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.

Amendments to Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

June 20th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Scarborough—Agincourt for sharing his time with me. It is emblematic of the duties we have been sharing over the past year as I have been working with him to back him up in his deputy House leadership duties.

While my dream of fixing the clocks in this place to be digital remains unfulfilled, there are a number of more serious Standing Order issues that need to be addressed. While the opposition has often accused Liberal members in this place of wanting to change the Standing Orders to government advantage, I would argue that the opposite is true.

Many of us on this side were here when we were in opposition. A few of us survived the decimation to third party. I started as a staffer, working for Frank Valeriote, the previous member for Guelph, in his constituency office early in the 40th Parliament. I eventually found myself working here for the member for Ottawa South, where I worked when the government was found to be in contempt of Parliament and an election was forced in early 2011. I subsequently worked for both those members as well as the current members for Halifax West, whom I take great pride in calling Mr. Speaker today, and the member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, all, for a short period, at the same time.

Working for four excellent members of Parliament, with different personalities and areas of interest, I gained a great breadth of experience and perspective, which has been a key part of learning how to do this job. It also gave me an up-close perspective on the abuses of power, on a daily basis, by the previous government. That is the perspective from which this motion has been written, that of the third party. To make the point, I want to go over Motion No. 18 one piece at a time.

In 2008, most of us will remember that the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc got together in an effort to take down the freshly re-elected Harper government. Whatever one thinks of the details of that agreement, a majority of members intended to vote no confidence in a sitting minority government. To avoid this, Harper visited then governor general Michaëlle Jean and asked her to prorogue Parliament, a request she granted after a couple of hours of deliberation.

Parliament is often prorogued between dissolutions. Of the past seven Parliaments, only one did not have at least one prorogation, that being Paul Martin's minority 38th Parliament. Proroguing itself is definitely legitimate. In the 2008 instance, however, it was used as a tool to avoid a confidence vote. We all know how history played out after that, and it was a tactical success for Prime Minister Harper.

The first clause of Motion No. 18 would not prevent a prime minister from proroguing, but it would require the executive to explain why they felt it was necessary and would mandate the procedure and House affairs committee to revisit the matter. It would not prevent abuse, but it would raise the bar on prorogation.

It is a bit of a marvel to me that, in my experience, no one has tried to do a massive private member's bill that rethinks the role of government from one end to the other. It would be a pretty interesting two-hour debate and is only currently prevented by convention, not rule.

In the last Parliament, the government had some impressively scattered omnibus bills. The standard here is not about how many laws a bill amends but rather if those various and sundry changes all serve the overall purpose of the bill. For example, Bill C-49, which passed at second reading here only yesterday, was cited by many in the opposition as an omnibus bill because it intends to modify 13 existing acts. However, this is spurious, because all the changes legitimately and clearly fall under the concept of the name of the act, the transportation modernization act, and some of those 13 existing-act changes are both relevant and miniscule.

For example, clause 91 of Bill C-49 is the section that would amend the Budget Implementation Act, 2009. This change reads, in whole, “Parts 14 and 15 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2009 are repealed.” A quick investigation will reveal that Part 14 is amendments to the Canada Transportation Act and Part 15 is amendments to the Air Canada Public Participation Act, both well within the purview of the Minister of Transport to modernize within his mandate. Both sets of amendments from that Budget Implementation Act, 2009, which was called Bill C-10 in the second session of the 40th Parliament, came with a coming into force clause that read, in part, “come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council made on the recommendation of the Minister”. The most remarkable part of this eight-year-old piece of legislation is that the Governor in Council never brought these changes into force.

Getting rid of obsolete, never implemented bits of transportation law is clearly within the frame of transportation modernization.

In 2012, the Conservative government brought in a wide-ranging budget bill that implemented much of what it called Canada's economic action plan, but it also went after environmental legislation that had nothing to do with the budget. Among other things, it stripped legal protection for Canada's millions of lakes and waterways. This was slowed down, but not stopped, by more than 1,000 amendments to the bill at the finance committee, resulting in an around-the-clock filibuster-by-vote at clause-by-clause. I was there as staff for the final shift of that marathon vote.

The second section of Motion No. 18 would attempt to address these problems. Any bill presented in the House that did not focus on a single theme or overarching purpose could be split by the Speaker. While there would be an exception for budgets, the phrasing of that section, which would be standing order 69.1(2), would only seek to clarify that the objectives outlined in the budget would in their own right define the purpose. Attempting to change environmental law in a budget implementation act, without having defined it in the budget itself, for example, would permit a point of order to be raised and accepted by the Speaker to carve that section out of the BIA. This change is important and is something we committed to doing.

The third change is a little more arcane.

I was a staff member on the public accounts committee for a short period in the 41st Parliament and was a member of government operation and estimates early on in the 42nd Parliament for about the same length of time. I do not pretend to have any great understanding of the minutiae of the estimates process and defer to those who do. That is a big part of the point here. I welcome anything that can help bring clarity to the estimates process.

The fourth change in the Standing Orders in this motion is a particularly interesting one, covering sections 4 to 6 of Motion No. 18.

In the last Parliament, I believe most of us who were around had the same experience. Committees were run by parliamentary secretaries. They sat next to the chair, moved motions, voted, and otherwise controlled the committees. This utterly and totally defeats the point of parliamentary committees. The parliamentary secretary is, by definition, the representative of the minister. In this capacity, parliamentary secretaries serve a critical role in liaising between the committee and the department the committee oversees.

Being able to answer questions about intent and plans from the committee on a timely basis or bringing concerns or issues for study that ministers would like feedback on in the course of their duties are completely appropriate. However, when parliamentary secretaries run the committees, these oversight bodies cease to oversee much of anything and simply become extensions of the executive branch of government. If that is what we are to have, the committees serve little purpose. Including parliamentary secretaries on committees as liaisons with their departments instead of as the planners and executors of the work of those committees is the right balance.

This is really important. During the Reform Act debate in the last Parliament, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, for whom I have great respect and have for many years, commented to me that as a backbencher, he was not government. “Like you,” he said to me, “my role is to keep the government to account. The difference is”, he concluded, “I have confidence in the government.”

This critical bit of political philosophy has stuck with me since that day. Our role as backbenchers is indeed to keep government to account whether we are on the government or opposition benches. One of the most critical tools to achieve that is committees, and when this government talks about restoring independence to committees, it is not a meaningless catchphrase or sound bite; it is legitimate. I have seen the transition on committee function from last Parliament to this Parliament and it is truly something. Keeping parliamentary secretaries in a participatory, but not controlling, role on committees is a critical element of this.

The last change, section 7 of the motion, is particularly interesting. The one place where the opposition has immense power, even in a majority government, is in the power of the filibuster at committee. An opposition member determined to prevent a vote from taking place or a report from being written at a committee has the absolute power to do so, as long as he or she is willing to talk out the clock and stay reasonably on point. Our colleague from Hamilton Centre is an expert at this task, often joking that after half an hour of talking he has not yet finished clearing his throat.

When we had the debate on reforming the Standing Orders that went sideways at PROC a few weeks ago, we were accused of trying to kill the filibuster. This could not be further from the truth.

In that debate, we sought to have a conversation about how to change the Standing Orders. The government House Leader had written a letter with her ideas of what changes she hoped we would discuss on top of the numerous ideas already before us on account of the Standing Order 51 debate from last fall. However, but if we refer back to the previous elements of this speech, where we landed was up to us as a committee. An idea floated was that members at committee be limited to an unlimited number of 10-minute speaking slots rather than a single slot with no end.

The way I understand this would work in practice is that any member can speak for as long as he or she wishes at committee, but when another member signals his or her interest in speaking, the member would have 10 minutes to cede the floor before the other member would take over, before giving it back again if the first member so chose. The effect of this would be to ensure that every member on a committee would have an opportunity to speak in any debate, but would not limit anyone from tying up committee and would not kill the filibuster either in the instance or in principle. It certainly would make it easier to negotiate our way out of one by giving others a chance to get a word in edgewise.

However, the change proposed here is not about that. It is about getting rid of one of the most absurd abuses of committee procedure we saw in previous parliaments: that a member of the committee majority would take the floor, even on a point of order, and say to the chair something like, “I move that we call the question.” The chair would correctly say that it was out of order and reject the request for the vote. The member would then move to challenge the chair, the majority would vote that the chair was wrong and the question could be called, and the motion to debate, study, report draft, or whatever was happening, would come to an abrupt, unceremonious, and totally acrimonious end. That was the only effective, if not exactly legitimate, way of ending a filibuster.

In Motion No. 18, we are defending the right to filibuster.

As I said, Motion No. 18 is about defending the rights of the opposition, informed by our experience in the third party. Not one line of this motion benefits a majority government. All, however, benefit the improved functioning of this place. I look forward to its passage.

May 31st, 2016 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Correctional Investigator of Canada, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

We all know that supervising offenders in the community costs a fraction of what it costs to house them in a federal penitentiary. Moving people down through the system and out into the community under structured, supervised release is not only safe: it is also cheap.

We know that there were some significant changes to the principles and purposes of the CCRA back a few years, in Bill C-10. We know that this bill also changed eligibility criteria and the policy around things like unescorted temporary absences, escorted temporary absences, day parole, and full parole. I really think it's time to take a look at those changes to see whether or not they've had desired or undesired effects. If they've had undesired effects on release rates and grant rates, then address them.

May 31st, 2016 / 11:05 a.m.
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Correctional Investigator of Canada, Office of the Correctional Investigator

Howard Sapers

Thank you.

As a review body, of course my office falls under the public safety portfolio. However, we operate completely independently of the Correctional Service of Canada, the department, and the Minister of Public Safety. The minister is not involved in the day-to-day operations, decisions, or management of my office.

Under the legislation I have very broad powers and authorities to determine how and when an investigation is commenced, conducted, or terminated. I may conduct public hearings and may make inquiries and/or summon or examine under oath individuals who have information relevant to an investigation that is being conducted. In practice, the office typically uses much less formal methods in resolving complaints. We pride ourselves on trying to intervene at the earliest and lowest possible level to achieve our mandate.

It's important to know that all communications between offenders and my office are considered and treated as confidential. Written correspondence to and from the Office of the Correctional Investigator must by law be delivered unopened. Offenders cannot be disciplined or punished for contacting the office. Telephone calls between inmates and the Office of the Correctional Investigator are not monitored.

In the few minutes left in our opening comments, let me briefly highlight four areas of federal correctional practice that I believe require change and reform.

Number one is legal limits on the use of segregation. Number two is implementing outstanding recommendations from the Ashley Smith inquest. The third area involves improved outcomes for indigenous offenders, and the fourth is to restore focus on safe and timely reintegration and return to the community.

In my most recent annual report, recently tabled in Parliament, I reported that segregation had become so overused in federal penitentiaries that during the reporting period, nearly half—it was 48%—of the currently incarcerated population had a history of at least one segregation placement. In 2014-15, 27% of the inmate population experienced a placement in administrative segregation. Indigenous and black inmates are overrepresented in segregation placements. Indigenous inmates also have the longest stays in segregation. Incredibly, segregation is still used to manage mentally ill, self-injurious, and suicidal inmates.

As my office's recent review of prison suicides documented, segregation was found to be an independent factor that elevated the risk of inmate suicide. In fact, 14 of 30 prison suicides between 2011 and 2014 took place in a segregation cell. Nearly all of these inmates had known mental health issues. Five of the 14 inmates who took their life in segregation had been held in that form of restricted custody for more than 120 days.

I am encouraged that the use of segregation has decreased significantly so far this year, as did the number of inmates in long-term segregation or those placed over 60 days. These sharp reductions can be attributed to targeted policy reforms, corporate priority, and more robust alignment of operational practice with administrative segregation law.

The use of segregation in corrections continues to attract significant public debate. It's also the subject of ongoing litigation. To ensure progress is sustained over time, other reforms of how segregation is used are called for. These measures include, number one, imposing a legal limit or ceiling on segregation stays; two, using alternatives to segregation to manage mentally ill, suicidal, and self-injurious inmates; and three, employing robust external review of continued or multiple segregation placements.

Of course, we're also waiting for the commitments promised after the recommendations made by the inquests looking into the death of Ashley Smith. We're looking for action on the commitments to promulgate new regulations to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that would also limit and restructure the use of segregation.

Federal prisons now house some of the largest concentrations of people with mental health conditions in the country. Recent Correctional Service of Canada research confirms that federal offenders are prescribed psychotropic medications at a rate that is at least four times higher than the Canadian population—30.4%, versus about 8% in the community. Considerably more federally sentenced women than men had an active psychotropic medication prescription—just under 46% for federally sentenced women, versus 30% for men.

Previous sampling of incoming male offenders indicate the following prevalence rates: mood disorders, about 17%; alcohol or substance use disorders, about 50%; anxiety disorders, 30%; borderline personality, about 16%; and antisocial personality disorder, about 44%.

In a correctional setting, such high prevalence rates come with other challenges, such as self-harming and suicidal behaviours, use of force, segregation, physical restraints, and involuntary treatment and certifications under mental health legislation. Some significantly mentally ill offenders simply do not belong, nor can they be safely or humanely managed, in a federal correctional facility. Last year mental health issues or concerns were identified in over 37% of all use-of-force interventions inside Canadian penitentiaries.

In light of these trends, CSC’s response to the 104 recommendations of the Ashley Smith inquest was widely anticipated. Released in December 2014, the service’s response was disappointing and inadequate. Rather than committing to a reform-minded correctional agenda, the response did not address or support core oversight and accountability measures issued by the jury.

Key outstanding recommendations include the following: prohibit long-term segregation of mentally disordered offenders; commit to moving toward a restraint-free environment in federal corrections; appoint independent patient advocates at each of the regional treatment centres operated by the correctional service; provide 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-per-week on-site nursing services at all maximum-, medium-, and multi-level penitentiaries; and develop alternative service delivery and treatment options other than incarceration for significantly mentally ill federal offenders.

Full implementation of these measures would demonstrate that the lessons from the tragic and preventable death of Ashley Smith and others have indeed been learned and acted upon.

In January 2016 the office reported that the federal correctional system had reached a very sad milestone: indigenous people now make up 25% of the inmate population in federal penitentiaries. That percentage rises to more than 35% for federally incarcerated women. To put these numbers in perspective, between 2005 and 2015 the federal inmate population grew by just under 10%. Over this period, the aboriginal inmate population increased by more than 50%, while the number of aboriginal women inmates almost doubled.

A history of disadvantage follows indigenous peoples of Canada into prison and often defines their outcomes and experiences. Indigenous inmates are more likely to be classified as maximum security, spend more time in segregation, are disproportionately involved in use-of-force interventions and prison self-injury, and serve more of their sentence behind bars compared to non-aboriginal inmates. Indigenous offenders are far more likely to be detained to warrant expiry or returned to prison for a technical violation of their release conditions.

These problems demand focused and sustained attention and a real commitment to change and reform. This is why I continue to call for the appointment of a deputy commissioner for aboriginal offenders to ensure indigenous perspective and presence in correctional decision-making. Movement on this issue, which goes to corporate focus and political direction for federal corrections, is simply long overdue.

I am encouraged that the Government of Canada has committed itself to implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. With respect to corrections, specific TRC calls to action include eliminating the overrepresentation of indigenous people and youth in custody over the next decade, implementing community sanctions that will provide realistic alternatives to imprisonment for aboriginal offenders and respond to the underlying causes of reoffending, eliminating barriers to the creation of additional aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system, enacting statutory exemptions from mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for offenders affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and reducing the rate of criminal victimization of aboriginal people.

A senior executive responsible for indigenous corrections could help the service fully respond to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and help the Government of Canada meet its commitments in this regard.

Safe, timely, and successful reintegration relies on correctional programming provided at the right time and the upgrading of education and vocational skills, as well as access to the community through gradual and structured release.

I would point out that approximately 75% of offenders admitted into federal custody for their first sentence do not have a high school diploma. In fact, about half have the equivalent of grade eight. Anywhere between 60% and 75% of offenders in custody are assessed as needing to improve their employability skills.

As the Auditor General concluded last spring and as my office can confirm, the slowing rate of offenders returned to the community is leading to higher and avoidable custody costs without a measurable contribution to reducing crime or a reduction in reoffending.

Despite earlier and timelier access to correctional programs, most offenders still do not complete the programs before they are eligible for their first release. Those who complete the correctional programs by their parole eligibility dates are still not recommended for release any earlier than they would have been in the past. The number of offenders granted escorted temporary absences and work releases declined again last year.

Too many offenders continue to waive or withdraw their parole hearings because they have not completed their required correctional programs or because cases are not prepared or brought forward by the Correctional Service in a timely manner to be presented to the Parole Board. Today the majority of offenders are first released from federal custody at their statutory release date. In 2014-2015, nearly 71% of all releases from federal institutions were statutory releases. The number rises to 84% for indigenous offenders. This is compared, by the way, to 66% for non-aboriginal offenders.

While day and full parole grant rates are starting to increase, they remain at historically low levels.

Given the erosion in conditional release over the past decade and particularly since Bill C-10 in 2012 and the consequent increase in avoidable custody costs, I believe more consideration needs to be given to returning corrections to its reintegrative and rehabilitative purpose. Public safety is best served by structured, graduated, and timely release and reintegration. As well, prison industries and vocational skills training should be retooled to meet 21st century job market realities. Also, there should be improved access to the community through increased use of temporary absences and work releases.

To conclude, Chairman, there is much for your committee to explore and comment upon. I am encouraged that the federal government has committed to conducting a review of the criminal justice system. This review will no doubt provide an important opportunity to make some significant change. Your work will help return some coherence and restraint to correctional practice.

Thank you again for this invitation and the generous provision of your time.

I look forward to your questions.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

May 5th, 2016 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this place and attempt as best I can to speak on behalf of the people of northwestern British Columbia, beautiful Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

In particular, when talking about climate change, for us, the realities and impacts of climate change are an incredibly intimate and real phenomenon. It is not some esoteric exercise. It is not some group of academics speaking and musing about graphs and parts per million. It is real and it is in the forests that we live around and from which we generate our economy. It is in the oceans and the rivers that provide us with sustenance and other forms of work.

Over the last number of years we have been raising the call many times. We have seen the pine beetle infestation across northern British Columbia that has then gone into Alberta and unfortunately into other forests in other provinces. It has had an enormously devastating effect. We have also seen the impact of forest fires that have come at times that have never been seen before with an intensity unlike the fires that we were used to in the past. We have had to grapple with what this means, what these changes mean.

For our colleagues who represent the far north, the changes have been even more dramatic, more impactful on their lives, particularly for those who gain sustenance and their livelihood from the natural environment.

While this is an issue that connects all of us, I think it touches us in different ways, so legitimate and real action after so many years of disappointment on the issue of climate change is welcome and of course we will be supporting the motion.

We have some recommendations for improvement that I think the member for Halifax should welcome, simply because they put a little more specificity to what it is I think he is trying to achieve, it puts a little more teeth into it.

For those who do not follow this, and why would they, the difference between motions and bills is quite significant in terms of what their impact is. A motion is a call upon government to do such and such a thing and a bill changes law. A bill brings with it the strength and bearance of law but a motion is quicker, so there is some advantage because it does not have to proceed through so many stages like a bill does. These are the choices each of us makes when introducing private members' business.

I referred to it earlier, but the history on this particular question of how we build things, how we fund things as a federal government, and that connection to the environment and to climate change has been a bit of an unfortunate one. There was a bill introduced a number of years ago, back in 2009, in fact, Bill C-10. There was a minority Parliament and I can remember the then Prime Minister threatening the then official opposition that if they defeated any bill, that was a confidence bill.

The Conservatives started very early on to attach the notion of confidence to virtually every piece of legislation. They never fully confirmed it, but they hinted at it, and that hint was enough for the now Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was then the leader, to blink more than 140 or 150 times to vote with the then governing party and pass legislation.

One of the bills that unfortunately got past with the Conservatives and the Liberals playing the sidecar role was Bill C-10. Up until that point, every time the government funded anything, any infrastructure project, it had some kind of an environmental analysis, a lens that we passed through in order to understand what the impacts would be on the environment. It seemed logical. It was 2009. After all, we were a modern country, a very thoughtful country. Then Bill C-10 went through and said it is so bothersome, so quarrelsome to ask these annoying questions about what impact a bridge or a road might have, or funding a new thing here, there, or anywhere, so it was stripped down and eventually it was tossed out completely, which was unfortunate.

This motion tends to put some of that back together. We would have some other suggestions around bills like Bill C-51 and some others, more than just dalliances that the previous government rammed through that we would like to pull back and restore some sanity to Canadian law again, but this is a start and it is important to start somewhere.

I do believe that this government has a strong and clear mandate to take significant action when it comes to climate change. I think the so-called debate that went on was so reminiscent of those debates that my friends will remember from the seventies, eighties, and nineties about smoking. There was a debate about whether smoking caused cancer and there were just enough scientists willing to sell out their souls to say that it was in doubt and that maybe smoking does not actually affect our health and maybe second-hand smoke is not so bad either. On and on it went and it delayed action.

That exact same strategy was taken out, to great effect, by Exxon and large companies. It has now been revealed in the last couple of weeks that, since the late 1970s, Exxon knew clearly that the burning of fossil fuels contributed to climate change and that climate change was an issue and a problem that actually threatened some its facilities, as it turned out, and that is why it was so concerned because of sea level rise and big impactful storms.

All that is going on. The dance of deniability went on a long time and not just in industry, but it was true within governments because it is a hard thing to get at. It is a hard thing to actually look at and address. Therefore when we look at this piece of legislation, we say, all right, there would be some analysis applied, and there would be some attempt at understanding what the greenhouse gas impact would be when the federal government writes a cheque; and when Canadian taxpayers pay for something, we would ask what the impact would be on this other question, not just the questions of whether we are putting some people to work and whether it is good infrastructure for our economy. Those are all very important questions.

Also, if we look at sustainable development, we need that second and third pillar. Is it socially sustainable? Is it good for people, as radical a notion as that is? Also the third one, the environment leg we need to stick onto the stool asks if it irreparably continues to harm our planet. I know, that is another radical notion.

Here are the questions, and this is where we will be looking to get a bit more specific with my friend. An analysis is fine, but what does it mean? Does it mean that, if a project exceeds a certain amount of greenhouse gases, it will not be funded? Does it mean that a project that mitigates and reduces greenhouse gas in its construction and implementation is promoted up the chain ahead of other projects? Who needs to know this? I will say this about my Conservative colleagues. They never miss an opportunity to shoot down an effort when dealing with climate change, but they also asked an important question earlier, which is that our municipalities and all those people who write the funding proposals, our regional districts and our mayors and councils who put the proposals together, are going to want to know what this motion would do to their proposal. I think that is a very fair question.

Councils can only fund so much. They can only ask for so much. They can only do so much. If this motion says that everything that mitigates or reduces greenhouse gas emissions will rocket to the top, or if there is a per tonnage limit, that there can only be so many tonnes of greenhouse gases emitted in a project per dollar spent, some sort of transparent, open calculus, so that people who are trying to build these things can understand, that would be very helpful.

Similarly, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Natural Resources attempted to bring clarity to the natural resource sector and unfortunately sowed a whole bunch of confusion around this same topic. This was a curiosity for me to see infrastructure but not resources, because in Canada's profile of emissions, the lion's share comes from transportation and resource extraction. Those are the big ones we have to deal with, and governments have sometimes tried.

When talking about the resource sector, the Liberals said they are the champs and are going to consider greenhouse gas emissions when looking at mines, pipelines, and all of that. Our first question, and that of industry, environment groups, and first nations, was this. It is great that they are going to consider it, but how are they going to consider it? Is it the first priority? Is it second? Is there a greenhouse gas limit to every project? Is there not? Industry, which is looking to invest billions of dollars in this or that, would like to know.

Environment groups and environmentally thoughtful Canadians would also like to know, and these are fair questions; yet all we have is vagueness, which allows people to feel uncertain and worried about things. This is why New Democrats and our leader from Outremont have pressed time and time again to say that the government went to Paris, it urged the world to go to 1.5 degrees below pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the world congratulated it, and then we asked what Canada's target is.

I was in Paris and asked government officials if they did any analysis of what that 1.5 degrees meant and how they would translate that into a target for Canada. The shocking answer was no. They made the 1.5 degree commitment but did not analyze what it meant. I had a Kyoto flashback. I have seen this movie somewhere before, where the government makes a bold pronouncement to the world and says Canada is there, or back, or coming again, or some other catchy phrase. Then when we ask about analysis, and how it will do this big thing, the government says it will get to that later.

We still have hope. New Democrats are hopeful people, and we ultimately want good things to happen. As we wish for ourselves, we wish for others. We want the government to succeed on this one because it does matter to our kids, and their kids, and generations to follow.

In this, the motion moves us a little way down the road, so we will be supporting it and looking for more brighter and bigger things coming from the government.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

May 5th, 2016 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to my Conservative colleague who asked the question earlier was no, but we never sacrifice the good while seeking the perfect. It is always exciting to introduce a motion, especially one that can help us deal with an issue that has long been ignored and neglected in this country by successive governments that have not even, in some cases, attempted to meet our climate change obligations and promises that have been made.

Part of the history that is important in this is that prior to 2009, all federal investments had to receive an environmental analysis of what their impact would be. Bill C-10, which was promoted by the Conservatives back then and supported by the Liberals removed that $10 million and then it was gone entirely.

My question is twofold. One, I do not look at the motion now and understand what the analysis would mean, whether GHGs would be analyzed or assessed, and I do not see any prioritization of projects that actually have a lower GHG impact. Is this something that my friend is contemplating, to promote up the projects that actually have greater environmental benefit than another, if two are of comparable size?

If it is good that environmental assessments are done on federal infrastructure projects, would it also be good to have a transparent analysis on all resource projects that the federal government assesses so that Canadians could understand what the GHG impacts would be, both upstream and downstream?

Opposition Motion--Pay EquityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 2nd, 2016 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, while I am happy to rise in the House today in support of our motion by the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, it pains me to think that we are in the year 2016 and are still calling for the government to support legislation that ensures equal pay for women.

It is fitting that we are presenting this motion on Groundhog Day, because it is the same old story. Like the movie, small details, like whether it is a Conservative or a Liberal in power, may change, but the fundamental issue remains the same. We are still living in a country where women have not achieved pay equity, where we are still calling for justice, and where we are still waiting.

Equal pay for women is so achievable. It is within our grasp, if only our elected officials in government were to actually put the issue on the table. If only the Liberal governments under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin had used their 13 years in power to implement all, and not just a small portion, of the Pay Equity Commission's recommendations. If only the member for Vancouver Centre, who was the secretary of state for the status of women in 1997, had not eliminated program funding for women's organizations, starting in the 1998-99 fiscal year, dealing them a crippling blow. If only a previous Liberal government had not cut funding for women's organizations by more than 25% over the 1990s. If only they had not disbanded the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, which conducted research on a wide range of issues affecting women. If only they had not eliminated the Canadian Labour Force Development Board, which gave organizations of women, people of colour, and people living with disabilities a small voice in training policy. If only the Liberals, under Michael Ignatieff, had not held their noses with one hand and in the next breath said to the caucus that they would unanimously support the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act, a poison pill couched in the Conservatives' omnibus Bill C-10, placing restrictions on arbitrating gender-based pay equity complaints in the federal public service.

Pay equity is a right. Canada ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976 that makes pay equity a right. Canada also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981, which recognizes women's right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work.

Section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act states:

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.

That makes pay equity a right. That right, just as the right to personal liberty and freedom of expression, bargained away by the Liberal support of Bill C-51 in the last Parliament, cannot be bargained away in the interests of political expediency.

Even though it is 2016, pay equity has not made it onto the agenda for real change put forward by the government. It has not surfaced as an issue for the government. Even when the opportunity presented itself, the Prime Minister, in an effort to achieve gender balance in his cabinet, assigned women the lower paid roles of junior ministers. That is not pay equity. The Liberal platform makes no reference to pay equity, and neither does the Prime Minister's mandate letter to the Minister for the Status of Women.

If only we did not have to keep making this argument over and over again. It is Groundhog Day 2016, and I stand here with the only effective opposition in the House calling for fairness, calling for equity, calling for justice, calling for equal pay for women.

Women receive, on average, wages that are 23% lower than men for doing the same work. However, it is not just equal wages for equal work that will create equity. Economic security for women hinges on some key and simple elements, such as access to child care and access to affordable housing as well as the ability to earn a decent living.

Both Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to address the need for affordable housing in Canada. The first step toward economic security for any person is a safe place to live. Despite this, the Liberals ended the federal role in social housing in 1996. Liberal and Conservative governments alike have failed to create universal, accessible, and affordable child care in this country. The combination of these factors creates a crisis of pay inequity for Canadian women, and because pay inequity contributes to poverty, it has devastating health and social consequences for children.

Pay inequity is also related to economic dependence, which can affect a woman's ability to leave an abusive relationship. The choice between abuse and poverty is one no person should ever have to make.

It is also true that women bring home lower paycheques and because of that receive lower retirement incomes. Too often, senior women live hand-to-mouth until the end of their lives. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the consequences of these pay inequities follow workers throughout their lives, reducing their lifetime earnings and retirement income. In Canada, 42% of elderly women are poor, and the median income of retired women is almost half that of older men.

Canada ranks 30th out of 34 OECD countries for wage equity. Even in predominantly female occupations, such as teaching, nursing, and administration, women earn less than men. The wage gap for women working full time has become worse over the past three years for which there are data. The wage gap actually gets bigger for aboriginal, racialized, and immigrant women with university degrees. Women aged 45 to 54 earn, on average, $23,600 less than men doing the same work.

Female MBA grads fare worse than men from the start. They are not only likely to start out at a lower job level, they are also offered fewer career-accelerating work experiences and fewer international postings.

If an appeal for equity based in the interest of social justice and human rights is not enough of an argument, we in the effective New Democratic opposition can appeal to plain and common fiscal sense. Quite simply put, pay equity makes for a healthier economy.

In Canada, RBC estimates that closing the gap in participation rates over the next two decades would boost GDP by 4% in 2032. The New Democrat proposal in today's motion calls upon the government to:

recognize pay equity as a right; ...implement the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force Report and restore the right to pay equity in the public service which was eliminated by the previous Conservative government in 2009....

Again, that was with the support of the Liberals.

The motion also calls on the government to appoint a special committee to conduct hearings on pay equity and propose proactive legislation.

In the words of Rosemary Brown, and these words ring truer than ever in this instance: “Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it”.

Achieving pay equity for Canadian women once and for all is good for everyone. We cannot afford inequity. Let us get off this Groundhog Day merry-go-round of ignorance and injustice once and for all. Let us do what is right for Canada, for women, for their families, and for the children of the future.

New Democrats want to work with the new government to do precisely that. Let us get started. Let us get started by approving this motion and making sure that this is the last Groundhog Day on which we talk about the inequity that too many women face in this country.

Opposition Motion—Pay EquityBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 2nd, 2016 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to contribute to the debate on pay equity in Canada. I thank the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for bringing this important issue to the floor of the House. In 2016, it is not acceptable that women in Canada are still earning 23% less than men.

This morning, I had the honour of meeting with a group of grade five students from Woodroffe public school, in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean, who were touring Parliament. I told the students I was giving a speech later in the day, and they asked me the topic of my speech. I told them I would be talking about pay equity. I explained that means that men and women who are doing similar jobs should get similar pay. To the students, this is something that should be self-evident. When I told them that women are only making 73¢ for every $1 that men make in Canada, the students were terribly disappointed, and applauded me for speaking on this in the House today. This is an issue that even young children can understand, because it is an issue of basic fairness.

The face of poverty in Canada is female. There are 35% of single mothers who are living below the poverty line, compared to 17% for single dads. With regard to low-income seniors, 71% are women, a number that is even worse for senior women who live alone. Women are more likely than men to be working in minimum wage jobs, working part time, or doing shift work. In Ontario, 58% of minimum wage earners are women.

Women in Canada today earn just 67¢ for every $1 earned by men. I have heard some opponents say that women make different life choices, including taking time off for caregiving or working fewer hours, which they say accounts for this discrepancy. However, even when comparing people who are working full time, full year, in similar jobs, women are still earning only 73¢ on the dollar.

Even though women are now more educated than ever before, the gap continues. In fact, today more women than men between the ages of 25 and 34 have bachelor, master, and medical degrees. Therefore, the gap is not because women are less educated or qualified.

In Canada, this wage gap exists across all occupations, from the service industry, to scientists, to management. When factoring in aboriginal women, visible minorities, new immigrant women, women living with disabilities, and transgendered women, the wage gap is even greater. This is a glaring example of gender discrimination that must be dealt with.

We live in a society where we tell our children that they can do anything and be anything. We tell boys and girls that if they study hard and work hard they will succeed, and yet the deck is stacked from the beginning. Our daughters will not be as valued in the workplace as our sons, even if they have the same marks, the same educational levels, work just as hard, and are equally skilled. This is not an issue about numbers; it is an issue about fairness and human rights.

I would like to illustrate this with a real-life example of a couple I know. I will call them Jennifer and Steve. They went to university together. Jennifer completed her masters degree with first-class honours and then went on to work in a low-paying service job to help Steve get his masters degree. She then went back to school to get more professional qualifications, and went on to work in a predominantly female profession, making $35,000 a year.

Steve found a position immediately after graduation in a predominantly male profession. He was making $75,000 a year. After a few years, they decided to have a baby. Even though Jennifer wanted to keep working, the cost of child care was almost as much as her salary. As Steve earned more, they made the decision that Jennifer would stay home until the child began school. That child is now nine years old, and Jennifer is making less than $20,000 a year working part time; Steve is making almost six figures.

One might say that this is not an example of pay equity because Jennifer and Steve are not working in the same fields, but her initial job required more education and had a greater level of responsibility than Steve's entry-level post. Had they been making the same salaries when they had their baby, she may have stayed in the labour force and the family might have made different choices.

Pay equity is not just about two people doing the same job; it is about a cycle of discrimination that limits opportunities for half the population.

Canada is also lagging behind internationally when it comes to equal pay for work of equal value. According to the World Economic Forum, Canada ranks 80 out of 145 countries in the wage equality for similar work indicator.

Pay equity is a fundamental human right that is enshrined in international treaties as well as the Canadian human right framework. For example, the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights includes fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW, refers to a woman's right to equal remuneration and equal treatment in respect of work of equal value. Canada is also a signatory to the International Labour Organization's Convention No. 100 on equal remuneration.

Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms calls for the equality of all citizens. Section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act specifically refers to equal pay for work of equal value. These rights were undermined in 2009, with the introduction of Bill C-10, the omnibus budget bill that replaced the term “pay equity” with “equitable compensation” and moved responsibility for pay equity from the Canadian Human Rights Commission to the Public Service Labour Relations Board, which had no mandate for protecting human rights, which fined unions for assisting with a complaint, and which combined pay equity with collective bargaining. This treated pay equity as a benefit that could be bargained away, as opposed to a fundamental right. It also goes against the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force.

The 2004 task force called for stand-alone proactive pay equity legislation that would include a commitment to pay equity as a human right, that it apply equally to unionized and non-unionized workplaces, and that it include oversight agencies and an independent adjudicative body. The task force recommendations included a pay equity commission that could receive complaints and that could issue compliance orders, summon documents, and conduct audits. It also recommends a pay equity hearings tribunal. Several provinces already have similar mechanisms that have decreased the wage gap.

I am proud to have a number of public servants in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean. The gender wage gap is a little less in the public service at about 9%. However, this is still too large a gap. I am pleased that the Prime Minister committed to ending the wage gap in the federal public service in an interview with “Up for Debate” and the Alliance for Women's Rights. We will begin with consultations with unions, stakeholders, and public servants themselves on this.

Despite the work done by the task force over a decade ago, a young woman graduating from university today in Canada will still earn about $8,000 less than her male classmates in her first job, and will continue to earn less throughout her career despite the fact that she may be working in a job that requires the same qualifications and is similar in demands and level of expertise. By the time she is in her fifties she will be earning almost $23,000 less, and she will be far more likely to retire in poverty. By continuing to allow this gap and not acting on it, we are doing a disservice to women throughout Canada, but especially to those bright and aspiring young graduates entering the labour force who deserve an equal chance to succeed. At the current rate of increase, women will only achieve full gender equality in the year 2240.

This is not just about human rights. Studies show that there are economic benefits to pay equity. According to several studies, gender equality in the labour force could significantly increase GDP. Pay equity could also help to reduce poverty. A U.S. study found that if single working mothers were paid as much as their male counterparts, their poverty levels would be cut in half. Pay equity can also benefit men who work in predominantly female professions. They would be eligible for the same pay equity adjustments as women in their employment class.

We cannot afford to do nothing. Pay equity is a fundamental right, and we owe it to Canadians to take action.

May 14th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

So in effect the access to legal recourse for pay equity has been cut off by Bill C-10.

May 14th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Chair, I obviously don't belong to this committee, but it seems to me that's a pretty interesting piece of data, to know whether there is that, because it's a pretty significant debate in this country.

The second thing that kind of caught my ear was something you said about Bill C-10, that a union cannot...I took it as “represent” your membership in pay equity cases.

Could you explain that to me, please?

May 14th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Robyn Benson National President, Executive Office, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Good afternoon, and thank you to the committee for inviting the PSAC to appear here today. I will speak briefly on several key issues that affect both women in the public service and women in general.

Women have made gains in the federal public service but there are still gaps in their representation. One of the reasons for these gains is the federal Employment Equity Act. Federal departments and agencies are required to have an employment equity plan that not only addresses representation gaps but also barriers to women in the workplace. These employers are also subject to employment equity audits by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The problem is that the Treasury Board Secretariat is dropping its central oversight role and is turning it over to individual departments and agencies. This makes it more difficult to monitor what's happening. The secretariat's annual report now contains the bare minimum instead of an in-depth analysis.

There is also a significant gap in the data available with respect to the breakdown of racialized women, aboriginal women, women with disabilities, and women from the LGBT community. These women experience additional barriers and challenges in employment. We believe the government's 20,000 job cuts may be disproportionately affecting these groups of women. However, the lack of data makes it difficult to analyze the impact of the cuts.

In 2009 Treasury Board began a review of all its existing human resources policies affecting federal public service workers. This isn't a positive development. Right now these policies spell out in detail the employer's obligations and they're mandatory: deputy heads and managers must comply with them. Some of the policies cover workplace day care centres, duty to accommodate, employment equity, and telework. The policy review will replace over 60 specific policies with one or two broad ones. They will eliminate many of the current obligations.

The accommodation, employment equity, and child care policies address fundamental human rights. If they're reduced to a few lines hidden in an omnibus policy we believe they will be ineffective. Even now, inconsistencies in practice exist.

It's clear the government is using the policy review to step back from its obligations that have supported women in their work and careers. This will have a direct impact on women's prosperity.

One immediate concern is the workplace child care policy, which was first implemented in 1991. The policy led to the creation of a dozen workplace child care centres across the country. They were given start-up budgets; rent subsidies; and non-profit, bilingual services geared to meet accessibility needs. On-site child care works for both parents and employers and contributes to recruiting and retaining employees, particularly women. Now Treasury Board has pulled its rental subsidy at two local workplace centres. The Tupper Tots Day Care Center was forced to move, and the relocation affected 50 children. Negotiations are continuing for the Tunney's day care.

Making child care more expensive and less convenient goes directly against initiatives aimed at increasing women's prosperity and participation in leadership roles. In the larger context, more than 70% of mothers in Canada are employed working women. Although the gender gap has narrowed significantly for leaders, this is not the case for women with young children. Without available and affordable child care women take time off work. This has the potential to slow opportunities for advancement, including for senior leadership positions.

Women who withdraw from the workplace are also financially penalized in salary increases, seniority benefits, and their pensions. Expensive child care costs can take up a large part of a woman's earnings. In contrast, province-wide affordable child care in Quebec has balanced the scales. The affect on women has been significant. It has contributed to a marked increase in women’s participation in the workforce.

Many child care services operate along regular business hours, creating an additional barrier. As a recent PSAC human rights complaint shows, irregular child care is all but non-existent in Canada. That makes it difficult for women with children to devote themselves to leadership. Women who can't work irregular hours due to child care restrictions are much less likely to occupy management and higher paying positions. Ultimately, the lack of available child care and the lack of affordable child care hold women back.

We believe that unionized workplaces make the difference for women. Women with collective agreements have a lower pay gap with men. They have access to benefits such as flexible work arrangements; paid leave for family related responsibilities, medical or personal needs; sick and vacation leave; paid maternity and parental leave; duty to accommodate; and provisions to help balance work and family care. These benefits haven't come easily. They've been gained through hard bargaining, strikes, and through the courts. All these provisions help make workplaces women friendly and family friendly, and they help women become leaders by reducing work-life conflict.

One of them, pay equity, is a proactive measure that addresses wage gaps based on gender and has a direct impact on women’s prosperity. It’s no accident that women in the federal public sector, especially those in administrative positions, are paid more than many women performing similar work in other sectors. PSAC has worked hard for decades to make the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act a reality for our members.

But as you know, there has been another step back. In 2009, Bill C-10 enacted the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. In spite of its name, this law undermines pay equity. Pay equity was designed to redress the affects of the market on women’s pay. The new law does the reverse, and it restricts women’s capacity to claim and obtain pay equity. Unions are not allowed to encourage or work with their members to seek protection from pay equity violations. They can even be heavily fined for doing so. Pay equity is a way to overcome obstacles to women’s prosperity. The new law is just another barrier for women to overcome.

In these three areas, we're making the following recommendations: first, safeguard employment equity and other policies that support women; second, fully fund a national child care program; and third, scrap the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and replace it with a real, proactive pay equity law. We need to stop attempts to destroy what women have achieved and take these necessary steps forward.

I thank you for the opportunity to be here today, and we'll certainly be very pleased to answer any questions that you have. It should be noted that we'll be sending the committee a more detailed written submission very soon. It's currently in translation. As soon as it comes out, we will send it.

March 5th, 2013 / 9:15 a.m.
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Senior Legislative Chief, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Ted Cook

There's a little bit more of a story than a brief answer. I would note that when Bill C-10 was before the Senate, the Senate did actually have concerns with Bill C-10 with respect to the non-resident trust and foreign investment entities in particular. There were three or four fairly significant issues that were raised. In terms of the bill that was before the Senate, this bill is not simply a retabling of that. There was a consultation that was taken at that point, and then revised NRT and FIE proposals, if you will, were included in Budget 2010. They also provided a subsequent consultation period, including review of draft legislation by a panel of senior tax practitioners.

I guess I would just note that there were elements of that bill that are different in this bill.

Technical Tax Amendments Act, 2012Government Orders

January 28th, 2013 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River.

Before I begin I want to wish everyone a happy new year. Members are back from their constituencies after a break over the holidays. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, I have talked to hundreds of my constituents. The priorities of the current government are not the priorities of the people of north Surrey.

People are very concerned about a number of bills that were introduced last year. Clearly Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 are not the priorities of my constituents from Surrey North. They are concerned about the degradation of our environment and the service cuts being put in place. Those are some of the things I heard. I am hoping that the government will go in the direction that Canadians want. Canadians' priorities are about getting jobs and providing services to Canadians. Clearly the government has not done that.

It is an honour to rise today on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North to speak to Bill C-48, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation.

Bill C-48 is a massive, monster bill, with over 1,000 pages to it. Members have seen this before from the government. We have seen legislation, two omnibus bills introduced by the government in the last year. We had Bill C-38 and Bill C-45.

Members all know what was in those bills. Those bills dealt with hundreds of different laws. They amended different acts that made no sense whatsoever. Those bills should have been split into various different areas, which we then could have debated in the House. The Conservatives rammed them through without the proper oversight of Parliament and the parliamentary committees. We have seen that the Conservatives did not even listen to one amendment. There were thousands of amendments introduced in committee and in the House, but the Conservatives failed to take any of those amendments into consideration. They rammed those bills through and we are seeing the consequences of ramming those bills through the House.

This morning members saw a protest outside the House, when the Idle No More demonstrations took place. In fact, they took place across this country. One of their concerns is the government's lack of consultation with first nations. It is not only with first nations. The government failed to consult Canadians on legislation it was bringing in. It failed to consult the very people who should have been consulted, the very people whom Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 were going to impact.

Again, Bill C-48 is a large omnibus bill, but there is one difference from Bill C-38 and Bill C-45. The bill actually relates to income tax issues, but to put this together in a large bill is still an issue for the opposition. Basically a huge bill creates a huge burden for those trying to understand what is included and what is not included in the bill.

On top of that, members have not seen this sort of bill for the last 11 years. We heard from the Auditor General, through one of her recommendations, about the impact that doing this legislation every 11 years could have on our economy, on the services we deliver and on tax evasion and those sorts of things, which we are trying to prevent.

I am going to look at the concern that the Auditor General raised previously about the slow pace of government in legislating the technical changes found in the Department of Finance comfort letters. Certainly the size of the bill, which again is close to 1,000 pages, and the long lapse of time between Bill C-48 and the last technical tax bill indicate that this process still needs improvement.

It took 11 years to move on some of these technical income tax issues. We need to address this on a yearly basis so we can close the loopholes that people and corporations are taking advantage of. We should not be waiting 11 years to update our tax code and legislation and to crack down on tax avoidance and tax evasion. New Democrats believe in cracking down on tax evaders and tax avoiders while ensuring the integrity of our tax system. We support the changes being made in the bill, especially those aimed at reducing tax avoidance.

The bill is so massive that trying to decipher it, to look at what is included and what is not, is difficult. In fact there are 400 recommendations that were offered by the Auditor General. However, only about 200 are covered in the bill. Therefore, not only is this a slow pace but the government has still not addressed some of the loopholes that have been pointed out by the Auditor General.

This is a good bill. We should not be waiting 11 years to bring it forward to address some of the concerns that have been pointed out by not only the Auditor General but other Canadians and organizations that deal with tax evasion and tax issues on a daily basis. The CGA is one of the associations that has strongly criticized the government about the need to have the code updated on a regular, yearly basis so that it is up to date and our businesses have clarity as to what needs to be changed and what they are dealing with from the government side.

There are many parts to the bill. I am not going to go through all of them because I know I do not have a lot of time. Part 1 of the bill deals with the offshore investment fund property and non-resident trust and includes proposals from budget 2010. Also, some of the changes in Bill C-48 are largely designed to ensure the integrity of tax system remains in place and to discourage avoidance. They incorporate feedback on proposals previously in Bill C-10.

Part 2 deals with the taxation of foreign affiliates of Canadian multinationals. Some of these changes reflect proposals from way back in 2007 and 2006. It deals with a number of different areas, but the fact is that the government is failing to update our tax code so we can catch those avoiders and can provide certainty to businesses.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser's 2009 fall report states:

No income tax technical bill has been passed since 2001. Although the government has said that an annual technical bill of routine housekeeping amendments to the Act is desirable, this has not happened. As a result, the Department of Finance Canada has a backlog of at least 400 technical amendments that have not been enacted, including 250 “comfort letters” dating back to 1998, recommending changes that have not been legislated.

The Conservatives are failing to update some of the changes that are required. They are slow. Their priorities are not right. The priorities of Canadians are not the priorities of the government. We saw that with Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, where the government brought in omnibus bills and rammed them through the House without even consulting the very people they would impact.

In its pre-budget submission in 2012, the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada stated:

CGA-Canada strongly believes that the key to sustained economic recovery and enhanced economic growth lies in the government’s commitment to tax reform and red tape reduction. Therefore, CGA-Canada makes the following two key recommendations: 1. Modernize Canada’s tax system--make it simple, transparent and more efficient • Introduce and pass a technical tax bill to deal with unlegislated tax proposals • Implement a “sunset provision” to prevent future legislative backlogs....

I want to summarize this. The Conservatives have been slow to get these technical changes legislated and they go as far back as 1998. Bill C-48 aims to deal with more than 200 of these changes, but there is still a large number of technical codes that need to be changed. The Conservatives have failed in that sense.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

November 29th, 2012 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the Conservatives' latest omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, at report stage.

I will focus my remarks today on: one, how the New Democrats worked closely with and supported, helped, aided and abetted the Conservatives in their ramming of this omnibus bill through committee; two, a very dangerous precedent that was set at finance committee during the study of Bill C-45; and, three, some of the flaws in Bill C-45 that were identified by Canadians during the committee's study.

As members know, Bill C-45 is a mammoth bill. It is over 400 pages long and would amend over 60 different laws. It includes a large number of provisions that simply do not belong in a budget bill: rewriting the laws protecting Canada's waterways; redefining aboriginal fisheries, without even consulting first nations peoples; and eliminating the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission. These are just a few examples of what is in Bill C-45 and examples of measures that would really have nothing to do with the fiscal situation of the country.

Canadians overwhelmingly disapprove of the Conservatives' use of omnibus budget bills to ram a large number of unrelated measures through Parliament without sufficient study or debate. A recent poll by Forum Research shows that 64% of Canadians oppose the Conservatives' omnibus legislative approach. Even a majority of Conservative supporters oppose the Conservatives' use, overuse and abuse of omnibus bills.

The Prime Minister once opposed the use of omnibus bills, but under his watch we have seen a clear trend toward the use of omnibus legislation. In fact, Bill C-13 in 2006 was 198 pages; Bill C-28 in 2007 was 378 pages; Bill C-10 in 2009 was 552 pages; Bill C-9 in 2010 was 904 pages; Bill C-13 in 2011 was 658 pages; and Bill C-38 earlier this year was 452 pages.

To put this in context, the largest Liberal budget bill was Bill C-28 in 2003, which was 144 pages in length, and it focused on fiscal measures, not on unrelated measures.

I will also speak about the NDP in this case. The NDP actually helped the Conservatives in passing Bill C-45 as quickly as possible through committee. The New Democrats say that they oppose Bill C-45 and they say that they oppose closure. However, their actions speak louder than their words. While they talk the talk, they do not walk the walk when it comes to actually standing up to the Conservatives and their abuse of Parliament. Instead of standing up to the Conservatives and providing any real opposition to Bill C-45, the New Democrats have actually been helping the Conservatives.

Here are a few examples. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to impose time allocation to limit the debate on Bill C-45 at committee. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to overrule the finance committee chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc, a chair who is respected by all members of the House for his judgment. To have him rebuked by his own colleagues was bad and it was terrible to see the New Democrats gang up with the Conservatives against the member for Edmonton—Leduc. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to throw out the rules at committee and to shut down opposition to Bill C-45. The New Democrats then gave up one of their votes at finance committee and worked out a schedule with the Conservatives so the finance committee could get through Bill C-45 as quickly as possible. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives almost 2,000 times at the finance committee to oppose measures that could have delayed certain parts of Bill C-45.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 9:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the budget we are dealing with now is, I believe, 495 pages of which I have read every page. I am a CGA by trade and I kind of like numbers. However, this is small in comparison.

Budget 2011, Bill 1, the royal assent version had 880 pages. Bill C-13 in 2011, Bill 2, the royal assent version had 644 pages. Bill C-10, budget 2009, the royal assent version—

May 30th, 2012 / 9:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

It's important that I clarify this because that's the problem with people who have outside interests. I just ask that we be very clear about both sides of the story.

When we talk about third-party delivery, I appreciate that Mr. Bergevin said he doesn't take issue with that, as long as there are rules. The rules are there. The inspectors are accredited. There are no two ways about it. That is clear.

I also want to correct the record with regard to the size of the budget bill. Let's get to the facts. Bill C-10, which was Budget 2009, was bigger than this one. Bill C-9, Budget 2010, BIA number two, was 880 pages. Bill C-13, Budget 2011, BIA number one, was 644 pages. They were all bigger than this one. This is not unusual in any way, shape or form.

These studies are done over years. One of the witnesses mentioned that. I just want to make that clear so Canadians understand the full picture on some of these issues.