An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.


Johanne Deschamps  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Report stage (House), as of Dec. 2, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to give every new graduate who settles in a designated region a tax credit equal to the lesser of
(a) 40% of the individual's salary or wages,
(b) $3,000, and
(c) the amount by which $8,000 exceeds all amounts paid for a preceding taxation year.
The purpose of this measure is to encourage new graduates to settle in designated regions, thereby curbing the exodus of young people from those regions and promoting their economic development.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


May 5, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
May 27, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

October 18th, 2011 / 11:20 a.m.
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Committee Researcher

Michel Bédard

In terms of the committee's ability to review constitutional case law, yes, the committee can do that. Indeed, that is the analysis I did myself before making my presentation to the committee.

I was referring to a Supreme Court decision regarding laws whose effects are too broad. Without mentioning it, I was referring to the Heywood case that came before the Supreme Court, where a number of provisions of the Criminal Code were declared unconstitutional.

The test to be applied by the committee is that an item is “clearly unconstitutional”. So, there is no guide. I would like to be able to say that the subcommittee has already defined what is meant by “clearly unconstitutional”, but the subcommittee has never defined what is meant by “clearly unconstitutional”.

I'm trying to provide more information to the committee to guide you in carrying out your task. The fundamental principle behind the bill is not unconstitutional, in my opinion. Some of the problems I have identified with the bill could be corrected during the legislative process by passing amendments at committee stage or at report stage.

I have actually distributed a document in French and English to members of the subcommittee with the wording of a section of the Canada Elections Act. That section gives voters the right to display election advertising posters during the election period. It is drafted differently from the bill we are currently reviewing, in the sense that it is more restrictive. For example, with respect to condominiums, it mentions the areas that are the exclusive property of the person wanting to display the material. When we're talking about a flag or a poster at a residence, it's obvious that the premises are those owned or rented by the individual. So, the wording is more restrictive.

That is the type of amendment that could benefit Bill C-288.

October 18th, 2011 / 11:10 a.m.
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Committee Researcher

Michel Bédard

Actually, the criteria to be applied by the subcommittee are as follows: Does the purpose of the bill fall within federal jurisdiction? Does the bill clearly violate the Constitution, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Bill C-288 grants the right to


display the Canadian flag.

Income Tax ActStatements By Members

March 7th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.
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Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-288, which was introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle and introduces a tax credit for new graduates working in regions facing economic challenges, has been before the Senate for almost nine months. However, the bill is being completely blocked and its study is constantly being postponed because of pressure from the Conservative government, which opposes Bill C-288.

Students from the FEUQ and the FECQ are on the Hill today to condemn this situation. At a press scrum over the noon hour, they condemned the attitude of the Prime Minister, who is playing party politics and going against the democratic will of the members of this House who want the Senate to examine Bill C-288.

The Prime Minister is trying to dictate each and every issue that the Senate examines, and this only emphasizes its partisanship, even though he himself promised to put an end to it. Is there a single Conservative member from Quebec who will have the courage to stand up and condemn this situation?

Opposition Motion--Representation in ParliamentBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

March 3rd, 2011 / 11:35 a.m.
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Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the Bloc Québécois critic for democratic reform to speak to the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. The NDP member's motion contains many elements, including the holding of a referendum on the question of amending the Referendum Act in order to abolish the existing Senate and to appoint a special committee for democratic improvement made up of 12 members. The motion also defines how the special committee would operate. Today I would like to focus on point (a), which is the most important and which reads as follows:

the House recognize the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in the Parliament of Canada, specifically the unnecessary Senate and a House of Commons that does not accurately reflect the political preferences of Canadians;

I would like to examine this point from two angles: the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in Parliament, specifically the House of Commons, and the unnecessary nature of the Senate. In that regard, we quite agree with the NDP.

Bills on democratic reform have been coming up over and over again for the past few sessions. This time around, we have Bill C-12, which aims to change the formula for calculating the number of members per province to increase the total number of members to 338. The distribution of new seats would be as follows: five more for Alberta, seven for British Columbia and 18 for Ontario. That would give us a total of 338 members, compared to the 308 we have now. This bill, if passed, would have a direct impact on Quebec's weight in the House of Commons, which would drop from 24.3% to 22.19%. Quebec would be even more marginalized compared to its current weight in the House.

It is of the utmost importance to maintain Quebec's weight in the House because Quebec is the only majority francophone state in North America and because Quebeckers are a unique linguistic minority on this continent. Louis Massicotte, a political scientist at Laval University, published an article on federal electoral redistribution entitled “Quelle place pour le Québec? Étude sur la redistribution électorale fédérale”. It is also more important than ever to protect our language and our culture when negotiating free trade agreements. We are talking about the cradle of the Quebec nation, which this House recognized in November of 2006, although, in practice, this means nothing to the Conservative government.

Make no mistake. If the government is insisting on increasing the weight of these particular provinces, it is because they are its stronghold or because it hopes to make political gains there. By going forward with this democratic reform, the Conservative government is claiming that it wants to respect democracy. However, the Conservatives are not fooling anyone. They are masters of flouting democracy. For example, they prorogued Parliament to avoid votes. They failed to follow the House's orders to submit documents, in particular, documents on the transfer of Afghan prisoners. They refused to appear before parliamentary committees. They recommended that unelected senators vote against bills that were passed by a majority of votes in the House, thus going against the will of the people. In 2008, they also failed to abide by their own legislation on fixed election dates.

The government is blatantly misleading the House and the public, as in the case involving the Minister of International Cooperation. I could go on but there are other points I would like to make.

Any recommendation in the House made by a special committee should not only take into account the current demographic weight of Quebec in the House of Commons, but it should also ensure that this weight is maintained because under no circumstance should Quebec's weight be any less than it currently is in the House.

In its current form, the Senate is unnecessary. It is a vehicle for partisan politics. Ever since the minority Conservative government came to power, it has been using this vehicle to introduce bills that the House of Commons opposes, in order to go against the will of the House of Commons. I cited a few examples, but there are many more.

Going against the will of the elected members of the House of Commons is completely anti-democratic in that this opposition comes from people whose legitimacy comes from a partisan appointment, unlike the legitimacy of the members of Parliament, which comes from the people.

We do not have to look too far back to find an example. Just consider Bill C-311. Bill C-311, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, was supported by the Bloc Québécois and the majority of the legitimately elected members of the House of Commons. The bill imposed binding greenhouse gas reduction targets to ensure that Canada respects the IPCC recommendation and the requirement to submit a significant action plan every five years. The Prime Minister allowed the Senate to deny the will of the Parliament of Quebeckers and Canadians by allowing Conservative senators to defeat Bill C-311 without even studying it.

Yet, during the last election campaign, the Prime Minister declared that an unelected chamber should not block bills from an elected one. He then did an about-face and is now making use of the Conservative senators. He made sure that he appointed the majority of senators to the Senate to ensure that they would block bills or motions that Parliament had adopted and sent to the Senate and that they would introduce bills before members of Parliament even had a chance to speak to them.

When the seats of Liberal senators opened up, the Prime Minister made sure to appoint loyal Conservatives. By allowing their senators to vote against Bill C-311 without even studying it, the Conservatives created a precedent, a first since 1930, and showed a flagrant lack of respect for our democratic institutions.

The Conservative senators also managed to block certain bills passed by the House and sent to the Senate to be studied. Take, for example, Bill C-288, regarding the tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions, introduced by my colleague from Laurentides—Labelle, or Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), which would require Supreme Court judges to be bilingual. The Prime Minister could be confident that the senators would vote against these bills. In both cases, the Senate blocked the bills. On May 5, Bill C-288 received the support of a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it was sent to the Senate. Since then, it has only been debated twice. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young people who want to study and remain in the regions, some of which are struggling economically.

With Bill C-232, the Conservatives were trying to buy some time. They kept delaying study of the bill until they had a majority in the Senate. The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to dictate its agenda. It is one thing for the Conservative government to oppose a measure, but to recommend that the Senate prevent debate on these two bills is unacceptable.

This shows the Conservative government's contempt for the will of the democratically elected parliamentarians. I should point out that the Liberals were no better and also used some schemes to delay passage of bills. Nonetheless, they never went as far as the Conservatives are going. In 2006, by the way, the Conservatives campaigned on reforming the Senate and making it more legitimate. That was one of the Prime Minister's promises.

That is why this Conservative government introduced a bill to reform Senate terms and limit them to eight years. That bill does nothing to reform this outdated, archaic institution where appointments are strictly partisan. That bill does nothing to remedy the nature of the Senate. The Prime Minister has transformed it into “a permanent office for his organizers, a waiting room for his Montreal candidates, and an absolute circus by the use of his surprising appointments, to describe them politely”, according to Vincent Marissal from La Presse.

The democratic deficit in the Senate and its extraordinarily partisan nature derive from the choices made by the Fathers of Confederation in 1867. From an academic standpoint, the upper house or senate in a federal system must represent the federated entities alongside a lower chamber, in our case, the House of Commons.

According to Réjean Pelletier, a political scientist and a professor in the political science department at Laval University, it is clear that this is not the case in the Canadian Parliament. In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation could have chosen the American model, where senators are elected by state legislatures and all states have equal weight, with the ability to elect two senators for a six-year term.

Instead, the Fathers of Confederation copied the British House of Lords and thus made the Senate a chamber that reviews legislation passed by the House of Commons. So the Senate is a chamber of sober second thought that moderates the overly democratic ways of the lower house, which is subject to pressure and emotional pleas from the public. But it no longer plays that role. What is more, senators were supposed to be appointed by the crown.

The idea of representing and defending the interests of federated entities did not come up in the discussions prior to the signing of the British North America Act. And from that stems our objection to the Senate, with its lack of legitimacy and representation.

Given that the Senate has become a partisan tool for the ruling Conservative Party and that it lacks both legitimacy and representation, it is not surprising that the public is angry about senators' spending.

According to an article by Stéphanie Marin in the January 27, 2011 edition of La Tribune, it would cost $90 million a year to keep the Senate in place. I do not remember the exact number, but I believe that 60% or 70% of Quebeckers supported abolishing the Senate.

We also learned in January that some senators are incurring excessive if not extravagant expenses. Conservative senators have not stopped sending mail-outs despite the fact that, in the spring of 2010, the House of Commons prohibited members from sending these types of mail-outs outside their ridings and specified that the Senate should follow suit.

It is important to note that the total printing budget for the Senate increased from $280,500 to $734,183 in 2008-09. Last month, the senators gave themselves the right to use taxpayers' dollars to continue to send mail-outs in which they can attack members.

To remedy the representation and legitimacy deficits and truly reform the Senate—to create a Senate where senators are actual representatives of Quebec and the provinces who are appointed or elected by legitimate authorities in Quebec, such as Quebec's National Assembly, and in the provinces and where there is equal representation for Quebec and the provinces resulting in a truly effective and non-partisan upper house as they have in other countries—we would have to proceed with a constitutional reform that would require agreement from seven provinces representing at least 50% of the population. We know that this would be practically impossible because we would have to reopen the Constitution.

The Bloc Québécois does not oppose this motion given that the Senate, in its current state, is unnecessary and that the current method of democratic representation has many shortcomings, such as the ones I have already mentioned. However, the Bloc's support for this motion is conditional upon the inclusion of two basic elements. First, Quebec's political weight must not be reduced at all as a result of any democratic reform. Second, under Quebec's referendum legislation, a referendum must be held in Quebec on the abolition of the Senate.

I would like to make two amendments to the NDP's motion. I move, seconded by the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges:

That the motion be amended:

(a) by adding after the words “the next general election,” the following:

“with the understanding that, in Quebec, such a referendum will be subject to Quebec law, in accordance with the current Referendum Act and as established as a precedent by the 1992 Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord,”;

(b) by adding after the words “recommendations to the House” the following:

“that in no way reduce the current weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons”. .

Regional DevelopmentStatements By Members

February 17th, 2011 / 2:10 p.m.
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Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Conservatives never miss an opportunity to let Quebec and all its regions down.

They are the ones who centralized the Canada Economic Development offices to downtown Montreal thereby depriving the regions of significant economic spinoffs. They are the ones who refused to support Bill C-288 so that our young graduates could return to the regions and actively contribute to their social and economic development. They are the ones who are still refusing to provide the forestry industry and its workers with any meaningful assistance to weather the crisis. They are the ones who voted against an employment insurance reform that would have allowed our seasonal workers and others to make a decent living year round. I could go on.

Unlike the Quebec Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois is acting in the interests of Quebec and all its regions, without distinction.

Bill C-288Statements by Members

December 16th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.
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Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 5, 2010, Bill C-288, to give new graduates a tax credit was passed by a majority of the members of the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it has reached the Senate.

However, it has been debated only twice since it got there. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young students who want to study and stay in the regions, some of which are experiencing economic difficulties.

The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to control its work. For the Conservative government to oppose such a measure is one thing, but recommending that the Senate block debate on Bill C-288 is unacceptable.

The Conservative government must drop its contemptuous attitude toward the will of democratically elected parliamentarians and immediately authorize debate on Bill C-288 in the Senate.

October 21st, 2010 / 9:50 a.m.
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Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Basically, there is a solution to all of the problems that you have raised. Earlier, you said that when you live close to a university, it is more likely that you may go there. So, the closer a government is to its constituents, its students, its citizens, the more sensitive it is to their concerns. In our opinion, it does not make sense that the federal government should meddle in the educational jurisdiction, and we have good evidence to show that this is the case.

Yesterday we heard from the Canadian Student Association and they expressed their way of seeing things. The association wanted, for example, to cancel $12 billion or $13 billion in current debt which would be converted into non-refundable grants. That is one way of seeing things, but we can clearly see, from the FEUQ and all of the people associated with this association, that in Quebec, we can have another way of viewing things.

Mr. Savoie and Mr. Oliny, you talked about going back to the 1994 transfers. You seem to be saying that you are hoping that the government will think things through properly. I will leave you with your illusions—no doubt, God, over time... That being said, I would point out to you that on page 19 of the brief submitted to the Minister of Finance last year, we stated all of this very clearly.

You are in favour of Bill C-288. Should I tell you—and you know this full well—that this too was an initiative from the Bloc Québécois as part of its parliamentary work. So when people say that we're useless, that is false.

I would like to hear your opinion on one matter. You said that you are going further compensating Quebec financially through the equalization system. Do you really think that the Government of Canada would, in a flash of genius, go back to the table and hand over this money? Or again, basically, would it not be better for the federal government to give the Government of Quebec tax points—and not amounts—to enable the latter to sustain its student labour force—because students are our workforce in the making?

October 21st, 2010 / 9:35 a.m.
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Louis-Philippe Savoie President, Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec

Thank you. My name is Louis-Phillipe Savoie, President of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (Quebec University Students' Federation). With me today is Mathieu Oliny, Vice-President of Socio-political Affairs at the FEUQ.

My presentation will be brief. The FEUQ is the largest university association in Quebec, representing 115,000 students from across Quebec and 14 student associations, both in the francophone and anglophone sectors, as well as university associations in major centres and smaller regions.

Today, we would like to present to you three federal funding proposals, more particularly in the area of post-secondary education. Clearly, the FEUQ believes that university education must be a priority. However, we should also keep in mind that university education is an area of provincial jurisdiction, and act accordingly. The three concerns that are outlined in our brief and that I will briefly present to you today are consistent with those principles.

Our first concern deals with federal transfers for post-secondary education. You are no doubt aware that there were major cuts to the federal transfers for post-secondary education in the early 1990s, and that the funding has still not come back to earlier levels. Taking into account inflation, there is still a gap of approximately $3.5 billion in federal transfers, with some $820 million to be allocated to Quebec. That is according to the estimates done by the Government of Quebec last year. That figure is supported by all Quebec stakeholders. Those cuts had a very significant impact across Canada. In Quebec, funding has still not returned to 1994 levels, essentially owing to the cuts in federal transfers.

We therefore believe that, when the federal government sits down to review federal transfers in 2014, priority should be given to increasing federal transfers for post-secondary education. That will help bring funding back up to 1994 levels. In our opinion, those transfers must be made without any conditions and respect provincial areas of jurisdiction. Above all, the provinces are the ones with the expertise needed to make proper use of the funds allocated for university education.

Another concern of the FEUQ deals with regional access to university education. In developing the university education system, it has become imperative to decentralize certain teaching activities. It has been recognized that the closer a student is to a university, the more likely he or she will enrol. However, even today many students have to leave their regions of origin. In Quebec, 50% to 75% of students living in resource regions, which are the most remote, must leave home in order to pursue their studies. Many of those students never return to their regions of origin. We know that those regions are currently facing problems, including an exodus of young people that is having a very significant impact on the economy of Quebec's regions as well as in regions of Canada as a whole. Ultimately, this will be a heavy burden on the entire economy.

To counter that exodus, the government of Quebec, in the early 2000s, implemented a tax credit for post-secondary graduates who choose to return to their regions. This is an $8,000 tax credit over a three-year period for students who settle in a designated region. Over 15,000 people took advantage of that tax credit in 2007. That is of considerable help to Quebec's regions. We believe that the federal government should follow Quebec's lead and adopt Bill C-288, which is currently being debated in the Senate and was previously passed by the House of Commons. We believe that passage of the bill should be expedited in order to ensure the sustainability of Quebec's regions.

And now, on to our third point. Needless to say, Quebec's students are also concerned by general taxation issues, given that they have major impacts on the funding of post-secondary education and social programs. We have highlighted two issues that are of recent concern. I will not get into the details, but the concerns are regarding adjustments made to equalization in recent years. There is also the issue of the harmonization of Quebec's sales tax. Those two issues have not yet been resolved and are the source of significant shortfalls for the government of Quebec. As a result, the province faces significant challenges because it must adequately fund its various social programs, and post-secondary education in particular.

Therefore, the three priorities that I have presented, i.e., federal transfers, Bill C-288 and the various taxation issues, must be urgently addressed by the federal government in order to ensure Canada's economic future. Investing in university education must be seen as a priority to ensure the future development of society.

Sitting ResumedBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 11th, 2010 / 1:45 p.m.
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Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will add another example to the ones already given by my colleague.

I come from an area called Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Four days ago, the House passed Bill C-288 to grant a tax credit to young people who return to their region after training or graduating outside their region. My colleagues from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and Laurentides—Labelle were spokespersons on that bill. The fact of the matter is that every Conservative member from a Quebec region voted against the bill.

That is worse than learning that they root for the Vancouver Canucks. If only the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages visited our regions more often, he would easily understand that there are different regional bodies that have needs. One of those needs is for our young people to come back to our regions. He should stop cancelling initiatives in our regions and giving them to major centres like Vancouver and Toronto. Let us keep them; we need them. That is how we will bring back our young people and develop our regions. It find it unacceptable for members of Parliament from Quebec to vote against this kind of motion.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 5th, 2010 / 6:15 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-288 under private members' business.

The House resumed from April 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), be read the third time and passed.

Tax Credit for New Graduates Working in Designated RegionsStatements By Members

May 5th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.
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Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, this evening we will vote at third reading on Bill C-288, which gives new graduates up to $8,000 in tax credits if they accept jobs in designated regions experiencing economic difficulty.

The Conservative members have shamelessly voted against this bill ever since it was introduced in the House of Commons.

Youth and student groups, municipalities and RCMs all agree that this kind of incentive is important because it will enhance the economic vitality of designated regions in Quebec and Canada.

Just last week, business people in the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean complained about how hard it is to recruit specialized workers for their companies. This difficulty is proof that we need incentives like a tax credit to bring our young people back to the regions.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 30th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.
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Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to conclude this long debate on my Bill C-288. Next week, this House will again have to take a stand on this bill.

It has been a year since I introduced Bill C-288, which would introduce a tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions. My colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and I have travelled throughout Quebec to tell people about how this bill would benefit them. In Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, on the north shore, in Gaspé and in the Lower St. Lawrence, people support this measure, because it could help their region economically.

Bill C-288 has received the support of various groups and different generations throughout Quebec, including the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, which respectively represent 40,000 and 125,000 students all over Quebec. Moreover, the Quebec Federation of Senior Citizens, which has 255 members, and the Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités, which represents 972 Quebec municipalities, have given the bill their full support. The bill also has the support of a number of RCMs, chambers of commerce and youth employment centres.

In recent debates, we have demonstrated the importance of this initiative to attract young graduates to remote regions. The bill would solve two main problems affecting these regions: the exodus of young people and the serious shortage of skilled labour.

It is important to encourage young graduates to move to the regions to start their professional careers, and to recruit skilled labour for the good of the regions. Much thought has gone into Bill C-288 so that we can eventually offer all young, eligible graduates in Quebec and Canada a tax credit. The problem with the exodus of young people is not unique to Quebec. Across Canada, economic activity has gradually moved from the so-called rural areas to the major centres. My Conservative colleague who spoke earlier said that my proposal was almost comical. This comment shows a lack of respect for provinces like Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, which already have a tax credit similar to the one proposed in Bill C-288.

The Conservatives tried to derail the debate on this bill by grossly inflating the cost of the program. In his report of November 24, 2009, the Parliamentary Budget Officer assessed the proposal according to a number of different scenarios. I would like to clarify some of the data so that members can focus on the essence of the bill. The regions designated in this bill will be determined by the Minister of Finance, after consulting with the provinces involved.

Also, the regions will not be designated based on the number of people who would be affected; they will be based on the needs identified in these regions far from Canada's major cities. I should point out that the bill excludes metropolitan regions with more than 200,000 residents.

Furthermore, the bill must focus on areas that are far from large centres and on rural areas with low rates of urbanization that are struggling with long-term unemployment rates, an indicator of poor employment prospects.

Finally, we used economic and health regions as geographic criteria. We then used the long-term unemployment rate to determine the regions where job prospects are more difficult. Of these regions, we considered only those that had over 12% of their population living in rural areas. In total, we identified 34 health regions that met these criteria.

I am still counting on the support of my Liberal and NDP colleagues, and I also hope that my Conservative colleagues from Quebec will vote in the interests of Quebeckers.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 30th, 2010 / 1:55 p.m.
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Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-288. At the risk of losing the rest of my audience, I realize I am in competition with the great Canadian singer, Bryan Adams, who is in the lobby. I am glad to see that not everybody has disappeared, but I am glad to have them back.

This is a bill that has had a fair amount of debate. It has been through committee and is a bill that we are happy to support. It is an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions. It would give every new graduate who settles in a designated region a tax credit. The purpose of the measure is to encourage new graduates to settle in designated regions, thereby curbing the exodus of young people from those regions and promoting their economic development.

This is an age old problem. Anybody who has grown up in a rural area, lived in a rural area, recognizes that as cities develop and as facilities develop in cities, particularly in health care but not limited to health care, people are attracted to the cities. If they do not move there when they are young, because they need to further their education, children leave their local areas after grade 12 and move to the city to go to university. They form friendships there and eventually get jobs in the city, and they do not return to their homes.

Likewise, we have a problem, particularly in the west and perhaps across Canada, with people hitting retirement age who do the same. They sell their property in the country, their farms, and once again they too move to the city. Just in the space since 1970, the population in Manitoba was roughly 50% rural and 50% urban, and today, only 40 years later, the population pattern now is about 70% urban and only 30% rural, and that is continuing.

That is in spite of continuing efforts on the part of governments over the last 20 years to keep people in rural areas, to offer incentives, and to make it easier to transfer family farms from one generation to the other. It is interesting to me that most of the Conservative caucus represents rural areas. I would think that the Conservatives would be more in tune to this issue as members on this side of the House because they know the efforts we have to make to keep people living in and moving to rural areas.

In Manitoba, we have offered, and other provinces have as well, incentives to doctors to move to the rural areas. Even in the days when the member for Souris on the Conservative side was a provincial member of the legislature, we were working out programs to encourage doctors to move to rural areas, particularly doctors from Winnipeg, but also doctors that we brought in from outside the country.

We have discovered over the last 10 years that we were better off training professionals, training doctors, who actually came from those rural areas, with the hope that they would go back to their home town. We altered our strategy somewhat to encourage people, say, from Thompson to become doctors, and then move back to Thompson, because we found we had a better chance of getting them to go back and keeping them there.

The Conservatives have focused greatly on the cost of the program. There will certainly always be a cost and the question is whether the cost is justified. It seems to me to create a bit of a balance here to try to reverse the flow of graduates from the rural areas to the city, but this certainly would be justified. We could argue about what sort of provisions should be enacted and whether or not the bill has hit the spot one hundred per cent.

There is talk that the list we are going to follow for designated regions is over 30 years old. It should be simple enough for the government to update the list of regions. That is something that can be fine-tuned to more adequately deal with the problem.

In terms of the cost, this is something that has bounced around, not only with respect to this bill, but with respect to other bills in this House, too. The Conservatives have wildly inflated the cost of some bills in the past. Upon reflection and examination, when we in the opposition have also costed the government's bills, we have come up with a figure that maybe is one-tenth of the government's figure. What sort of statistics are being used to do this calculation?

Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer from the Library of Parliament, appeared at the finance committee. He was asked about the cost of Bill C-288. As I indicated, the bill would provide non-refundable tax credits to new graduates who settle in certain regions of the country. He said that he had been drawing on the expertise of provincial governments, academics and government executives to assess the reasonableness of the cost assessment presented to the committee. There were two extremes, two diametrically opposed figures. The Conservatives' figure was on the extreme high side and the opposition's figure perhaps was a little more on the low side than it should be. I do not know. That is why he was asked to look at the issue.

As I outlined in my note, he said that the two cost estimates are based on different assumptions regarding the size of the regions that would be designated as eligible for the proposed tax credit and the propensity of new graduates to take up the new credit.

Last year the Conservatives knew that there was tremendous uptake on their home renovation tax credit program. The parliamentary secretary who is listening attentively now would say that he could not tell us what the total cost to the treasury was going to be until the end of the income tax season this year when the people who partook in the program filed their tax returns. Only then could the government tell what the renovation tax credit program was going to cost the treasury. It is true that until we actually implement the program and see how many graduates actually use the tax credit we will not know what the true cost to the treasury will be. It may be much lower than the government is suggesting.

I would advise the government to try it for a year. It could play with the designated areas. The Conservatives think that the current designations are 30 years out of date and cover the whole province of Saskatchewan and the oil sands area of northern Alberta. If they do not like that, we can always change the criteria to exclude those areas. Then based on what the uptake is, we will have a better idea over time about how this bill would work.

To reject the bill outright is absolute nonsense when there are increasing disparities between rural and urban parts of Canada. We do not want the urban and rural splits to widen. We want to lessen them. Anything that will help young graduates return to their hometowns to work in their hometowns and benefit rural Canada is something that we should be encouraging. Members should not be standing and saying that the sky is falling and that this is going to lead to terrible things, because that is not what is going to happen.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

April 30th, 2010 / 1:45 p.m.
See context


Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand and speak to Bill C-288, which would give certain tax incentives to graduates who return to their regions or to rural regions across the country. In doing so, it would provide important services to those regions and the same kinds of services that people in metropolitan areas take for granted.

I live in a very rural area. My riding is slightly larger than the province of Ontario and within it we have a few people. We also had a very expanding economy in the last decade through the development of the diamond fields. Interestingly enough, as the economy expanded in the last four or five years, the population declined until we had a huge expansion in our gross domestic product.

Why was that? It was not because young people did not like living in the north. The allure of the north is big among young people across the country and there are many young people who would like to live in rural and remote areas. It was the cost of living. The cost of living in northern conditions is so high that people simply cannot make ends meet and they relocate.

We find that we replace a lot of these people with fly-in workers from across the country, from Newfoundland, from Nova Scotia, even from Ottawa here. I have sat in the airport in Ottawa and heard the talk of people around me who were headed to the Diavik diamond mines in the Northwest Territories. Right across the country, people take advantage of the economic opportunities in rural regions, but they do not live there and they do not provide continuity of service.

I lived in the north all my life and never had an opportunity to have a family doctor. I dealt with locum doctors throughout my whole life. I was lucky enough to live in a community that actually had locum doctors. Many of the smaller communities might be lucky to have locum nurse practitioners. They might be lucky enough to have a nurse in a nursing station. Many of the communities really do suffer because of the cost of living and the lack of the kinds of incentives that used to exist for living in the north.

My parents moved to the north in the fifties. Through the sixties, there were programs in place where all the costs of education for young northerners were paid. Young northerners could go to university. They could go to technical schools. They could go to colleges in the south and they would see that their costs were completely covered. It was a great system. It encouraged young people to get their education and as time went on, the governments of the region got smarter and said, “If you want to get that kind of break, rather than just giving it you, we will give you a remissible loan based on the years that you come back to the region and work there”. That system also has worked quite well.

What we are seeing with this type of program, this type of effort, is something that is actually replicated in the Northwest Territories now. It is one of the ways that we try to bring our young people back to the Northwest Territories and try to get them to work and live there.

Why is that important? It is because the north and rural areas in Canada are great revenue generators for the rest of Canada. Where are the mining industries in this country? Where is the oil and gas exploration? Where are the things that make our economy run? They are in rural areas. They are in northern areas.

Those things are so important to our economy and they are so important to the people who can live and work in those areas, and build those areas as successful places.

The mining industry estimates that it will need 80,000 new workers over the next two decades to service the mining industry. It is desperate to find people to come and work in those regions, to enjoy the opportunities that come with the mining industry and to settle and take the work there seriously.

The type of program we are offering with Bill C-288 is one example of utilizing the tax system nationally to help all the regions in a uniform fashion. We do have one program like that. It is something that I worked very hard on to get approved when I first came to Parliament. The northern residents tax deduction is an excellent program that goes right across the country and gives everyone in northern areas a tax break. If they are in an intermediate area in the northern parts of the provinces, including Conservative ridings, they are given a break on their taxes as well. That is good.

The problem with the program was it had been in place for 19 years and the real dollar amount had never changed over that time. Members can check the records. There was not much talk about this before that. When I got here, I worked very hard to get that into the mind of the government. In 2007 it agreed to increase the northern residents tax deduction by 10%. We were asking for 50%. Every organization in the north said that 50% was the only fair amount. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce came onside for the 50%.

The Conservative government realized that it had a problem. Its solution was not to offer up what was fair. It offered up a little so it could say it did it. I thank the government very much for the 10%. Everyone appreciates that. That is a couple hundred dollars a year extra in the pocket of the average northerner and the average rural person. That is great, but it was clearly not enough.

There is more work to be done there with the tax system to improve the lives of people in the regions of our country who make money for our country. The Conservative government wants to give away huge tax revenues from banks, from oil companies, from that same mining industry and from those that extract the wealth out of the country. When it wants to do that and not put money back into those regions and into the pockets of young people who want to build the region and build our country, that is sad.

It is a sad statement to make today in Parliament about the nature of a Conservative government that would stand up against this bill and against the idea of the bill. Yes, the bill has issues. These issues can be worked out. The principle of the bill is fine. What is wrong with the idea that we use the tax system to enhance the ability of people to live in northern or rural regions? What is wrong with the idea that we support Canadians in their efforts to build a better country that will be successful in the 21st century? What is wrong with the Conservatives? They cannot see past their end of their nose on this question of tax breaks.

I am glad it is Friday. I will have time to unwind over the weekend and return to Parliament with a slightly better feeling about my members on the opposite benches.