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 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Louis-Hébert for his question. This illustrates what Canadian federalism is really all about. The federal government will make a transfer for a specific program as long as it feels it will enhance its visibility.

Take social housing, for example. The federal government implemented a program. The provinces, Quebec in particular, took advantage of it to respond to social housing needs. All of a sudden, in the mid-1990s, funding was slashed and Quebec was left to pick up the pieces. That is always the danger. Even worse, all of the programs in the past few years have been based on population—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the amendments that have been proposed for the budget implementation act. I am going to be dealing specifically with clause 362, which has to do with the student loan amendments, and clause 394, which has to do with pay equity.

With regard to student loans, I want to talk specifically about the requirements for additional documentation. This section of the bill deals with the fact that anybody who receives Canada student loans will be required to provide additional documents to the minister upon request. It creates a host of new penalities for false statements or omissions and also appears to permit the minister to retroactively punish students for making a false statement or omission in their application for Canada student loans.

In this day and age, we want to make post-secondary education as accessible as possible to students. We know that in times of economic downturn, it is very important for people to be able to upgrade their skills and education, so that when the economy turns around they have an opportunity to take advantage of the economy as it moves up.

This clause is particularly troubling because it is going to put additional barriers in front of getting education. Currently, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is conducting a post-secondary education review. It is reviewing a program called PSSSP, the post-secondary student support program. One of the options being floated is that some first nations students will be channelled into applying for Canada student loans.

We already know that when it comes to post-secondary education, first nations students have less access, more barriers, and a lower graduation rate. Yet, we also know that in many provinces the first nations and Métis are a significant part of the student population. It is of concern that we are revamping a program that will affect students broadly in terms of access with the potential to impact first nations students more directly.

At a February 23 gathering of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, National Chief Phil Fontaine spoke about the importance of education. He was speaking about kindergarten to grade 12, but I think this also applies to post-secondary. He talked about the fact that the cost of doing nothing is astronomical. He went on to say:

I recently read an editorial in the Star Phoenix which projected that the First Nation and Métis population in Saskatchewan could account for approximately 23% of the labor force by 2016. The implications of this are huge, and not just here but across the country. Nationally, more than 600,000 Aboriginal youth will be entering the labour market by 2026, with the potential to make a major contribution to the Canadian economy estimated at $71 billion. The social and economic costs will be financially crippling to the provincial and federal governments if we don’t make the right decisions today.

I would argue that there is a serious omission in a budget implementation that does not consider the impacts on both Canadian students and first nations, Métis and Inuit students.

Many people have talked eloquently in the House about pay equity. It is actually called the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. Since 2006, we have seen a continuous erosion of women's equality in this country, whether it is the removal of the court challenges program, the removal of the word equality from the Status of Women website, or the underfunding of women's organizations that can provide a perspective that is lacking in the House. Only 20% of the members of the House are women. It is very important to fund those women's organizations to make sure that that representation in economic and social policy is heard by the government when it is developing legislation. In the budget implementation act and the budget itself, we saw the virtual absence of women.

I want to touch briefly on first nations. The Québec Native Women's Association issued a press release when it examined what was in the budget. It talked about the fact that the investment plans in infrastructure and industries tend to benefit the sectors of activities that are predominantly comprised of a male workforce. The double discrimination faced by aboriginal women has already led to a feminization of poverty and the economic struggle will no doubt exacerbate their marginalization. The press release goes on to talk about the fact that the United Nations has provided numerous recommendations on key areas of concerns in regard to its human rights obligations. Sadly these recommendations were blatantly ignored by this present budget.

The Native Women's Association of Canada talked about the need to have aboriginal women specifically mentioned as part of the stimulus plan. Instead, we heard only a general comment about aboriginal issues such as social housing on reserves, aboriginal skills and training, child and family services. It went on to talk about the fact that women are not specifically mentioned. When we know that there are no programs, services and infrastructure specifically geared toward women and women's issues, they simply get left off the table.

I bring this up in the context of pay equity because one of the comments made in the House was that we need to ensure that families in this country have access to reasonable compensation. The former pay equity task force from 2004 which did hundreds of hours of consultation from coast to coast to coast, talked to business, trade unions, individual stakeholders and came out with a very substantial set of recommendations which have been ignored since 2004. So it is not just the current government that ignored it, it was ignored in the past as well. That pay equity task force would have put in place some very real measures to tackle equal pay for work of equal value, and let us be clear, that is what we are talking about. We are talking about equal pay for work of equal value, and that gets lost in the noise and the rhetoric in the House.

The current piece of legislation effectively rolls back the clock. We know that women in Canada, on average, make somewhere around seventy-some odd cents to the dollar for every dollar that a man makes. What we really needed was some teeth around the pay equity legislation. Furthermore, it should never have been included in a budget implementation bill. It should have been a stand-alone piece of legislation, so that the Status of Women committee would have had the opportunity to call witnesses, to fully examine the piece of legislation to make sure that it reflected what was in the pay equity task force.

Instead, we have an attempt to bury a piece of legislation in an omnibus bill without adequate oversight. That applies to any number of other aspects that are buried in the bill including navigable waters.

I want to quote from a couple of press releases. The Public Service Alliance of Canada issued a press release on February 23 that said:

PSAC slams Budget Implementation Act for undermining collective bargaining and threatening women's right to pay equity.

It went on to say:

The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act would make it virtually impossible for women in the federal public sector to be paid equal pay for work of equal value. It uses pay equity as a bargaining chip during negotiations where the employer historically holds the balance of power. It bars unions from supporting members who want to make pay equity claims. Bill C-10 would do nothing to narrow the income gap between women and men in the federal public service.

In a detailed briefing note, prepared by the women's and human rights officer at the Public Service Alliance Canada, entitled “The end of pay equity for women in the federal public service”, it talks about restricting access. I am going to read a couple of sections. It says:

The Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act will restrict the substance and the application of pay equity in the public sector. This bill would remove the right of public sector workers to file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The bill would make it more difficult to claim pay equity, by redefining the notion of “female predominant” job group to require that women make up 70% of workers in the position. It also redefines the criteria used to evaluate whether jobs are of “equal” value.

It goes on to talk about the $50,000 fine on any union that would encourage or assist its members in filing a pay equity complaint and it talks about the fact that pay equity is a fundamental human right that has been protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act since 1977.

We know this is a signature attempt by the government to continue to undermine women's equality in this country. It is rolling back the clock on women's rights and it signals the government's overall approach to women's issues. I would urge members of the House to support the amendment to strip this out of the budget implementation bill and put it back where it rightly belongs, in front of the Status of Women committee, so it can have some fulsome discussion on this and appropriate oversight.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are at the report stage for the budget implementation bill. In the group of proposed amendments today, there are two types of amendments that do not belong in the budget bill. In terms of equalization, the federal government has tabled an economic stimulus budget that, with one hand, is taking from Quebec what it is giving with the other.

The equalization system, as Canada has developed it, is financed entirely by the federal government with the help of taxes paid by Canadians and Quebeckers. It is based on a fundamental commitment to equality, so that citizens have access to public services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. In other words, the formula that has been determined over the years aims to measure a province's fiscal ability to offer public services. But it does not take into account the various factors that could influence the volume or cost of public services in a province, with the exception of its size and population.

In this case, the decision was made to unilaterally change the procedure. Quebec ends up with a shortfall of some $1 billion, while Quebec, like the other provinces in Canada, is coping with major problems, reduced consumer spending, and a need to jump-start the economy. On the one hand we are told that money will be invested, in infrastructure for example, in order to stimulate consumption, while on the other they are taking away the leeway Quebec was counting on in order to be able to have access to it. Moreover, the Quebec finance minister wrote a letter objecting to this and calling upon the federal government to reconsider its assessment of the situation and to put on the table what was really important. To that end, the Bloc Québécois has introduced some motions to get that part of the bill deleted.

The fact is that the Conservatives can count on Liberal support. This coalition of the blue and the red is a bit like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. No matter which one is in power, we have the same centralizing federal government steamroller. This is particularly the case for this matter of the cuts to equalization, which will hurt Quebec a great deal.

Another important aspect concerns the whole issue of pay equity. In this block of amendments, there are also ones aimed at restoring the important status of pay equity. We are, moreover, amazed to find measures like this in a bill to implement the budget. We have seen this sort of model in the U.S. Congress, particularly under the Republicans, when they were adding amendments onto omnibus bills with undesirable results.

The Bloc Québécois is, of course, in favour of pay equity and considers it a non-negotiable right. In order to ensure that pay equity exists for all Quebec and Canadian working women, proactive federal legislation is necessary that will cover all women in areas under federal jurisdiction.

In the present bill, rather than give each worker equal rights, an additional category of women is created who are not covered by the same conditions. One protection is given to women in the public sector, and another to those not covered by this bill. This strikes us as unfair to the women affected by this bill.

The Bloc Québécois opposes the part that makes pay equity a negotiable right within a collective agreement. The Bloc would rather see the creation of sectoral committees on pay equity, as has been done in Quebec. We take exception to the fact that this bill creates a third category of workers in Quebec. As I was saying earlier, one category falls under Quebec pay equity legislation, another falls under federal legislation on equitable compensation and the remaining category is in the federally regulated private sector and certain crown corporations and has an ineffective complaint system.

Thus, there are three different categories of citizens in this pay equity legislation. Something does not make sense here. The federal government should not have ventured into this territory. It has put forward measures that will create more inequities, rather than solve any problems.

We believe that the gaps, omissions and false premises, including the notion of a market economy in this bill, make it unacceptable and out of sync with Quebec's values.

If the Conservative government believes that equitable compensation is necessary in the government, why would that not also be the case for private businesses under federal jurisdiction, unless it believes that this principle is too costly and harmful to private enterprise?

Equity is established not based on the rights of the workers in question, but rather based on the interests of the employers who hire them. This is a very unacceptable practice and I believe the Conservatives should have reversed their position. That is why we, particularly as members of the Bloc Québécois, have strongly held beliefs on the issue of pay equity in Quebec, a practice that has not been sufficiently developed. We would like to see the Conservative government reverse its stance on this issue. Otherwise, it will have the public to answer to.

Part ll of the bill deals with equitable compensation and enacts the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. The term pay equity never appears in the bill. It speaks instead about equitable compensation, without ever defining it. This terminological fuzziness could well present problems when it comes to legal interpretations and we may find ourselves facing one of the obstacles that the Conservatives claimed to eliminate, that is to say, endless battles before the courts which will ensure that female workers never get justice.

The bill applies strictly to employers in the public sector: Treasury Board, the RCMP and certain agencies and crown corporations. Companies under federal jurisdiction are not covered, nor are certain other crown corporations, for example Canada Post and the CBC. They are therefore creating a great muddle that ultimately will do nothing to improve the situation.

The government could have forged ahead in this budget with steps that would have really helped Quebec’s economy, especially forestry and manufacturing. We see once again today how much these sectors need help but have been abandoned by the government. We need action, loan guarantees, and some original thinking. The Bloc Québécois suggested some measures last fall. It was also the only opposition party to come up with some specific suggestions.

In addition to the things that are missing from this stimulus budget but are so important to Quebec that the Bloc Québécois must oppose the bill, the government has included various measures that are not really related to the budget and, most importantly, should not be changed in any case in the way they want to right now if we want to be fair toward the provinces and if we say they have the funding they need to jump-start their economies.

When the Finance Minister boasts of having invested billions of dollars in infrastructure to boost the economy while at the same time he cuts Quebec’s equalization payments, he creates a situation in which Quebec will not have the funds it needs to activate the tripartite programs requiring federal, provincial and municipal participation. If Quebec had been left some leeway with its equalization payments, there would have been a lot more positive effects on the economy and we would really have had a stimulus package to counter the economic downturn.

In that regard, the Conservative government has not been able to kick its old laissez-faire habit. Even when told that a change in approach is needed to deal with the situation, we see several typical Conservative behaviours. One of them is to penalize Quebec by cutting equalization payments. This has draconian consequences for the Government of Quebec, which will have particular difficulty preparing its budget.

I am being signalled that I have only one minute left. We also realize that this approach is one of main factors that has led an increasing number of Quebeckers to consider that if they controlled all their taxes—an important aspect of sovereignty—they could make decisions as an adult nation. They would not be required to conduct such debates or to depend on a government that, from one year to the next, changes the funding provided by equalization. In my opinion, both Canadians and Quebeckers would be much happier with that sort of arrangement.

While waiting for the time when the Quebec people decide to pursue the sovereignist project, the Bloc Québécois is here to defend the interests of Quebec. We are doing so again with the proposed amendments to the bill and by the Bloc Québécois' position, which is unlike that of the Liberals who have chosen to be associated with a Conservative budget that is harmful to Quebec. We have clearly defended the positions of Quebec and we will continue to do so.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 1 p.m.
See context

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

He raised the subject of pay equity. I would like to point out that, today, women earn some 70.5¢ for every dollar men earn. The figure is 64¢, for women of colour and 46¢ for aboriginal women.

I would like my colleague's opinion on the Conservative government's attack on pay equity in the budget. How does he see it stimulating the economy? I do not see it doing so. I would also like his opinion on the fact that our women colleagues in the Liberal party, who in the past defended the rights of women, are now supporting this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 1 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, pay equity is a right. It is not a measure to revive the economy. It is a woman's right, a right that the government should respect and put in practice through appropriate measures.

This budget sets up a three tier system, according to the type of employer a female employee works for. It is hard to see how this sort of arrangement will improve the situation of women. In the end, there will be no economic impact, obviously, because recovery will take a long time. There will still be important court challenges. Pay equity must not be made dependent on its effect on the economy. It must be seen as the right to equal pay for work of equal value. All women are entitled to the same wage as men when they do work requiring similar skills, effort and responsibility, in similar working conditions. To link this recognition to employer type, to create different categories according to the place of work—the public, private or para public sectors—is not the road to the future. A forward step must be taken with a pay equity measure that would translate to full equality and that would enable a woman to earn an equal salary for equal and similar work.

So, in the budget, the government should have set this approach aside and instead include a real plan for economic recovery.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 1 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his excellent speech. I have a question for him.

Of course, question pay equity for women and give them certain rights publicly, but ensure that, privately, they have no rights, that is more or less the Conservative party style. It has already attacked the status of women and the court challenges programs. So, this is in much the same style. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say on this.

There is also the fact that the government cut equalization payments. It has failed to support our industries in the manufacturing sector and, furthermore, continues to allow tax havens to the tune of $80 billion. I would like my colleague's comments in this regard.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 1 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of pay equity, what is ridiculous about this bill is that it creates one group of women who will be subject to the federal equitable compensation legislation and another group, employees of certain crown corporations, who will have to use the ineffective complaint system in the federally regulated private sector. Under the guise of creating more equity, the government is creating more inequity. The answer is there in the wording of the bill.

As for the whole issue of equalization, Quebec wants no more of this mechanism that, year after year, gives it unpredictable payments. It is like a sword of Damocles the federal government is dangling above Quebec's head. This time, it has major consequences. The cuts will be in the order of $1 billion, and when the effectiveness of the overall federal budget measures is assessed, it will come to light that the provinces, and especially Quebec, have not been able to spend the necessary money, because they will have had to make up for the decrease in equalization funding.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful that stage of the bill is now over. It was almost painful. If that is what the opposition suggests is speeding legislation through, I hope Canadians were not watching. It is pretty pathetic and painful to hold up the money that Canadians need.

This is a great opportunity to speak to Bill C-10 at third reading, which is the budget implementation act, 2009. Hopefully this will be a very brief debate that will allow us to move quickly to a vote.

I note for Canadians watching at home that even after the House of Commons approves this bill at third reading, the vital measures in Bill C-10, which are integral parts of Canada's economic action plan, ranging from extended EI benefits to nearly $6 billion for job-creating stimulus investments in housing, as well as infrastructure and more, to initiatives to help improve credit availability for businesses and much more than that, still cannot move forward.

Once done in the House of Commons, the bill has to start the same legislative process in the Senate, from second reading, referral to the Senate national finance committee for study, report stage and ultimately third reading. Only after all these steps are completed, will the bill receive royal assent and become law.

On the government side, with the support of the official opposition, we have made the case that, due to the fragile state of the Canadian economy, Bill C-10 and its vital measures must be approved by Parliament as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, these pleas are largely being ignored by the NDP and Bloc members, who have thrown up roadblock after roadblock to delay Bill C-10 from passing in any form of expedited manner.

What is worse, we are now hearing some of the senators vowing to delay this bill for weeks on end for no other reason than because they can.

Bill C-10 was introduced on February 6 for debate. A month later we are still debating it in the House of Commons. How does a month of debate qualify as passing a bill as quickly as possible? It does not.

Seemingly unaware of the urgency of the situation facing the Canadian economy, the Senate is now musing about further delay so it can engage in, to be frank, abstract and irrelevant debate on the bill, likely the exact same debates we have already had here in the House for a month. We need to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

Listen to Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter, who stated:

Over the last month I'd be very hard pressed to point to a Canadian indicator that came in higher than expected or even as expected. Most have been not only below expectations, but far below.

Clearly, now is the time for urgent action. For those members or senators who would argue for more debate now instead of action, let me remind them that prior to tabling this budget, we undertook the widest and most inclusive prebudget consultations in history, open to all. This was during the months of December and January. That was the time for ideas and discussion. That time has passed. Parliament must act now.

Again, we could, as some suggest, debate Bill C-10 for weeks or months on end. We could engage in abstract discussions about the bill. We could treat this as an academic exercise divorced from the reality of today, but we would do so completely deaf to the plight of Canadians and blind to the economic challenges we now face.

It is easy for MPs, especially senators, to drag out debate and delay action for another month or so. They know when and from where their next paycheque is coming. No such luxury exists for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have recently lost their jobs. This is not time for politics as usual. We need to demand better of ourselves. Canadians are depending on it.

Stalling urgent economic stimulus for weeks or months is the height of irresponsibility. It will only hurt the most vulnerable in Canada.

For the NDP, the Bloc and those senators who would stall the bill, they should listen carefully to Canadians and reconsider. If they do not, we will ensure it is known that their inaction, their delay and their ignorance of the pressing challenges facing the Canadian economy are at fault here. This is not about a genuine debate on the issues for these parliamentarians threatening delay. This is not about some profound opposition to measures within the bill. This is politics for the sake of partisan gain and delay for the sake of delay.

While those members claim a lengthy delay of the bill is necessary for a proper debate to allow them to do their job, their actions prove otherwise.

First, content is not and was never important to them. For instance, the NDP members, weeks before seeing the budget, proudly and publicly said that they would defeat it. Reading from a news story dated December 13, 2008, approximately six weeks before the budget was tabled, it said:

Regardless of what stimulus package appears in the [Prime Minister's] January budget, NDP finance critic the [member for Outremont] said the NDP will be looking to topple the Tory government.

Second, understanding the issues is not and was never important either. For instance, we held a briefing for all members of Parliament and senators shortly after introducing Bill C-10. This four hour briefing was an opportunity for all parliamentarians to ask factual and substantive questions. We had over 36 members of the public service at that meeting to provide answers. There was not an NDP or a Bloc member in the audience.

This allowed them questions that would have allowed a better understanding of the bill. It would have allowed for more informed discussion in Parliament. Unfortunately, no NDP or Bloc MPs attended and only a few senators bothered to attend the briefing. Does this sound like a group genuinely interested in the content of the bill? Does this sound like a group that is really interested in doing its job? No, it clearly does not.

I ask and plead with the NDP and the Bloc members as well as those senators to stop the charade. Bill C-10 has been before Parliament for roughly a month. We know it will pass. We cannot wait another month. Stop the roadblocks, stop the delay and let Bill C-10 pass before Parliament rises for the next constituency week in mid-March.

For our senators, acknowledge the reality of the situation. Sit night and day, around the clock, if needed. Make it happen.

Why do we need to make it happen? How will Bill C-10 legislating vital parts of Canada's economic action plan help those hardest hit by the current recession? How will it help create and maintain jobs? Let me provide a quick overview of what is being legislated in Bill C-10 and why it merits quick passage.

To begin, numerous measures outlined in budget 2009 to lower the tax burden for Canadians are included in the bill. This tax relief will leave more money in the pockets of hardworking Canadians, while also taking 265,000 low-income Canadians completely off the tax rolls. These tax measures include, but are not limited to, personal tax relief: by raising the age credit amount by $1,000 to help seniors; by increasing the amount that can be withdrawn under the homebuyers' plan to $25,000; by increasing the basic personal amount that all Canadians can earn before paying income tax and the two lowest personal income tax brackets.

This package also includes business tax relief such as extending the mineral exploration tax credit and raising the threshold for businesses to qualify for the reduced 11% small business tax rate to $500,000. I note that a wide range of public interest groups heralded this collection of tax changes. The Retail Council of Canada, for instance, called them:

—positive steps to rebuilding consumer confidence. “These tax changes will put money back in the pockets of Canadians, boosting confidence and encouraging spending, which is critical to the retail sector and Canada's overall economic recovery”...

This legislation also seeks to help struggling Canadians who are suffering lost employment as a result of this global recession.

Bill C-10 will provide an extra five weeks of employment insurance benefits and increase the maximum duration of benefits to 50 weeks from 45 weeks for the unemployed. As B.C. finance minister Colin Hansen remarked:

—[the] extension of EI benefits...are going to be very important. Certainly as I've travelled around British Columbia, I've talked to many laid-off forest workers who were getting anxious about when their EI benefits might run out, and so the extension will help them.

As I am sure all members have been made aware by the numerous letters and calls they have received from worried constituents, these increased EI benefits cannot come into effect until Parliament allows the bill to pass.

Bill C-10 also brings forward measures to improve access to credit for businesses. As we have heard extensively in recent months, access to credit has been severely restricted during the current economic downturn. That is negatively impacting businesses and their ability to grow, and often even retain existing employees.

Our economic action plan sought to help address the situation through our extraordinary financing framework. Many of the measures from that framework are legislated in Bill C-10. For instance, it allows EDC and BDC to extend additional financing to Canadian businesses. It also increases the maximum amount for loans made by Canada small business financing program. As the Forest Products Association of Canada noted:

Access to credit is the number one issue for our industry. We are very encouraged by the Budget measures aimed at ensuring access to credit for Canadian businesses, particularly the expansion of the powers and financing authorities of the EDC...

The bill also authorizes nearly $6 billion for needed long-term investment in infrastructure, community adjustment, housing and electronic health records, investments that will not only lead to new jobs in the short term, but will also help strengthen Canada's ability to succeed when competing in the global economy. This includes $4 billion in investments to pave roads, renew our universities and colleges, fix waste water systems and repair our bridges. As the Caledon Institute of Social Policy observed:

The call for infrastructure spending...clearly was heard in Budget 2009...the substantial funding for infrastructure was welcome from the perspective of short-term employment and long-term investment in the quality of life in communities.

This also includes $500 million to help implement electronic health record systems across the country through Canada Health Infoway. Not only will this investment help create thousands of sustainable jobs throughout Canada's health and information technology industries, it will reduce errors, dramatically improve patient safety and produce cost savings. It has the potential to save countless lives. As the Association of Canadian Academic Health Care Organizations stated, this investment will “have a powerful and transformative impact on the health system”.

This constitutes only a few highlights of the many urgent measures included in Bill C-10.

Time precludes me from delving further into initiatives to help the move toward a Canadian securities regulator with willing provinces and territories, initiatives to encourage new investments and the jobs they will produce through modernizing the Investment Canada Act, initiatives to protect consumers from anti-competitive and unscrupulous business practices by adding new provisions to the Competition Act, and much more.

Before moving on, though, let me pass along to the House a sample of the strong support we heard during finance committee's consideration of Bill C-10 for the Competition Act changes. As Options consommateurs and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre noted in a joint presentation:

...the proposed amendments are quite comprehensive, they have certainly been the subject of considerable past discussion among stakeholders and represent a fairly balanced take on necessary refinements to the Act.

...this package of amendments places appropriate emphasis on the importance of deterring anti-competitive conduct, particularly in the current difficult financial environment that all Canadians are experiencing.

We all know what is in Bill C-10. We have had a month to read, review and discuss it, more than enough time, and, for those in need of urgent assistance, perhaps too much time. On balance, a fair-minded individual would have to agree that it is the right plan for Canada's renewed prosperity and the right plan to ensure that Canada exits this current global economic downturn in the same way it entered it: the strongest.

Let us get Canada's economic action plan working. Let us help those hardest hit by the current recession. Let us create jobs today by making investments now that will help create the jobs of tomorrow. Let us pass Bill C-10 without delay. In the words of Global Insight economist, Dale Orr, he said that the budget overall was a pretty reasonable compromise and that the best thing to do was pass it, get on with it and get things moving as quickly as possible.

I ask the NDP, the Bloc and those senators to heed that advice: do not delay, act and let us make it happen.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary and many of the people in his own party are refining the process of insinuating things that are not true. We saw an example of that during question period when the Minister of Finance was boasting about not being able to spend a dollar until we pass this budget.

That is true but the full truth is that it is illegal for any dollar to be spent until April 1. The member then said that we had the broadest and widest consultation but that is not true because the finance committee did not go across Canada. In fact, if the government is boasting about how good it consults, where the hell was the consultation on the November economic statement? Why is it that between November 8, 2008 and January 27, 2009 a global financial crisis miraculously occurred?

This is so ridiculous. Will the member confirm to the House the earliest date on which one dollar can flow after the bill's passage at all stages, including the other place and royal assent?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of less than truths in the statement the hon. member made. I take a little bit of exception. If I am not telling the truth, is he then insinuating that I am lying? I am sure that he would not insinuate that of any hon. member in the House.

I would bluntly and blatantly argue that the prebudget consultation process that took place, in probably the shortest timeframe in history, was the broadest that has ever happened. The finance committee did not travel but there were meetings held here. People were invited to Ottawa and to many cities across this country. It was the broadest online consultation that has ever happened. We had an incredible amount of submissions that actually put forward ideas.

Speaking of ideas, we did not receive one idea from the Liberal Party of Canada. We did from some of its members but, unfortunately, some of its members did not get the message to their leader.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member opposite tell the Liberal member that consultations were held by the Standing Committee on Finance during December and January. I would remind him that the House was prorogued and therefore the Standing Committee on Finance did not sit. So, what consultations is he talking about? The Conservative members appointed originally to the committee may have sat, but Parliament could not have.

I would also like to ask him a question. He referred to the establishment of a single securities commission, which the Conservative government seems very proud of. It also seems in a hurry to establish it as well, injecting $150 million into it. How is it going to go about it, given the very strong opposition in Quebec, in particular concerning the constitutionality of this measure? Currently, the Constitution provides very clearly that the provinces have jurisdiction in this matter.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, by all means we will recognize Quebec's jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of all provinces in implementing a voluntary, and I emphasize voluntary, common securities regulator.

This is an interesting question considering that the witnesses who appeared before the finance committee this morning reminded us that we were the only industrialized country that does not have a common securities regulator. We had a long discussion about those people who were impacted through non-bank asset backed commercial paper. We are not certain that a common securities regulator would have prevented that frozen asset problem but could have.

We owe it to Canadians to put in place what could help protect the savings of Canadians. That is more important to us than anything we can do. We are in a financial situation where seniors and investors are coming to us and asking how they can protect what they have left. A common securities regulator is the right thing to do. Most provinces are on board. The others have the option to come on board.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the member has difficulty speaking in the House to any issue without engaging in gratuitous insults and slurs. I would like to remind him that invective is the lowest form of argument.

He raises the question of facts in his speech. I will talk about some facts. The fact is that in November his government claimed that Canada was not in a recession and that we would be running budgetary surpluses this year and next year.

Another fact is that the government, which is led by someone who claims to be an economist, either did not see in November a recession coming, in which case I question his competence, or did see a recession coming, in which case I question his honesty with the House.

The member says that we did not send in any suggestions to the government. Our party sent in dozens and dozens of suggestions to the government. I personally sent in 15 suggestions about stimulus infrastructure spending from my own riding but the government persists in saying that the opposition has not been helpful in this regard, which is simply not true.

The Obama administration in the United States is putting every infrastructure project and federal dollar on the Internet so citizens of that country can see where their government is spending the money. I would ask the member if the government will do the same thing in Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear because once again I have been accused of lying in the House. I find that absolutely repugnant, besides the fact that I have slurred no one here, Mr. Speaker, and you very well know that.

I do not appreciate the hon. member saying that I lied when I said that his leadership did not provide suggestions. Good for him if he provided some suggestions to the leadership of the NDP but his leadership did not give one of them to us. That is the truth.

I sat with the Minister of Finance when the NDP critic berated the finance minister but refused to offer one suggestion. It was the same thing from the Liberal Party. At least the Bloc had the decency to put forward some written suggestions. The leadership of the NDP put forward absolutely nothing and then those members have the audacity to stall this process.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Macleod, Alberta, for his dedication and hard work in getting this budget through and the economic action plan and Bill C-10. I know he sacrificed time from his family through Christmas and New Year's. On behalf of my constituents and our country, I thank him.

We had consultations, as was mentioned, from coast to coast to coast. I had the opportunity to have consultations in my riding, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and attended by people of all ages. We had good input, including the EI waiting period, work sharing and the extension of the EI benefits. The British Columbia minister of finance, Colin Hansen, was in our riding and talked about the budget.

We heard this afternoon how the NDP has delayed the budget. Would the member comment on what the NDP has done in the past trying to form a coalition and talking about bringing forward finances for our communities and our country that are in a real economic deficit and the fact that its delay antics do not respond to its words?