Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2

A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures

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

Sponsor

Joe Oliver  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 certain income tax measures proposed in the February 11, 2014 budget. Most notably, it

(a) extends the intergenerational rollover and the lifetime capital gains exemption for dispositions of property used in farming and fishing businesses;

(b) extends the tax deferral provision with respect to breeding animals to bees, and to all types of horses that are over 12 months of age, that are kept for breeding;

(c) permits income contributed to an amateur athlete trust to qualify as earned income for RRSP contribution limit purposes, with an election available to taxpayers for up to a three-year retroactive application;

(d) extends the definition “split income” to include income from a business or property that is paid or allocated to a minor child from a partnership or trust where a person related to the child is engaged in the activities of the partnership or trust to earn that income;

(e) eliminates graduated rate taxation for trusts and certain estates with an exception for cases involving testamentary trusts whose beneficiaries include individuals eligible for the Disability Tax Credit;

(f) eliminates the 60-month exemption from the non-resident trust rules;

(g) allows an individual’s estate to carry back charitable donations made as a result of the individual’s death;

(h) expands eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment to include water-current energy equipment and a broader range of equipment used to gasify eligible waste fuel;

(i) adjusts Canada’s foreign accrual property income rules in order to address offshore insurance swap transactions and ensure that income from the direct or indirect insurance of Canadian risks is taxed appropriately;

(j) better circumscribes the existing “investment business” definition in the foreign accrual property income regime;

(k) addresses back-to-back loan arrangements involving an intermediary; and

(l) extends the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans to interest paid on a Canada Apprentice Loan.

Part 1 also implements other selected income tax measures. Most notably, it

(a) alleviates the tax cost to Canadian-based banks of using excess liquidity of their foreign affiliates in their Canadian operations;

(b) ensures that certain securities transactions undertaken in the course of a bank’s business of facilitating trades for arm’s length customers are not inappropriately caught by the base erosion rules;

(c) modernizes the life insurance policy exemption test;

(d) amends the foreign affiliate rules to ensure they apply appropriately to structures that include partnerships and makes generally relieving changes to certain of the base erosion rules to ensure they do not apply in unintended circumstances;

(e) amends the rules for determining the residence of international shipping corporations;

(f) provides for the appropriate taxation of taxpayers that invest in Australian trusts;

(g) amends the foreign affiliate dumping rules to ensure the rules apply in appropriate circumstances and, if applicable, provide appropriate results;

(h) excludes from the definition “non-qualifying country” in the foreign affiliate rules those countries or other jurisdictions for which the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is in force and effect;

(i) avoids unintended tax consequences with respect to the British Overseas Territory of the British Virgin Islands;

(j) simplifies the rules for the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit regime;

(k) amends the trust loss restriction event rules to provide relief for investment trusts that meet specific conditions; and

(l) increases the maximum amount that may be claimed under the Children Fitness Tax Credit and makes the credit refundable starting in 2015.

Part 2 implements certain goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures by

(a) ensuring that pooled registered pension plans are subject to similar GST/HST treatment as registered pension plans;

(b) implementing real property technical amendments that provide for the consistent treatment of different types of housing and ensure that the special valuation rule for subsidized housing works properly with the GST/HST place of supply rules and in the context of a GST/HST rate change;

(c) clarifying the application of GST/HST public service body rebates in relation to non-profit organizations that operate certain health care facilities; and

(d) relieving the GST/HST on services of refining precious metals supplied to a non-resident person that is not registered for GST/HST purposes.

Part 3 amends the Excise Act, 2001 to provide a refund of the inventory tax, introduced in the February 11, 2014 budget, on cigarettes that are destroyed or re-worked, in line with the refund of the excise duty that exists for tobacco products that are destroyed or re-worked.

Part 4 enacts and amends several Acts in order to implement various measures.

Division 1 of Part 4 amends the Industrial Design Act to make that Act consistent with the Geneva (1999) Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs and to give the Governor in Council the authority to make regulations for carrying it into effect. The amendments include provisions relating to the contents of an application for the registration of a design, requests for priority, and the term of an exclusive right for a design.

It also amends the Patent Act to, among other things, make that Act consistent with the provisions of the Patent Law Treaty. The amendments include reducing the requirements for obtaining a filing date in relation to an application for a patent, requiring that an applicant be notified of a missed due date before an application is deemed to be abandoned, and providing that a patent may not be invalidated for non-compliance with certain requirements relating to the application on the basis of which the patent was granted.

Division 2 of Part 4 amends the Aeronautics Act to authorize the Minister of Transport to make an order, and the Governor in Council to make regulations, that prohibit the development or expansion of or any change to the operation of an aerodrome. It also amends the Act to authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations in respect of consultations by the proponents and operators of aerodromes.

Division 3 of Part 4 enacts the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act, which establishes a new federal research organization that is to be responsible for advancing knowledge of the Canadian Arctic through scientific investigation and technology, promoting the development and dissemination of knowledge of the other circumpolar regions, strengthening Canada’s leadership on Arctic issues and ensuring a research presence in the Canadian Arctic. It also repeals the Canadian Polar Commission Act and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Division 4 of Part 4 amends section 207 of the Criminal Code to permit charitable or religious organizations to carry out, with the use of a computer, certain operations relating to a provincially-licensed lottery scheme.

Division 5 of Part 4 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to adjust the national standard for eligibility for social assistance to provide that no minimum period of residence is to be required for Canadian citizens, for permanent residents, for victims of human trafficking who hold a temporary resident permit or for protected persons.

Division 6 of Part 4 amends the Radiocommunication Act to:

(a) introduce an administrative monetary penalty regime;

(b) explicitly prohibit jammers, subject to exemptions provided by the Minister of Industry;

(c) provide for the enforcement of rules, standards and procedures established for competitive bidding systems for radio authorizations;

(d) modernize wording relating to the powers of inspectors and the requirements to obtain warrants;

(e) authorize inspectors to request information in writing and to seize non-compliant devices; and

(f) authorize the Minister of Industry to share information with domestic and foreign bodies for the purpose of regulating radiocommunication.

Division 7 of Part 4 amends the Revolving Funds Act to correct an error in the heading before section 4 by replacing the reference to the Minister of Foreign Affairs with a reference to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The amendment is deemed to have come into force on July 2, 2013.

Division 8 of Part 4 amends the Royal Canadian Mint Act to eliminate the anticipation of profit by the Royal Canadian Mint with respect to the provision of goods and services to the Government of Canada.

Division 9 of Part 4 amends the Investment Canada Act to require foreign investors to provide notification whenever they acquire a Canadian business through the realization of security on a loan or other financial assistance, unless another Act applies. It also allows public disclosure of certain information related to the national security review process and makes related amendments to another Act.

Division 10 of Part 4 amends the Broadcasting Act to prohibit a person who carries on a broadcasting undertaking from charging a subscriber for providing the subscriber with a paper bill.

Division 11 of Part 4 amends the Telecommunications Act to provide the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) with the authority to impose certain conditions concerning the offering and provision of services on providers of telecommunications services that are not telecommunications carriers, to prohibit providers of telecommunications services from charging subscribers for the provision of paper bills, to allow for sharing of information between the CRTC and the Competition Bureau, to provide the CRTC with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties for violations of the Telecommunications Act, CRTC decisions and regulations, to provide the Minister of Industry with the authority to establish a registration system and update other processes relating to telecommunications apparatus in order to assess conformity with technical requirements, and to update inspection powers for ensuring compliance with that Act.

Division 12 of Part 4 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to clarify the financial and management services that the Business Development Bank of Canada is authorized to provide, including financial services in respect of enterprises operating outside Canada. It also makes some changes to the governance provisions of that Act.

Division 13 of Part 4 amends the Northwest Territories Act — enacted by section 2 of chapter 2 of the Statutes of Canada, 2014 — to provide that, if the election period for the first general election under that Act would overlap with the election period for a federal general election, then the maximum duration of the first Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories under that Act may be extended until five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs at the last general election under the former Northwest Territories Act (chapter N-27 of the Revised Statutes of Canada).

Division 14 of Part 4 amends the Employment Insurance Act to allow for the refund of a portion of employer premiums paid by small businesses in 2015 and 2016. An employer is eligible for that refund if its premium is $15,000 or less for the year in question.

It also amends that Act to exclude from reconsideration under section 112 of that Act decisions of the Canada Employment Insurance Commission made under the Employment Insurance Regulations respecting the writing off of penalties owing, amounts payable or interest accrued on any penalties owing or amounts payable.

Division 15 of Part 4 amends the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act in order to implement amendments to the dispute resolution mechanism of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement.

Division 16 of Part 4 amends the Canada Marine Act to provide for the power to make regulations with respect to undertakings that are situated in a port. It also authorizes those regulations to incorporate by reference documents, including the laws of a province. Finally, it authorizes port authorities to acquire federal real property or federal immovables and to lease or license any real property or immovable other than federal real property or federal immovables.

Division 17 of Part 4 amends the DNA Identification Act to, among other things,

(a) create new indices in the national DNA data bank that will contain DNA profiles from missing persons, from their relatives and from human remains to assist law enforcement agencies, as well as coroners, medical examiners and persons or organizations with similar duties or functions, to find missing persons and identify human remains;

(b) create a new index that will contain DNA profiles from victims of designated offences to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying persons alleged to have committed designated offences;

(c) create a new index that will contain DNA profiles derived from bodily substances that are voluntarily submitted by individuals to assist in either the investigations of missing persons or designated offences;

(d) establish criteria for adding and retaining DNA profiles in, and removing them from, the new indices, and transferring profiles between indices;

(e) specify which DNA profiles in the existing and new indices will be compared with each other;

(f) specify the purposes for which the Commissioner of the RCMP may communicate the results of comparisons of DNA profiles and the purposes for which that information may be subsequently communicated; and

(g) specify the uses to which the results of comparisons of DNA profiles may be put.

It also makes consequential amendments to the Access to Information Act and the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

Division 18 of Part 4 amends the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to provide that certain foreign entities that are engaged in the money-services business are included in the definition “foreign entity”.

Division 19 of Part 4 amends the Department of Employment and Social Development Act to eliminate the limit on the number of full-time and part-time members of the Social Security Tribunal.

Division 20 of Part 4 amends the Public Health Agency of Canada Act to create a new position of President as deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Canada, thereby separating the responsibilities of the Chief Public Health Officer from those of the deputy head of the Agency.

Division 21 of Part 4 amends the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 in order to provide that certain provisions of Division 8 of Part 3 of that Act apply to any corporation resulting from an amalgamation referred to in that Division, and to provide that certain provisions of the Blue Water Bridge Authority Act continue to apply to the Blue Water Bridge Authority after its continuance.

Division 22 of Part 4 amends several Acts to discontinue supervision of provincial central cooperative credit societies by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, to eliminate tools for federal intervention in relation to those centrals and to provincial local cooperative credit societies, and to facilitate the entry of provincial cooperative credit societies into the federal credit union system by simplifying the process for continuation and amalgamation that applies to them.

Division 23 of Part 4 amends the Financial Administration Act to authorize Her Majesty in right of Canada to neither pay nor collect low-value amounts, except amounts owed by Crown corporations to persons other than Her Majesty in right of Canada, amounts payable to Crown corporations by such persons, amounts payable under the Air Travellers Security Charge Act, the Excise Act, 2001, the Excise Tax Act, the Income Tax Act or the Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006, and amounts related to the public debt or to interest on the public debt. It also provides Treasury Board with the authority to make regulations to set a low-value threshold, to specify circumstances for the accumulation of amounts and to exclude amounts, as well as regulations generally respecting the operation of the authority to neither pay nor collect low-value amounts.

Division 24 of Part 4 amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to, among other things,

(a) replace references to an opinion provided by the Department of Employment and Social Development, with respect to an application for a work permit, with references to an “assessment”;

(b) authorize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Employment and Social Development to publish on a list the name and address of an employer who, among other things, has been convicted of certain offences; and

(c) authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations

(i) regarding the publication and removal of the names and addresses of employers,

(ii) regarding the power to require documents from any individual or entity for inspection in order to verify compliance with regulatory conditions,

(iii) requiring an employer to provide prescribed information in relation to a foreign national’s authorization to work in Canada for the employer,

(iv) governing fees to be paid for rights and privileges in relation to an assessment provided by the Department of Employment and Social Development with respect to an application for a work permit,

(v) governing fees to be paid in respect of the compliance regime that applies to employers in relation to their employment of certain foreign nationals,

(vi) regarding the collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal of Social Insurance Numbers, and

(vii) regarding the disclosure of information for the purposes of cooperation between the Government of Canada and the government of a province.

Division 25 of Part 4 amends the Judges Act and the Federal Courts Act to implement the Government’s Response to the Report of the Special Advisor on Federal Court Prothonotaries’ Compensation with respect to the salary and benefits of the prothonotaries of the Federal Court.

Division 26 of Part 4 amends the Canadian Payments Act to make changes to the governance structure of the Canadian Payments Association and to add new obligations in respect of accountability, including by

(a) changing the composition of the Board of the Directors of the Association and the procedures for selecting the directors of the Board;

(b) establishing a Member Advisory Council;

(c) expanding the power of the Minister of Finance to issue directives to the Association; and

(d) adding new obligations in respect of the preparation of annual reports and corporate plans.

Division 27 of Part 4 amends the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act to expand and enhance the oversight powers of the Bank of Canada with respect to systems for the clearing and settlement of payment obligations and other financial transactions, so that the Bank is better able to identify risks related to financial market infrastructure and to respond in a timely and proactive manner. It also makes minor consequential amendments to other Acts.

Division 28 of Part 4 enacts the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act in order to impose the following obligations on entities that are engaged in the commercial development of oil, gas or minerals for the purpose of implementing Canada’s international commitments in the fight against corruption:

(a) the obligation to report to the responsible Minister certain payments made to payees; and

(b) the obligation to make reported information accessible to the public.

For the purpose of verifying compliance, the Act provides for an inspection regime and gives a power to the responsible Minister to require an entity to provide certain information. Finally, the Act provides for certain offences relating to the obligations under the Act.

Division 29 of Part 4 amends the Jobs and Economic Growth Act to provide that Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Ltd. (CNL) is an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada, effective as of the date of CNL’s incorporation, and to provide that CNL will cease to be an agent on the day on which Atomic Energy of Canada Limited disposes of CNL’s shares. The Division also amends that Act to provide that the Public Service Superannuation Act will apply for a transitional period of three years to persons who are employees of CNL on that day.

Division 30 of Part 4 repeals a provision of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 that amended a provision of the Public Service Labour Relations Act. It also amends provisions of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 that amended the Public Service Employment Act in respect of the staffing complaint process.

It also makes a technical correction to a coordinating amendment in the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2.

Division 31 of Part 4 transfers the pensionable service that is to the credit of certain Royal Canadian Mounted Police pension contributors under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act to the Public Service Superannuation Act and deems those contributors to be Group 1 contributors under the Public Service Superannuation Act. It also amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act to repeal provisions relating to members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police not holding a rank.

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

Dec. 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Dec. 10, 2014 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, because it: ( a) amends dozens of unrelated Acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight; ( b) fails to take meaningful action to create jobs and address weak economic growth; ( c) seeks to restrict refugee claimants’ access to social assistance, despite no demonstrated fiscal need or request from provinces for such measures; ( d) introduces patent law changes which could lead to costly litigation against the government; ( e) implements a job credit whose job impacts have not been analyzed by the government itself, and which will deplete a significant sum from the Employment Insurance fund; and ( f) breaks the government’s promises to protect small businesses from merchant fees and to ban banks from charging pay-to-pay fees.”.
Dec. 8, 2014 Passed That Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Dec. 8, 2014 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 225.
Dec. 8, 2014 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 172.
Dec. 4, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Nov. 3, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
Nov. 3, 2014 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, because it: ( a) amends dozens of unrelated Acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight; ( b) fails to address persistent unemployment and sluggish economic growth; ( c) aims to strip refugee claimants of access to social assistance to meet their basic needs; ( d) imposes a poorly designed job credit that will create few, if any, jobs while depleting Employment Insurance Funds; and ( e) breaks the government’s promises to protect small businesses from merchant fees and to ban banks from charging pay-to-pay fees.”.
Oct. 30, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, not more than three further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to oppose the main motion at report stage of Bill C-43, which purports to be a budget implementation bill, but we know that it is anything but.

As is the habit of my colleagues across the way since they have been in government, they bring forward omnibus bills. Buried in those bills are usually totally unrelated matters, unrelated pieces of legislation. Later on, if we oppose a few of those measures, we end up having to vote against the whole piece of legislation. Then the Conservatives get to stand up and say “Gotcha”. Well, “gotcha” does not work in this case.

Since being elected with a majority, the Conservatives have moved 2,190 pages of omnibus bills. In all that time, they have accepted one amendment from the opposition, which by the way was a very technical tax amendment to Bill C-31, in 2014, put forward by the NDP.

Among all those pages, 2,190 pages, are buried changes to the temporary foreign worker program and EI access. Just name it; it is all in there. There are also many changes to environmental issues, to airports, and all kinds of things I could list for hours, but I do not have the time.

What it points to is a government that absolutely has very little respect for parliamentary democracy. If it did, it would bring in pieces of legislation it was proud of. It would put them here, and it would let us debate them. Not only that, but once the government brings in omnibus bills, what does it do? It moves time allocation and does all kinds of other things to end debate.

We are not the only ones saying that. Conservative commentator Andrew Coyne, in the National Post, on April 30, 2012, wrote, on omnibus budget bills:

Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention — shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable within a money bill, which is not — it makes it impossible to know what Parliament really intended by any of it. 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 not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet....

...there is something quite alarming about Parliament being obliged to rubber-stamp the government’s whole legislative agenda at one go.

That is where disrespect for our parliamentary democracy comes in.

I want to remind us all that in 1995, the Prime Minister, when he was in opposition, had this to say:

....in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse?

I am standing here asking myself and my colleagues across the way that same question: How can we represent our constituents and fully debate and then vote on disparate matters, instead of being forced to vote on these huge omnibus bills?

Buried in this bill is the temporary foreign worker program, which is broken. I think everyone has admitted to that. Instead of fixing it piecemeal, when the government is caught, usually by the media or the opposition, what it does is tweak it a little bit more. There is another tweak in this bill. It talks about enforcement. First of all, it is a shocker that enforcement was not in place. Second, what will this enforcement look like? We are being told it is going to be mainly administrative, on paper.

I have little confidence that the government will be able to deliver what is promised in this bill, because at the same time that it has made cuts to Service Canada, there is more work being assigned in that area. Where are the resources?

It is easy to stand here and speak against what we do not like, but let me tell members what I would like to have seen in this budget bill.

I would like to have seen a pan-Canadian child care program that would ensure families had access to regulated, quality child care spaces for less than $15 a day. That is the kind of vision people are looking for from their government, because from coast to coast to coast we are hearing from families who are struggling to find child care spaces, and those who can find them discover that the costs are a burden. Some costs are as high as $2,000 a month. For most families, that is just not doable. That is the kind of program I would liked to have seen in the budget, instead of all these announcements about providing an extra $60 a month. An extra $60 a month does not even buy a day's worth of child care, nor does it help to create additional child care spaces, so there once again we have smoke and mirrors from my colleagues across the way.

I would also like to have seen a real plan in this budget to address the very high youth unemployment. I am sure members have heard from young people who have finished university, have left after high school, or have gone into other kinds of post-secondary education that they cannot find jobs once they graduate, yet some of the jobs that they could get into are being filled by temporary foreign workers. It should be a major concern to every parliamentarian when the youth unemployment rate in some of our cities is at double digits and in the high teens. That is a major concern, and I do not see an action plan or a commitment in this budget to address that issue head-on and in a serious way.

We have recently heard that young people who want to get a job after graduating and who have a huge student debt should find volunteer work and work for nothing. Not everyone can do that. That is one of the other areas I hoped we would see our government address, but once again it receives a failing grade. In this legislation it has failed to crack down on the abuse of unpaid internships to ensure that young people are paid for the work that they perform.

We all know the difference between volunteering and unpaid internships. We are talking here about unpaid internships. There may be the distant hope of a job, yet some young people are working full time without any pay. At another time in our history, we had words for that kind of labour. We should really be addressing that situation, because young people are facing major challenges.

The other provision I would have liked to have seen in this legislation is a relaxation around some of the barriers that the government has put forward to restrict access to employment insurance by the unemployed. People pay into it, and they need to access it when they are unemployed. However, we now see that the access rate has gone down incredibly for many of the unemployed in Canada. Many of them feel duped by their government, and there is nothing in this legislation to say that future Conservative or Liberal governments would not take money out of that fund that workers and employers have paid for and use it for other nefarious activities that they want to conduct.

I would say that this budget fails Canadians.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 5 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-43, the second budget implementation act.

I would like to start by thanking my colleagues on the finance committee from all the parties. It has been what I would call, at best, a hectic fall with the committee actually working on not only the budget implementation act but also a fairly aggressive schedule with respect to the pre-budget consultations. Some of those things have wrapped up in the last week and some will be wrapping up this week, and so I do want to thank them for that.

I also want to thank our great chair, the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc, who does such a great job in chairing that committee. He is very fair-handed and he works very well with all his colleagues.

I would like to talk about three or four provisions of the bill and then, in whatever time I have left, I would like to spend some time countering some of the things I have heard in debate today and try to give some assurance to people about the objectives that would be accomplished.

The first thing I would like to talk about is the extension to apprenticeship loans of the tax credit for interest paid on student loans.

As we know, with apprentices, about 80% to 85% of their training is called “on-the-job training”. Somewhere in the order of 26,000 people would benefit each year from the provisions in this agreement. That is important because when we look at the study we did on youth unemployment in Canada, it is a little over 14.2% right at this point in time, which is not as high as it has been in the past, but youth employment has been a stubborn issue for successive governments over the past number of decades.

One of the things we saw in the study done in 2013 is that 50% of students, if they had the choice, would actually want to go to university and only 20% would actually want to pursue a trade. That is unfortunate because there are incredible industrial and manufacturing opportunities available for our young apprentices and tradespeople.

This is one of these efforts, with the expansion of the loans and the interest to apprentices in the trades, that would create more interest for people to go into the trades.

The second thing I would like to talk about is clean energy generation. Part of the bill would also include the expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation that would expanded to water current energy and to equipment that would gasify eligible waste fuel.

Earlier this morning, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley said there is nothing in here on the energy, the environment, or anything like that. When we encourage companies with an accelerated capital cost allowance to actually invest in this type of equipment, that feeds all the way up the pipeline, in terms of the R and D in the sector, as well, because more of these types of energy generation that are being supported through aggressive capital cost allowance would also provide the opportunity for that to happen, as well.

I also want to talk briefly about the small business job credit, about which there has been a lot of discussion today.

The reality is that $550 million would go back to small businesses. I was in committee and heard the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, but at the end of the day, CFIB is the leading spokesman for small business in Canada, and it said this would create not only 25,000 person years of employment but also additional training to help small businesses grow their businesses.

When we look at New Brunswick where probably 80% or more of the businesses have fewer than 10 employees, we see we are talking about a significant number of our small businesses that would be able to take advantage of that. I know my New Brunswick colleagues, including the member for Saint John, would really be happy to hear that.

The last issue I want to talk about is the credit unions and the point that was brought up previously.

I believe we have somewhere around 300 credit unions actually in Atlantic Canada, and the credit union movement is very strong in terms of loans to the agricultural sector and to small business in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well. The ability for these credit unions to go beyond their provincial scope and to come under federal regulation is important, and this would allow them the tools to do that.

We did have representatives from the credit unions actually come to committee. They said one of their major concerns was not necessarily the legislation but ensuring that the phasing in and coming into force of it was stretched out over a period of two years, because that would allow them at least the opportunity to engage with the department and make sure there were no unintended consequences to this. I think it was a very fair proposal they made.

Now I would like to go back to a few things I heard earlier today that are important to get back to. The member for Victoria talked about tax evasion. Some of the aspects of the budget continue to close loopholes and other tax-related things.

It is also important to talk about the number of auditors. There has already been an increase of about 750 auditors at CRA. CRA is realigning its operations because we are trying to actually collect more taxes. In fact, up to March 31, 2014, the CRA audited 8,602 international tax cases, identifying over $5.6 billion in additional taxes that are being collected. In addition to that, we continue aggressive action on the file with respect to tax treaty networks and developing those, as well as tax exchange agreements. Those are all very important aspects in saying that our government is very much on the job when it comes to tax evasion.

The next piece I would like to talk about a bit is the Public Health Agency of Canada and some of the changes in the bill. I heard a lot of talk this morning that the chief public health officer in some way would be neutered by this change. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when we look at the comments that were made, we see that the Public Health Agency of Canada now has somewhere around 2,000 employees and a budget of some $600 million.

The chief public health officer, Mr. Taylor, provided us with his comments. Mr. Taylor has done a fine job as a chief public health officer. In fact, the legislation we are proposing today is codifying what the agency has been doing since 2012. It makes sense to have an administrative arm and a deputy minister level to be looking after the administrative side. Mr. Taylor very clearly said he did feel his role to talk about health issues to Canadians; and his mandatory requirement to report to Parliament is still very much in place.

We had comments to that effect from some of our witnesses who also came to committee. A couple of witnesses did express concern, Mr. Culbert and Mr. Hoffman. When the chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc asked some very pointed questions with respect to the actual legislation, asking if they saw any portion of the legislation that would prevent the public health officer from actually reporting, they said they did not think so, but they were not sure.

I rely on the testimony of Mr. Taylor very much, because he is the one who has operated in this environment in the last couple of years and he is the one who actually knows how this would work because he has seen it actually work for the past couple of years.

Those are very important changes, and it is very important that we continue on because it is very important, too, as part of a budget bill to ensure that a $600 million agency each year is properly administered. We do not want a distraction between the administration of the affairs of that public health agency and the important role the chief public health officer plays.

There are tremendous benefits in the budget implementation act, Bill C-43. There are some very important administrative and legislative changes being proposed in the bill. Even though there were some amendments proposed at committee, certainly all they would have done was take away from the good things that would be done.

There is strong effort on the tax credits for the interest paid for apprentices. It is an awesome thing to get more people involved in apprenticeship. Also, clean energy generation and some of the great things in part 4 would move us forward on continued economic growth in Canada.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure today of rising to speak to Bill C-43.

It should come as no surprise to anybody that the New Democrats are going to oppose this legislation, and I am going to explain why we oppose it. I am going to provide some reasons to explain why we are going to oppose it.

One of the many reasons is that the Conservatives have used an anti-democratic process to force legislation through Parliament. They have used this trick over and over again. When they have a bill that they know will not pass on its own, they put it into an omnibus budget bill. Even though it has absolutely nothing to do with budget issues, they put it in an omnibus bill and get it passed that way.

My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved several amendments that would have improved the bill. They would not have made it perfect, but they certainly would have improved it. I want to go over some of the amendments that were suggested.

The first one was as follows:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following:

this House decline to give second reading to Bill C-43, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, because it:

a) amends dozens of unrelated Acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight...

As I mentioned a while ago, the Conservatives shoved a lot of bills that they knew would not pass on their own into this omnibus bill.

The amendment goes on to say:

b) fails to address persistent unemployment and sluggish economic growth;

c) aims to strip refugee claimants of access to social assistance to meet their basic needs;

d) imposes a poorly designed job credit that will create few, if any, jobs while depleting Employment Insurance funds...

Depleting the employment insurance fund we have seen before. The Liberals took $50 billion out of the employment insurance fund, and the Conservatives rubber-stamped that—I do not want to use the word “theft”—money that they took from the employment insurance fund and put it in general accounts. That was a Liberal move that was rubber-stamped by the Conservatives.

The amendment further states:

e) breaks the government's promises to protect small businesses from merchant fees and to ban banks from charging pay-to-pay fees.

Previously, small businesses could use a tax credit to hire more employees to create employment. As we know, it is the small businesses that create employment in this country. It is not the big businesses but the small ones, the mom-and-pop businesses, that are very important.

With regard to pay-to-pay fees, the Conservatives like to cut public service jobs by forcing Canadians to pay their bills by computer, but as we know, a lot of seniors in Canada do not know how or do not want to use computers and are forced to pay these pay-to-pay fees in order to pay their everyday bills.

Bill C-43 is another omnibus budget bill designed to ram through hundreds of changes with little study and no oversight. The Conservatives used time allocation over and over again. I am not sure what number we are up to, but it is certainly 75 to 80 times that they have used that process. The bill is over 450 pages, has more than 400 clauses, amends dozens of acts, and includes a variety of measures never mentioned in the budget speech.

Bill C-43 is an outright attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, refugee claimants being one, and the implementation of a hiring credit has already been panned by experts and the Parliamentary Budget Officer as wasteful and extraordinarily expensive. Their way of creating jobs is to spend lots of money. They accuse the opposition party of being spenders, but if we look at their track record, it is not very impressive.

There is nothing in this bill to get the almost 300,000 more unemployed Canadians than before the recession back to work or to help replace the 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost under the Prime Minister's watch.

I would like to go back to pay-to-pay fees. This is one of the things in the bill that we support. We are happy to see the Conservatives finally adopt an NDP proposal—I repeat, an NDP proposal—to end pay-to-pay billing. It was a private member's bill that my colleague from Sudbury introduced, and the people of Sudbury should be very happy to be represented by such a good MP.

Canadians should not be forced to pay these bills. Unfortunately, Bill C-43 would only ban pay-to-pay for telecom and broadcasting companies. It fails to live up to a promise that the Conservatives made to end the unfair gouging by banks.

A lot of companies use pay-to-pay fees. It is not only the telecommunications companies. It is Ontario hydro, Hydro-Québec, credit card companies, and a lot of the major companies. A lot of the major companies are using this pay-to-pay fee and making Canadians pay to pay their bills.

The other thing in this bill is about credit unions. Being a former member of the Caisse populaire Vermillon in Chelmsford, Espanola, and Dowling, I know that the credit unions and caisses populaires are very important to Canadians. However, with Bill C-43 the Conservatives are changing the regulatory landscape for credit unions without their input, so again the Conservatives have decided on their own, without speaking to credit union operators, managers, or the people who run credit unions. They did not have an input into what the Conservatives decided to do. The exact impact of those changes is not yet known, but we know they are going to adversely affect the credit unions and caisses populaires.

This is almost like the changes that the Conservatives made in the 2013 budget, which unfairly hiked taxes on credit unions. I happened to have a meeting with the caisse populaire from Verner. The manager was in my office, along with some other people from the caisse populaire. They were very concerned about the effects that this bill would have on the credit unions.

What we would like to see is action to implement a pan-Canadian child care program that would ensure that families have access to quality child care spaces for less than $15. This would grow our economy, help women enter the workforce, and help families to make ends meet. In today's economy, it is very difficult to raise a family on one income, and that is because of some of the laws that have been passed by the Conservative government. If we were able to organize it as Quebec has done and help families with daycare, it would certainly go a long way toward strengthening our workforce.

I want to jump a few pages and name some people and businesses who are validating our position.

Mike Moffatt, from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, 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.

Paul Wells, from Maclean's magazine, said:

...by the broadest measure of expenditure on research and development, Canada has fallen from 16th out of 41 comparable countries....

That is not very impressive.

Here is one from conservative commentator Andrew Coyne. Of the omnibus budget bill, he wrote:

Not only does this make a mockery of the confidence convention, shielding bills that would otherwise be defeatable within a money bill, which is not...

This brings me to the point I mentioned previously, that the Conservatives have put a lot of sections in this bill that are not related to money.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this very important legislation. Before I begin, I would like to indicate that a few members of the House were part of the cohort of 2009 that was elected. Not too long before today was the fourth anniversary. I believe a few of them are here, so I wish to congratulate the member for Winnipeg North and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

Bill C-43 is at an important stage where we will soon see it come into law. The legislation builds on the very strong foundation that has been laid this year and over the past almost nine years. We are continuing on a portfolio of initiatives that have been introduced, such as affordable measures to create jobs, promote growth and support long-term prosperity. This key strategy is working. It is creating jobs, it is keeping the economy growing and, perhaps most important now that our economy is going in the right direction, we are returning to a balanced budget in 2015.

Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession of 2008, we have created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of that recession. When I say “we”, I mean the private sector. The government can only help the economy, but it is the businesses that are the employers. Thankfully, due to all those hard-working entrepreneurs, we have one of the strongest job creation records in the entire G7 during that period.

I would like to highlight some of the outcomes of our economic action plan. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are in fact the lowest in the G7, at 46% lower than those in the United States of America. Let us not forget that we are starting to see some large American corporations choose to do business in Canada and, quite frankly, I support that. Even if it is not necessarily a burger of choice of mine, I will still buy that product.

What is more, Canada leapt from sixth place to second place in Bloomberg's rankings of the most attractive destination for business. Both the IMF and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next. For the seventh year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system the world's soundest. It is true that it is very conservative, and during the boom times of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, perhaps it did not lend out as much money as some other countries, but that policy sure kept it in good stead when 2008 hit.

All the major credit rating agencies accord Canada a top AAA rating with a stable outlook, a rating shared by very few countries. A recent New York Times study found that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in the year 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact is that the Canadian middle class is among the wealthiest in the developed world.

The federal tax burden is at its lowest in over 50 years. Remember that we have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. The average family of four saves nearly $3,400 this year. A small business earning $500,000 now saves over $28,000 in corporate taxes thanks to our low tax philosophy. It is clear that Canada has become an international success story.

However, Canada is still not immune to the global economic challenges beyond our border. Our government has been adamant that as long as Canadians are still looking for jobs, our work is not done.

With that, let me highlight three measures that are helping small businesses as well as ensuring Canadians are first in line for new jobs.

Bill C-43 would implement our recently announced small business job credit, which would save small employers more than $550 million over 2015 and 2016. It would also lower EI payroll taxes by 15%. This is real money that a small business can use to help defray the cost of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, supporting growth and job creation.

That is not all. The legislation builds on our support for small businesses and entrepreneurs by reducing barriers to the international and domestic flow of goods and services. This measure will promote job creation and improve the conditions for business investment.

I am very proud of our government's achievements as it works to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

Economic action plan 2014 includes training for students and focuses federal investments in youth employment in high demand fields. It also supports young entrepreneurs through mentoring. Students participating in Canada's education system are the largest source of new workers. Providing them with the right skills is essential to furthering the country's economic prospects.

In 2011-12, more than half a million Canadians received direct financial support from the Canada student loans program to help them pursue their post-secondary education. Over $2.4 billion in loans were provided and over 336,000 students obtained a total of $640 million in Canada student grants.

In my role as chair of the post-secondary caucus for our government, I have met with many student groups and all of them have universally said that this program is far superior to the millennium scholarship fund.

Canada places at the top of the OECD rankings in terms of post-secondary educational payment, thanks in part to these federal supports for students. However, more can be done to ensure young Canadians receive the training they need to realize their full potential.

That is why we have not only reached out to students in a broad, general way, but we have also helped other organizations that are focused on first nations and aboriginal learners. I would like to highlight Indspire, a wonderful program that is led by Roberta Jamieson, and you know her quite well, Mr. Speaker. This program has succeeded where government has not in the past. By helping this organization fund more students, we are seeing more first nation learners than ever before. I would like to again congratulate her for all the work she has done over the years and I look forward to seeing this program continue to receive funding.

The government invests over $330 million annually in programming for youth through the youth employment strategy, which provides skills development and work experience for youth at risk, summer students and recent post-secondary graduates.

Economic action plan 2014 announced that our government would improve the youth employment strategy to align it with the evolving realities of the job market. This process would also ensure federal investments in youth employment, providing young Canadians with real life work experience in high demand fields such as science, technology, energy, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.

Although Canada boasts high levels of post-secondary achievement, the transition to a first job can be very challenging. Youth graduates often lack opportunities to gain the workplace experience and skills necessary to find and retain jobs. In addition, too many Canadian graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed, while employers are searching for workers.

Recognizing these challenges, our government proposes to strengthen youth programming by dedicating $40 million toward supporting up to 3,000 full-time internships for post-secondary graduates in high demand fields in 2014 and 2015-16.

This has also in part been inspired by some of the work that has been done over the years by the Mitacs organization, which has helped deliver internships for science post-grads and post-grad engineers into the technology sector, and that has been very successful.

We have been supportive of not only the private sector in helping it employ more individuals, but bringing students into the private sector so they can gain that world experience they need to further their career, and also essentially become an important contributor to our economy and help pay the taxes that support all the programs that benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I look forward to any questions my colleagues might have.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the focus continues to be very much more on those who have a lot. When we talk about the TFSAs and the possibility of doubling them, or whatever it is, that really helps an awful lot of people who have money. It does not help the people who do not have the money to put away. We do not find 35-year-olds having a whole lot of money to put into TFSAs because most of them are trying to balance their families.

Having fully refundable tax credits, no matter what it is, then maybe we really are helping those in the middle class. However, to bring in things like income splitting would only help those in the upper levels.

Again, it is very reflective of the government. The people in the lower levels who are struggling, where the mother and father are both working and kids are in daycare, if they have them. Many of those kids end up at home by themselves with no one to look after them. They are struggling to pay the mortgage and put bread on the table.

There is nothing in Bill C-43 at all that would help those families. When they sit around the kitchen table tonight, they will not to say that Bill C-43 is wonderful, that budget will help them in all kinds of ways. No, they will wonder how they will get through to the weekend. That is the reality.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few words to this important debate on a 460-page omnibus bill.

Before I make my comments, I would like to wish everyone, including my colleagues, my constituents at home, and those watching, a merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope 2015 is a great year for everyone.

I am pleased to be able to speak to Bill C-43, as much as I am frustrated with the 460-page document that I am willing to bet very few in the House have gone through. I know that we certainly attempted to, but no matter how hard one tries, it still is such a large document with so many different things in it, everything but the kitchen sink, as with previous omnibus bills.

We will find out later, after things are passed without sufficient scrutiny, that there will be a variety of mistakes and that corrections will have to be made. There will be some pretty poor pieces of legislation as a result of this omnibus bill. That is going to land at the feet of the government. Certainly the opposition points pieces out, but the government does not choose to listen. It will have to deal with those things when people raise them, and there will be no justification to argue back.

In the simplest of terms, I oppose Bill C-43 because it implements a budget that fails to address the real challenges that each and every one of us here faces every day and every weekend we are in our ridings.

Worse yet, the government is abusing the very process for the budget by again tabling an omnibus bill, and then limiting debate and study. It will go through it in a short period of time. It is 460 pages, and it is a joke to think that anyone will get the time to really go through and examine it. The government has also limited the amount of time we can challenge it and give it an opportunity to improve the bill. The government is continuing its same reckless pattern since coming to power. It pursues a reckless and very anti-democratic course.

From my own perspective and that of my party, I will not be supporting Bill C-43. My opposition to Bill C-43 is not just rooted in the government's failure to understand or respect our democratic institution, which it clearly does not, but also in my much deeper concerns with it.

Bill C-43 is clearly the product of a tired, old government that has lost touch with Canadians, or least Canadians outside of the corporate boardrooms of the nation. Sadly, the Prime Minister has forgotten what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. He has forgotten what it is like to make financial choices based on how to stretch a dollar a little further. He has forgotten how hard it is out there for the blue collar crowd sitting around their kitchen tables, figuring out how they are going to make ends meet.

The Prime Minister is the sixth highest paid world leader, and he has a strong and stable retirement income waiting for him. It is too bad that most Canadians do not have a chance to have even half of that.

This Prime Minister's ambivalence to the middle class struggles was clear when he attacked income trusts and slashed the OAS, making people wait until the age of 67 for eligibility. I do not know about their ridings, but certainly in my riding I have people in their mid-50s coming in who have worked in construction, mining, and other hard labour jobs and who cannot make it to 65, never mind 67. This is only going to make it that much worse.

One needs to look no further than the government's reliance on measures such as TFSAs and non-refundable tax credits to see that this is a philosophy premised on giving people with extra money the ability to put it away at a higher rate of return. For people who do not have extra cash to invest, Budget 2014 offers nothing.

It offers less than nothing actually, because the government continues to chip away at the federal government's fiscal capacity, which hinders our ability to help those who need help the most. Maybe that is the Conservatives' objective, to squander every cent of money left so that if we are given an opportunity to form government, we will have a really hard time when the money has all been spent and we are running into more debt. Maybe that is the goal here.

In the context of Bill C-43, the question remains, what about those without extra money to invest? What about seniors, students, and working families who have too much debt at the end of the month and not enough money? Again, why has the Prime Minister turned his back on struggling Canadians?

The middle class is working harder under the current government and working families are falling further behind. This year's budget would do nothing to address the very real challenges facing the middle class.

The real problem with Bill C-43 is the missed opportunities with things the government could have done with a good surplus, the things it could have invested in that really would have helped the average Canadian have an easier life.

We Liberals believe that the government must not only create the right conditions for economic growth, but also ensure that growth is sustainable and would finally help middle-class families. This would require investments in infrastructure, training, innovation, and in expanding trade, as well as competitive tax rates. It is not only about taxation. It is about investing in our universities and our colleges, investing in the entrepreneurial hubs we have across the country that are looking for support, for new ideas.

However, instead of creating real jobs and growth, Bill C-43, would encourage businesses to stay small and would actually punish them if they grow. It would actually create an incentive for some businesses to fire workers, as ridiculous as that sounds.

The PBO, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, says that the EI tax credit in Bill C-43 would only create 800 jobs over the next two years, and big thing is that it would cost $700,000 per job.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer is an independent officer of Parliament. He does not belong to any party. He does not belong to the government or the opposition. He is an independent officer who is there to examine all of these things. Therefore, his analysis and his figures need to be paid attention to.

The Liberal plan for an EI holiday on new hires would actually reward businesses that create jobs. It has been applauded by job creators like Restaurants Canada, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Then, again, Budget 2014 is certainly not a budget in the traditional form. Bill C-43 is full of changes that do not belong in a budget bill, such as a mean-spirited rule change that would help deny social assistance to refugee claimants.

Bill C-43 would also add GST and HST to various services provided by non-profit health care facilities, such as residential services at old age homes. This would, again, punish Canadian seniors who are already struggling to get by on a fixed income.

This is another example of a government bent on attacking the most vulnerable, and Conservative closure tactics are preventing those of us who actually care about middle-class Canadians from offering any level of protection.

At 460 pages, with over 400 separate clauses amending countless different laws, Bill C-43 represents nothing short of a clear abuse of powers. It will be years before we find out the impact of many of those clauses, no matter how much time is spent on them.

It is anti-democratic for the Conservatives to use an omnibus budget bill to limit debate and ram so many unrelated measures through Parliament. It prevents MPs from properly scrutinizing the legislation. It is called a budget bill, and it is anything but a budget bill. It begs the question: what are the Conservatives so afraid of?

I think we all know the answer to that question. The current government is afraid that middle-class Canadians will see the reckless and mean-spirited actions of the government.

However, in addition to the tone and abuse of power problems underscored by Bill C-43, it cannot go unnoticed that Bill C-43 is just poorly written legislation. I continue to be shocked by the level of incompetence demonstrated by the government on such fundamental items as the laws of the country. Certainly, I have long questioned the government's general compassion and fiscal competence, but I would have expected some level of proficiency in preparing legislation.

I am thankful for the opportunity to offer my comments and my disappointment that the government continues to put forward omnibus budget bills that are clearly meant to put everything but the kitchen sink through and which reflect little of what Canadians really need.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to debate Bill C-43. I will quickly go over the process that has gotten us to this point.

The budget is typically delivered in the spring, and then there are two budget implementation bills, one in the spring and one in the fall. I will read a quote that is actually attributed to a gentleman named Jacob Lew, who said, “The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations”. When we look at this budget, we are really looking at the values and aspirations we as a government have put forward.

It was actually February 11 when our colleague, Jim Flaherty, stood in the House as the finance minister to deliver the budget. He typically liked to joke about his diminutive stature, but we all appreciated and admired the twinkle in his eye. He was anything but small in both his heart and his influence on the direction of Canada.

I am going to frame some of the words he said in introducing the budget in 2014. It was only two short months later that we sat in the House stunned as we heard of his very sudden passing. All of us came together and grieved that day.

His opening comments back then were as follows:

Mr. Speaker, nearly 150 years ago, Canada was founded with fiscal responsibility as its cornerstone. The men and women who carved this great country out of the wilderness simply called it “good government.”

That’s what Minister of Finance John Rose was talking about when he stood before this assembly to deliver Canada’s first budget speech in 1868. He said, “I say that we ought to be most careful in our outlay, and consider well every shilling we expend.”

Now, that’s just old-fashioned English for old-fashioned common sense. And it is that solid, Canadian common sense that has guided our Government through good times and bad.

He then went on to say:

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2014.

This prudent plan builds on our record of strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. It is a low-tax plan to promote jobs and economic growth and support Canadian families. And it is a common sense plan that will see Canada return to a balanced budget in 2015.

Those were the words that framed the legislation we are talking about.

I now want to look at budget implementation act 2. I often hear the NDP go on about the bill being 400 pages. I would first suggest that it is not really the number of pages that matter. It is the content and what the budget is going to achieve that is important. If New Democrats are really struggling through the 450 pages, I will direct them to the legislative summary, which is about four or five pages. New Democrats often talk about hidden things in the bill, but it is very easy for the NDP or any Canadian to go to the legislative summary. It clearly articulates what is in the bill in a few short pages. Then if there is something that tweaks their interest, they can go to the budget itself.

If we look at the structure, Part 1 deals with implementing income tax measures. Now I am going to have a bit of a micro conversation. Then I will go back to the broader picture of what we are trying to achieve.

Part 1 in this bill has a whole host of income tax measures. Sometimes it is the small things that make a big difference in people's lives. For example, the move that is going to extend the tax deferral for breeding animals to bees might not sound like a big measure, but for beekeepers, that is an extremely important measure.

Throughout Part 1, there are a number of income tax measures. Another piece that perhaps people have not picked up on is the accelerated capital cost allowance for our green energy sector. It is a bit of a boost to help the green energy sector get going.

We then move into Part 2, which implements goods and harmonized sales tax measures, which again is clearly an important piece of what we do.

Part 3 amends the Excise Act. Again, I welcome the New Democrats, if they are struggling with the 458 pages, to go to the legislative summary. It is very clear what the budget is trying to accomplish.

Part 4 looks at a number of different acts in order to implement various measures. I have to go back to the words of Lew. The budget is not just about numbers; it is about the aspirations and goals of the government.

What are some of the goals of our government? In good times, with Minister Flaherty, we paid down the debt and set ourselves up and were in a great position. Of course, in 2008, the global recession hit us and hit us hard. However, we were in a good position, and we had a plan. We have seen that plan go from economic action plan 2006 right through to 2014 with the plan that was recently introduced.

What is our plan? All these measures in this budget look at focusing and supporting our movement. When in 2008 we knew we were going to have some extraordinary challenges, we decided we would put stimulus into the economy. I know that the opposition members kept saying that we needed to put more in, and now they say that we incurred that. In actual fact, we found the right balance. We managed to get extraordinary stimulus out the door. It saw us through that very challenging time. Coming out of the recession earlier than many, we have looked at some of the best job growth among the G7. We are at over 1.2 million net new jobs now. It was a global recession. I remember many countries being very concerned. We all remember Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain and the significant challenges they were facing. However, we had a plan, we were in a good position going in, and we came out.

We were particularly proud, with the delivery of economic action plan 2014, to say, just as we told Canadians, that we were going to be back to balanced budgets. We said that, unfortunately and with concern, we were going to spend some extra money for stimulus, but we made a commitment to Canadians that we would get back to balanced budgets, and indeed that is what we have done. Getting back to a balanced budget was certainly one of the significant priorities.

The other area I would call a pillar was supporting jobs and growth. We have to have an environment in which we are supporting jobs and growth. This again does exactly that with items such as the small-business job credit. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses, has said that this is going to make a real difference to the small businesses of this country. When they have payroll taxes that are a little more forgiving, they put that money back into hiring more people and expanding their business. Some of the real experts are the people who run those small businesses, so I certainly look at what they are doing.

Another area we looked at in terms of supporting jobs and growth was the tax credit on interest paid on government-sponsored student loans and extending that to the Canada apprentice loan. We know that with the jobs mismatch, there are jobs available for apprentices, so again, that was an important measure.

There are a number of items in there that support families and communities.

Finally, there are measures that improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.

In conclusion, people who knew Jim Flaherty might know that he loved to sail. He was at the helm in some very difficult waters. He has now, of course, left that helm for us to take on, but he charted a course. He put us on a solid course, and I know that it has been ably picked up by our new Minister of Finance.

As this is the last time I will get to speak to the direct influence of Jim Flaherty, I will just say thanks to Jim for all his hard work.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, with economic action 2014, our government continues to demonstrate the importance of a strong public financial system for creating jobs, growth, and opportunities for all Canadians. We are on track to balance the budget without raising taxes. In fact, we have reduced taxes, and we have done it while protecting the programs and services Canadians count on.

Economic action plan 2014 projects that the deficit for this fiscal year will decline to $2.9 billion, and a surplus of $6.4 billion is expected next year, as promised. Our plan before the House, through Bill C-43, would build on our record of achievement since 2006, with positive measures to grow the economy, support employment, and support Canadians.

Budget 2014 has broad components that would benefit every segment of our society, but the two I will touch on are Canadian seniors and Canadian farmers. Both of those are major demographics in my Lethbridge riding in southern Alberta. I will start by talking about our support for seniors.

Our Conservative government recognizes that Canada's seniors helped build our country and make it great. That is why economic action plan 2014 would introduce new measures to improve the quality of life for Canada's seniors, including enhancing the new horizons for seniors program by increasing funding by an additional $5 million a year. Seniors organizations within my Lethbridge riding have reaped the benefits of this program that ensures access to lifelong learning and upgrades to facilities used by seniors.

We would also launch the Canadian employers for caregivers action plan to work with employers so that caregivers could maximize their participation in the workforce while also providing care for their loved ones.

We would expand the targeted initiative for older workers by investing $75 million to help unemployed older workers put their talents and experience back to work. We would protect seniors using financial services by requiring enhanced disclosure by banks of the costs and benefits of using power of attorney and joint accounts and would require more staff training related to services used by seniors. This would build on our government's strong record of supporting Canadian seniors.

Since 2006, about $2.8 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners, including the introduction of pension income splitting. Seniors have told me that it has saved them taxes every year. They are very appreciative of this tax break. It helps them meet their day-to-day expenses and helps them overcome some of the barriers from fixed incomes. We hear that reported in our office almost every day.

It is interesting to note that in 2006, when we introduced income splitting for seniors, there was not a cry that it only applied to seniors. Most people today recognize that our income splitting for families is just another measure, not a measure intended to cover all bases.

We would also increase the age credit amount by $2,000. We would double the pension income credit to $2,000 and would increase the amount that guaranteed income supplemented seniors could earn through employment, without any reduction in their GIS benefits, from $500 to $3,500. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3,500, would now be able to keep up to an additional $1,500 in annual GIS benefits.

We would increase the age limit for RRSP to RRIF conversions to 71 from 69.

I will stop here and continue after question period.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the government budget implementation act at report stage.

Once again, this is another omnibus budget bill that legislates on far-ranging and diverse matters that have very little to do with an actual budget, and as such, many of the measures in this piece of legislation are ones that are not appropriate for review or voting at the House of Commons finance committee. They should be at committees more specific to their actual subjects.

However, despite its diverse content, one thing is true thematically throughout this bill: the Conservative government is imposing a regressive public policy agenda on Canadians. It is ignoring the needs of Canada's struggling middle class. It is ignoring the challenges faced by young Canadians, many of whom are facing significant challenges in the workforce, as we have a very soft jobs situation for young Canadians. As well, in terms of the long-term unemployed, the number of Canadians who are unemployed for over a year has actually doubled from 2008 till now. In fact, the government brings forward a measure in this budget implementation bill that actually creates a perverse incentive for employers to fire workers.

Overall, this is a continued attack on the social fabric of Canadian society, but it is also weakening the economic foundation of the country.

I want to talk about a few specific measures in this legislation and how I think we could do better.

First is the government's so-called small business job credit. The Minister of Finance admitted to the finance committee that his department did no economic analysis on this measure, zero, before committing over half a billion dollars of taxpayers' money. At the finance committee we heard from experts who testified that this tax credit has a serious design flaw in that it would create a perverse disincentive for employers to lay off workers or reduce hours of work in order to qualify for the tax savings. We have heard from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that this measure would create only 800 jobs over two years, at a cost of $700,000 per job. That is fiscally irresponsible. It is ludicrous from a public policy perspective. It is highly ineffective and very expensive. It is a failed public policy experiment. There are better ways to spend half a billion tax dollars, and there are better ways and better measures that would do more to strengthen the economy and create jobs cost-effectively.

The Liberal proposal that we have offered would work because it would only benefit employers who actually increased employment. Instead of proceeding with this flawed small business Conservative job credit, the government could adopt the Liberal plan, which would create a two-year EI premium holiday for businesses that actually grow and add to their payroll. This measure would be directly tied to job creation. It would be an incentive for employers to hire. It would be better for employers who want to grow their businesses and better for unemployed workers who want a job. The Liberal plan has been endorsed by the CFIB, the Canadian restaurant association, and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

This omnibus bill does a disservice to unemployed Canadians, but it is actually even worse for another group of vulnerable Canadians: refugee claimants. Under Bill C-43, their access to social assistance would be jeopardized. Bill C-43 is just the latest instalment in the government's ongoing attack on refugees.

First the Conservatives tried to removed access to basic health care for refugee claimants, but the courts quashed the Conservative government's policy. They called it “cruel and unusual”. Now the Conservatives are trying to remove what little source of income refugee claimants have.

Refugee claimants have to wait for a work permit from the federal government before they can work legally in Canada. If they do not have a permit, they must rely on social assistance to survive. Now, however, the government would make it possible for provincial governments to impose residency requirements as an obstacle for obtaining social assistance.

None of the provinces requested this authority. In fact, the government has only talked to the Ontario government, and the Ontario government does not support it. It did not ask for it, yet the Conservative government wants to proceed with this measure regardless. If a province does make use of the authority, the burden of feeding and sheltering the refugee claimants would fall upon charitable organizations, which are already stretched too thinly in our communities.

Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Frankly, it is mean-spirited that the Conservative government has chosen to pick on them, first by trying to eliminate their health care services and now by attacking their ability to support themselves. Let us keep in mind that we are not talking about just the adult claimants but about their children as well. The children of these refugee claimants are being victimized by the Conservative government's mean-spiritedness and short-sightedness. We would reverse this punitive measure against asylum seekers.

It is not only the health of refugees that the government has played fast and loose with; it has put all Canadians at risk with the demotion of the Chief Public Health Officer and the reduction in his ability to promote and effect needed change. At the finance committee, we heard from experts who told us that the Public Health Agency of Canada was created in response to Canada's experience with the SARS epidemic. They told us that the Chief Public Health Officer was deliberately made a deputy head at that time so that he or she would have the necessary power and autonomy to work with the provinces and the ability to speak truth to power and effect change.

The omnibus would undo some of that good work. It would demote the Chief Public Health Officer and reduce his authority and ability to effect change. We think this is an unhealthy move. We also think that it is very much in keeping with the government's ongoing disrespect for, and attack on, the scientific community. There was a time when governments were guided by evidence-based decision-making; this government seems to be guided by decision-based evidence-making.

It is not just the Conservative policies that are wrong-headed, but also the process that leads to these policies. In many areas of Bill C-43, the government has ignored key stakeholders affected by the policies. When the government changed the rules applicable to aerodromes, it gave the minister overly broad powers and failed to consult the aviation groups that are affected. When the government changed the definition of “international shipping” to exempt cable laying, it failed to work with the only Canadian company that does cable laying, thereby jeopardizing its business and jobs. It showed contempt for the public by implementing new and possibly harmful policies without consulting the constituencies and stakeholders that had the most to lose as a result of these policies. That is not just undemocratic by nature; it also leads to bad public policy and to mistakes.

Another aspect of the process that troubles us is the use of an omnibus bill to effect changes to policies that have, as I said earlier, no relationship whatsoever to the budget. What do the bill's measures on aerodromes and the Chief Public Health Officer have to do with the fiscal framework? Nothing. Why should they be reviewed and voted on by the finance committee, instead of by individual committees that have the expertise to deal with them?

I can assure members that a Liberal government would follow a very different course in terms of both process and policy. The public's top priority is economic growth and job creation. This requires more than simply expensive advertising of non-existent or unimproved programs. The Conservatives' proposed measure on income splitting would only benefit 15% of the wealthiest Canadians. We agree with the late Jim Flaherty, who said:

I think income-splitting needs a long, hard analytical look … to see who it affects and to what degree, because I’m not sure that overall, it benefits our society.

A Liberal government will pursue an agenda of jobs, growth, and investments that benefits all of society.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to stand in the House in support of Bill C-43, the economic action plan, 2014, the second budget implementation act.

I represent the great constituency of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette. It is a natural resources and agricultural constituency, and my remarks will be focusing on those sectors.

First, I would like to talk about Canada's overall economy, which is doing extraordinarily well in a tough and difficult world economy. Our unemployment rate is at 6.5%, and 1.2 million net new jobs have been created since July 2009.

There have been 180 tax cuts. GST has gone from 7% to 6% to 5% under our watch. A family of four, right now, saves $3,400 per year, money in their pockets.

The previous speaker implied that if a dollar did not go to the government, it was not a good dollar. We believe the more dollars that families have in their pockets, the better off they are and the better off we are as a country.

Our budget is on track to be balanced, the first in the G7 to do so. At 39%, our debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in the G20. By contrast, Japan and Italy have debt-to-GDP ratios over 100%. Our economy is on track to grow, thrive and indeed survive in a very tough world. Bloomberg rates Canada as simply the best place to do business.

My constituency has many small businesses in it. I want to focus for a minute on the small business job credit. This credit would lower small business payroll taxes by 15% for the next two years. It would result in savings of approximately $550 million to small businesses over those years. Again, in my constituency, the small business sector is very significant, and this job credit is very important.

We have frozen EI premiums to provide certainty and flexibility for small businesses. We are cutting red tape. We have reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%. We have increased the small business limit to $500,000. The results are clear.

A typical small business, with $500,000 of taxable income, is seeing savings of approximately $28,600. In total, small businesses have seen their taxes reduced by 34% since 2006.

This bill also ends pay-to-pay billing, giving the Business Development Bank of Canada more flexibility to help small and medium-sized enterprises. Intellectual property has been modernized. More power has been given to the CRTC to encourage compliance in the telecom industry.

I would like to focus on the budget dealing with the environment.

I happen to have the honour of serving on the environment committee. My chair is sitting right in front of me, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, and my able chair from the fisheries committee is also here, the member for Saint John. Both are vying strongly for chair of the year.

I am making light of that right now, but fisheries and the environment are very near and dear to my heart. When one looks at the government's environmental record, it is clearly second to none. We do not simply just talk about the environment. We actually do concrete, on-the-ground environmental projects and remediation. For example, we are protecting Canada's national parks by providing over $390 million to make improvements to highways, bridges and dams located in our parks.

I happen to have one of Canada's most beautiful national parks, Riding Mountain National Park, right smack dab in the middle of my constituency. My constituents are very much looking forward to the improvements that this fund will bring.

We are also, and this is a project that is near and dear to my heart as well, supporting conservation by investing an additional $15 million in the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program to further support projects that support the conservation of recreational fisheries habitats. The results from this program have simply been overwhelming. When this first round of funding is spent, there will be almost 400 fisheries conservation projects conducted and completed right across the country. We are talking about 2,000 kilometres of shoreline and 2.4 million square metres of stream habitat restored and conserved.

Again, what makes this program so successful, and this is how Conservatives deal with the environment, is that for every dollar that we spend on the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program, an additional $2.25 is spent by outside groups as partnerships.

This is a remarkable achievement not by the government alone, but by those hundreds of fisheries conservation groups and anglers groups right across the country from coast to coast to coast. The kinds of projects that have been done, like in the Maritimes, in Ontario, in Quebec and in British Columbia, again, are by local people doing local projects, helping their local environments. That is the way we do environmental conservation, and the results speak for themselves.

We are improving and expanding Canada's snowmobile and recreational trails by investing $10 million to improve trails across the country. We are encouraging the donations of ecologically sensitive land by making tax relief for such donations more generous and flexible. We are supporting family oriented conservation by providing $3 million to allow the Earth Rangers Foundation to expand its ongoing work with young people.

All this builds on our government's strong record of environmental conservation and protection, and our commitment to the national conservation plan.

Canada should be very proud of the national conservation plan. Not only are we creating more parks throughout the country, we have allocated $50 million for wetland conservation, something that is near and dear to my heart; $50 million would go for on-farm conservation initiatives; and $100 million will be spent under the national areas conservation plan, preserving and protecting Canada's fragile land on what we refer to as the “southern working landscape”.

In total, in terms of environmental conservation, real on-the-ground work, the results have been nothing short of remarkable.

Agriculture, which again is very important in my constituency, is the dominant economic activity of my constituents. Family farms are throughout my constituency and across the rural areas of Canada. Family farms are, quite simply, the backbone of country. For generations, our farmers have fed Canadians and the world, while providing jobs and opportunities across Canada. That is why economic action plan 2014 includes a number of measures to support Canada's farmers, as well as new innovations in agriculture, such as expanding tax deferral for livestock that are kept for breeding when sold due to drought or excess moisture, something that is very important. Again, as many in the House will know, Manitoba experienced severe floods in the last couple of years and my cattle producers, in particular, welcome this initiative.

We are supporting innovation and competitiveness in the agriculture sector by modernizing the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, including farmers' privilege, which allows farmers to save, condition and reuse seeds for planting on their own farms.

We will be introducing a new pilot price insurance program to provide cattle and hog producers in western Canada with insurance against unexpected price declines within a production cycle. Again, this will build on our record of supporting Canadian farmers and the agricultural sector since 2006.

Our track record is over $11 billion, including provincial and territorial contributions to farmers through business risk management programs; over $3 billion, including provincial and territorial contributions toward investments in innovation, competitiveness and market development; $500 million to establish the agriflexibility fund; $370 million to the hog industry to support debt restructuring to help sustain the industry through some very difficult times; nearly $350 million to help western grain farmers cover the costs of adjusting to operating in an open market; and $50 million to support increased slaughter capacity.

I am very proud to speak in favour of Bill C-43.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, here we are again standing in the House and talking about another omnibus budget bill designed to ram through hundreds of changes with little study or oversight, and without consultation and, I would say, without the consent of Canadians. Canadians do not trust the Conservative government any more, thanks to draconian bills, secret cabinet meetings, the muzzling of scientists, and the continual stifling of our democracy.

These policies are anything but transparent, as the Conservatives had promised when they were first elected. I am sure that we remember the first Conservative bill, the Federal Accountability Act. Accountability is dead because we have before us Bill C-43, another long bill, in this case consisting 460 pages, with 400 clauses, and dozens of amendments to acts that include a variety of measures that were never mentioned in the budget speech.

The point of electing MPs from across the country and from a variety of political parties is to ensure that there is oversight and democratic governance. These omnibus budget bills mock the very principles that Canadians hold dear. It behooves the government to allow MPs to take the time to study the bill to ensure that due diligence and oversight are respected. After all, does oversight not remain the cornerstone of our democratic system?

It is not just New Democrats calling for oversight. In 2002, the OECD report entitled, “Best Practices for Budget Transparency”, stated that draft budgets should be submitted to Parliament no less than three months prior to the start of the fiscal year. It also noted that budgets should include a detailed commentary on each revenue and expenditure program, comparative information on actual revenue and expenditure during the past year, and an updated forecast for the current year should also be provided for each program. None of these practices are currently followed in Canada. If these guidelines were followed, I believe we would have a much more democratic process, one that we could all be proud of and follow with security.

Sadly, as I have said, I am afraid democracy will once again get the short end of the stick and this bill will be rammed through the House. The government has the numbers and has consistently rejected NDP amendments and failed to listen to Canadians. The quick passing of omnibus bills is problematic. There are many issues in this particular bill that absolutely must be addressed and weighed by parliamentarians. Tragically, the bill in front of us is an overt and outright attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, particularly unemployed Canadians, who will not be helped by the implementation of the so-called job credit.

This proposal has already been panned by experts like the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who called it wasteful and extraordinarily expensive. Mike Moffatt from the Ivey school of business at the University of Western Ontario said that “the proposed ‘Small Business Job Credit’ has major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries”. He went on to say:

The way this...system is designed is that the maximum benefit a company can receive from firing a worker and going under the $15,000 threshold far exceeds the maximum benefit a small business can receive from hiring an additional workers.

As we know, this measure will take $550 million from the EI fund. It should have been subjected to serious scrutiny by the government, but, as we have come to expect, the Conservatives ignored analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and never sought detailed analysis of the real job impacts from the Department of Finance. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the program would create about 800 jobs, maximum, despite its enormous price. As I mentioned, economists such as Mike Moffatt have written that the proposal actually gives employers a greater incentive to fire workers than hire them.

I cannot in good conscience support a bill that would actually give employers a reason to fire employees instead of permanently hire them. That is exactly what Bill C-43 would do. Quite literally, it attacks the unemployed and the very vulnerable people that this country has promised to protect.

The provisions in this budget implementation act would allow provinces to impose residency requirements on people without permanent status and would deny refugee claimants and those without permanent status in Canada the ability to obtain the most basic social assistance. After the Conservative cuts to refugee health, which are just beyond the pale, the current government continues to attack some of the most vulnerable people in Canada in the name of saving a few dollars. It is absolutely unconscionable.

Let us not forget that the Conservatives are promising a false balanced budget. To get to their so-called balance, they are cutting provincial health transfers by $36 billion. That smacks of the missing EI funds that we saw not very long ago, and all of this would have a very negative impact on Canadians.

This bill also includes an amendment to the Aeronautics Act that would allow the Minister of Transport to prohibit any development of or change to an aerodrome in Canada that he or she feels is not in the public interest. That means that any airport of any size anywhere in Canada would be subject to a veto by the Minister of Transport. I must say that I do not have a great deal of faith in these ministers. I have constituents who are very angry about this and rightly so. This is yet another attempt by the Conservatives to centralize more power in the hands of the Prime Minister and cabinet, and it is the absolute antithesis of democracy.

I am happy to say that there are a few aspects of the bill that have some positive implications.

It is good, for example, to see that the NDP's long-standing proposal to end pay-to-pay billing by telecommunications and broadcasting companies is in the bill. We will have to see if it actually goes anywhere. I have heard many complaints from seniors from across the country about this unfair charge to receive a paper bill, and I am pleased that the change was included. However, the change falls short and fails to live up to the promise the Conservatives made to end unfair gouging by the banks. Like so much the current government does, it is just another half measure.

The bill also includes measures to address a major appeals backlog at the Social Security Tribunal by allowing for more tribunal members. I am pleased to see this. The backlog is absolutely unacceptable. It has hurt a lot of very vulnerable people—I have heard the stories—and I am hopeful that the backlog will be tackled. However, there would not have been a backlog if the government had not decimated the tribunal in the first place.

I wish I had more positive things to say about Bill C-43, but I am afraid I do not.

There are a lot of good things that the government could have done with this bill, things that would have helped Canadians find jobs and make life more affordable. Those are things like a pan-Canadian childcare program that would ensure that families had access to quality childcare at $15 a day. That is the kind of thing that boosts a community, helps families, and sparks the economy.

The government could also develop a strategy to deal with persistent youth unemployment. It could implement a youth hiring and training credit. The Conservatives did not do it, and unfortunately the youth of this country are going to suffer as a result.

They could have phased out the billion-dollar subsidies for the oil and gas sector. Imagine having a billion dollars to invest in the security of our seniors and in job creation for our youth. Imagine that money redirected into health care.

I am very sorry to say that none of those things have been addressed by the government. The Conservatives could have done some good, finally. They chose not to, and I am very sorry about that.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my friend, who just finished his speech, for actually talking about what is in Bill C-43. Most Conservative speakers before him did not even try.

I take exception to an element he mentioned, the residency requirements for refugee claimants. If I understood what he said, it would be a way of giving powers to the provinces. Residency requirements are actually a part of the agreement between the federal government and the provinces for transfers. It has been agreed upon by the provinces in the past.

Where I do not agree with my colleague is with the rationale of it supposedly giving power to the provinces. If we are going to the full extent of what he said, basically, if the government were willing to give that power to the provinces, it would drop residency requirements for social assistance for everyone. In this bill, it is only for refugee claimants.

Why are these residency requirements specifically targeting refugee claimants, rather than having all Canadians subject to the same clause?

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Richmond Hill Ontario

Conservative

Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of our government's economic action plan for 2014, a plan that contains many measures that will benefit the constituents in my riding of Richmond Hill and indeed all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is a plan that promises to help foster economic growth, to create jobs, and to reduce taxes.

Today I would like to focus my remarks on how our government plans to provide more flexibility to the provinces and territories on the design of their social assistance programs.

Social assistance payments are the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial governments. Through the Canada social transfer, the Government of Canada will transfer more than $12 billion to provinces and territories this year in support of post-secondary education, social assistance, and social services as well as early childhood development, early learning, and child care.

As part of Bill C-43, our government proposes an amendment to the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act that would give provinces and territories the flexibility to introduce a minimum period of residence before most foreign nationals could access social assistance in their jurisdictions.

While provinces and territories are responsible for determining eligibility for social assistance, if they decide to impose a minimum residency requirement, they currently risk a reduction in their Canada social transfer payments. With our proposed changes, provinces and territories would no longer be penalized should they choose to establish a minimum waiting period.

On this side of the House, we respect provincial and territorial jurisdiction. That is why we are proposing to allow provinces and territories to make all the decisions surrounding social services. These changes would allow provinces and territories to introduce a residency requirement for most temporary foreign nationals.

As is currently the case, Canadian citizens and permanent residents would not be subject to these provisions. Those who have been determined to be in genuine need of protection would also be excluded from this provision. I remind this House that temporary residents include temporary foreign workers, international students, and visitors.

To obtain a visitor visa or a study or work permit, all foreign nationals must demonstrate that they can support themselves and their dependents financially for the duration of their stay. However, temporary residents are just that. They are here on a temporary basis to study, to work, or to visit Canada as tourists. Our proposed amendment is in line with this requirement in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

What we are proposing in the bill is simply to give provinces and territories the flexibility to establish their own timelines, should they choose, before granting residents access to their social assistance programs.

In addition to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and protected persons, victims of human trafficking who hold temporary resident permits would also be excluded. That is because our government is committed to protecting vulnerable migrants who find themselves in abusive or exploitive situations. We are simply removing the risk of a penalty if provinces and territories choose to introduce a minimum period of residence before foreign nationals can access our country's very generous social assistance programs.

It is important to note that it is up to each province and territory to determine eligibility for social assistance benefits. This also means that should they choose to introduce a residency requirement, the provinces and territories would determine the length of the residency period. This bill would not change the terms and conditions under which residents access welfare or other social programs. It would simply provide more flexibility to the provinces and territories.

At the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, we had the opportunity to hear from various stakeholders on this very topic. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation was very supportive of these changes. This is what it had to say:

We merely believe that, as the level of government responsible for the delivery of social services, the provinces are also the appropriate level of government to retain the power to make such a decision without the risk of fiscal penalty from Ottawa.

As well, Mr. Bissett, from the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, commented on how logical these changes truly are. He said:

It seems logical to me that the federal government should live up to its principles of allowing the provinces to carry out their functions without interference. This is an anachronism that exists in the law and I think it should be changed. Remember that there's no compulsion whatsoever on the provinces to make changes. It's removing a penalty and allowing them, if they wish, to impose residency requirements on individuals.

When we heard from government officials, they were able to share some past experiences with the Canada social transfer. We learned that the 1995 federal budget announced that residency requirements for social assistance, a condition for federal cost-sharing of social assistance expenditures under the Canada assistance plan, would continue to be prohibited under the Canada health and social transfer, which replaced the CAP. The prohibition remains in the CST today.

In November 1995, British Columbia introduced a three-month residency requirement for collecting social assistance for those who arrived from other provinces and countries, which was in violation of the prohibition under the Canada assistance plan. The federal human resources minister withheld CAP transfer payments accordingly, ultimately imposing a penalty of $20 million on the province, which reflected the actual savings to the province achieved by the residency requirements. British Columbia eventually removed the residency requirement.

We are proposing to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to ensure that this does not happen again. In short, our government respects provincial and territorial jurisdiction. As social assistance is their jurisdiction, it is entirely reasonable that they have the authority to establish their own rules for these social programs.

While I am delighted that I had the opportunity to focus on the proposed amendments to the FPFAA, I wish I had more time to discuss other provisions contained in the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2, such as the new small business job credit that would support job creation; the doubling of the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000, which would now be refundable; the elimination of the graduated rate of taxation for trusts and certain estates; and the extension of the existing tax credit for interest paid on government-sponsored student loans to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.

These are all important measures that would benefit not only my constituents in Richmond Hill but all Ontarians and indeed all Canadians in every province and every territory in this country.

The fact is that Canadians trust this Conservative government to support jobs and promote economic growth for families and communities and to return to balance budgets by 2015.

I hope all hon. members in this House will support economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2 by voting for the budget implementation act.

Motions in amendmentEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 2nd, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today and speak on Bill C-43.

The title of the bill is rather misleading as it describes a bill to implement the budget and other measures, which is exactly what I want to start with: the process that got us to this place today. This is yet another omnibus budget bill. It is a bill that would actually do much more than what Canadians might think a budget would do.

A budget would be about economic priorities, fiscal matters, and the like. However, yet again, the bill before us is 460 pages in length with 400 clauses and would do so much more than deal with budget measures. It is misleading, in fact, to call it a budget implementation bill when it deals with matters that have nothing in the world to do with budget. Of course, that is the pattern of the Conservatives. This is number five on a long list of budget bills.

I have the honour of representing Victoria, and I sit on the finance committee where, frequently, we deal with matters that have absolutely nothing to do with finance. I have a little trouble back in the riding explaining what I am doing talking about those measures, but that, I guess, is just the way it is. However, I also have difficulty explaining why amendments are proposed and uniformly voted down by the Conservatives, even when those amendments are self-evident improvements to a bill in specific matters.

Having spoken about the failed process, the anti-democratic process that led us to this place, I would like to talk about the substance. I will speak about the things we would support and oppose in the bill, and the things that are glaringly obvious by omission in the bill.

It must be said that there are things that are supportable in the bill. One that comes to mind initially is the NDP's longstanding proposal to deal with the pay-to-pay problem. Seniors in my riding of Victoria constantly complain about paying more for a telecommunications bill if they get it on paper rather than online. They do not have a computer and they do not want to do that. Well, the government, in its typical way, went halfway. The Conservatives went along with the pay-to-pay provisions vis-à-vis broadcasting enterprises and telcos, but I guess the banks had a better lobby, because glaringly obvious in omission is anything to do with bank fees. I guess that is because the banks had a better lobby than telcos, or perhaps there were disputes elsewhere with that sector of the economy. However, at least the Conservatives went halfway, and we give them credit for that half measure.

Second, there were measures to improve the clarity and integrity of the tax code, which is something New Democrats had been proposing for a long time. However, so much more needs to be done about tax evasion, and I will talk about that in just a moment.

There are other issues, such as the implementation of a DNA data code to help solve the crisis in missing aboriginal women and girls. This is a longstanding proposal that the government has now recognized, and we accept that.

Last, there is the backlog on appeals to the Social Security Tribunal. This will be addressed by allowing more members to be appointed, which, again, is something that has been sought by the NDP for many years.

I said that I would talk about what was missing from the bill. There is $7.8 billion a year that is missing, and that could be available to Canadians if the government were serious about the issue of tax havens. It has been a passion of mine to try to get the government to take this seriously.

However, $7.8 billion is an estimate, and it can only be an estimate. Contrary to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's attempts, our attempts, and the Senate's attempts to get the government to actually measure the tax gap, as our friends in the U.K., France, and the United States have been doing for years, the current Conservative government somehow thinks it is a waste of time and cannot be bothered.

If we do not measure something, how can we manage it? Is that not public administration 101? However, the government refuses, and so I can only give an estimate, which can be accused of being high or low, but it is a big number.

Corporate tax avoidance, in particular, is a global epidemic. Even though Canada is proud, and the Conservatives are, of having the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7, we still have corporations that send their money abroad.

An example is tax shifting or transfer pricing. In order to pay even less tax, those companies that have the lowest corporate tax rates in the G7 still have their favourite trick. What is that? They sell a patent to an offshore subsidiary. Then they charge themselves licensing fees for the use of the same patent. That is a good trick.

Other countries have closed that loophole. We do not seem to care.

I have introduced Bill C-621, which would address the economic substance and require that there actually be economic substance before those paper transactions are allowed, costing the Canadian treasury billions of dollars because the government simply does not want to take the time to go after corporate friends on Bay Street.

Bill C-621 would do what Dr. Robert McMechan wrote about in his book Economic Substance and Tax Avoidance: An International Perspective. Dr. McMechan, who really helped in drafting Bill C-621, pointed out in his doctoral thesis at Osgoode Law School, having been a practitioner with the Department of Justice and doing tax litigation for many years, that the government could close this loophole if the courts could get back on track with looking at the economic substance of transactions rather than whether or not they appear to be okay on paper. That is something like going after the general anti-avoidance rules vis-à-vis corporate tax avoidance.

That is what my very short bill, Bill C-621, would do. It would basically put Canada on track, as Dr. McMechan points out, as regards our other allies whose courts seem to have stuck to economic substance. Ours, I am afraid, have gone off the rails.

There is a lot of money we are not going after. Yet a few years ago the Conservatives, faced with 106 Canadians with secret bank accounts totalling over $100 million in Liechtenstein, did nothing. How many have been charged? How many have they gone after? Apparently they have gone after none.

Compare our woeful record of doing little to go after tax evaders with Australia's Project Wickenby or the action going on in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom to go after tax avoiders. Canadians should be ashamed of their government's performance.

Back in September, somebody from inside the department wrote us and said the minister announced that the elimination of a host of senior tax office positions at the local level, including in the international and aggressive tax planning programs. Seventy individuals, with over 1,000 years of cumulative specialized expertise in going after these intricate, complicated corporate transactions, were gone. Fifty people in CRA alone lost their jobs. That is the priority of the Conservatives in going after what could have been an enormous source of revenue. That is missing in this budget.

I have talked about what we like in this budget and what is absolutely missing. In terms of things that ought not to be in a budget but that need to be done is more action on youth unemployment and on homelessness. Homelessness is a crisis in my community of Victoria. I attended a lecture by Dr. Gaetz of York University, who pointed out that homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 billion per year if we take into account social services, health care, corrections, and interaction with law enforcement. That is an enormous number. If investments were made to deal with that, the return on the investment—language the Conservatives would apparently like—would be enormous. For example, for the hardest to house, for every $10 we invest in housing first initiatives to address homelessness, $22 would be achieved through offset costs.

There is a crisis in affordable housing. We are not using the income tax system to incent the creation of affordable, low-cost rental housing in communities. We have lots of condos, but we do not have housing for those people who are living hand to mouth in our communities and who are themselves just a few steps away from being homeless.

In conclusion, it is politics 011 that a budget reflects the priorities of a government. The government's priorities do not deal with the crises of unemployment and homelessness, nor fairness and equity, nor does it provide income for Canadians by actually going after money in tax havens in a more aggressive way, as so many of our allies have done.