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 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. I will deal first with the employment insurance question, as I consider it a big challenge.

It must indeed be recognized that employment insurance needs to be changed. Our colleague and his party proposed a change last week. Unfortunately, it appears that the Conservatives did not hear what is so necessary to help employment insurance claimants. The impact on women is huge, and the matter must be dealt with. As I mentioned earlier, every dollar spent in the community by employment insurance claimants amounts to a stimulus to the economy of $1.64.

Affordable housing is a very important matter. It took a long time for them to build a block of affordable housing units in the London region, if I am not mistaken, and there are only 12 units. It took them three years to build it. Imagine the people in need of affordable housing and unable to obtain it. They cannot go to work and do not have employment insurance. It is these people who usually work for minimum wage.

This government should recognize once and for all that we are in the midst of a crisis right now. It would then understand the importance of stimulating the economy and of making affordable housing available as well. If the government could start building affordable housing, it would reduce poverty. First, people will have housing and, second, they will be able to go to work.

We need, as well, a national child care program so parents can take their children to day care where they will be given appropriate supervision and protection while the parents work. This service must be affordable. It has been under discussion for a long time. The Liberal government said it would set up such a system. It totally forgot its promises. The Conservative government said that it would look into the matter and would help parents. However, it provides only a little money and says that is enough.

It cost me even more when I had to put my children in private day care. Not everyone can pay that much for day care.

My thanks to my colleague for his question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

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

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to see you back in the chair. I know that you enjoy the responsibility conferred upon you and wish you every success.

The Bloc Québécois is engaged in a battle of the utmost importance to the people of Quebec to ensure that the sums due to the provinces under equalization are actually paid. This is no trifling matter. I want all the people listening to us, and I know there are a lot of them, to know that the Conservative government has decided in a deliberate, planned way to deprive Quebec’s public finances of $1 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year. This shows that the federal government has the ability to destabilize the public finances of any province.

The equalization formula was determined in the 1950s pursuant to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Problems (Tremblay Commission) and its purpose was to ensure that all the provinces were able to provide public services to their citizens. Its purpose has always been to correct regional disparities. Equalization was entrenched in the Constitution in 1982 when it was unilaterally patriated. Quebec’s National Assembly has never agreed to this constitutional change initiated after the 1980 referendum. The Quebec National Assembly, supported not only by René Lévesque but Claude Ryan as well, was against the unilateral patriation of the Constitution. It feared for its prerogatives, especially concerning language legislation. History has obviously proved it right. The Supreme Court has overturned whole sections of Bill 101, especially those dealing with freedom of expression.

Equalization is supposed to make it possible for the provinces to provide services in view of their tax base, their ability to generate taxes, and the number of companies they have. The federal-provincial conference managed to enrage the finance minister in the Quebec National Assembly, Ms. Jérôme-Forget, who cannot be suspected of any sympathy for the sovereignist cause. She sent the current finance minister in the Conservative government a letter saying how terrible she thought it was for them to make unilateral changes. These changes will result in the loss of a billion dollars in 2009-10. The second terrible thing about this is that the provinces are not only being impoverished but were also not given reasonable advance warning about what it would mean for their ability to provide services.

Ms. Jérôme-Forget, the finance minister in the government of Mr. Jean Charest, tried on at least two occasions at the federal-provincial conference of finance ministers to get information on how the formula was calculated. Premier Charest returned to the charge at the Council of the Federation, but the government never acted transparently and revealed how the payments would be calculated. That is totally unacceptable.

Who is defending Quebec's interests in this Parliament? Who among the Conservatives is speaking up to denounce this unilateral approach, which is impoverishing the provinces and completely ignores the fact that we must work together, in a spirit of partnership?

If not for the Bloc Québécois, there would be no voice to defend Quebec's interests in particular. And I regret to say that I did not see a single member of the Conservative caucus from Quebec rise in this House to denounce this completely unacceptable way of doing things.

Clearly, when Quebec is deprived of $1 billion in revenues in its budget, some services will definitely have to be reviewed and some aspects of its programming will have to be adjusted. Is that what is meant by a spirit of partnership?

I clearly recall that, during the 2006 election campaign, the current Prime Minister gave a speech in the Quebec City area, in Sainte-Foy if my memory serves, in which he talked about the need to work together, to act in partnership, to put in place what he called “cooperative federalism”, thereby hoping to differentiate himself from what he described as the executive federalism of the previous government. However, does cutting $1 billion in equalization payments sound like cooperative federalism? It definitely does not.

Many aspects of this budget are terribly lacking and absolutely dreadful, and there is no way the Bloc Québécois would have ever considered supporting such a bad budget. I will give some examples, since I have a feeling that people are anxious to hear them.

Of course, I am talking about employment insurance. The Bloc Québécois has repeatedly called for a standard number of hours to qualify for employment insurance and has asked the government to set this figure at 360 hours. The Bloc Québécois has called for the elimination of the waiting period, which defers eligibility by two weeks. Of course, we have waged a long battle to have the system cover seasonal workers. Nothing in this budget makes people looking for work happy.

We know how many unemployed people are looking for a job during this economic crisis. Unfortunately, employment insurance does not meet these workers' needs. One worker in two pays into the system, which the federal government does not underwrite. The federal government does not put any money into the system based on government revenues. The system is funded 100% by workers and employers. Nothing in this budget makes people looking for work happy.

In addition, the Conservative government has chosen to deal a direct blow to women's right to equal pay for equal work. It has chosen to attack the rights of women who are not unionized, and it is no longer allowing women to turn to the courts for satisfaction on the issue of pay equity. That says a lot about this government and its sensitivity toward women.

In its fierce and enlightened defence of Quebec's interests, the Bloc Québécois has put forward amendments. I will close by saying just how important the issue of equalization is to us. We cannot overstate how terrible it is to deprive Quebec's treasury of $1 billion for 2009-10. Imagine the impact that will have on the people whose job it is to plan services for the public. It is shameful, and it shows just how insensitive the government is. If it were not for the voice of the Bloc Québécois in this Parliament, no one would have been concerned, even though this is devastating to the National Assembly of Quebec.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / noon
See context

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this Chamber to ask a question of the hon. member for Hochelaga. I was astounded to hear the member's speech because what he said was the opposite of common sense and truth.

Never before has Quebec received such large equalization payments as it does with our Conservative government. Quebec members, and all my caucus colleagues, have not done anything to deprive Quebec of significant payments. In the days of the Liberals and the Bloc, hospitals were closed and cuts were made to education. What have we done for Quebec since coming to power? We have increased equalization payments but we have not stopped there. Social transfers to Quebec have also hit record highs in the history of our federation. The Conservatives and the Quebec members rise in this House and approve initiatives such as this budget, which is an extraordinary prescription for Quebec in these times of economic uncertainty.

My question for the member for Hochelaga is the following. How can he abandon Quebeckers, workers, families and seniors by not supporting this economic action plan in such a period of economic crisis? How can he keep his blinders on and continue with his ideology when Quebeckers need members in this House who will deliver the goods for Quebec?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I would, however, like to say that he is rather far from the truth, and could even end up actually lying, if he maintained in this House that Quebec would not be deprived of one billion dollars. I would ask him, through you, Mr. Speaker, if he maintains that the National Assembly will not be out one billion dollars, contrary to the statement made by the Quebec finance minister in a letter to the Government of Canada, in which she objects strongly to the formula being proposed by his government, when he is collaborating in that initiative? When a Conservative member rises in this House to question that statement, he is on a nasty slippery slope headed toward lying.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have heard my Conservative colleague's reference to the fact that, in the budget proposed by his government, workers, families and seniors would benefit. We probably did not read the same budget. The measures for workers are in fact for just two years. Five weeks are being added on to employment insurance. These are not appropriate measures for workers. Given the job losses and this government's inertia as far as injecting enough money to get out of this economic crisis, the program for older worker adjustment, or POWA, would have been useful. The government ought to have made an effort in that direction.

Then, they talk about the $1,500 income tax deduction for seniors. But those people have to be paying income tax. If seniors are living below the poverty line, we can be sure they will not be paying income tax, and so they cannot take advantage of that government measure.

I would like to ask my colleague a question. What would be the solution, the attitude Parliament ought to take, to this Conservative government and to this budget?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his insightful questions. That is not surprising, coming from such an insightful man.

The easiest solution, financially, would be for us to receive additional tax room through tax points and, thus, Quebec would not be dependent on transfer payments that can be changed without negotiation and without respect for the provinces.

In terms of seniors, the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill to increase the guaranteed income supplement. As for the national question, the real solution is sovereignty for Quebec.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to add my voice to the concerns expressed today, particularly in regard to the insinuation in the budget implementation bill of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. What an Orwellian term that is.

Over the last three and a half years, the government has tried to silence the voices of women. It has reduced funding to Status of Women Canada. It ended research, advocacy and lobbying. It closed 12 regional office of Status of Women Canada. It ended the funding to many women's organizations and its removed equality from the mandate of Status of Women Canada, all of these measures designed to keep women quiet, to keep them in their place.

It is not working. The government may have tried to deny the voices of women, but I have a letter, signed by 79 individuals, winners of the Governor General's Award in regard to the Persons Case, lawyers, academics, Canadians of great stature. I want to esnure that their voice and the voice of millions of Canadian women are heard in this place, so I will read into the record a letter they sent to the Prime Minister. It states:

We write to express our dismay at the introduction of the new Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. We are concerned that this legislation has been introduced as a part of Budget 2009, and that, as a consequence, Parliament will not be permitted to decide whether the legislation has its support as a new law independent of the Budget. This amounts to legislating by stealth in our view, and is unworthy of any Canadian government, as well as unfair to women.

The legislation takes away the right of women federal public servants to equal pay for work of equal value. You have claimed that your government recognizes that pay equity is a right of women and that this new legislation merely introduces efficiency and speed to the process of obtaining pay equity in the public service. We have studied this legislation closely and find these claims false. The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act empties the right to pay equity of its meaning.

The new legislated criteria for evaluating “equitable compensation” will reintroduce sex discrimination into pay practices, rather than eliminate it. Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is a discriminatory practice for an employer to establish or maintain differences in wages between male and female employees employed in the same establishment who are performing work of equal value. In assessing the value of work performed by employees, the criterion to be applied is the composite of the skill, effort and responsibility required in the performance of the work and the conditions under which the work is performed (section 11). The new legislation adopts these criteria, but adds new ones that completely undermine the commitment to equal pay for work of equal value for women. Section 4(2)(b) of Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act adds that the value of the work performed is also to be assessed according to “the employer's recruitment and retention needs in respect of employees in that job group or job class, taking into account the qualifications required to perform the work and the market forces operating in respect of employees with those qualifications.” This permits any evaluation to take into account that male-dominated jobs are valued more highly in the market, requiring the employer to pay more to attract new employees or retain current ones, even if the value of the work when it is assessed based on skill, effort and responsibility is no greater than that of female-dominated jobs.

The right to equal pay for work of equal value was introduced in federal human rights legislation in 1977 precisely in order to expunge the sex discrimination that is inherent in market pay practices from the assessment of the value of work. Historically, the market has devalued work that is done by women. Seeking now to evaluate the federal public service’s compensation practices for female dominated job groups by comparing them with pay assigned to these jobs in the market will entrench sex discrimination, not correct it.

In addition, the new legislation defines a female dominated group as one in which 70% of the workers are women; only these groups can seek “equitable compensation.” This is too rigid a definition as it simply puts outside the boundaries of the legislation those job groups in which women are 51 – 69% of the workers, no matter what the context is. The legislation restricts comparisons of male and female job groups so that comparisons may only be made within defined portions of the federal public service, or within federal agencies, not across the public service as a whole. In addition, the legislation repeatedly refers to providing “equitable compensation” within “a reasonable time.” This seems to imply that women public servants may not receive compensation for the full period when they received less than equal pay for work of equal value and may not receive what they are owed immediately.

We conclude that the substance of the right to equal pay for work of equal value is gone, restrictions have been placed on who falls within the scope of the legislation and on how comparisons can be made, and time periods for which compensation is owed are malleable.

In addition, the processes set out in the Act for seeking “equitable compensation” are fundamentally flawed.The legislation makes employers and unions jointly responsible for “equitable compensation,” even though federal public sector unions do not have any control over the federal purse. It also makes “equitable compensation” for women federal public servants a matter to be negotiated between employers and unions alongside and at the same time as other collective bargaining issues, not separately and distinctly, as it is under the Manitoba Pay Equity Act.

This puts women federal public servants at risk of having their right to be free from sex discrimination in pay bargained away because other issues are of more importance to the employer or the union, or both. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Dickason v. University of Alberta that employers cannot contract out of their human rights obligations. There is nothing in this legislation that ensures that women’s human rights will be respected and fulfilled in the bargaining process, rather than ignored and set aside. The effect of this restructuring of the process for obtaining pay equity is to make pay equity no longer a human right of women, but a benefit or privilege which may be bargained successfully, or not.

We note that individual women, both non-unionized and unionized, are permitted to make complaints to the Public Service Labour Relations Board if they believe that their compensation is not “equitable.” However, neither non-unionized women nor unionized women will have anyone to assist them. Currently, if women file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Commission will investigate it, interview witnesses and examine evidence. Under the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act, complainants will receive no assistance whatsoever.

Further, unionized women cannot have the assistance of their unions to make pay equity complaints. Indeed, unions will be fined $50,000 if they assist any woman to make a complaint. We point out that this legal imposition of a fine violates international human rights norms, since it contravenes Article 9(3)(c) of the Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders. Article 9(3)(c) states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others,…[T]o offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

This individual complaint procedure has been turned into a meaningless enforcement mechanism. Complaints about pay equity are, by definition, group complaints. Individual female public servants, without help from the Commission or their unions, will not have access to the information about pay rates and job descriptions that is necessary to make an “equitable compensation” complaint.

I see that my time is running out, although I had a lot more to say. However, the letter goes on to state:

We conclude that the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act does not comply with the commitments that Canada has made to women in international human rights instruments or the Charter. We ask you to withdraw this legislation immediately and instead to implement the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force.

As Canadians who have contributed many years of work to improving the lives of women, we are angered when the Government of Canada moves backwards on the rights of women. This is the fifth overt attack on the rights of women in Canada made by your administration, following as it does on 1) the cancellation of funding to the Court Challenges Programme, 2) changes to the criteria for funding for Status of Women Canada’s Women’s Programme which preclude support for advocacy or lobbying for law reform, 3) cancellation of the Status of Women...

These individuals have indicated that they are ashamed of what Canada has done to women. This is a dark day—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from the opposite side of the House clearly pointed out that nothing can force unions to defend women's rights. It is not written in stone as part of their mandate. If they want to do it, they will; if they do not want to, they will not. If things are happening quickly during negotiations and there are more details to work out other than just pay equity for women, women will be set aside as they always have been in the past.

There is nothing forcing unions to fight, and there are also tens of thousands of women, as my colleague said, who are not unionized and that no one will ever defend. Women have an intrinsic right to pay equity; that is, equal pay for equal work. It is a fundamental right that is non-negotiable. My colleague is correct in reminding us of this.

By introducing a legal system where this right is denied, the government has set us back 50 years. It fundamentally denies women's rights and makes them disappear for all intents and purposes. The most distressing and tragic thing is that the Liberal Party, which claims to defend women's rights, is siding with the government to deny these rights.

I would like to hear my colleague's opinion on this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must admit, having read the letter with regard to the incredible women and leaders across Canada, who have expressed shame that the government would compromise the human rights of women and in fact trample them, that my shame is equal when I contemplate the Liberal Party of Canada joining in this sham of a piece of legislation in this march to end women's equality and human rights.

I want to be very clear in my remarks in response to my colleague that including equitable compensation, or the government's version of it in collective bargaining, makes it very difficult. I am very proud of the union association I have had in my career as an advocate and a member of the London and District Labour Council. I know unions do their utmost to ensure the rights of all members. However, when it comes to a matter of safe workplaces and compensation, very often there are pieces bargained away. In this case, it cannot be human rights.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I first want to indicate that the Liberal caucus agrees fully with the member with regard to women's issues, pay equity, court challenges, the Status of Women issues, et cetera. The government clearly has shown itself to be anti-women in virtually everything it does.

With regard to the dilemma of the plight of those who are at risk of losing existing jobs, the problem of not having the creation of new jobs to alleviate the employment situation and the implications and problems created for those least able to help themselves in our society, it would appear that the only element of the budget that will address this is a stimulus package, some 40% of which is infrastructure funding.

Although we know very well there are many other problems and we have an omnibus bill rather than a budget bill, the stimulus package is something that people need and, if delayed, may cause some permanent damage to the lives of Canadians. Would the member agree?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was very clear to us in the New Democratic Party caucus, and has been clear for months and months, that an economic downturn was coming. The situation in August of 2007 in the United States with mortgages made that evident to anybody who was watching or paying attention. That is why we told the government over and over again that it needed to have something in place to protect existing jobs and invest in the jobs of the future. We said it over and over again and it did not listen.

Now we are in a crisis and the government is using this crisis to insert these poison pills into the budget implementation act, poison pills that would take away labour rights and women's human rights, that would give away public assets at bargain basement prices, that would eliminate our ability to look after our own industries.

It is time to stand up—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill. I want to say a few words in support of the Bloc Québécois' proposal to delete clauses 380 to 392. These clauses relate to the Conservative government's unilateral decision to amend the equalization formula as it was previously amended. What we have to do now is maintain the status quo.

If clauses 383 to 392 remain in Bill C-10, Quebec will lose almost $1 billion in the 2009-10 fiscal year. At a time when the economic situation is affecting Quebec's tax revenues, the $1 billion shortfall will have very serious effects on the Government of Quebec's ability to fulfill its obligations in terms of health, education and social solidarity.

We hope that all of the Quebec members will do the right thing for Quebec by supporting the Bloc Québécois' amendments. If Quebec members from any of the other parties decide to support Bill C-10 as written, they will be doing a poor job of representing Quebec's interests and will be acting against the National Assembly's decisions. As everyone knows, in mid-January, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion demanding that the federal government respect the current equalization formula, among other things.

On March 19, 2007, which was just months, not centuries ago, Canada's Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, and made a number of promises that Bill C-10 does not keep, particularly with respect to the issues addressed in clauses 383 to 392. I would like to read an excerpt from his letter. At the end of the first paragraph, the Conservative Prime Minister wrote to his Quebec counterpart:

Budget 2006 reaffirmed this commitment, and launched a dialogue with provincial and territorial governments, experts and Canadians on how to return federal transfers to a principled, predictable and formula-driven basis after two years of one-off deals.

At the end of the Liberal regime under Mr. Martin, patchwork changes were made to equalization. In his letter, the Conservative Prime Minister indicated that there will no longer be any one-off agreements, and that principles and a formula will be used to ensure stable transfer payments. There is no denying that Bill C-10, particularly clauses 380 to 392 relating to equalization, does not respect this commitment made by the Prime Minister of Canada. In the second paragraph of that letter, we read:

All governments will have principled, predictable and long-term support for their key responsibilities.

Once again we see that Bill C-10 flies in the face of the Conservative Prime Minister's commitments. The Minister of Finance tried to tell us that the information was made public during the finance ministers' conference last fall. Ms. Jérôme-Forget, who is not a sovereignist—and I am not convinced she votes for the Bloc Québécois—is the Liberal finance minister in Quebec and cares very much about Quebec's interests. She has clearly said that the information was not communicated at that meeting.

I would like to point out that the Conservative government is in the midst of reaching a parallel agreement with Nova Scotia based on the fact that it had not been informed of the changes to equalization and the impact this would have on transfers to that province. During that meeting of finance ministers, Ms. Jérôme-Forget, and I have no reason not to believe her, very clearly told the federal Conservative government and the Minister of Finance that the information had not been made available.

There was no indication that the amount of the shortfall would be as high as we are talking about now, that is, $1 billion.

I would point out that the essence of clauses 383 to 392 limits the amount to which each province will be entitled. That is a significant constraint of itself. In addition, the government is amending the formula for calculating equalization payments, which, in our opinion was unsatisfactory. I would point out that the government included only 50% of royalties or other forms of revenue related to natural resources, which, to our mind, was totally insufficient. If the government wants equalization to play the role it was created for and enshrined in the Canadian Constitution, all revenues from natural resources must be taken into account. In our opinion, the formula was already a hybrid, as it took into account only half of these revenues. We continue to believe that all revenue must be taken into account in order to establish the real level of equalization and transfer payments to which Quebec and the other provinces are entitled.

If we go back further, the equalization formula and stable principles for it to be determined on were part of a series of demands the Conservative government failed to meet. Despite what the Prime Minister, Conservative MPs from Quebec and the Minister of Finance say, it is incorrect to say that the fiscal imbalance has been resolved. On this point, there is consensus in the Quebec National Assembly and in Quebec. The fiscal imbalance has not been resolved.

For it to be resolved, the levels of transfer payments for social programs such as health care, post-secondary education and social solidarity would have to be returned to 1994-95 levels, just before the Minister of Finance, Paul Martin at the time, began his unilateral cuts and began shovelling his financial problems into the yards of the provinces and Quebec. That is why there is still an $820 million shortfall in Quebec in transfers for post-secondary education. Canada-wide, the figure is $3.2 billion. Efforts were made in the past for health care, but, in the case of post-secondary education programs, we remain at the 1994-95 levels. That is unacceptable.

Once the levels have been restored, we want the federal government and the Government of Quebec to negotiate equivalent transfers of tax room to Quebec. It is very clear, as we can see today with Bill C-10, that federal transfers to Quebec and the provinces are still subject to federal arbitrariness. The only way to make sure that Quebec has the financial autonomy it needs to discharge its responsibilities, even within the Canadian federation, is to transfer tax room to Quebec, as has been done in the past.

Under Lester B. Pearson, the transfer made at the request of Jean Lesage made the Quiet Revolution possible and allowed Quebec to catch up. There was also a transfer in 1977 under René Lévesque. Whether you are a federalist or a sovereigntist, when you work for Quebec's interests, you get results. The transfer made in 1977 was essentially for health care.

What we are asking for is not new, but for these transfers to take place, the government must restore the 1994-95 levels, then negotiate with Quebec to transfer the tax room these transfers represent.

There is still another problem: the Conservative government had promised on two or three separate occasions to address the issue of the federal spending power. It is very clear to us that what is needed is not to restrict or limit the federal spending power, but to eliminate it. The only way to do this is to give Quebec and any province that so desires the chance to opt out of any federal program put in place in the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec, with full compensation and no strings attached. We are still waiting for the bill, but I seriously doubt that we will ever see it. If the government cannot keep its word on equalization and the formula it put in place barely a year and half ago, when it promised that equalization would be guaranteed for the long term, I would be very surprised if it kept its promise on the federal spending power, when it has not even begun creating the conditions to fulfill it.

This is regrettable. Once again, I invite all the members of this House to vote in favour of deleting clauses 383 to 392.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Joliette for his wonderful explanation. Thus, very shortly there will be a $1 billion shortfall for Quebec. For those who do not have that kind of money and who never will, it consists of a thousand $1 million dollar bills stacked one on top of the other. It is a great deal of money with which a great many things can be done and, without which, they cannot be done.

It is a large hole in Ms. Jérôme-Forget's coffers, which she talks about constantly. At present, there is not much in the coffers. One of the reasons is probably the cuts made there also. The National Assembly decided to unanimously denounce the cuts. All federalists, as well as the sovereignists, in the National Assembly of Quebec have spoken out against this. It is unanimous and it is Quebec that speaks in the National Assembly and not two or three persons in this House. It is all of Quebec.

All members of the House who are not members of the Bloc, save one, will vote against Quebec on this matter. We understand why. In fact, this is all about the rules of caucus. In caucus, democracy prevails: the majority decides and the minority follows. Our members are in the minority everywhere, no matter what we do, and will always be obliged to defend the positions established by the Canadian majority that wants these cuts. They will always back Canada rather than Quebec.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Drummond for his extremely pertinent question. In a debate on equalization, one sees the importance of the debate that went on during the election campaign. When campaigning started, the Conservatives tried to question the legitimacy of the Bloc Québécois and the votes of millions of Quebeckers in the last 18 years.

Whether in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 or again in 2008 at the last election, the people of Quebec each time decided that the majority of their deputation would be under the Bloc Québécois banner. Why? They are very much aware, as they are this very day, that the only party that will stand up and without compromise defend the interests and values of Quebec is the Bloc Québécois.

As long as we remain within the Canadian federation, the Bloc Québécois will have a role to play. I am certain that, in the future, as in the past, Quebeckers will continue to send a majority of MPs who truly defend their interests and their values, that is MPs from the Bloc Québécois.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Joliette for this extremely enriching and very true speech. I strongly support his comments.

As my colleague from Drummond has said, it is a matter of Quebec losing one billion dollars. I wonder how the Government of Quebec will be able to plan certain budgets in future without really knowing the true amounts it will be getting from Ottawa. It would also be important to point out that this is not money being given to us by Ottawa, but money being returned to us. Our money. Our work provided that money, which was transferred to Ottawa. It needs to come back to us.

A little aside concerning the Conservative ideology. Albert is receiving ongoing transfer payments, according to a certain progression, while equalization payments to the other provinces are being slashed.

Does my colleague find it logical that rich Alberta continues to get money, while the other provinces watch their equalization transfers getting cut back—equalization that is not only justified, but necessary, especially for the development of Quebec?