the celebrations this year will be quite sombre. We will have very little to celebrate because we are not advancing. We are actually going back in time. We were supposed to be moving forward, not backward.

The budget did not just leave women out. It actually attacked and undermined their equality. The federal government has to stop ignoring the fact that women in Canada need pay equity. Instead of attacking them, it should be helping them. The Conservative budget's proposals on pay equity are not just an attack on women but on children and families as well. Instead, it should be looking at EI changes. That would help women. We need to ensure that there is a reduction in qualifying hours and we should qualify the hours at 360. The qualifying hours are very different across Canada. They vary and it is very unfair to some workers, especially women.

We need to remove the two week waiting period so that people who find themselves out of work are not facing the hardships right away and can start accessing that money right away. We need to extend the qualifying weeks for the waiting period. The government has indicated that it is going to increase the qualifying weeks by five weeks. That is fine and dandy, but it is still not enough. We certainly need the 52 weeks to be there.

The demand for national, affordable and accessible child care has fallen on deaf ears with the government. The help it has given with regard to the allotted amount of money per month does not even cover a day's pay for a child care worker. It does not cover how much it actually costs to pay for a child to be in child care. When women have an average income of about $27,000 a year, compared to $45,000 for men, the tax reductions in the higher tax brackets are of very little help. The poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer.

I have talked about national child care because it would certainly assist women in the workforce to earn a decent living, not to say that they are going to work just to pay for their child care. We also have to look at the minimum wages at some point because the minimum wage across the country is not enough for someone to go to work. All too often, I have seen situations where people on welfare, who have actually gotten a job, are being told that they are better off staying at home because it is going to cost too much money to have their child looked after.

Instead of giving them a hand down, we should be giving them a hand up. I have talked about EI reform. I think that it is a really big key here because EI is the biggest economic stimulus one can find. For every dollar that is spent in the economy through a person who receives EI, it is an economic stimulus of $1.64. That was provided to the government during its prebudget consultations, yet it chose to ignore it. Imagine ignoring the biggest stimulus package. These people will spend their cheques over the first two weeks that they get them.

Infrastructure is another big economic stimulus, but we have to do it properly. We held two economist panels, one prior to the prebudget consultations and one after, and the information that was provided to us said the same thing. In order to deal with this and stimulate the economy, we have to deal with poverty. When we address poverty, the economic stimulus package will kick in. By building affordable housing and making sure that people have jobs, we can move the economy forward.

We also have to look at measures to end violence against women. We have talked about the upcoming International Women's Day. That is a big key as well. All too often, we see that the people who are living in poverty are the ones who are being abused. We need to make sure that the government addresses that.

With regard to the pay equity law, we saw in the budget how unfair it is to women. To say that one has to go into collective bargaining to do that, well not everybody actually has a collective bargaining process. That process can actually be lengthy because it all depends on the employers, whether or not they want to bargain. I think we are truly going back in time and we really need to have that addressed.

We have to talk about the people who are retiring. The largest number of people retiring right now and living in poverty are actually women. A 2004 study found that an astounding 45.6% of women in these circumstances still live in poverty. Just think about it, these people have actually helped build our country and all of a sudden they are finding themselves retired. They are supposed to be enjoying their retirement life, and now they cannot because the government refuses to address the fact that a pension income, CPP or a CPP disability, is not enough to live on. We need to make sure this is addressed. Again, it is hitting women the most.

With regard to jobs out there, this why I wanted to touch base on minimum wage a while ago. When looking at jobs, more than ever we see that women are taking those minimum wage jobs. More often than not we are seeing immigrants in those jobs. There is so much poverty out there that it is a shame that the government chose to attack women in this budget.

There is so much that we could actually do to support women. The labour movement certainly has been working in that direction. Instead of kicking women who are down, we should be giving them a hand up. Pay equity legislation prohibits wage discrimination where employees are performing work of equal or comparable value, whereas equal pay legislation prohibits it in respect of the same or substantially similar work.

We have to look at pay equity in Manitoba and Ontario because it is not a part of the regular collective bargaining process. Human rights cannot be bargained for at a bargaining table. The provincial legislation in Manitoba and Ontario covers both unionized and non-unionized employees. Manitoba legislation only covers public sector workers, while Ontario legislation covers both the private and the public sectors. For unionized workers, pay equity plans are developed between both the employer and the union but not during collective bargaining. This process happens separately.

Ontario has a pay equity commission with the same powers as the labour board. It can investigate, mediate and resolve complaints. If one side disagrees with the complaint resolution, there is an appeal process that is referred to as a tribunal. The results of the tribunal are binding.

In Manitoba the pay equity bureau existed to deal with complaints. However, because the Manitoba legislation is quite old and the process only existed for public service jobs, the pay equity commission has run its course. It functioned in a similar manner to the pay equity commission in Ontario. Any disputes now are handled through the Manitoba labour management services board.

Let us look back at how much a woman actually makes. A woman actually makes 71¢ on the dollar compared to a man. For a woman of colour, it goes down. For an aboriginal, the amount a woman makes is even less.

I think it is time the government takes a serious look at what it has actually put into the budget bill and pulls that part of it out. We really need to move forward on it. Pay equity is actually a human right protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The current law prohibits differences in wages between female and male employees and I do not think the government gets it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 11:50 a.m.
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Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with considerable interest to my colleague's very progressive and heartfelt remarks. I understood her bias in favour of the fight against poverty, which is all to her credit. I think she is right to remind us that, in terms of employment insurance, it is the government that dragged its feet. The Bloc has tabled a number of bills to improve things for those who are, unfortunately, unemployed.

I would like to put three questions to my colleague. I would ask her to remind us of the importance of social housing in the fight against poverty and of the vital nature of the amendments needed to employment insurance and, finally, I would like her opinion on the fate reserved in this budget for women.