Appropriation Act No. 2, 2014-15

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Tony Clement  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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

June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 10, 2014 Passed That Bill C-38, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

October 30th, 2014 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, before us today is Bill C-43, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014.

This is yet another mammoth bill. It is 450 pages long and contains 400 clauses that affect more than a dozen laws. Clearly, the opposition is not deluded about the future of this bill. As with the bills before it, the debate on this bill is already subject to a time allocation motion. This is the 80th time the government has used this tactic, and in the end this bill will pass very quickly, just as the others did.

When Bill C-38 was introduced, we moved 500 amendments because the 600-page bill contained dozens of laws. I remember quite well that the government did not accept any of those amendments. We know what is going to happen with the bill before us.

To set the stage, I would like to quote from a National Post editorial about a previous omnibus bill.

Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention, shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable [in the House]...We’ve no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch, only that they voted for the legislation that contained them. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent...a sort of compulsory buffet.

The government was trying to get us to pass its legislative agenda in one fell swoop, and that is the case again today.

Among the measures included in this bill is the proposal to deny social assistance to refugee claimants, an idea that was brought forward by a backbencher on the other side of the House. The bill also includes hiring credits for small businesses.

I could list all of the laws affected by this bill, but I will stop at those two. We cannot look at this bill without looking at the overall context of the Conservative administration.

Is the economy doing better since the Conservatives came to power? Every week, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance throws some figures at us: 1 million jobs here; 400,000 jobs there; 300,000 unemployed workers here; 200,000 unemployed workers there. People no longer know which figures are true and which have been manipulated.

I looked into whether the economy was doing better in my riding and whether families were better off and people were less poor. On October 17, I participated in the Nuit des sans-abri. I do not know whether my colleagues opposite participate in this event. It involves spending one night with the homeless and talking to them about their lives for 24 hours. I have been doing this for 10 years. I spent the night with them again this year, and I did not notice that there were fewer homeless people. On the contrary, there were more.

However, I did notice that the organizations that work with the homeless suffered budget cuts this year, including an organization that focuses on getting homeless youth into the job market and back to school. This organization lost $400,000 in funding from the skills link program, a federal program that is supposed to support social integration.

Just today, the CBC mentioned a report by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness stating that the $2 billion currently being invested in social and affordable housing in Canada is not enough to meet the needs of the 35,000 people who sleep on the streets every day or the 235,000 who sleep on the streets every year.

According to the think tank, the government needs to invest $1.7 billion more in affordable housing per year to eliminate homelessness in Canada. It would cost each Canadian $0.88 a week to ensure that people are not sleeping in the streets and to make ours a society where a degree of social justice reigns. At the same time, for every $10 invested in social and affordable housing, we save $21 in health care costs because people who end up in the streets eventually end up in hospital with serious health needs. That is a huge cost for society.

When I took part in homelessness awareness night, I did not see fewer homeless people. I saw people who were having a hard time and needed organizations. I also saw organizations that had just had their funding cut. To me, that is just as important an economic indicator as the GDP.

I also want to talk about the number of people who use food banks. In my riding, many people do. Again, is the economy doing well? There are more and more people using food banks. If the economy were doing so well and the mammoth budget implementation bills that keep getting introduced provided something practical for ordinary Canadians, that number would go down.

On the contrary, the number increased by 25% between 2008 and 2013. That means that there are 25% more people in my riding using food banks. Often these people work part time for minimum wage. They are forced to use food banks to feed their children. That is what the economy looks like under the Conservatives, and I would dare say under the Liberals as well.

Currently, every month, 80,000 new people use food banks in Canada. In the measures proposed today and for some time now, I have not seen anything that would improve this economic indicator. Indeed, that is what it is.

I also want to talk about unemployment. Good jobs are rare, and not just since 2009. Since the crisis, we have lost a number of industry jobs, which have been replaced with part-time jobs.

I read the Parliamentary Budget Officer's response regarding employment insurance funding and the recent related measures. I am not sure whether my colleagues across the way read it, but I doubt it, because this document takes a hard look at the employment insurance situation and how the EI-funded hiring credit will cost us jobs. The EI premium freeze cost us jobs, and every job created will cost us $500,000.

I would like to congratulate the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I know that the Conservatives were not very fond of Mr. Page because he pointed out that purchasing the F-35s was foolish. Nor did they like the subsequent report on the sustainability of old age security, which actually is sustainable. They will surely not like this report.

The Prime Minister probably thought it was a good idea to replace the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I believe that he made a good decision when he appointed Mr. Fréchette, who is doing a great job. I encourage all parliamentarians to read this report. It is a fantastic document that shows that the Conservatives are poor public administrators and that they will have to be replaced sooner or later.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

October 29th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak to the latest Conservative omnibus bill. This bill is a product of a tired, old Conservative government that has lost touch with the challenges and opportunities of Canadians.

Bill C-43 is overflowing with changes that have no place in a budget bill, such as the petty change the Conservatives want to make to deny refugee claimants access to social assistance.

The Conservatives are actually using Bill C-43 in an effort to deny income support to refugee claimants, right after their attempt to limit refugee claimants' access to health care was struck down by the Federal Court. The court called that Conservative policy “cruel and unusual treatment” that “outrages (Canadians') standards of decency”.

A recent editorial in The Globe and Mail called this bill “an abuse of process and shown contempt for Parliament by subverting its role”. The Globe is right. It is anti-democratic for the Conservatives to once again use a massive omnibus budget bill to limit debate and ram through so many unrelated measures in Parliament.

In the last few years, the Conservatives have concocted and implemented a process that prevents MPs from all parties from doing their jobs in properly scrutinizing legislation. This is leading to a lot of sloppy mistakes. The Conservatives' general disdain for Canada's democratic institutions and their outright contempt for Parliament have led to countless errors being cemented into Canadian law.

This bill would try to fix a number of previous Conservative mistakes. I would like to give members a few examples of areas where the Conservatives are trying to use this omnibus bill to fix errors in previous bills.

First, the Conservatives forgot to include a tax credit in the last omnibus budget bill, Bill C-31, for interest paid on Canada apprentice loans. The Conservatives try to fix that in clause 35 of Bill C-43.

The second is that the government forgot to ensure that PRPPs are subject to similar GST treatment as RRSPs. The fix for that is found in part 2 of Bill C-43.

Third, they forgot to include a refund in Bill C-31 for duties paid on destroyed tobacco products. That correction is in Bill C-43, part 3.

Fourth, they forgot to change a legal heading when the Conservatives used Bill C-19 to transfer spending powers from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Conservatives gave all of the powers in that section of the law to the immigration minister, but still named the section “Minister of Foreign Affairs”.

Fifth, they forgot in Bill C-38 to allow the Minister of Industry to publicly disclose certain information regarding the review process.

Sixth, they forgot in Bill C-31 to include foreign money services businesses as foreign entities under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

Seventh, they ignored expert advice and capped the size of the Social Security Tribunal in Bill C-38, leading to massive backlogs in the system.

Eighth, they failed to realize in Bill C-4 that the amalgamation of the Blue Water Bridge Authority might not go as planned.

Ninth, they created confusion in Bill C-4 with various amendments related to public service labour, including a reference to the wrong clause number.

Tenth, they forgot in Bill C-45 to coordinate between RCMP pension rule changes in Bill C-42 and rule changes that raised the age for public service pensions in Bill C-45.

There are 10 examples of the the mistakes the Conservatives made in the previous bill that they are trying to fix in this omnibus bill.

The fact is that the Conservatives' game plan of limiting debate and ramming these bills through Parliaments is responsible for creating these mistakes. Parliament is denied its legitimate role to identify these flaws in the process of real parliamentary debate at committee and in the House and fixing them.

The reason these mistakes are made in the first place is because of the deeply flawed process surrounding omnibus legislation.

I would like to talk a bit today about tax policy, GST, EI, and the income-splitting proposal that the Conservatives had in their last platform.

Bill C-43 actually adds GST to some goods and services that are used by or provided by non-profit organizations operating health care facilities. When we asked officials for an example of what kinds of service might get caught up in this GST hike, the example they provided was of a health care facility that also runs a residential apartment building, such as an old age home. Adding GST to services purchased by or provided by old age homes means one of two things: either it will cut into the bottom line of the health care facility, or the old age home will have no choice but to pass the tax hike on to the people they serve. In the case of an old age home, it means that the government is getting ready to hike the GST and punish Canadian seniors, who are already struggling to get by on a fixed income.

In terms of employment insurance, Bill C-43 also gets it wrong. Bill C-43 offers a small EI tax cut to employers, but only if they agree to stay small. Instead of creating real jobs and growth, Bill C-43 would actually encourage businesses to stay small and would punish them if they grow and become more successful. Due to a design flaw in Bill C-43, the so-called small business job credit creates an incentive for some businesses to fire workers. That is why economist Jack Mintz has called it “a disincentive to growth” and why economist Mike Moffatt said “...the proposed ‘Small Business Job Credit’ has major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries.”

Even Finance Canada officials last night acknowledged that this tax credit creates a disincentive for some employers to hire.

Last month the PBO looked at this tax credit and found that it will only create 800 jobs over the next two years, at a cost of $550 million. That means it will cost taxpayers almost $700,000 per job.

In response to the need to encourage businesses to hire and to reduce EI premiums for businesses that do that or reward businesses that hire, the Liberals have proposed an EI holiday for new hires. This plan would only reward businesses that actually create jobs. The Liberal plan has been endorsed by Canadian job creators, including the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, which has said that the Liberal plan for an EI exemption for new hires “would create jobs”. The Restaurants Canada organization, representing restaurants across the country, said “This...proposal for an EI exemption for new hires would help restaurants create jobs.” The CFIB said it loves the Liberal plan to exempt small business from EI premiums for new hires, which has lots of job potential.

The same PBO report that looked at the Conservatives' tax credit and identified the flawed program that would cost $700,000 per job also identified that the Conservatives are collecting billions of dollars in excess of taxes in EI over the next two years and that the Conservatives actually have the capacity to cut EI premiums significantly.

The PBO estimates that artificially high EI rates under the Conservatives will cost the Canadian economy 10,000 jobs over the next two years. That is 10,000 more Canadians who will be out of work over the next two years because the Conservatives are using artificially high EI premiums to pad the books to fund pre-election spending. The Conservatives are ignoring the evidence and putting Conservative politics ahead of the Canadian economy and ahead of the interests of Canadian workers and employers.

Speaking of ignoring the evidence, the Conservatives appear ready to go ahead with their flawed income-splitting scheme that was introduced in their last platform. The idea that the Conservatives were putting forth in their last platform has been panned by everyone from the C.D. Howe Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to the Mowat Centre and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It was even panned by the late Jim Flaherty himself.

It is being panned because, as articulated in their platform, fewer than 15% of Canadian households would benefit, most of them high-income households, at a cost of $3 billion per year to the federal treasury and another $2 billion per year to provincial governments. Provincial governments, as we know, are facing deficits and huge fiscal challenges.

Under the Conservatives' scheme, the Prime Minister, earning $320,000 a year and with a stay-at-home spouse, would save about $6,500 per year. Meanwhile, a Canadian earning the average industrial wage and with a stay-at-home spouse would save less than $10 per week, and most households would get no benefit whatsoever.

We have a different approach. The Liberal approach is that we need to build a plan for 2015 that would be focused on creating jobs and growth to strengthen the Canadian middle class. The status quo is not working. The current federal government is so preoccupied with day-to-day politics that it has lost track of and is out of touch with the challenges and opportunities facing Canadian families. Those are challenges such as aging demographics and a slow-growth economy, which some refer to as secular stagnation. Baby boomers are rapidly approaching retirement age, and as they exit the workforce, they will leave a shrinking tax base and labour shortages in their wake. They will also place a greater strain on health care systems as they age. We will end up with more Canadians using the social safety net and fewer Canadians paying into it. These demographic pressures are leading economists to predict that slow economic growth could become the new normal.

The Canadian economy, frankly, is already sputtering under the Conservatives. Job growth over the last two years has been extremely weak, consumer debt is high, infrastructure is in disrepair, and housing prices in our cities are inflated. Last year the Canadian economy created a paltry 5,300 net new full-time jobs across the country. The percentage of Canadians working today is still two full points lower than before the downturn. There are 200,000 more jobless Canadians today than before the downturn, and the number of Canadians who are considered long-term unemployed is twice that of 2008. More than 150,000 Canadians are unemployed and have been searching for work for a year or longer. As we all know, the longer they are out of the workforce, the harder it is for them to get back in.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have young Canadians who simply cannot get their foot in the door of the Canadian labour market. Recent grads are facing huge challenges. There are 200,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than before the downturn, before 2008. Persistently high youth unemployment and under-employment is robbing a generation of people of opportunities they need to succeed. TD economist Craig Alexander and CIBC economist Benjamin Tal describe a scenario of a lost generation of Canadian youth and a lost generation of potential for all Canadians.

This is despite the fact that this generation is the most technologically adept, most educated generation in our nation's history, and therein lies the challenge we face. There is a gap between the education they have and the job market. We have people without jobs and jobs without people.

Too many Canadians in their twenties are left saddled with big student loans and are unable to make ends meet. All too often, it is their middle-class parents and grandparents who are footing the bill. Among the hardest hit are Canadians who are actually squeezed between helping their adult children pay the bills and taking care of their aging parents at the same time, the sandwich generation. In many cases these parents in their forties, fifties, and sixties are taking on additional debt or dipping into their retirement savings. In fact, this is one of the things that is driving record levels of personal debt, which is about $1.65 for every dollar of annual income. According to the Canadian Financial Monitor, Canadians who are 55 years of age or older are two and a half times more likely to refinance their mortgage if they have children than if they do not have children. Their average household debt is twice that of their childless peers.

Meanwhile, many younger families do not actually have a mortgage to refinance. Instead, they are being priced out of the housing market altogether.

On this front, the Conservative government must share at least part of the blame for the high housing prices in Canada and commensurate personal debt. It was the Conservative government, in budget 2006, that brought in 40-year mortgages with no down payment. It introduced them for the first time in Canada. It had an effect, because in the first half of 2008, more than half of all new mortgages in Canada were 40-year mortgages, and 10% of those had zero down payment.

The Conservatives shifted Canada's borrowing culture and lending culture, and that shift has helped fuel record levels of housing prices commensurate with that household debt. They have since reversed course and returned to the norm that was the case under Liberal governments in the past, meaning 25-year mortgages with at least 5% down. However, it is important to recognize the Conservatives' culpability in bringing 40-year mortgages with no down payments into Canada and helping fuel record levels of personal debt related to skyrocketing housing prices.

From the OECD and the IMF to the Bank of Canada, one thing on which Canadian and international economists agree is that elevated housing prices and household debt pose a big domestic threat to our economy. These elevated housing prices have helped widen the generational divide between those on the one hand who have watched the value of their house appreciate and in some cases have tapped into that equity to help fund consumption, and those on the other hand who cannot afford to even enter the housing market.

We are seeing greater income inequality in Canada, and fewer Canadians now think of themselves as being middle class. In fact, the number of Canadians who self-identify as middle class has dropped from 64% in 2009 to 47% in 2014. Even more troubling is that for the first time in recent history, more Canadians now believe that the next generation, their children and grandchildren, will be worse off, not better off, than they are today. That is the first time this has happened in Canada.

What we need is a federal government that will rise to meet these big challenges facing our country: aging demographics, slow growth, soft job market, and high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. These are all challenges, but they also represent opportunities. I will give one specific challenge to our country that is a big social and economic challenge but that also represents an opportunity if we can get it right.

Over the next 10 years, there will be about 400,000 young aboriginal and first nation Canadians who will be of workforce age. If they have the skills they need for the jobs of today, that would be really good for our economy. If they do not, it represents a demographic, economic, and social time bomb for our country.

The reality is that we have failed collectively as governments at all levels to address this challenge. If we take it seriously, young aboriginal workers can be part of a Canadian growth and economic success story. We have to get it right. We have to take these issues seriously.

Liberals believe that sustainable growth and a focus on creating jobs, growth, and opportunities is the best way to benefit Canadian middle-class families and to restore hope to them. We believe we need to invest in infrastructure, training, innovation, and trade, and we believe that we need to keep our competitive tax rates.

Bill C-43 does nothing to grow the Canadian economy, and it ignores the very real challenges of the middle class and of young Canadians.

In a very short period of time, potentially within days, we will be seeing a fall economic statement. We hope the government chooses to invest in the future by investing in infrastructure, in training, and in young Canadians. We need the government to do so, and if this government does not, a future Liberal government will.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

October 20th, 2014 / 7:20 p.m.
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NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development.

We are obviously very happy to hear that the government will ensure that the laws are being obeyed. Unfortunately, the laws are far from adequate in light of all the amendments made to Bill C-38.

We are very concerned that the government does not seem interested in the project, in light of the criteria and facts we are learning today. We know that there will be dredging, and we do know that it will be postponed.

The project has already been submitted by Chaleur Terminals Inc., and this company already has the facts in hand. I do not understand why the government cannot make a decision today on the feasibility of the dredging and on what will be done with the spoils. The facts are there. The dredging will happen, and the government will have to make a decision.

Opposition Motion—Gros-Cacouna Oil TerminalBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

October 9th, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville for his speech. I have a clear and simple question for him.

I will put it in English to make it easier.

In Bill C-38, at section 165, and I think most members of the House did not notice it, that administration put the National Energy Board in charge of endangered species if they happened to be in the way of a pipeline. In other words, it has put the mandate for bitumen and diluent as a higher priority over endangered species, taken protection of species in the case of a pipeline, trumped the Species at Risk Act, and handed it to the National Energy Board.

That makes everything else we see in this one instance entirely consistent with a policy that puts bitumen first and belugas last.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2014 / 3:25 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have another opportunity to respond to the Thursday question from the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

I know how proud he claims to be about showing up to work. In fact, though, the New Democrats seem to have a spotty record on that. Last evening, that very member rose to speak to our government's bill to protect our communities and exploited persons—that is Bill C-36—and after one whole minute he moved to adjourn the House. He said we should all go home. Maybe that is the parliamentary equivalent of taking one's ball and wanting to go home when one is unhappy with how things are going in another meeting.

In any event, we did all dutifully troop into the House to vote on that at 6 p.m. However, what was very revealing was that only 61 of those 98 New Democrats stood in their places to vote. A few of them were missing their shifts, oddly. We did not find that on the Conservative side. In fact, we just had two votes in the House, and the number of New Democrats who were not standing in their places was very similar to that.

Therefore, when I ask myself who is not showing up for work, I can say it is not the Conservatives not showing up; it is, in fact, the New Democrats.

However, following the popular acclaim of last week's Thursday statement, I would like to recap what we have actually accomplished in the House since last week in terms of the legislative agenda.

Bill C-37, the riding name change act, 2014, which was compiled and assembled through the input of all parties, was introduced and adopted at all stages.

Bill C-31, the economic action plan, act no. 1, was adopted at both report stage and, just moments ago, at third reading.

Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act, was concurred in at report stage.

Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras economic growth and prosperity act, was passed at third reading. Of course, the NDP tried to slow down its passage, but Conservatives were able to get around those efforts, as I am sure the 50 New Democrats on vigil in the House last night fondly appreciate, and we were able to extend our hours because there were, again, not even 50 New Democrats here in the House to stand in their places to block that debate as they wanted to. So we did finish the Canada-Honduras bill that night, and were able to vote on it.

The government's spending proposals for the year were adopted by the House, and two bills to give these plans effect, Bill C-38 and BillC-39, were each passed at all stages.

Bill C-22, the energy safety and security act, was reported back from committee, and several other reports from committees were also tabled. As I understand, we will see Bill C-17, the protecting Canadians from unsafe drugs act, reported back from the health committee in short order.

Finally, this morning we virtually unanimously passed a motion to reappoint Mary Dawson as our Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Sadly, though, the New Democrats did not heed my call last week to let Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, pass at second reading. We were treated, sadly, to only more words and no deeds from the NDP.

Turning to the business ahead, I am currently anticipating the following debates. This afternoon and tonight, we will finish the debate on Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, at second reading. That will be followed by third reading of Bill C-24 and second reading of Bill C-35, Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law).

Tomorrow morning, we will debate Bill C-24, if necessary, and Bill C-18, Agricultural Growth Act, at second reading. After question period, we will get back to Bill C-32, and give the NDP one more chance to send the victims bill of rights to committee.

The highlight of Monday is going to be the report stage of Bill C-6, the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act. Tuesday’s feature debate will be Bill C-2, the Respect for Communities Act, at second reading. Wednesday will see us finish third reading, I hope, of Bill C-6. During the additional time available those days—in addition to Thursday and Friday of next week—I will schedule any unfinished debates on Bill C-18, Bill C-32 and Bill C-35.

I will also try to schedule debates on Bill C-22 and Bill C-17, as well as other bills, such as Bill C-3, the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, at third reading; Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, at third reading; Bill C-12, the Drug-free Prisons Act, at second reading; Bill C-21, Red Tape Reduction Act, at second reading; Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, at second reading; Bill S-2, Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act, at second reading; Bill S-3, the Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act, at second reading; and Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act—which I understand we will receive shortly from the other place—at second reading.

Main Estimates, 2014-15

June 10th, 2014 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Main Estimates, 2014-15

June 10th, 2014 / 11 p.m.
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NDP

The Chair NDP Joe Comartin

The House is now in the committee of the whole on Bill C-38.

Main Estimates, 2014-15

June 10th, 2014 / 10:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

moved that Bill C-38, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015, be now read a first time.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)