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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 11th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I have been sitting here listening to the description of omnibus bills and I must say that when I was on city council and we heard that the Conservative government of Stephen Harper was passing an omnibus bill, we were thrilled. We thought it was a transit plan. We were wrong. It was not a transit plan.

The comparison of that particular bill to this one is remarkable. This legislation would amend the Criminal Code. It is all contained within one single ministry. I will talk about the changes a bit later.

By comparison, Bill C-43, was close to 600 pages long. This will perhaps help some members of the New Democratic Party to remember what a real omnibus bill looks like, especially if they are new to the legislature.

Let me read some of the acts that were changed by Bill C-43: the Income Tax Act, the child fitness tax credit, the Income Tax Regulations, and the Excise Tax Act. A selected list of financial institutions was impacted as was the Excise Act, 2001.

There was intellectual property, the Industrial Design Act, and the amendments to the act and exclusive right. There was also the Patent Act and the biological materials. There was also the Aeronautics Act, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act and the enactment of act for that. As well, there were transitional provisions, consequential amendments, and the Access to Information Act.

To continue, there was the Financial Administration Act; the Privacy Act; the Public Service Superannuation Act; the Criminal Code, which is what we are dealing with here today, one single act. As well, there was the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act; the Radiocommunication Act; administrative monetary penalties; the Revolving Funds Act, with an amendment to that as well.

Under the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration there was another set of acts and that is when the government went to court and pulled this out because the Supreme Court overruled some of the government's changes to the Criminal Code nine times. The government pulled medical assistance and health care for refugees, one of the cruellest acts of Parliament in the history of this country. That was buried in the middle of Bill C-43.

I am not even halfway through the list of acts that were amended by Bill C-43.

The Royal Canadian Mint Act was impacted by the omnibus bill. There was the Investment Canada Act with amendments as well. There were also related amendments to the economic action plan. The Broadcasting Act was hit, as was the Telecommunications Act. There was the amendment to the general administrative monetary penalties. There were also provisions for both administrative monetary penalties schemes and coordinating amendments. The list goes on.

The Northwest Territories Act was impacted. The Employment Insurance Act was touched. The government even opened up the Canada-Chile free trade agreement. There was the Canada Marine Act, where marine ports were given legislative powers and planning powers that superceded municipalities. Nobody was consulted on that. Members were not even consulted on the Canada Marine Act. That was one of the most egregious things that the Conservative government did.

That government gave power to the port authorities to basically override and ignore local planning authorities, local decisions, and local plans made on any property that it acquired. In other words, the government could rezone property retroactively after it purchased it, which meant it could buy low-income property, property with low purchase prices, and then suddenly turn it into something much more valuable, like residential property, in order to turn a profit so it could then fund its programs. The government could not actually fund its programs based on the way the Canada Marine Act was configured. This drove cities across the country insane because it was so ill-conceived. It ran so roughshod over local planning and local real estate laws. It was amazing. At the end, the government had to pull many of those provisions off the table because it was such an egregious piece of legislation.

There were also changes to the DNA Identification Act. There were amendments to the act and establishment and contents. There was the comparison of profiles and communication. There was also the removal of access to information that was changed. The list goes on.

There was the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. There was also the Public Health Agency. The Conservative government split the position of the chief of the Public Health Agency of this country into two, one who reported to cabinet and one who reported directly to the government.

Bill C-43 was a budget bill by the way. All of the acts they changed were administrative changes made to important parts of the department. The Conservatives also reduced the fees for bee breeding, one of my favourites.

They also increased tax on hospital parking. They thought if someone was going to visit his or her mother in hospital and they could find a way to tax that visit, they would do that. That was part of the omnibus bill.

What we said in our campaign promise was explicit. We said that budget bills would remain budget bills. Much of what the NDP complains about when they talk about omnibus bills is our budget enactment bills, which are omnibus bills by their very nature. They are exactly the kind we promised to sustain.

Budgets are not done one clause at a time. When fundamental policies across the breadth of government are changed, it is a coordinated budget, a coordinated piece of legislation, and we exempted that from our prohibition on omnibus acts. The legislation we introduced to prevent omnibus acts, which the opposition has used effectively in this term of Parliament, excludes budget acts for the very reason that a budget has to be passed all at once, otherwise we end up with a thousand votes and a thousand clauses.

I wait to see an NDP government in B.C. pass the budget clause-by-clause. It will take it six years to do that, and my sense after today's decision on the dam is that it may not have six years.

The issue we are talking about here today is reforms to the Criminal Code. The reforms are extraordinarily important. There are some elements of the code that are nuisance laws. There is a law prohibiting crime comics in our country. That would be taken away. There are rules and regulations that have existed and been on the books for a number of years that just do not make sense anymore. Those would be cleaned up as part of this process.

However, we are also bringing forth some critically important changes to the way sexual assault is prosecuted in the courts. We are taking steps to protect women and other vulnerable individuals who are sexually assaulted. Those deal with a comprehensive set of rules and regulations that tie together evidence laws and some of the practices and procedures in the court system. They need to be brought together in a bill because that is the way it is done. If we are going to make comprehensive change, we have to unite the issues and items that are related under a single ministry, or statute, or a single set of laws, like the Criminal Code, and make those changes as part of a comprehensive process. That is what is happening. This is not an omnibus bill. These are amendments to the Criminal Code. This is a legal bill coming from the Minister of Justice, and it is an appropriate set of bills.

The last thing I want to talk about is the changes to be made. I was a member of Parliament in the last session and watched as committees refused to entertain any conversation with anyone. That included not only the opposition but the witnesses. There were a number of times when Conservative members would come and tell me there was a mistake made in the drafting of legislation. I remember one instance dealing pharmacare and pharmacy regulations. Every single witness, the doctors, the hospitals, the patients' rights groups, the medical officials, and the science community, came forward and said “You made a small mistake here”. One of the opposition members said, “I know we've made that mistake, but we're not allowed to fix it. The Senate has said it will entertain no motions of change, at all, ever”. In fact, we would be hard pressed to find an amendment that was made to any bill that was printed for any committee over the last four years.

What we have in this process is a piece of legislation that was drafted. Through the committee process, with good evidence from Canadians coming forward, and our listening to that evidence, and members of the opposition and members of the government talking about how to make a bill better, which is in fact the committee process, rules were changed and the law was changed. That is as it should be. The notion that we can land a piece of legislation perfectly and never make a change to it ever again is absurd. It is the wrong way to approach Parliament. It is the wrong way to approach committees.

It does not mean that every opposition motion or amendment will be passed. That is wishful thinking, quite frankly. What it does mean is that when a good suggestion comes forward, the committee should seize that issue and the points raised and modify laws. That is the way a good committee process works. That is the way a good Parliament works, and we are being told we are weak or made a mistake because we did that.

The previous government was arrogant. We saw time and again the Harper government land legislation that it deemed to be perfect and not to be debated in the House, let alone changed at committee level and listened to by Canadians. Even the Senate, where they had a majority, would not entertain motions of change. The legislation was paralyzed from point of introduction to point of enactment. That is not good democracy. That is not good government, and that certainly is not a good parliamentary process.

Yes, a motion was changed. I expect good debate to change motions and to make them better, because as the Prime Minister often says, “better is always possible”. The opposite side often has good ideas. I have sat with them in conversation about a number of different projects and proposals, and asked them to get us to a better spot, because as I said, that is the way good legislation emerges.

We are here to listen and to talk. We are here to debate. We are also here to have conversations, and when those conversations result in reasonable propositions coming forward that fix legislation and make it better, our government, as a good government, is always going to be there to listen to Canadians, parliamentarians, and caucus. It will listen to differing views on all sides of the issues. I am proud to be part of a government that does that.

I am also proud to be part of a government that has put procedural mechanisms in place for House so that when a complex bill moves forward and the Speaker is asked to rule on whether or not it is an omnibus bill, there is a methodology, a process, that will allow that bill to be split so that members can vote differently on different parts of the legislation. That is not a bad thing, but a good thing. It does not mean that every one of the bills we present will be perfect. We are not expecting perfection on any side of the House. What we are looking for is honest effort, good contributions, solid thinking, wise Canadians being brought to Parliament to participate in the committee process so that all Canadians when they see legislation passed can see their voice reflected.

I want to remind the House about the omnibus legislation the opposition talks about. It is ludicrous to suggest that a budget cannot be passed unless there is clause by clause. Budgets are complete sets of expenditures, programs, and development. That is how they will be presented. The opposition can hue and cry about it all it wants, but it is wrong.

It is wrong on this legislation. It is wrong to characterize the other complex bills as omnibus simply because several ideas under a single ministry are brought together as a comprehensive set of reforms. That kind of complaint is really just wrong. A former New Democrat in Toronto used to talk about it and said that when the opposition complained about the process, it had conceded the argument. All it is trying to do now is just dumb us up with a conversation about process. We have seen that happen a couple of times in the House this session.

When legislation is brought forward that gives the opposition the right to challenge it as omnibus, it can avail itself of that process. Why is the opposition not doing it on this bill? It is because on this bill the opposition happens to understand why the bill is being brought into concert. It understands the process it went through as it went through the committee. We can actually hear the opposition members say that they effectively support the bill.

What are the opposition members talking about when they complain about the bill. They are complaining about something that was taken out already. In other words, they are complaining about being listened to. If the opposition members are going to be complaining about being listened to, how else are we going to engage with them, if they are not going to talk to us anymore? How else can we engage with them? When we listen to them, it is a good thing. They should be thanking us for it. Instead what the opposition members are trying to do is knock us down because of it. That is absurd.

This legislation, which is on its last few hours of debate, is an incredibly important for the reform of the way sexual assault is treated in the legal system. It also gets rid of a bunch of laws that really should not be on the books anymore. Every now and then governments need to do that as part of the Criminal Code reform.

At the end of the day, the legislation will be supported by the bulk of the members in the House, based on the speeches I have heard today, because government in fact did work with consensus, did work with the committee, and did work with the committee chair to make the changes that needed to made. For that, I am happy.

However, if the opposition members would like to go back to debating omnibus bill, I have Bill C-43 in front of me. I also have the other omnibus bills the Conservatives passed. If the members want disconnected pieces of legislation that go off in all directions at once, with sound and fury signifying, unfortunately, too much and too little, members can refer back to the previous Parliament. Then we can talk about real omnibus legislation. Real changes to fundamental policies that affected Canadians were slipped in, not mentioned in the budget speech, not printed in the budget book, not brought together as a cohesive or coherent economic argument, but simply added to a budget bill, and then made into a mandatory vote with no changes being proposed at committee.

That is what an omnibus bill is. This is not an omnibus bill under any definition of the word.

Bill C-15—Time Allocation MotionBudget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1.Government Orders

May 10th, 2016 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we take respect for Parliament seriously. The way we start is by putting forth a budget that is really focused on how we can help Canadians. I would like to remind the member opposite of a few numbers that might be helpful for him to put that in context.

In 2010, the previous government put forward Bill C-9, which was a budget bill with 904 pages. I do not know how Parliament can go through 904 pages, but I do know that Canadians expect us to go through what we want to go through, which is the budget that we have put forward and which is a much more reasonable budget for people to understand.

I would remind him of Bill C-13, put forward in 2011 with 658 pages, again vastly more than triple the number of pages in our budget 2016. Maybe I can move to Bill C-43 from 2014, with 478 pages.

We will take no lessons from members on the opposite side about respecting Parliament. We have debated the budget for almost twice as many hours as they put forward in Bill C-43 and Bill C-59. We have had the time we need to reflect on this legislation, and we would like to move forward so we can make a difference for Canadians, which is what they elected us to do.

Bill C-15—Time Allocation MotionBudget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1.Government Orders

May 10th, 2016 / 10:15 a.m.
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Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Morneau LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the amount of debate and the speakers on Bill C-15 is either comparable or much higher than debates on budget implementation acts from the previous government. In most cases, those BIAs were close to double the number of pages that are in Bill C-15.

I can say that including today, our government will have provided for almost 19 hours of debate at second reading. If we look at the previous session of Parliament, the previous government shut down second reading debate on two budget bills, Bill C-43 and Bill C-59, in under 10 hours. We have already nearly doubled the amount of time for debate at second reading on Bill C-15.

We are proud of the bill, and we are very much looking forward to putting it forward and getting it passed for Canadians so we can make a real difference in their lives.

April 12th, 2016 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

It's not so much an issue of the public service. What I would say is that some of the language in this bill—I guess I don't have the same inclination to non-partisanship—comes directly out of Bill C-43 from the previous government, particularly around exclusions from collective bargaining. I will say what you may not be prepared to say at committee—

Opposition Motion—Financial Code of ConductBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2015 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion from the member for Davenport seeking a ban on pay-to-pay fees charged by Canadian banks.

I want to start by examining the issue of pay to pay and how it relates to existing consumer protection measures in the financial sector. Then I would like to use the rest of my time to discuss a more meaningful way to bring fairness to the middle class and those Canadians working hard to join the middle class.

I believe that the underlying issue of today's motion is one of fairness. The motion before us calls for “a mandatory financial code of conduct to protect consumers”. While the text of the motion does not explicitly lay out an objective, I believe that its main objective really is fairness, which is something any reasonable person in this House can support.

It is an issue that speaks to our founding principles, peace, order and good government, and is a recognition that we need strong consumer protection measures so that Canadians are treated fairly when they make a purchase or enter into an agreement.

There is an inherent imbalance between large institutions and large businesses and individual consumers with respect to information and power. Most individuals need the protection of strong laws and consumer protection measures to help even the scales.

Canadians are justifiably proud of our banks. We have some of the largest and most successful banks in the world. Our resilient banking system did not just happen by accident. It was shaped, largely, by reforms in the 1990s, directed, in fact, by the strong governments of Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, when globally, the banking systems were being deregulated in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S. Canada did not follow suit at that time and did not follow the global trend of deregulation. Canadians and our banking system are better off for it.

However, every system needs balance. A strong banking system must be complemented by strong consumer protection measures that ensure fairness for Canadians.

In today's economy, access to basic banking services is essential for consumers. We are moving towards a cashless society. It is becoming nearly impossible to carry on today without a bank account. Even the federal government is pushing Canadians towards an increasingly cashless society and electronic transactions. The government is in the midst of phasing out, for instance, its use of printed cheques. As of next April, Canadians will be required to accept all payments from the federal government by direct deposit. This will include tax refunds and federal child benefits as well as CPP, OAS, and EI payments.

The government has said that it will only issue cheques under exceptional circumstances. For example, it will continue to issue cheques to people who live in remote communities where they do not have access to a financial institution. For everyone else, it is clear that the government sees bank accounts as a prerequisite to receiving financial support.

Liberals believe that the government ought to show more compassion, understanding, and flexibility in allowing more Canadians to continue receiving cheques. For instance, we can look at situations with many of the elderly, who may be less disposed to using electronic banking, or low-income Canadians, who may not have ongoing and reliable access to high-speed Internet or who cannot afford those connections on an ongoing basis.

We recognize how essential it has become for Canadians to have access to basic banking services, particularly, as I mentioned, for low-income Canadians, who cannot afford to see their meagre earnings eaten up by large fees. That is why, in 2001, the Liberal government brought in legislation to guarantee access to basic banking services for all Canadians, including low-income Canadians. It is why the Liberal government banned the banks from placing a hold on government cheques valued at $1,500 or less. It is why a Liberal government brought in rules requiring each of the largest banks to offer a standard low-fee bank account. These accounts include between eight and 12 transactions per month as well as a free debit card, free deposits, and free monthly statements.

At the same time, a Liberal government established the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to monitor the financial services industry, educate consumers, and enforce new, stronger consumer protection measures. These reforms were introduced by a Liberal government. They were an important step forward, but a lot has happened over the last decade. Technology has changed everywhere. Smart phones are now everywhere. More Canadians are doing their shopping and banking online, and a growing number of companies in telecommunications, broadcasting, and the banking sector are pressuring Canadians to pay their bills online as a way to cut costs.

In the past few years, we have seen a proliferation of pay-to-pay fees. Let us be clear about what that term actually means. “Pay to pay” is widely understood to mean the practice of charging customers an additional fee for mailing them a paper invoice or statement, in a lot of cases. It does not mean an end to all transaction fees for payments.

Last year, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre estimated that Canadian consumers were paying between $495 million and $735 million per year to receive paper bills for telco and banking services combined. Of that total, $180 million was for the banking sector. PIAC also conducted a survey that found that a third of Canadians were uncomfortable receiving bills or statements online, for a variety of reasons. I mentioned seniors, particularly, who may be averse to that.

Many Canadians are worried about falling victim to online scams and identity theft. Earlier this year, thousands of employees at the Canada Revenue Agency were unable to identify a fake email phishing scam that was sent to them as part of a test. It is understandable that cautious Canadians would take extra steps to avoid the possibility of being scammed.

Another reason some Canadians insist on paper billing is because they simply do not have a choice. They do not have high-speed Internet at home. This is a significant barrier to low-income Canadians. According to Stats Canada's latest Canadian Internet use survey, only 58% of households in the lowest-income quartile have Internet at home. That compares to an access rate of 98% and 94% in the first and second income quartiles. Not surprisingly, the PIAC survey found that low-income Canadians are more likely to pay their bills in person or by mail rather than online, and they are not alone.

Canadians living in rural and remote communities are less likely to have reliable high-speed Internet at home. Seniors are less likely to use the Internet regularly, making them more likely to end up paying extra fees for paper billing.

It seems unfair to punish Canadians with extra fees because they are poor, they are low-income, or they live in an area where they cannot get high-speed Internet. It seems to me that we are disadvantaging those who are already disadvantaged.

PIAC estimated that Canadians without Internet access spend between $77 million and $102 million per year on paper billing. Pay-to-pay fees were virtually unheard of before 2010, but between 2010 and 2014, a system came into place that forced some of these most vulnerable Canadians to pay extra fees just to find out how much they owed for banking and telco services, which are considered essential in the modern world.

In the last few months, new consumer protection measures have come into place. Bill C-43 introduced measures to end pay-to-pay fees in the broadcasting and telco sectors. It prohibited service providers from charging customers who receive paper bills for wireless, Internet, telephone, and television services. Liberals voted in favour of these measures during clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

There have also been new measures to limit bank fees. The government has built on the reforms Liberals introduced in 2001 and expanded low-fee and no-fee bank accounts. Students, low-income seniors, and Canadians with disabilities are entitled to basic banking services with no fees. With low-fee and no-fee accounts, many Canadians can avoid pay-to-pay fees at their banks.

However, according to the banks around 15% of Canadians pay fees for mailed bank statements. Apparently, the banks are willing to waive these fees for customers who face economic hardship or who do not have Internet access, but there is more that can be done to avoid pay-to-pay fees across the federally regulated financial sector.

Of course, the devil is in the detail. Closing the door on pay-to-pay fees would not mean a thing if it leads to similar fees popping up elsewhere. The government must be clear in how it defines the term pay-to-pay. Does it refer to invoices for accounts where the customer owes money, such as credit cards and mortgages? Does the government have a broader interpretation that would include statements for all financial accounts at the bank, including investment accounts, or is the government's interpretation even broader still? It seems that a small number of people are trying to morph the term into something far more comprehensive, covering almost any financial transaction fee on any payment. Therefore, we need some level of clarity around that. No one likes bank fees, but banning transaction fees in a modern world of e-commerce has to be done discerningly.

It is really important to recognize that there are many meaningful ways we can bring fairness back to Canadian families who are struggling. Today's motion reflects one way. The Liberal plan for fairness is another way to help struggling middle-class Canadian families and those Canadians working hard to join the middle class.

The Liberals have put forward a plan to stand up for Canadian middle-class families. We recognize that too many Canadian families are struggling just to make ends meet. They are struggling under the crushing weight of record levels of personal debt, $1.66 for every $1.00 of disposable income. Canadians have been taking on more debt as the job quality in Canada has deteriorated. In fact, according to CIBC Economics we have the worst job quality in Canada that we have had in 25 years. We have seen full-time jobs with benefits being replaced by part-time work.

Too many middle-class Canadians have not had a real pay raise in a long time and too many young Canadians have yet to really start their careers. They face a labour market that still has 160,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than back in 2008. Young Canadians face a growing pressure to take unpaid work, just for the work experience. We have all heard of recent graduates who are stuck in a cycle going from unpaid internship to unpaid internship, while their parents are struggling to help pay the bills. That is another reason why more and more Canadians are going deeper into debt, the direct financial subsidization of young Canadians who have good educations but cannot find good work to support themselves.

Many middle-class parents are delaying their retirement in order to help adult children who simply have not been able to achieve financial self-sufficiency. It is no longer unusual to hear of young Canadians still living with their parents into their late 20s or beyond. Meanwhile, income inequality has grown, and growing income inequality does not just go against our sense of fairness, it is also bad for economic growth. We have learned that from the IMF, among others.

A Liberal government would make the tax system fairer and cut the middle-class tax rate by 7%. That is a $3-billion tax cut for those who need it the most. We could afford to do this by asking the wealthiest Canadians to pay a little more so the middle class can pay less. We would introduce a new tax bracket for the top 1% on incomes over $200,000.

We would also cancel the Conservatives' $2-billion income splitting scheme that the C.D. Howe Institute has actually told us will only benefit 15% of Canada's richest families. Income splitting provides $2,000 more to those who do not need the help. It does nothing to help single parents or low-income families. In fact, according to the C.D. Howe Institute, 85% of Canadian households, those who need the help the most, will not get a dime from income splitting.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, higher income families are not only more likely to qualify for benefits under income splitting, the average benefit actually rises with family income. The Conservatives are providing the most help to precisely those who need it the least. We do not think it is fair to ask struggling Canadians to pay for a $2,000 tax break for the Prime Minister's family or, in fact, for the family of the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Income splitting is not just unfair, it also needlessly complicates our tax system and is bad for growth. It is complicated that we need to follow an 85-step process just to apply. Even the tax experts within the Department of Finance who wrote the rules got it wrong the first three times it came to Parliament. It is also bad for growth. The PBO has shown that income splitting will actually weaken our economy rather than strengthen it. He estimates that it would cost the equivalent of 7,000 full-time jobs.

The Liberal plan would do more to grow the economy and help families with the high cost of raising kids. A Liberal government would provide one bigger tax-free monthly cheque to Canadian families with children. Under our plan, every family earning less than $150,000 per year would receive more monthly benefits.

With the Liberal plan's new Canada child benefit, a typical two-parent family with two children earning $90,000 per year would get $490 tax-free every month. Under the Conservatives, the same family today only receives $275 after tax.

When we compare the two plans, the Liberal plan would provide an extra $2,500 per year tax free over what Canadians are now getting under the Conservative government. Therefore, that family making $90,000 a year with two children would be $2,500 better off every single year.

With the Liberal plan, a typical single-parent family earning $30,000 a year with one child would get an extra $533 tax free every month. That is significantly more generous than the $440 that family gets under the Conservatives currently.

A Canadian family making $45,000 per year with two children would receive an extra $4,000 per year after taxes under the Liberal plan for fairness than they are receiving right now under the Conservatives.

It boils down to choices, and Canadians have two fundamentally different choices now. The Conservatives are offering tax breaks for the wealthy, and the Liberals are offering a plan to help the Canadian middle class with a middle-class tax cut and a new, fairer, more generous and simpler Liberal Canada child benefit.

Liberals believe in a country that works for everyone. We will put more money in the pockets of Canada's middle-class families and those Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.

In conclusion, today's motion focuses on small fees that are an irritant to Canadians. It is a step that we expect all parties can support. However, a Liberal government would go further by tackling the bigger issues facing Canadians.

We would provide real, meaningful help to Canadian families who are struggling and a middle-class tax cut that would put more money back in the pockets of the Canadian families who need the help the most. A Liberal Canada child benefit would help vulnerable Canadian families, low- and middle-income families with children who need the help the most.

We can afford to do that and still balance budgets, because we are prepared to make a choice by asking wealthier Canadian families to pay more. It is fair and it is also good for jobs and growth, because when we cut taxes on the middle-income and lower-income Canadians, it is more stimulative to the Canadian economy.

We will be presenting more plans for jobs and growth in the future and fairness for Canadian middle-class families. We are looking forward as a government moving forward to really helping those families after the next election.

December 11th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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General Director, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Brian Ernewein

I'm sorry. I'm mixing up my years. It was in 2014. It's in Bill C-43 this year, which has passed in the House of Commons, and is now in the Senate.

December 11th, 2014 / 4:15 p.m.
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A voice

It was Bill C-43.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 10th, 2014 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion at third reading of Bill C-43.

May I dispense?

The House resumed from December 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I would like to note that I will be splitting my time with my colleague and friend, the chief government whip.

Since taking office in 2006, our Conservative government has been focused on what matters most to Canadians, and that is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.

We are on track to achieve balance by 2015, because we have been prudent. We cannot afford to risk the future of our country by engaging in reckless spending schemes and wild tax hikes. We will not lose focus.

Coming into government in 2006, the first thing our government did was fulfill some of our major campaign commitments. We cut the GST, created the universal child care benefit for families with children, and paid down the debt. In fact, we paid down about $38 billion worth of federal debt, which put us in good stead when bad economic times hit in the last quarter of 2008. This latter decision proved to be one of the best decisions our government made, as we would find out later.

Our government also created our economic roadmap, advantage Canada. It was an economic plan designed to position Canada for future prosperity. The basic principles of advantage Canada remain as relevant today as when our government created it back in 2006: no reckless spending, and lower taxes.

When Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, subprime mortgages in the United States caused a ripple effect through global economies and credit markets. Well, extraordinary times required extraordinary measures, and our government stepped up. When the dust began to settle, Canada was not only the last G7 country into the recession but the first G7 country out of the recession. Why? It was because our economic action plan worked. By paying down debt at the outset, we had more flexibility to take the necessary measures we did.

As a result of our economic performance, Canada has developed a great brand around the world. In fact, Tom Donohue, president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, has said about our government's achievements: “The great Canadian miracle is something we should follow”.

Notwithstanding the creation of 1.2 million net new jobs since the end of the recession, Bloomberg stating that Canada is the best place in the world to set up business, and our consistent AAA credit rating, we are not out of the woods yet. The Canadian economy still faces potential challenges from abroad. We must continue to take action where and when necessary. We must solidify our gains and take action now to mitigate against any potential dark economic clouds that may drift in from elsewhere.

Although the World Bank has ranked Canada's banking and financial sector as the world's best for six years in a row, our government has continuously been on the forefront to strengthen and bolster our financial sector so that it will remain number one.

As I noted, since the start of the global economic financial crisis, our government has implemented a number of measures to maintain Canada's financial sector's advantage and to reinforce stability for the sector. I want to highlight two of them contained within Bill C-43 that will continue to build on our strong foundation of stability within our financial system.

First are proposed changes to the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act. Second are proposed changes to the Canadian Payments Act. Both are key to maintaining Canada in the forefront of financial sector stability, otherwise known as the Canada brand.

The Payment Clearing and Settlement Act provides the Bank of Canada with the legislative authority and power to oversee clearing and settlement systems, also called financial market infrastructures, or FMIs, that may be operated in such a manner as to pose systematic risk to the Canadian financial system. Systematic risk arises when the inability of one participant to meet its obligations to the financial market infrastructure could cause other participants to be unable to meet their obligations.

The Payment Clearing and Settlement Act is the federal government's recognition of the essential role of major FMIs in the Canadian economy and the importance of regulatory oversight of these FMIs. The Payment Clearing and Settlement Act provides the Bank of Canada with two main oversight responsibilities: first, designating FMIs that have the potential to pose systematic risk as subject to bank oversight; and second, overseeing designated FMIs to ensure that they are adequately controlling systematic risk.

The amendments to the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act would expand and enhance the Bank of Canada's oversight of financial market infrastructures to ensure that risks to financial market infrastructures can be identified and addressed in a proactive and timely manner. These amendments would address the gaps in oversight identified in our government's review of the system undertaken in 2012. Addressing these gaps and the oversight of major clearing systems are critical to the efficient functioning of the Canadian financial system and the economy.

What are the gaps these changes seek to address? Under the current regime, the Bank of Canada's oversight is limited to clearing and settlement systems that pose systemic risk. It does not extend to non-systemically important systems for which a failure can have a serious impact on the economy and on general confidence in the payment system.

In addition, some of the regulatory tools currently available to the Bank of Canada are insufficient for addressing certain types of risk in clearing and settlement systems. These proposed amendments would broaden the scope of oversight to prominent payment systems and would enhance some of the tools available to the Bank of Canada to respond to these risks. The proposed changes would also expand the definition of “systemic risk” to capture disruptive effects, not just on financial institutions but on financial markets and their participants. The changes would also better align the definition with international standards.

How would the changes impact the industry? In fulfilling its oversight role, the Bank of Canada uses a co-operative approach to ensure that owners and operators of clearing settlement systems are adequately controlling risk. The changes would ensure that the Bank of Canada would be able to backstop this co-operative approach should it need to respond to risks in clearing and settlement systems. These changes would allow the Bank of Canada to respond to potential risks in a more timely and proactive manner.

The second set of amendments would be to the Canadian Payments Act.

The Canadian Payments Association owns and operates national payments and clearing systems. These systems are used by financial institutions to transfer money among themselves. Types of payments cleared and settled through the CPA system include payroll, debit transactions, and wire payments.

Everyone is in agreement that the CPA is a capable owner and operator of these systems. These amendments would improve the CPA's governance by, first, introducing greater independent decision-making to its board of directors by establishing a majority independent board, led by an independent chair; second, improving the CPA's accountability to government and the public by requiring the CPA to submit a corporate plan and to publish an annual report; and third, expanding the power of the Minister of Finance to issue directives to the CPA. These measures would ensure that the CPA system was operated for the benefit of Canadian consumers, businesses, and the economy. They would also support competition and innovation in the payments industry.

Canadians make roughly 25 billion payments, worth more than $44 trillion, each year. The payments system is vital to consumers and to the continued strength of the Canadian economy. Advances in information and communications technology are changing the way Canadians pay for goods and services.

While payments systems are evolving, they must always be safe and sound so that Canadians can have confidence in them. That is why we are seeking these changes. I look forward to the support of all members of this House for these amendments and for Bill C-43.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North. Today I will speak to Bill C-43, the budget implementation act.

Given the track record of the Conservatives, it is no surprise to me that they again have moved time allocation on this bill. I am lucky enough to get a chance to speak on behalf of my constituents, however, I know many members from the NDP and Liberal side, and maybe the Conservative side, will not get the opportunity to represent their constituents.

There is no possible way that a 460-page bill, which contains more than 400 clauses, could be adequately studied, analyzed and debated under this type of time restriction. Is that a surprise? Well, I am not surprised at all. Under the government, omnibus bills that amend dozens of acts at a time and pushed through the House under time allocation are unfortunately becoming the norm. It is unfortunate that the government insists on following this anti-democratic process time and time again. However, after three and a half years, I have recognized that the Conservative government is not planning on changing its ways any time soon.

There is a laundry list of things in the bill before us. It talks about temporary foreign workers, pay-to-pay fees, airports, the Canadian Polar Commission and the EI job credit. The Conservatives are also beating up on refugees in the bill.

However, I want to talk about what is important to my constituents. When I go back to Surrey, I like talking to people and finding out what their issues are, but none of those issues have been addressed in the bill.

I often say when we are on the Hill, that Ottawa is like a little bubble. We need to get outside of the Hill and hear what Canadians want. However, I get the feeling that the Conservatives are still living in that bubble, because what Canadians are saying is not being addressed in the House by the government.

I come from Surrey North, which is a dynamic, vibrant and fast-growing city in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. I am extremely proud to represent a portion of such a diverse and interesting city. However, Surrey is facing many pressures and challenges that require action and assistance from the federal government to solve.

Surrey's challenges range from a lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, inadequate public transit and serious issues around crime and poverty. Federal funding and support is sorely needed to make inroads to address these challenges in my city.

I continue to hear from my constituents on the problem of public transit in Surrey, and I have to agree. Surrey is the second largest city in British Columbia, soon to be the largest city in the upcoming years. It is growing at a rate of about 12,000 to 13,000 new residents annually. As one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, and the fastest-growing city in metropolitan Vancouver, there is a clear need for infrastructure funding to support this growth. Public transportation is increasingly a problem for a such a fast-growing city. Although the population of Surrey continues to grow at an astounding rate, public transportation has not kept pace.

The SkyTrain is Surrey's most efficient public transit connection to other cities in the Lower Mainland, such as New Westminster, Burnaby and Vancouver. However, SkyTrain service in Surrey has not been expanded since 1994 when three new stations were put in—all in my riding—but nothing has been done since then.

Twenty years later, the face of Surrey has changed dramatically, and it is well past the time that the federal government commit to funding critical infrastructure, such as the expansion of public transit in Surrey. Residents in my community of Surrey North will tell members that the public transit system in Surrey is inadequate, and I hear that quite often. There are long wait times and convoluted routes to get from one point in the city to another.

The city of Surrey is currently working to secure funding for a light rail transit network that will connect different town centres in the city as well as connect Surrey to cities in our area, such as Langley. This is an important step forward for our city and a very important investment that is critical to ensuring Surrey remains a livable and connected city.

It disappoints me greatly to see that the budget does not allocate funding to important projects that are critical to continued growth and development of major cities, such as Surrey. Other cities across the country are facing similar pressures with regard to public transit. We hear from the FCM on a regular basis about the lack of funding for transit infrastructure development for the cities across this nation.

Just last week, my colleague, the member for Parkdale—High Park, pointed out the issues that Toronto had experienced with the transit system not keeping pace with the population growth. This is not an isolated issue. Investment in infrastructure is necessary to ensure that our cities continue to be some of the best and most livable in the world.

In terms of infrastructure, public transit is not the only issue facing my community of Surrey North. As I have mentioned many times in the House, the aging Pattullo Bridge is a major concern to my constituents. I have been very vocal in requesting that the federal government step in and play a role in regional infrastructure planning and development. The 76-year-old Pattullo Bridge, which was built for a 50-year lifespan, now poses a significant safety concern.

The Golden Ears Bridge and the Port Mann Bridge, which both feed either directly or indirectly into Surrey North, are the only toll bridges in western Canada and the only toll bridges coming into my riding.

Many Surrey residents continue to commute across the Fraser River to go to work. The future of the Pattullo Bridge will have a significant impact on the residents of Surrey, especially on the residents of Surrey North, as it is the last non-toll bridge that feeds directly into our city.

I have been anxiously waiting for the federal government to commit to participating in infrastructure planning and development in the south Fraser River region. However, this budget proves that this is not a priority for the government.

Municipalities receive only 8% of the tax revenue, but are responsible for 60% of the development. This equation does not add up, and it is clear that the federal government has a responsibility to allocate funding to regional development and infrastructure in a reasonable manner that creates sustainable and livable cities.

This is not being done right now. It is not being addressed in this budget at all.

Finally, I hear concerns about crime in my community very frequently. Residents are concerned about the impact that crime is having on our community and what is being done to reduce the amount of crime.

Frankly, the tough-on-crime government has done nothing to help people in Surrey North. Instead, we have seen funding for policing downloaded to municipalities. Practical and cost-effective solutions such as prevention programs are not being utilized to reduce crime. For example, research shows that community-based programs focused on gang intervention, after-school mentoring and after-school recreation are promising at preventing crime.

Programs like this are practical, cost-effective and contribute to community building, as well as to the goal of reducing crime. My motion on youth gang prevention takes a similar approach by calling on the government to provide stable, long-term funding for youth gang crime prevention and intervention programs.

However, once again, I see no funding allocated to these types of common sense prevention programs that could help reduce the amount of crime in riding of Surrey North and communities across the country.

This approach of the Conservative government is very problematic. I am not surprised in the least that the budget is out of touch with the needs of everyday Canadians. This budget is an opportunity to truly address the needs of Canadians, however, the government has again failed Canadians.

I want to take this opportunity to wish all Canadians right across our country a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, and be safe.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 3:20 p.m.
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NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's speech. He talks about airports, yet Bill C-43 would centralize more ministerial power over the expansion and modification of airports, raising the risk that local consultation would not occur in the face of controversial proposals such as the Toronto Island airport expansion. We see a bill that would remove the opportunity for people to have proper input when it comes to airport modification. Over and over again, we see a government that continues to limit debates on bills as important as this one, bills that would create such a great amount of change.

Could my colleague talk specifically about the fact that the bill would actually raise the risk that consultation would not occur on this specific piece?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 3:10 p.m.
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Essex Ontario

Conservative

Jeff Watson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to this important legislation, Bill C-43, which includes provisions that would support jobs, economic growth, families, and communities.

In addition to the measures making the tax system simpler and fairer for farming and fishing businesses, extending the existing tax credits, doubling the children's fitness tax credit, and much more, we are also bringing in changes to support our transportation system.

I would like turn the attention of the House to the amendments to the Canada Marine Act. Canadian port authorities operate Canada's 18 major ports. Canadian port authorities are considered key economic drivers and are vital to Canada's domestic and international trade objectives. Our government is committed to creating the right conditions to ensure that we have competitive ports to support our aggressive trade agenda. The proposed amendments to the Canada Marine Act are part of the plan to enable strong Canadian ports.

The proposed amendments would allow Canadian port authorities the ability to acquire surplus federal real property. This supports the federal government's ongoing divestiture of regional ports. To date, Transport Canada has divested or otherwise transferred 499 regional and remote ports that it owned, while 50 ports remain under federal ownership. Some Canadian port authorities have expressed an interest in acquiring Transport Canada-owned ports to expand their business opportunities. Canadian port authorities are well positioned to attract investments, increase traffic, and, importantly, create jobs.

The participation of Canadian port authorities is considered a key part of the ongoing divestiture strategy. However, provisions under the current Canada Marine Act do not allow Canadian port authorities the ability to acquire federal real property, thereby preventing these port authorities from participating in the divestiture program. The proposed amendments would enable Canadian port authorities to participate in the divestiture program after other interested stakeholders, such as municipalities, have been given the opportunity to acquire these surplus ports first.

There are also increased resource development projects on federal port lands stemming from Canada's potential to be a major player in the global energy economy. Our government is proposing amendments to ensure projects are undertaken in a safe manner while protecting the environment and Canadians. These amendments would provide the government with an option to develop regulations applying to any specific large-scale commercial or industrial projects on federal port lands. These proposed amendments would also permit these regulations to incorporate by reference any laws or documents to effectively regulate any potential projects on federal port lands.

As I noted at the start, many of our transportation initiatives relate to our country's trade agenda and help connect us to a global supply chain. This means we must ensure that our transportation system, including ports, has a robust legislative regime to support our trade agenda. The amendments to the Canada Marine Act would support economic growth and enable international trade.

Let me move on to another important measure in Bill C-43. We are making amendments to the Aeronautics Act that would provide the Minister of Transport with the authority and the necessary tools to effectively respond to an increasing number of aerodrome issues pertaining to development, location, land use, and consultation.

Canada's aviation system consists of 300 certified aerodromes, or airports, and approximately 7,000 aerodromes, which are defined as an area of land, water, or other supporting surface used for the arrival, departure, movement, or servicing of aircraft.

Over the last several years, Transport Canada has increasingly heard from provinces, municipalities, and Canadians concerning a number of complex issues related to the construction of new aerodromes and the operation of existing aerodromes, some of which were subsequently brought before the courts. As the situation now stands, current regulations do not require proponents to take part in consultation processes with local land use authorities and affected stakeholders or to notify Transport Canada or Nav Canada prior to developing an aerodrome. Transport Canada also does not have a formal engagement process in place whereby stakeholders or those involved may raise concerns regarding aerodrome development to that department.

In the absence of these tools, the department has been left in a reactive position and has been dealing with issues on an ad hoc basis, which has proven to be inefficient and resource-intensive and has not effectively responded to the concerns of constituents. It has also led to unnecessary and significant costs for aerodrome proponents.

In order to suitably carry out the department's aviation mandate, the minister requires the legal authority to promote aerodrome development when it enhances Canada's transportation system and supports economic prosperity, and also the authority to prohibit the development if it is not in the best interest of Canadians.

As such, the amendments would provide the minister with the authority to make an order to prohibit an aerodrome proponent from developing or expanding or making changes to the nature of operations if there was a risk to aviation safety or if it is not in the public interest. For example, this could include cases in which the operations of a new or existing aerodrome would result in greater air traffic congestion, which could introduce a risk to aviation safety.

This new authority would permit intervention by the minister to prohibit development at an early point, rather than after construction or during operations, in order to allow for the early identification and mitigation of safety issues.

The proposed amendment would also provide for regulation-making authority respecting the consultations to be carried out by the proponent of an aerodrome before development or the operator of an aerodrome before an expansion or change to its operations.

This initiative would provide the minister with flexibility to effectively respond to either existing or possibly unforeseen issues or trends and is an important first step in modernizing the department's aerodrome framework.

This amendment would also protect aerodrome proponents and operators from unnecessary costs associated with development and would provide an opportunity for affected Canadians to be engaged in the process.

We will continue to promote the freedom to fly safely in a rapidly growing sector while providing greater regulatory predictability and transparency for Canadians. We will also continue to address aviation safety and public interest concerns while encouraging the responsible development and operation of aerodromes in Canada.

Economic action plan 2014 no. 2 would create the right conditions for an efficient, competitive, and sustainable transportation system to move Canadian products. Such a system is vital to a strong economy.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 1:45 p.m.
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Durham Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport.

I am pleased to rise on Bill C-43, economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2. In my preparation for these remarks, I was struck by the importance of the date on which I am speaking. I am speaking for the second time on the budget from earlier this year. I spoke to it for the first time in this House on April 4. In my remarks, I praised the work of the late Jim Flaherty, because at that time, he had moved from being our long-serving Minister of Finance to being the MP for Whitby—Oshawa. That was on April 4. Sadly, six days later, we lost our friend Jim. I think this House and all Canadians recognize that what we are debating today is his last budget and his gift to Canada of securing our economic future.

When I was reviewing my remarks, I realized that today is the day the new member for Whitby—Oshawa, and since she has not yet taken her seat, I believe I can say that her name is Pat Perkins, will be taking her seat, in about an hour. She will be taking her seat as a proud Conservative caucus member and as a former mayor of Whitby who has worked very passionately with people like Jim Flaherty and our Prime Minister and with this government.

Sometimes these significant dates and the tremendous public service of people like Jim and Pat need to be recognized in this House.

In my remarks given in this place on April 4, I highlighted several parts of the budget, particularly some measures for small and medium-sized enterprises; research and development innovation, such as at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; trade and some of our trade work; and our reinvestment in the Last Post Fund for veterans, something the legion had been asking for, which would extend the century-long work of the Last Post Fund to modern-day veterans, veterans post-Korean War, who may have been indigent at the time they passed.

I think all members in this House are well served by the teams we have in our ridings. Today is also important to speak because I am fortunate to have Sheryl, Stacy, and Danielle from my riding here today in Ottawa at training. Without people like that serving our constituents, we would not be able to give the service we need to to Canadians.

My remarks today are going to focus on some different parts of the budget and related amendments that are important to Canada and our prosperity. I want to focus on why some of these measures are here. Often my friends in the NDP like to talk about how many pages a budget implementation act has but do not actually read the pages.

We are looking at one of the most sophisticated economies in the world. With tax measures, measures to promote growth and job creation, and listening to families and promoting safe communities, there are going to be consequential regulations and amendments as part of that. If we dive into them, we can see that they actually echo the demands of Canadians.

The child fitness tax credit has been remarkably popular. It supports healthy activity for our young people and helps families bridge that gap as the costs of these sports and physical activities have gone up. This bill will implement our doubling of that fitness tax credit and will make it refundable as of next year.

I was very proud that the Prime Minister chose Whitby to make this announcement and that we were part of it in the Abilities Centre. It is a direct measure that has been benefiting families. We are extending it and making it better.

Consumers, particularly seniors in my riding, have asked me countless times why they have to pay to pay. They want to know why they have to pay for a paper bill if they want to get a paper bill. That provision is in here as a consumer measure. It is focused on giving choices to consumers, those who either pay online or the traditional way. It is also part of our multi-year project of making the wireless sector more competitive and more accountable.

There are also measures in this bill that will see administrative monetary penalties added to the Wireless Code and that will continue our work to bring cell phone costs down for Canadian families and businesses.

We see direct input from charities in this budget, building on the exceptional work done in the previous budget on the introduction of the first-time donor's super credit that encouraged Canadians to support the charitable sector. We would build on that to allow charitable groups, non-profits, and church groups to fund-raise and do their activities by computer, which would allow them to do more modern fundraising. We have been listening to these charities and acting.

We see NGOs' input reflected in here. I remember meeting Kady Séguin, from Publish What You Pay, in my extractive-sector outreach. Our G8 commitment, made by the Prime Minister in Scotland, to make resource companies around the world publish their payments in those countries is in here. That is listening. That is building on the work some of those NGOs are doing.

Business owners, particularly small-business owners, will see their demands in here, expressed through a number of groups, including CFIB. Our small business job credit, which would see a benefit for 90% of EI-dues-paying employers, would drop their EI payroll taxes by up to 15%, not only securing the jobs of today but building them for tomorrow. That is listening. That is in here.

We have heard from victims advocates across the country. The victims bill of rights is in this budget implementation bill. As well, there is something that many, including my friend, the leader of the Green Party, have advocated for. She has been advocating for the DNA missing persons database to try to give closure to some of these families. Victims groups have asked for that investment in the DNA databank. That is in here. That is listening to victims. That is listening to groups across the country.

It is also an opportunity for small groups of residents, like those in my riding, to have an impact. When I was elected in 2012, I met with a group of people who were upset by some of the development around a small aerodrome in Greenbank. Large quantities of fill were being brought in. There was the expectation that because it was an aerodrome, there was no regulation permitted by the local and provincial levels of government. That was not the case. We have clarified that. Operations like the fill operation will only attract the federal jurisdiction if they have a direct impact on aeronautics. However, clearly, there is a need to clarify this area, so there is another provision. We have listened. A number of us have advocated amendments to the Aeronautics Act that would clarify the ability of the minister to set regulations on the development of these aerodromes, small ones scattered throughout the country, and to make regulations with respect to consultations on the development of these aerodromes.

The great thing about a budget that will bring Canada to a balanced budget in the next year, spending in priority areas, and offering tax relief to groups like families and small businesses is that in many ways, it goes back to my first remarks that the legacy of our friend Jim Flaherty will live on through the secure economy he has provided. Budgets like this one make sure that our economic fundamentals are sound.

It takes prudent management. Budgets do not balance themselves. It takes setting priorities. It takes establishing a plan. It takes building an environment friendly to job creation, innovation, and growth.

This will mark a turning point. Canada not only stands tall with our success domestically but serves as a beacon to our G7 counterparts. Canada will be the first G7 nation, for many years, to have a balanced budget. What is more impressive is that we balanced that budget while creating jobs, spending in priority areas, like record health transfers to provinces like mine, Ontario, and controlling the overall pace of the growth of government, recognizing that small businesses, families, and seniors cannot be leaned on time and again just for the sake of growing every department of government and the size and scope of government.

It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I recognize that Mr. Flaherty's legacy will be executed through this final budget, which will pass this House and secure a strong future for Canada.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-43. This is the 77th time the government has moved a time allocation motion. This time allocation motion is on a budget bill, which is very important. The government gave us two days to debate the bill at report stage and one day, today, for third reading stage. This is how much time we have had in Parliament to debate a bill that is more than 460 pages long, has more than 400 clauses and will amend a dozen of our country's laws.

We want to hold an intelligent debate on a budget that matters to Canadians. Ten minutes go by quickly, but I cannot ignore the comments made by our Conservative colleague, who said that the NDP wants to introduce a 45-day work year. Every time we ask a question about employment insurance, the government says that the NDP wants everyone to work only 45 days a year.

According to The Globe and Mail, the Minister of Employment and Social Development said that he would have to hire more than 400 employees to answer calls from seniors and workers, as a result of delays in processing employment insurance, old age security and guaranteed income supplement payments.

This same government wants to reduce employers' EI premiums by half a billion dollars, telling us that this will create jobs in Canada. However, Ms. Doucet, who runs a Christmas wreath company in a town in my riding, said that the EI reform was discouraging seasonal workers.

The government says that these cuts are justified. It says it wants to create jobs and help people work instead of being unemployed. The government thinks workers are lazy slackers. This is not the first time that I have criticized the government's actions in the House, and it will not be the last.

People have to wait up to 25 weeks to get their guaranteed income supplement, which helps the most vulnerable members of our society. I am talking about seniors whose only pension is old age security and who need a supplement. Can a person really live on $543 a month? These people are being made to wait 25 weeks.

This week and last week, the Minister of Employment and Social Development had the nerve to say that he had asked some Social Security Tribunal officers who were working on employment insurance files to work on old age security and guaranteed income supplement files. However, the tribunal already has a six-month backlog of employment insurance files.

Yesterday and today, the minister acknowledged this and said that 400 people would be hired. However, it takes 12 to 18 months to train a person on how to process an employment insurance or old age security file.

The government has even admitted that Service Canada offices received 10,000 complaints. The government closed offices and cut front-line staff.

In Pleasantville, Newfoundland and Labrador, 100 to 150 people are visiting the employment insurance office because they cannot reach anyone by telephone. Even if the government hired 400 people tomorrow morning to work at Service Canada, they would not be answering the telephone. The Conservatives have created a mess for Canadians. The government should be ashamed of tampering with a program and a responsibility they have toward seniors and workers, and they should be ashamed of laughing at at them.

Our colleague in the House of Commons from Madawaska—Restigouche said the following in the newspapers. I will not name the MP that he quoted, but it appears he is from Acadie—Bathurst. The member for Madawaska—Restigouche said:

The campaign of terror waged by [the member for Acadie—Bathurst] and company did not achieve the expected results. They scared people, and everyone across the region sees that.

Yes, people in that region clearly see that they cannot get employment insurance benefits. They see that they have to wait six months for the Social Security Tribunal to hear their case. In my riding, seniors see that they cannot get the guaranteed income supplement and they have to live on $553 a month. People see that they need to apply for welfare.

Rather than allowing MPs in the House to express their views, as in a democratic country, on Bill C-43, the Conservatives have imposed a time allocation motion so that we can only debate it for one day. This is shameful.

It is shameful to hear a government tell Canadians that the NDP is proposing, among other things, that people should work only 45 days a year. It is shameful that the government thinks that workers are lazy slackers. In fact, this is what they are actually saying in their speeches.

It is completely unacceptable for men and women who have worked all their lives and who want to retire. This is the same government that increased the retirement age from 65 to 67.

Yes, I am proud of belonging to the NDP and to say that we are going to bring back 65 as the age of eligibility to old age security. Yes, I am proud to say that I am with the NDP and not with the Conservatives who persecute workers, seniors and ordinary Canadians. They are going to cut $36 billion from the health care sector by 2017. Yes, I am proud of the NDP, which has said that this $36 billion is going to be returned to the health care sector.

We hope that Canadians are aware of what the Conservatives will do, if they ever get back into power.

The Conservatives are attacking the poorest and the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a shameful way to treat people who are just reaching retirement age after working all their lives.

This is the kind of thing that this bill does, in addition to decreasing contributions from employers. This is not something that will create 800,000 jobs, as the government would have us believe.

What do our entrepreneurs do when the Conservatives make cuts to employment insurance for seasonal workers? They go west, but that is artificial. Our national economy cannot be based on just one element, that is, only on oil wells.

The price of oil is going down. If there are layoffs in western Canada, what will happen to all the people who take the plane every week to go to jobs out west? The Conservatives boast about creating jobs, but those jobs have only been created in one place because the price of oil was going up. Jobs were created out west, but not here at home, in the Atlantic region, nor in the rural areas of the country. If they want people to stop needing employment insurance, they have to create jobs. This is absolutely not what is in this budget. The Conservatives should be ashamed of how they are leading the country.

It is to be hoped that Canadians will remember this when the next elections are held and that they will kick them out once and for all or for a long time.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 1 p.m.
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Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont Alberta

Conservative

Mike Lake ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-43 and the benefits it would have for Canadian consumers and businesses.

Our government has taken decisive action on putting Canadian consumers first. We have cut taxes nearly 180 times, which is saving Canadian families nearly $3,400 per year on average. Our government has also committed to making it easier for small and medium-size businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. We are keeping taxes low, freezing EI rates for next year, cutting red tape and returning to balanced budgets. Canada is one of the most tax-competitive countries and has the best job creation among the G7, and we will continue down that path.

Budget 2014 continued with these commitments, including consumer-focused measures to ensure that Canadian families would get value for their hard-earned dollars and measures that would help small and medium-size businesses to thrive.

Specifically, economic action plan 2014 committed to introduce administrative monetary penalties for the violation of rules in the telecommunications sector; eliminated the practice of pay-to-pay billing so Canadian consumers would not have to pay extra to receive paper bills; clarified the prohibitions against violating Industry Canada's spectrum auction rules to ensure fair and competitive bidding that would achieve the greatest benefit for Canadians; modernized Canada's intellectual property framework to better align it with international practices and reduced the burden for Canadian businesses; and continued to ensure that Canadian businesses and investors would have the market access they needed to succeed in the global economy.

I would like to take a few moments to explain these important initiatives and the benefits they will have for Canadian consumers and small businesses.

Our government is committed to ensuring that companies in the telecom sector play by the rules. That is why we are introducing new enforcement measures that will increase consumer protection in this sector. Bill C-43 would amend the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act to provide the CRTC and the industry minister with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties on companies and individuals that would violate the rules. Companies would face penalties of up to $10 million and up to $15 million for subsequent violations. These new measures would provide Canadian regulators with the needed tools to ensure companies would comply with the rules. They would protect Canadian consumers and support a competitive marketplace by promoting regulatory compliance and providing for appropriate remedies should violations occur.

Canadian consumers have been clear that they expect lower prices and better services from telecommunications providers. That is why our government committed to ending unfair pay-to-pay billing practices, putting the interests of Canadian consumers first.

More and more Canadians are finding a new charge appearing on their monthly bills, including their wireless bill. This fee is charged to those who receive their bill by mail. Increasingly, many Canadians are being charged for this new fee by companies from which they have been receiving service for decades.

In August, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre published a report in which it estimated that Canadians paid between $495 million and $734 million annually in fees for monthly paper bills and statements in the banking and communications services industries.

We believe Canadians should not have to pay more to receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill. As such, economic action plan 2014 commits to ending this unfair practice. Bill C-43 would end these pay-to-pay billing practices by adding an explicit provision to the Telecommunications Act that would prohibit any person who provided telecommunications services from charging a subscriber for a paper bill. Any company that broke the rules would face penalties of up to $15 million.

Canadians have also been clear that they want their government to take action to ensure the provision of more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada's wireless sector. I am proud to note that our government has consistently introduced measures to support a healthy, robust and competitive wireless industry.

For instance, we implemented a use it or lose it policy to ensure that wireless companies that did not use their spectrum licences would lose them. We have been taking important steps to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available to provide Canadians with the access they need on the devices they choose.

In January, the government unveiled details of the 2,500 megahertz auction, which would benefit Canadians in urban and rural areas. In February, we announced the results of the 700 megahertz auction, the most successful auction of spectrum in Canadian history, generating roughly $5.3 billion in revenue for taxpayers and putting high-quality spectrum in the hands of at least four wireless providers in each region of Canada.

Bill C-43 would further ensure that spectrum auctions would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, in accordance with rules of conduct, to the benefit of all Canadians. In particular, the bill would amend the Radiocommunication Act to require that any person who would be subject to the spectrum auction rules must comply with those rules or risk the imposition of an administrative monetary penalty of up to $15 million.

These measures would increase regulatory compliance in the wireless sector and ensure that Canadian consumers would benefit from better service.

Our government also understands that reducing red tape for small and medium-sized businesses is central to Canada's economic growth. In budget 2014, our government committed to modernizing Canada's intellectual property framework by ratifying five international treaties. Earlier this year, our government passed the first three of the treaties relating to trademarks, the Madrid protocol, the Singapore treaty, and the Nice agreement.

Bill C-43 proposes amendments to the Patent Act and the industrial design act to ratify and accede to the remaining two treaties, the patent law treaty and the Geneva act of the Hague agreement.

Overall, the amendments in Bill C-43 would harmonize Canada's intellectual property regime with international practices, standardizing and simplifying administrative processes to lower costs and reduce red tape for small businesses. In particular, these amendments would allow a company to file for industrial design protection in multiple countries through one single application, filed in one language and for one fee. The resulting administrative and financial savings to Canadian businesses would be very significant.

The amendments would also harmonize administrative aspects of Canada's patent regime with international standards. This would result in a simpler application process and reduce the risk of errors.

Modernizing Canada's intellectual property regime and bringing it in line with international standards will continue the work to foster an environment in which businesses can grow and succeed in the global economy. These measures will increase Canada's openness to trade and investment and further reduce barriers to the international flow of goods and services.

Our government is also committed to making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. Bill C-43 contains updates to the Business Development Bank of Canada, which will help small and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive and global environment.

Amendments to the Business Development Bank of Canada would help provide even more flexibility to SMEs that wish to grow beyond our borders. Changes would also establish a wider variety of consulting services for SMEs to access and help the BDC better leverage partnerships with third party organizations to improve its reach into the business community.

The BDC is the only bank in Canada solely dedicated to entrepreneurs and the legislative amendments in Bill C-43 would allow the BDC to expand its support for SMEs.

In conclusion, Bill C-43 proposes amendments that fulfill a number of the government's commitments to a stronger and more prosperous Canada. These initiatives, along with the other measures contained in the bill, will have significant benefits for Canadian consumers, families and small businesses.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry.

I thank the House for this opportunity to discuss Bill C-43. The bill would implement important measures announced in economic action plan 2014. The measures in the bill would make a real difference in the lives of hard-working Canadians.

Life for all Canadians has never been better. We are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth, the economic envy of the post-recession world. However, we must also remain where we came from. We can never forget the great recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the downturn that erased $10 trillion in global market value and eradicated 62 million jobs. The great recession taught us one lesson: we can never take our affluence for granted. We must constantly and relentlessly take action to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and that is exactly what our government is doing through Canada's economic action plan. We have recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but far more than that, we have created more than 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of the downturn. These are overwhelmingly full-time, high-paying private sector jobs. More than that even, more Canadians are working now than at any other time in our history.

All Canadians are wealthier for their work. A recent New York Times analysis found that after-tax, middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact, the Canadian middle class is among the richest in the developed world.

Yet despite our success, we cannot afford to be complacent. Canada refuses to be mediocre. That is why our measures take action across the economy. There are many measures contained in Bill C-43, but unfortunately I cannot touch on all of them. Today I would like to highlight measures to create jobs and growth and support hard-working Canadian families.

Let me begin with creating jobs. Central to our efforts in this regard is making sure Canadians have the skills they need to get hired. In Canada, apprentices in skill trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and participate in technical training for periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. They face a challenge. There can be serious costs to complete the technical training required by their programs. That can include fees, tool and equipment costs, and living expenses. That is why we introduced the Canada apprenticeship loan in the first budget bill. This initiative will help apprentices get registered in Red Seal trades by providing access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.

The parameters of Canada's apprentice loan program are similar to those of the Canada student loan program. That is why we believe that both programs would benefit from the same tax treatment. Bill C-43 proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to extend the existing student loan interest credit—a non-refundable tax credit available for interest payments on loans approved under the Canada student loan program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on the Canada apprentice loan. We are proud to help Canadians gain the skills they need for the jobs they want.

To create even more good, paying jobs, Bill C-43 takes action to lower taxes for small businesses. Small businesses and the entrepreneurs who power them are the lifeblood of our economy. Under our government, Canada is open for business, and in 2013 leapt from sixth to second place in the Bloomberg rankings for the most attractive destination for business. According to KPMG, Canada's total business tax costs are the lowest in the G7, 46% lower than those in the United States. We will not rest on our laurels. Those hard-working entrepreneurs deserve more money in their pockets, money they can use to expand their businesses and create more jobs.

That is why today's legislation includes the new small business job credit. This new credit would effectively lower small business' employment insurance premiums from the current rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any firm that pays employers' EI premiums equal to or less than $15,000 in those years, would be eligible for the rebate. That means 90% of the employers making EI contributions in Canada, or about 780,000 in each year, would directly benefit from the credit. There is even better news for business owners. This credit would require no new paperwork. The Canada Revenue Agency would automatically calculate it on a business' return.

Overall, our small business job credit would reduce the EI premiums paid by small businesses by nearly 15%. We expect to save businesses over half a billion dollars over the next two years.

This job credit represents yet more action for our government to lower taxes for Canadians. Today, the overall tax burden is at its lowest level in over 50 years. An average family of four now pays $3,400 less in taxes as a result of actions taken by our government.

That figure does not even include our latest measures to cut taxes for hard-working Canadian families, and our strong action stands in stark contrast to the Liberals and the NDP. Unlike them, we will not raise taxes for Canadian families, drive the country into deeper deficit, and pile on debt.

There is a simple difference between our Conservative government and the opposition. They want more money in the pockets of Ottawa bureaucrats and less in the pockets of hard-working families. They need to raise taxes to pay for their reckless schemes, and that is not our Conservative approach. We believe in stronger families, more money in the pockets of those who care most about their kids, which is their moms and dads.

This past October we offered hard-working families even more tax relief, tax relief that would help literally every family with children in Canada. We increased and expanded the universal child care benefit, introduced the family tax cut, and raised the child care deduction expense limits. Before that in October, we announced our intention to double the children's fitness tax credit and make it refundable.

Bill C-43 confirms that our government would double the maximum amount of expenses that may be claimed under the credit from its current limit to$1,000 for the 2014 tax year and subsequent years. Parents would be able to take advantage of the new $1,000 maximum limit in the spring of 2015 when they file their tax returns for 2014. Making the credit refundable would increase the benefits to low-income families claiming the credit for 2015 and subsequent years.

This represents even more action by our government to cut taxes for low-income Canadians. In fact, since 2006, we have taken more than a million low-income Canadians off the tax roll entirely.

Let me conclude as I began. We live in fragile economic times. Canadians expect our government not to sit on its laurels. They expect us to take action, to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, not just for this generation but for our children and grandchildren. That is its top priority. Bill C-43 would do precisely that. It would deliver the actions Canadians expect from us and ensure that Canada continues to be the envy of the post-recession world.

As such, I would like to ask all hon. members to support the implementation of this important legislation.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to speak on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, the beautiful riding that I have proudly represented for three years, with respect to Bill C-43, the second budget implementation act. It is another omnibus bill, and it is not called that for nothing, as it contains 460 pages and 400 clauses. I will therefore not be able to address every measure and its effect on the economy.

What is deplorable is that the measures sometimes have nothing to do with the economy. Everyone is in agreement on that point. Even the minister agrees that most of his budget implementation bill has nothing to do with the budget. I do not know why these measures were included in a budget implementation bill. There are several possible theories, but the most likely is that the Conservatives are looking to hide things.

When something is hidden among 460 other clauses, it becomes difficult for the average Canadian who obtains information through the media and the Debates of the House of Commons to know everything that is in the bill.

Therefore, although we openly support some of the measures, we are opposed to the bill as a whole, since the majority of the measures are detrimental and the bill is not the right way to go. We are also opposed to the way it was drafted. It is a repeat of many previous budget implementation bills. We have grown accustomed to Conservative government omnibus bills that contain numerous items. It is difficult to summarize them in 10 minutes, as I will attempt to do.

I wanted to mention the problems caused by this process that we have seen in the past and we still see today. I hope that they will have ended by the next parliamentary session, when we come back in the winter of 2015.

This bill is proof that the Conservatives could not care less about Parliament and parliamentarians' input in the legislative process. The Conservative government is using its majority to enact things without consulting Parliament properly. There is a pretense of discussions on amendments in committee, but we know very well that the only goal of the majority Conservative government is to enact as many things as quickly as possible, without debate, by limiting parliamentarians' input in bills as much as possible.

Since these are occasionally technical bills, the expertise on each side of the House of Commons could offer improvements, because the bills introduced by the government are rarely perfect. We could seek a consensus. However, we are not accustomed to a consensus with the Conservatives. That is not the way they govern our country, unfortunately, even if it could be much more effective and beneficial and increase Canadians' confidence in our institutions.

What is the Conservatives’ economic record since taking office? I will try to dispel the myth that the Conservatives have been trying to make us believe in for years. They claim to be building a strong economy, but evidence suggests otherwise.

Today, our trade deficit has reached more than $60 billion. This is a negative trade balance of more than $60 billion. However, when the Conservatives came to power, the trade surplus was $26 billion. Currently, the trade deficit is over $60 billion.

I am particularly concerned about the issue of youth unemployment, which is currently at 13.4%, more than double the average national rate. Something is obviously happening in this area, and measures must be taken to try and solve the problem. Clearly, the Conservatives have not addressed this problem in the budget.

There are currently 300,000 additional unemployed Canadians; 375,000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector. This was a very active and vibrant sector in Sherbrooke and in the Eastern Townships. However, unfortunately, it has suffered the effects of Conservative mismanagement: 375,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost. This sector offers high-paying jobs and good working conditions. The lack of leadership from the current government on the employment file has likely caused great difficulties and serious challenges for the sector.

It should be noted that the sector faces serious challenges. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has only proposed small measures and is not providing the much-needed help the sector needs. We all agree that, because of today's globalization, our manufacturing sector is in direct competition with emerging countries that have very different conditions within their domestic market, which means that our businesses are competing with businesses from those countries.

Currently, it is important to support these businesses, and to support them in terms of innovation, as innovation plays a key role in helping the manufacturing sector and enabling it to remain competitive with businesses from emerging countries. This means that unique and highly innovative technologies are required to make it possible to compete with these countries, and to create quality jobs with quality work conditions. This is something that is very important for the riding of Sherbrooke.

There are other things about the budget that I want to mention. I will try to sum up and let the people of Sherbrooke know what is in it.

There are changes affecting access to social assistance for refugee claimants. That is an important issue for Sherbrooke. I am very involved in several organizations that support and help newcomers to Canada and refugees. A significant proportion of the immigrant and refugee population is in Sherbrooke. Every year, over half of all newcomers are refugees.

That means they come from troubled countries. Sometimes, these people are escaping dangerous situations in their home countries, even threats to their lives. These people seek refuge in Canada. There is a reason it is called refugee status. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are attacking our refugees, and not for the first time. I think that is utterly deplorable. Many of these people are among society's most vulnerable. We should be doing more to support these people when they come to Canada, to help them manage and to provide financial help.

However, this bill includes a measure that was proposed by a Conservative backbencher: allowing the provinces to impose residency requirements on individuals with no permanent status and to deny basic social assistance to refugee claimants and people who do not have permanent resident status in Canada. This means that if a refugee comes to Sherbrooke, the provincial government could, based on certain criteria, deny that person access to social assistance.

Basically, people might come here without a penny to their names and have to adapt to life in Canada. They might come here in the winter. Just this week, newcomers arrived from Africa. This is their first time in a country as cold as Canada.

It was 10 degrees below zero, and they had nothing. It is very important to support them. Conflicts are ravaging their home countries. We must absolutely help them when they arrive in Canada and not abandon them, as the Conservative government has done time and time again, and as it is doing once again with Bill C-43.

My time is up, so I would be pleased to answer any questions my colleagues might have.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Sherbrooke, who does wonderful work. He is without a doubt the best member of Parliament that Sherbrooke has ever had since Confederation.

I might say that I am pleased to speak in the House to this bill. However, I must say that it is not necessarily a pleasure for me to do so, because this is yet another omnibus budget bill, another bill that undermines our democratic institutions.

What is more, it does not allow us to do our job properly as parliamentarians and to debate all the issues it contains. This is the fifth edition in a series of omni-budgets. It is not for sale, but I do not think many people would want to buy it. This is like getting a series of books that no one wants to read because they are too long and too perverse. In fact, they are horror stories.

Bill C-43 has 460 pages and more than 400 clauses that affect dozens of statutes. Most of the proposed changes in this mammoth bill have no connection with last spring's 2014 budget.

I understand that the government is in a hurry to remake the country in its own image. However, it is going about it in an underhanded way so that journalists, parliamentarians, and Canadians do not have enough time to say everything they want to say about the measures set out in the budget.

I would like to give an example. I apologize for using my phone. In these modern times, people communicate with me, as they do with all my other colleagues, through incredible new technology.

To come back to my example, my constituents are worried about the clauses in Bill C-43 pertaining to airports, which centralize more ministerial power over the expansion and modification of airports, raising the risk that local consultation will not occur in the face of controversial proposals like the Toronto Island airport expansion.

Some of my constituents also raised the issue of security in private airports. Who will monitor the arrivals, departures and contents of small planes if the government does not set up a monitoring system? How can we ensure that all of the airports or municipalities in which they are located have the required emergency measures in place in case of an air disaster? Will the federal government help the municipalities so that they have all the tools they need to ensure the safety of Canadians?

The NDP is in touch with Canadians. That is why I took the time to read the comment made by one of my constituents. People are concerned that the measures in this omnibus bill will affect their safety and air security across the country. They are rightfully asking what might be the consequences, whether their municipality will be consulted on these changes and whether these changes will affect their family's safety.

It is just a comment, but it shows how much my constituents and other Canadians want to discuss the measures hidden in this bill.

This bill amends dozens of unrelated acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight. It fails also to take meaningful action to create jobs and address weak economic growth.

The riding I represent is one of the poorest in Quebec. It has challenges related to a number of industries. The forestry industry, which was a fundamental backbone of the economy in the region, has been in crisis for several years. It is also an agricultural community, but the price of various agricultural commodities has been an issue in the past, which has also led to increased poverty.

Particularly for youth, but also for seniors, it is very difficult to get a job in the Pontiac riding. It is very difficult to keep a job, and the changes the current government made to EI have made it even more difficult. Essentially, due to those changes, the entire region of the Pontiac is being emptied of its best brains, skilled workers, and youth, because they are forced to go even further to get jobs. They are forced to prove that they have to go further. Therefore, communities like Low, Kazabazua, and even Danford Lake are having issues with retention. How are these communities going to last? Unfortunately, they are scratching their heads with regard to this budget and how it would help them.

What kind of investments are there in the forestry industry? There was a promise at one point to put millions of dollars into ensuring that the forestry industry could renew itself and have new technologies. The problem is that the amount is not enough, nor is there any guarantee for communities that are rural and poor that they will receive that money. With $225 million for the whole country, and it taking millions of dollars to renew just one particular industry in one particular town, that $225 million spread out across the country would do little or nothing to help the people in the Pontiac.

I would point out that I spoke in favour of and supported a bill in the House to ensure the consumption of Canadian wood products by Public Works. It seems reasonable that taxpayers should expect that the Canadian government would consume Canadian products when it is building Canadian infrastructure, and wood is a particularly good material for building a number of buildings.

I would also point out that Bill C-43 is an outright attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as refugee claimants.

As well, there is the implementation of a job credit that has already been panned by experts and the Parliamentary Budget Officer as wasteful and extraordinarily expensive. We are going to waste even more of taxpayers' money through this omnibus bill.

There is nothing in the bill to get, as I mentioned, 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 current Prime Minister's watch, mostly in southern Ontario but also in places like the Pontiac.

This is a question of choices. The Conservatives can choose to help the rich and help the largest corporations in this country that have the ear of the Prime Minister and the government, or they can choose to use the budget to help those who are in need. They can choose to give them the services they need and deliver those services and ensure that it is done efficiently. They can also choose to invest in the health, well-being, and security of Canadians.

However, the choices being made are the wrong ones. They are fundamentally not in the public interest. They are in the interest of a few, and it is unfortunate to see this lack of dedication to the well-being of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / noon
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-43, the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2. I would like to thank the member for Crowfoot for sharing the time that he has as the Minister of State for Finance with me.

Just over a year ago I was honoured to be elected to represent the riding of Brandon—Souris. At that time, I made a commitment to my constituents that I would support measures to continue building on the economic growth of the region I represent.

The economic action plan is good for the residents of Brandon—Souris, as it is for all Canadians. Our government supports initiatives that will leave more money for small businesses, more money in the pockets of apprentices, and more money in the pockets of hard-working families.

As my colleague, the member for North Vancouver, mentioned earlier, our government is committed to ending unfair billing practices of telecommunications companies and reducing the administrative burdens on charitable organizations.

Our government recognizes the fundamental importance of small business in fuelling our economy, which makes up 82% of Manitoba's economy, and a similar percentage elsewhere in Canada. For that reason, we have introduced the new small business job credit, which is anticipated to reduce employment insurance premiums by 15% for the next two years.

Any small business that pays employer employment insurance premiums equal to or less than $15,000 will be eligible for this credit. It is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over this timeframe. This new initiative will assist local businesses to hire new employees and create new jobs in southwestern Manitoba.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, employing approximately 70% of the total labour force in the private sector, accounting for nearly 90% of Canadian exporters, and contributing about 41% to Canada's private sector gross domestic product. It is essential that our local small businesses remain globally competitive and successful, and this small business job credit will do exactly that and enhance opportunities for small business.

Our government also created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will allow apprentices registered in a Red Seal trade to apply for interest-free loans of up to $4,000 for a period of technical training. It is anticipated that at least 26,000 apprentices will apply for these loans each year. Right now, there are more than 50 trades in the Red Seal program, accounting for almost 90% of all apprentices and more than 80% of the total trades workforce in Canada.

As with student loans for university and college students, interest and repayment of the Canada apprentice loan will not start until after apprentices complete or leave their training programs. This will ensure that apprentices will be on the same playing field as college and university students.

As is the case for many members of the House, the constituency I represent is experiencing a skills gap in the labour force. There are too many employers looking to hire skilled tradespeople, and every time a job posting goes unfilled is a lost opportunity to grow our local economy.

As a father and a grandfather, I understand the importance of children being involved in fitness activities. In my constituency, just as in many constituencies across this country, hockey, soccer, baseball, and for sure curling are popular activities. Sports are also expensive and our government understands that.

To reflect that reality we are increasing the maximum amount of expenses that may be claimed under this tax credit, from its current limit of $500 to $1,000 for the 2014 tax year and beyond. As well, beginning in 2015, this tax credit will be made refundable, which will benefit low-income families.

Currently, the children's fitness tax credit provides tax relief to 1.4 million families, and when these measures are fully implemented, they will deliver additional tax relief to approximately 850,000 families. Eligible activities for this tax credit include hockey, soccer, golf lessons, horseback riding, sailing, bowling, and other activities that require a similar level of physical activity.

We are supporting the families in southwestern Manitoba and the families across this country through these initiatives. By promoting the physical health of Canadian children, we are also promoting the financial health of families.

Our government is supporting Canadian consumers by ending the pay-to-pay practice that is being followed by some telecommunications companies. In these unfair pay-to-pay billing practices, Canadians who receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill were being charged a fee to receive their bill in the mail, but now Canadians would no longer be charged a fee for receiving a bill in paper form.

Canadians who do not have Internet access are often low-income individuals or seniors. They are at a disadvantage, as they are unable to get an electronic bill. We listened to the complaints and we are ending this unfair practice. Our government made a commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, and we are delivering on this initiative through this legislation.

As well, our economic action plan proposes to amend the Criminal Code to allow charities to use modern electronic technology to raise funds. Every year, charities in Canada raise millions of dollars through lottery sales to support their good works. However, because of outdated legislation, charities cannot use modern electronic technology such as computers to process their lottery sales. Under the current system, charities must process and activate all sales manually and then send customers their tickets in the mail. As a result, it is more time-consuming and costly to charities.

Our government is proposing to amend the Criminal Code to allow charities to conduct their lotteries by using a computer. This change would allow charitable organizations to use e-commerce to issue lottery tickets and issue receipts to donors. This change would help charities save millions of dollars in administrative costs by allowing them to use electronic technology for their tickets. For example, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has noted that by using computers for a lottery, it could save potentially $1 million in administrative costs annually. If this change is made, charities will be able to allocate more of their budget to support their initiatives and programs. That is how it should be.

To summarize, this legislation is good for our economy, it is good for families, it is good for consumers, and it is good for Canadian charities.

I remain as focused as ever in supporting the growth of our economy and providing support to job creators and hard-working families throughout Canada. I urge all members of this House to support this legislation so that we can continue to get results for Canadians.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 11:40 a.m.
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Crowfoot Alberta

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, again, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak on behalf of my constituents, the people of Crowfoot, in central Alberta. It is a riding that I have had the pleasure of representing for 14 years.

I am also pleased to be able to split my time with the hon. member for Brandon—Souris.

When we talk about budgets, budget implementation acts, and the economy, there are a number of issues to which we can broaden out. Budget implementation act no. 2 would bring forward a number of measures. This morning, I would like to speak about three of those measures. I would like to speak a little bit about the economy. We have heard the opposition talk about doom and gloom and the economy of Canada. I would like to share a little bit about how Canada is leading the industrialized countries in the world in job creation and in growth.

Secondly, I would like to take some time to speak about the measures we have brought forward to help hold jobs and make certain we can create an environment where new jobs are created, and speak about how we can ensure people have the skills for those new jobs.

Finally, I would like to speak a little bit about what our Conservative government has done, especially in this budget bill and in other measures, to help support families and communities. How would the government help in a tough global economic downturn? How would it help families?

First of all, let me talk about the state of the Canadian economy. Thanks to prudent fiscal and economic decisions that were made before the recession in 2008-09, Canada has boasted one of the strongest recoveries and strongest records of the advanced economies in the world. When faced with that unprecedented global crisis, our government responded with the economic action plan, which stimulated the economy, protected Canadian jobs during the recession, and invested in long-term growth.

Today's real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels. Our GDP is one of the top GDPs and best performing in the G7. The Canadian economy has boasted one of the strongest job creation records in the G7 over the recovery, with more than 1.2 million jobs created since July, 2009.

Canada has weathered the economic storm well, and the world has noticed. Bloomberg has ranked Canada as the second best country in the world to do business. Are people thinking about expanding a business? Are they thinking about a new business? Canada is the second best place in the world for business. Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next year.

This does not mean that our work is done, however. For Canada, while the recession is long gone, its effects still linger in the world economy. We see signs of this global challenge everywhere. European debt is too high and inflation is very low. Given this ongoing uncertain global economic environment, it is crucial that we carefully target our initiatives to meet objectives that continue to strengthen Canada's economic action plan. That is why Bill C-43 includes measures that would help to support jobs and growth.

Last year, we reformed the skills training system to better help Canadians get quality jobs. With economic action plan 2014, our government is taking further steps to ensure that federal funding in programs is directed toward meeting labour market needs. First, our government is committed to ensuring that Canadians can find available jobs by helping them acquire the skills that will get them hired or help them find a better job.

In Canada, apprentices and skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job, paid employment periods. They participate in technical training. They can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training, and they require these types of programs in order to do that. That is why we helped apprentices and created the apprentice loan in the first budget bill. This initiative certainly helps apprentices in the Red Seal trades by providing access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to help complete their training.

Furthermore, Bill C-43 proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to extend the existing student loan interest credit.

By helping Canadians acquire those skills that will get them hired or help them get better jobs, we are also supporting our small businesses. That is exactly what our small businesses are looking for. They are looking for people who are employable. They are looking for people who already have the skill set when they arrive at their new workplace so that the small business does not have to spend much longer periods of time bringing their skill set up to where they can really benefit the company.

We recognize that small businesses create good jobs. We also recognize that small businesses serve as the engines of economic growth and prosperity. Small businesses employ half of the working men and women in Canada's private sector and account for two-fifths of our country's business sector GDP. That is why I am pleased that today's legislation includes the small business job credit. Ninety per cent of employees making EI contributions in Canada, about 780,000 each year, will directly benefit from the credit that we have brought forward.

In addition, this credit requires no new paperwork on the part of the business. It will be a refund through the Canada Revenue Agency, so this will not be labour intensive administratively for small- and medium-size business. The Canada Revenue Agency will calculate it and the agency will return it. Small businesses are pleased by that.

Following me, the member for Brandon—Souris will be speaking. The Brandon Chamber of Commerce has said that this credit “...has provided some fast relief to small employers, and at the end of the day, it gives those businesses a little bit more money to spend on the investment, it gives their employees a little bit more money. It's definitely good for small business...It will absolutely provide some relief for small business, and that's the core of our economy.” The chamber of commerce gets it. The member gets it. He brings the concerns and the needs of his communities to the House.

Jayson Myers, the President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, also praised this initiative by saying, “The Small Business Job Credit will help a powerhouse—the thousands of small businesses—of the Canadian economy become more competitive.”

That is what we want to do in government. We want to give our businesses the opportunity to compete better, the opportunity to compete in a global economy. This job credit represents yet more action by our government to lower taxes for Canadians and for small- and medium-size businesses.

Finally, I want to touch on how our government is supporting families in our communities. Unlike the opposition, we believe that Canadians should benefit from the surplus, not bureaucracy and not big government. We want to make certain that we can put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, Canadian seniors, all Canadians.

Notwithstanding the comments made by the Liberal leader that budgets will just balance themselves, we also understand that it takes discipline, a focus on priorities, and sound judgment. It is important to understand that a balanced budget is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Right now, 11¢ of every $1 goes to service our federal debt. By balancing the books and paying down debt, we will be freeing up taxpayers' dollars that might otherwise have been spent on servicing debt, so that we can invest in such things as infrastructure and social programs. This will also help to keep interest rates low, thereby instilling confidence in consumers and investors. It will strengthen our country's ability to respond to long-term challenges, such as aging infrastructure. It will help to ensure fairness and equity for generations to come. Our government is pleased to be in a position to bring our budget into balance and to help Canadian families do that.

I see that my time is up. I will just mention also that we brought forward the child fitness tax credit and many other credits that I may be able to speak a bit about in questions and answers.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I rise to speak to the government's budget implementation act at third reading, I regret that we are debating, yet again, another massive omnibus piece of legislation.

This legislation contains many specific flaws, but I would like to start by addressing its conceptual failure. It covers too many subjects which are non-budgetary in nature and therefore not suitable for inclusion in a budget implementation act.

This legislation is frankly a smokescreen designed to ram through a multitude of changes without allowing for careful scrutiny and rigorous analysis. It is 460 pages long, with 400 separate clauses amending countless different laws. Bill C-43 represents a continued abuse of power, disrespect for Parliament, and plain bad judgment on the part of the government.

I would like to review a few of the specific laws in this legislation.

First, there is the small-business job credit. The Minister of Finance conceded, in his appearance before the finance committee, that his department did absolutely no economic analysis of this measure before allocating more than half a billion tax dollars to it.

At the Standing Committee on Finance, we heard from experts who say that this tax credit has a serious design flaw. It creates a perverse incentive for employers to lay off workers or reduce their hours of work in order to qualify for the tax savings.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that this so-called job credit would create only 800 jobs over two years, at a cost of about $700,000 per job. Obviously, it is outrageously expensive and ineffective as a job creation measure. We know that there are better ways to manage half a billion dollars in tax dollars and at the same time better ways to create jobs. There are other measures or potentially better-designed investments that could do more to bolster the economy and create jobs cost-effectively.

We offered a focused alternative. The Liberal plan would create a two-year EI premium holiday for businesses that create new jobs, that actually hire and add to their payrolls. This would be a true incentive for employers to do more hiring. Our proposal would fix the design flaw in the government's tax credit. It was endorsed by Canadian employer organizations, such as the CFIB, Restaurants Canada, and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

Second, I would like to address the government's latest attack on refugee claimants. Having been overruled by the courts on their previous attempt to deny claimants proper medical care, the Conservatives now wish to make it easier for provincial governments to deny them social assistance. It is a harsh and punitive policy that certainly should not be buried in an omnibus budget bill.

Third, there is the restructuring of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The government would demote the position of chief public health officer, a move that would carry potential risks for the health of Canadians. At the finance committee, we heard from experts about how the Public Health Agency was created in the aftermath of Canada's SARS crisis. They told us that the chief public health officer was deliberately, at that time, made a deputy head so as to have the necessary power and autonomy to work with the provinces and effect change. The omnibus bill would undo much of that good work.

This omnibus bill also attempts to clean up the mess and correct some of the errors contained in previous Conservative omnibus bills. For example, in the last omnibus budget bill, Bill C-31, the Conservatives forgot to include a tax credit for interest on Canada apprentice loans. In the same bill, they forgot to include foreign money-service businesses as foreign entities in measures under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

The Conservatives also forgot to introduce a refund for duties paid on destroyed tobacco products when they hiked these duties in Bill C-31. As well, they forgot to subject pooled registered pension plans to the same GST rules as registered pension plans in previous legislation.

There is a litany of forgetting, and it is an unfortunate result of not just a lack of competence and attention to the detail, the nitty-gritty of government or economic management, but also the design flaw of the overall approach of putting all these changes in a budget omnibus bill and denying the appropriate committees of Parliament to both review and vote on measures pertaining to their area of public policy and expertise.

In this litany of forgetting things, the government may actually be forgetting about the needs of Canadians. However, I do not think Canadians will forget about the failings of the current government come the next election.

Principle among those failings is a lack of consultation, which is clearly evident in this omnibus bill. The government did not consult with aviation groups when changing the rules around aerodromes. It did not listen to Canada's only international cable-laying company when excluding cable laying from the definition of international shipping. It did not listen to the provincial governments when pressing ahead with measures aimed at denying social assistance to refugees.

The Canadian people have made it clear that they need economic growth and employment, and they need growth and jobs to be an absolute priority for the government. Unfortunately, the government is out of touch with Canadians' needs and aspirations, and it is certainly doing nothing to create growth and prosperity.

For example, consider the government's new income-splitting scheme, which will cost $2.4 billion this year. It benefits only 14% of Canadians, the most privileged of Canadians. The measure completely overlooks single parents and parents who happen to both make similar incomes.

The late Jim Flaherty had doubts about it, and he expressed them clearly. These are the words of the late Jim Flaherty:

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.

If the Conservatives followed his advice and took a long, hard look at income splitting, they would see that it does nothing to really create growth and prosperity, and does nothing to help a lot of the Canadian families that need the help the most. It also puts the government more deeply in deficit this year. The government would already project a surplus, or be close to a surplus this year, if it were not for this income-splitting scheme, which actually puts us back into a deficit situation.

While the Conservatives are borrowing to benefit a small and relatively well-off segment of the population through income splitting, they are neglecting a vulnerable group that has served Canadians with true patriotism and valour; that being our veterans.

In addition to closing Veterans Affairs offices, the government lapsed $1.1 billion that was earmarked to invest on behalf of veterans. Instead of following Parliament's direction and using those funds to take care of our veterans, the government clawed that money back for the federal treasury.

Meanwhile, the government skimped on much-needed mental health services for our veterans. In his recent report, the Auditor General found that 80% of veterans had to wait nearly eight months to find out if they were even eligible for long-term mental health services, and the other 20% had to wait even longer than that.

This is callous treatment by a government that likes to lionize the military, but will not treat individual veterans or their families with care and respect. The Conservative government is even trying to argue in the courts now that it does not have a sacred obligation to those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

A Liberal government would have a very different agenda than the current government, economically and socially. We believe that members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans should have nothing less than the best of care and support from a grateful nation and government. Our goals would be fair treatment for all members of society and the strengthening of Canada's middle class through an agenda of jobs and growth.

We would grow the economy in a way that would benefit all Canadians, investing significantly in infrastructure, innovation and trade. We would partner with the provinces and Canadian municipalities. We would work with progressive investors, including, potentially Canada's pension funds, to invest significantly and massively in infrastructure. We would follow some of the lead of countries like the U.K. and Australia. This year, Australia is investing $13 billion of federal money into infrastructure. It is leveraging with the state governments and with pension funds to create $60 billion of new investments in infrastructure.

We have the capacity, through a forward-thinking and innovative infrastructure agenda, to create jobs and growth in the short term during this time of secular stagnation and slow growth and soft employment. We can create jobs and growth in the short term, but we can also render our economy more competitive in the long term by addressing Canada's crumbling infrastructure needs.

The reality is that we probably have the best opportunity in our lifetime to actually invest in infrastructure. We have bond yields at historic lows, real interest rates actually negative, a crumbling infrastructure and soft employment market, and a slow growth economy. Put those factors together and there is little wonder why people like David Dodge, or the OECD or the IMF are saying that countries like Canada ought to be investing significantly in infrastructure.

This is no time for the government to do what it did in the last budget; that is, cut planned infrastructure spending by 89% in order to achieve a notional surplus on the eve of an election.

Infrastructure spending needs to be significant, it needs to be consistent, it needs to be long term in nature, not just around electoral scheduling.

We would invest, as a government, in getting better labour market information to provide a clear understanding of the skills mismatch to the situation of jobs without people and people without jobs, address labour shortages and, at the same time, give opportunities to young Canadians who need work.

There are 200,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than before the downturn. One of the things we need in Canada is better labour market data. We need to invest in organizations like Statistics Canada. We need to ensure that young Canadians and their families know more about what the jobs of today look like and what the jobs in the future will look like. We need to get better data and we need to make that data available in a user-friendly format for young Canadians, starting in junior high school, such that they can start thinking long term, not just what they want to do but what those jobs actually pay so they can get a job that will provide them with the means to have a place of their own. There has never been a time, in recent history, when we have seen more young Canadians living at home, on the sofa in the basement, because they simply cannot get work to financially sustain themselves.

One of the drivers of high levels of personal debt for Canadian families right now is the direct financial subsidization of adult children who cannot get a job or cannot get jobs that will actually financially sustain them. Canadian families today are seeing record levels of personal debt—$1.65 for every $1.00 of annual income—as parents and grandparents directly financially support young people who have skills, who have good educations, but whose skills do not match current labour market needs. We need to close that gap and part of it is simply providing good information to young Canadians as they are planning their career and their lives, and informing them as to the types of jobs, professional trades, that can provide them with the capacity to support themselves into the future.

We need to work with the provinces to restore the honour and respect paid to professional trades. We have seen a diminution in the respect for professional trades over the last 30 years. We need to reverse that because we know there is a shortage of skilled trades and an opportunity for young people, if they are given the correct information, to choose paths in skilled trades, I think we will see more young people doing that.

We also need to invest more in training and apprenticeships. We need to track unpaid internships, for instance. We have asked the government to mandate Statistics Canada to track unpaid internships. We have been told that there is more use of unpaid interns today than ever before. It is kind of a supply and demand issue.

There are a lot of young Canadians who are desperate for work, desperate for the experience they need to start off their careers, who simply cannot find work. The issue with unpaid internships is that it can deepen inequality of opportunity significantly because only children from privileged families can afford to work for no pay. In other words, it is more likely a child from a privileged family will actually get a good start and get some work experience.

This has tremendous long-term impacts on equality of opportunity. We have learned from a recent report of the IMF that in fact inequality of opportunity is not just a social issue; it impedes economic growth. That is why issues like unpaid internships and income inequality are important and why we should, at the very least, not make the situation worse with a tax change that has the capacity to deepen inequality, like income splitting.

We also need to recognize that over the last 30 years the nature of work and training has changed, not just in Canada but throughout the industrialized world. The old days where one could get a degree, or a diploma, or trade and be set for life and never have to go back to school, university or college, are over, in the same way that working for 30 years, retiring with a gold watch and defined benefit pension plan is largely behind us.

We need to update and modernize our Canada student loans program as part of a suite of support for not just young people as they graduate from high school to get their education, but as they move forward through multiple decades of their careers and lives. There is nothing really there for people in their 30s who have young families, who find that their skills do not match the current job market. It is very difficult for them to finance the education and training they need to get a job to support their families at that time. It would be good for productivity and competitiveness, and jobs and growth, if we worked with people throughout their careers and life cycles to help them get the skills they needed during that entire period.

We also believe it is important that we go back to evidence-based decision making, as opposed to the Conservatives' decision-based evidence making, when we are crafting public policy. What we may think, based on an ideological perspective, is the right thing to do, when exposed to the bright light of fact and information, we may be surprised. It is important that we get the best possible information and data, whether scientific or statistical.

We live in an age of big data. Smart companies and smart governments are investing massively in knowing more about their customers and the demographic trends and how to prepare for them. There is only one organization I can think of globally that has deliberately chosen over the last 10 years to both reduce the quality and quantity of data it collects, and that is the Conservative government. It is an ideological perspective that is wrong headed.

Instead of dividing Canadians with ideologies, a Liberal government would unite Canadians with ideas, based on fact, creativity, imagination and innovation, to create the jobs and growth that Canadians need.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-43 at third reading. This is the second budget implementation bill.

I am pleased to rise given that I will be one of the few members of the House who will have the opportunity to speak to this bill at third reading because, as my colleague from Louis-Hébert mentioned, the government has limited debate to just one day. We have just one day to debate a massive budget bill that is 460 pages long and contains 401 clauses. It amends dozens of laws by creating, amending or eliminating legislation. We had very little time to examine this bill in committee given the scope of the measures it proposes. The process was seriously flawed in this case. Not only was the bill much too long to examine in two weeks—that is how long we had to examine it in committee—but there was also not enough time for the committees to which we referred certain sections to do their job properly. I would like to remind hon. members that the only authority these committees had was to hear from witnesses and make recommendations to the finance committee, which did not hear from those witnesses. This process is completely inadequate. Anyone who believes in parliamentary democracy cannot claim that this process is adequate for good governance.

As we have seen with all of the government's previous budget bills, as a result of mismanagement we end up with all kinds of flaws, errors, omissions and mistakes in these bills that must then be fixed in subsequent budget bills. That is not an effective way to govern.

Some elements in this bill show that the government refuses to abide by the principles of good governance.

One of these elements—which is something I just asked the parliamentary secretary about—is probably one of the most costly measures in the bill. This measure gives business that pay less than $15,000 in EI premiums a tax credit, without any conditions, to supposedly create jobs. That money is taken from the EI fund, which, as we know, is projecting a surplus in the coming years. That surplus would already be spent. This measure is estimated to cost more than a half-million dollars—around $550 million.

We would expect to see some guarantee of job creation if the government is forgoing $550 million in revenue from the EI fund. However, that is not the case. The only independent analysis we have had is from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who estimated that this measure would create 800 jobs. Just 800 jobs. The only organization that appeared before the committee and contradicted the Parliamentary Budget Officer's figures was the organization whose members will benefit the most from this measure. It was the organization that promoted this measure and it was this organization's study on which the government based its decision.

When a measure costs more than half a billion dollars, one would expect the Department of Finance to conduct an independent analysis to estimate how a break from paying premiums would affect job creation. However, the Minister of Finance himself came to committee and told us that the Department of Finance had not conducted any studies, and that the only analysis that he relied on had actually been conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The organization does a good job representing its members and determining what government benefits and measures will help them. That is what it does. That is why the government should rely on an independent analysis before adopting this type of measure. The government should not be sub-contracting the finance department's work—which is essentially what happened—and entrusting it to an outside organization that will first and foremost make sure that its members will benefit. This is one of the measures that clearly demonstrates that this government is completely off track when it comes to good governance. I must say that I have rarely seen another government use such a misguided and erratic approach to the economy.

There is no doubt that we are in pre-election mode, because most of the measures in the bill do nothing to stimulate economic growth and job creation, except for the measures we intend to support. In a 460-page bill, we are bound to find some measures we agree with, measures that support economic growth and job creation. However, many of these measures do not do that. Those measures should be studied separately in their own bill, but the government will hear nothing of it.

Even when it comes to measures that actually are related to taxation and the economy, the government has clearly shown that none of the measures, including the tax credit I just talked about, were analyzed by the Department of Finance. They were not analyzed by the Department of Finance or by independent parties, whose analysis the government ignored.

The government is so proud of its move to double the child fitness tax credit. The goal might be laudable, but the measure will be extremely expensive. According to estimates, this will result in more than twice as much lost revenue, and that the money will be given to parents of children who participate in physical activities.

Once again, the goal is laudable, but is the tax credit the right way to achieve that goal? Was an impact assessment done? In committee, one tax expert told us that the tax credit would not achieve—or would go only a short way toward achieving—the government's goal, which is to increase children's physical activity, and that this is not the right approach to take.

The questions that the Conservative members asked at the Standing Committee on Finance had more to do with anecdotes. They said that some of their constituents benefited from the credit and were happy about it. Fiscal analysis of how effective a tax credit is has to be done independently by the government and must be based on fiscal analysis of the numbers, not anecdotes. Governing on the basis of anecdotes is a bad idea. That is an irresponsible way to do it.

Another aspect that justifies our position at third reading of Bill C-43 is the government's lack of prior consultation on a number of measures. As I said, there are 401 clauses. The fourth part of the bill is on measures that have nothing to do with tax measures. This is one of the largest parts of the bill and it deals with a variety of topics that often have nothing to do with the budget or the economy in general. We might expect the government to at least do its homework and consult industry stakeholders, whose opinion should count to ensure that these measures are effective.

What is more, the division on changes to the Aeronautics Act seeks to centralize the powers of the department and the minister with regard to the expansion of and changes to airports. This could increase the risk of eliminating local consultation in cases of controversial proposals because these provisions give the minister discretionary power. We can see this in the case of the Toronto Island airport expansion.

Was the Canadian Airports Council consulted on this measure? No. Was the Canadian Federal Pilots Association consulted on this measure? No. How can the government propose measures like these without doing its homework? Is this the only proposed measure in Bill C-43 where the Conservatives failed in their responsibilities to Canadians? No. I could go on, in part 4 alone.

For example, the bill changes the rules that apply to co-operative credit societies without understanding the full repercussions. Again, was the Credit Union Central of Canada, the agency that represents credit unions, consulted? Was the Fédération des caisses Desjardins consulted? No. How can the government introduce such measures, which will have significant impacts on various industries?

How can the Conservatives claim they are doing due diligence in this process when they have not even bothered to ensure that there are no flaws in these measures or that they will have no adverse effects?

We do agree with some measures, but they have been watered down. They do not fully honour the Conservatives' commitments, including ending pay-to-pay practices, which is when consumers have to pay a fee to receive a paper copy of their bill. This legislation proposes eliminating these fees in the telecommunications sector. That is great.

We on this side of the House have been calling for an end to these pay-to-pay fees for years now. We have come back to this point again and again. I therefore want to ask the government why it chose to stop there, when it promised to eliminate those fees in the banking industry too. The government did not follow through on its commitment. The banking industry must have better lobbyists than the telecom industry. We know that this government does not necessarily have the best relationship with the telecom industry. That is the only reason I can think of to explain this decision. Once again, this is another half measure for consumers, when the government should be going all the way in meeting consumers' demands.

None of the measures the government has proposed, not only in Bill C-43, but also in all of its economic policies, have any real direction. The government has no policy framework to give its efforts some direction so that they do not end up wasted or focused on vote-chasing, as is quite clear in Bill C-43 and as I am sure we will see in the pre-budget consultation report. This is a real piecemeal approach.

This government does not have a proper industrial policy. However, in part 4 of the bill, the government has included measures that water down the Investment Canada Act and make it easier for foreign interests to acquire companies. There were not really any consultations about this measure. The Investment Canada Act needs much more transparency and much more specific guidelines, so that foreign investors have little or no chance of seeing arbitrary or unjustified decisions. The government must be much more predictable for these investors, which is very important if we want to attract foreign interests.

There is no comprehensive health policy or strategy. The government could show leadership. Naturally, we recognize that health is a provincial jurisdiction. However, that does not prevent the government from working with the provinces, taking a leadership role and ensuring that we have a pan-Canadian health policy that the provinces and territories support. However, the government is making unilateral changes, and our fear is that this bill is specifically trying to politicize the Public Health Agency of Canada.

There is no credible policy on the part of the government to ensure retirement security. However, there are amendments that create other investment vehicles without improving income security. Furthermore, the government does not have a coherent energy policy. Despite that, changes are being made to the law on marine transport. Changes are being made to tax rules with respect to the right to organize and the environment in order to allow the oil and gas sector and extractive companies to apply the same rules in Canada as in developing countries. They are actually being allowed to comply with laws that are much less rigorous than what we have here.

Although we could play a role in developing and implementing coherent policies in the countries with which we do business, the government is going in the opposite direction. It is extremely frustrating to come back to the House for third reading with very little time to debate this bill, as was the case in committee.

That was definitely the case at the Standing Committee on Finance. However, other committees, although they had no real power, tried their best to invite witnesses who could speak to those far-reaching bills that should have been split into multiple bills.

This is extremely frustrating because it clearly shows that this country is moving in the wrong direction. The majority of the government members will give their speeches, at least those who will have the opportunity, and will sing the praises of their economic policies.

When the parliamentary secretary answered a question about this government's performance, in 2008 in particular, when the recession hit, he said that the government was a leader in terms of what governments were doing around the world to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis.

However, that is not what the Conservatives did. During the 2008 election, they denied that there was an economic crisis on the horizon. I remember quite well that the Prime Minister played down the looming economic crisis, but we saw how bad it was. On national television, he simply said that it was a good time to buy stocks and invest in the stock market. How completely irresponsible.

We have called on this government to invest specifically in infrastructure, in the sectors where private enterprise could no longer or would no longer invest because of the current economic situation, in order to make up for the gap left by the private sector, which should be investing and ensuring a thriving economy. The government had to play its role, in large part thanks to the opposition. Boasting about taking the lead on this and acting alone is completely irresponsible. That interpretation is a complete misrepresentation of what we are dealing with.

We are not out of the woods yet. We need concrete measures from this government that are not just intended to win votes, but rather are focused on what they claim is their slogan: job creation and growth. That is not what we see in this bill.

That is why we have no choice but to oppose it. Before doing that, I would like to move the following motion:

I move, seconded by the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead:

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 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) does not take measures to create jobs and address slow economic growth;

(c) seeks to restrict access to social assistance for refugee claimants, even though there is no financial need and there has been no request from the provinces for such a measure;

(d) makes amendments to patent legislation that could lead to costly legal action against the government;

(e) introduces a tax credit whose effects have not been analyzed by the government and that will significantly diminish 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.”.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I remind my colleague that legitimate refugees would be looked after in the same manner they have always been. Canada is an extremely generous and thoughtful country, and it will continue to be generous and thoughtful.

However, we do not want people taking advantage of Canada's generosity. That is why, for bogus claimants, people who are coming here simply to take advantage of our system, provinces and territories would have the option of not giving them services as they see fit.

I would like to remind the member opposite of the good things in Bill C-43 that he should be supporting, like the government prohibiting fees for receipt of paper bills, eliminating pay-to-pay billing; supporting charities, and allowing them to use modern electronic tools to eliminate red tape; creating the DNA-based missing persons index; strengthening Canada's intellectual property regime by cutting red tape and creating efficiencies for small businesses; amendments that would increase the capabilities of social security tribunals in the face of an increasing workload; and establishing a new federal research organization that would strengthen Canada's leadership in the Arctic.

I do not have time to mention all of the great things in this particular bill, but I encourage the member opposite to vote for it and for Canadian families.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
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North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to present Bill C-43 at third reading. This important bill implements key initiatives from economic action plan 2014.

This year's budget has further illustrated the responsible leadership of our government. It is a budget that builds on our strengths and continues to implement the government's plan for jobs and growth. Our efforts to support jobs and growth are underpinned by our plan to return to balanced budgets in 2015. This commitment to fiscal responsibility has helped to ensure that Canada maintains its hard-earned international economic fiscal advantage, which will help foster a growing, healthy economy that creates stable, well-paying jobs for all Canadians.

Indeed, our government's plan to return to balanced budgets is not an end in itself, but a means to increase Canada's economic potential, improve employment opportunities for Canadians, and raise our standard of living. It is for this reason that we made returning to balanced budgets the cornerstone of our economic action plan. To that end, economic action plan 2014 continues to focus on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity: long-lasting prosperity, the kind that our children can rely on and that future generations can appreciate.

However, I must remind members that the global economic situation remains fragile and that difficulties beyond our borders may affect Canada.

Thus, it is truly important for our Conservative government to implement its economic action plan, which will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Bill C-43 does not deviate from these objectives. It supports jobs and growth, helps families, strengthens communities and continues to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.

I would like to highlight today some of the key budget measures in Bill C-43 and thereby demonstrate how this government is demonstrating strong and responsible leadership with this major legislative measure.

First, let me touch on some ways our government is making our tax system simpler and fairer. This includes closing tax loopholes and strengthening tax enforcement to ensure all Canadians pay their fair share. Since 2006, our government has taken significant steps to establish our country as a global clean energy leader, including through regulatory actions, investments in technology and innovation, and broad-based incentives. The government has also supported these sectors through the tax system by expanding eligibility for the accelerated CCA for clean energy generation equipment.

In 2013, we encouraged businesses to invest in new clean energy technologies by expanding the types of organic waste that can be used in qualifying biogas production equipment and the range of qualifying equipment that can be used to treat gases from waste. Today's legislation would build on that success by expanding eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance, CCA, for clean energy generation equipment to include water current energy equipment and a broader range of equipment used to gasify eligible waste.

However, that is not all. Today's legislation also focuses on connecting Canadians with available jobs by helping them to acquire the skills that will get them hired and will help get them better-paying jobs.

In Canada, apprentices in skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and are required to participate in technical training for short periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. Apprentices can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training required by their program, including educational fees, tools and equipment, and forgone wages.

That is why, in order to help connect Canadians with available jobs, we created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will help apprentices in Red Seal trades by providing them with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.

More specifically, Bill C-43 amends the Income Tax Act to extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans—a non-refundable tax credit for interest on loans paid under the Canada student loans program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.

By helping Canadians get the skills they need to find a new job or a better job, we are investing directly and effectively in this country's greatest asset—our people, who are supporting the economy in general.

Another way we are proposing to improve our system of taxation is by updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Earlier this year, the government released for public comment draft legislative proposals relating to technical changes to the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and related regulations.

Following this public consultation, Bill C-43 includes amendments to relieve the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax on services of refining precious metals supplied to a non-resident person who is not registered for GST/HST purposes and to implement 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.

We will continue to build on our government's stellar track record of improving the fairness and integrity of Canada's tax system, and as is evident from some of these measures, Bill C-43 does exactly that.

There is so much more to this bill than simply tax measures. This bill implements many positive budget measures that I would like to address now, and at the same time I would like to highlight some of the misinformation that the opposition would have Canadians believe.

Bill C-43 proposes to establish the governance structure for a new world-class science and technology research facility that would serve as a hub for Canadian and international Arctic research. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station, also known as CHARS, will not only strengthen Canada's position as a world leader in cutting-edge research in the Arctic but will also support the local economy in the region by creating jobs.

The opposition consistently accuses our government of a lack of consultation and an aversion to science. This research station will provide a very clear example of our government's commitment to exercising stewardship over Canada's Arctic lands and bringing together industry, academia, aboriginal governments, and international stakeholders to co-operatively leverage their expertise, experience, and resources.

It is also important to note that our government engaged widely on all phases of this project, and there is overwhelming support behind it. I could not be more proud of the action our government is taking in this bill, which will cement Canada as a global leader on Arctic issues and scientific research.

If the opposition had its way, it would also attempt to convince the public that our government is taking social assistance away from those who genuinely need it. This could not be further from the truth. Let me clear: that is categorically false.

Bill C-43 would simply give the option to the provinces and territories to establish minimum periods of residence to qualify for social assistance. The specifics of this option would be up to the provinces and territories. Subsequently the provinces and territories would be accountable to taxpayers, who believe that refugees, specifically bogus asylum claimants, should not have access to better health care than Canadians.

By making these changes, our government would ensure that our immigration system would be protected from those who are seeking to take advantage of taxpayer-funded health care, welfare, and other social benefits. We have had numerous examples of these over the last number of years.

Let me spell it out for the opposition one more time. Our government is committed to helping all newcomers, including genuine refugees, integrate into Canadian society and fully contribute to our community and our economy. Those in genuine need will continue to receive Canada's protection more quickly.

Another key measure of this bill supports job creation and grows Canada's economy. I am talking about our government's small business job credit. This measure would lower EI payroll taxes by 15% and save small businesses over $550 million over two years. This is real money we would be giving back to small businesses, to job creators. It is money they would use to help defray the costs of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, thus supporting growth and job creation.

These are small businesses all across the country, some in my own riding of North Vancouver, all of which have frequently told us that the number one job killer is higher payroll taxes. We listened to the voice of small business, the business experts who actually understand what this measure will do for job creation.

Dan Kelly, the President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called the small business job credit “a big, big deal for small business. It's good news for people looking for jobs....”

Of course, we can expect the opposition members to continue attacking job creators with massive tax hikes, such as a $20 billion carbon tax, and foolishly ignoring what small business is saying about this measure. They will argue that their ideas of an expanded CPP and a 45-day workyear that would cost Canadian taxpayers $4 billion and thousands of jobs alone are the best options for job creation. If we ask any small business if they would prefer increased payroll taxes, the divide is clear.

We will not apologize for listening to small business concerns. On the other hand, our government will continue to lower payroll taxes for 90% of businesses and support some of Canada's most important job creators. Over 780,000 small businesses will benefit from this program.

This legislation will also help consumers. For instance, our government has a strong record of supporting consumers in the telecommunications industry. Since the last wireless spectrum auction in 2008, prices for wireless services have decreased by nearly 20% and jobs in the wireless industry have increased by 25%.

The legislation before us today builds on this record by prohibiting wireless service providers from charging their customers for paper billing, thereby fulfilling a commitment we made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to put an end to this pay-to-pay practice.

Furthermore, the bill includes changes to simplify the certification process for telecommunications equipment used by consumers and businesses.

Finally, I want to touch on a set of measures that I believe are critical in strengthening Canada's financial sector.

Credit unions play an important role in our communities and in our economy. Across our country, credit unions and caisse populaires work hard to serve their members in the best way possible. Measures in Bill C-43 support a vibrant and robust credit union system here in Canada.

Specifically, our government is moving forward to clarify federal regulation of provincial credit unions and support those that want to become federally regulated. Some of these initiatives include access by provincial credit union centrals to federal intervention tools, such as lending by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation; ceasing supervision of provincial credit union centrals by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions; and making changes to the federal credit union framework to promote continued growth and competitiveness of credit unions that want to offer services on a national scale by streamlining the federal amalgamation process from multiple steps into just one.

We understand there is some interest, so as we build on these measures, we will continue to consult with provinces and industry to ensure the federal regime for credit unions is as clear and simple as possible.

Twenty minutes allows me to touch on only a very small portion of the positive measures included in Bill C-43. Some of the other measures contained in the bill include doubling the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable. This is a way to put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, allowing families to save on putting their children into sports or after-school activities.

The bill also proposes to strengthen Canada's intellectual property regime to improve conditions for business investment and access into international markets while reducing costs and red tape. It also introduces new reporting standards to meet Canada's 2013 G8 commitment to increase transparency for entities operating in the extractive sector. It would create new indices in the national DNA data bank that would contain DNA profiles for missing persons, allowing families of victims to have better tools available to get closure.

Let me remind members that since the global recession, Canada has created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs. This is one of the strongest job creation records in the G7. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The Canadian middle class is now among the richest in the developed world, ahead of our neighbours to the south for the first time ever. Just recently, we saw the International Labour Organization say in its global wage report that pay gains here in Canada are the second best in the G20. This is great news for Canadians.

These results do not happen by sitting idly and hoping for budgets to balance themselves, nor do they happen without a steadfast commitment to a proven plan for job creation and high growth. In this respect, Bill C-43 delivers a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will continue putting Canadians to work and building a strong economic future.

I urge all members of the House to pass this good bill.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 9th, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 5th, 2014 / 12:40 p.m.
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Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley Nova Scotia

Conservative

Scott Armstrong ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today to Bill C-43, an act to implement the budget. As we know, the focus of our government is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and there are many measures within this bill that support that focus, that priority, of the Government of Canada.

I would like to start by talking about where we were back in 2008 when the biggest recession since the Great Depression struck our nation and many nations around the world. In fact, 62 million people around the globe lost their jobs during that recession due to global economic instability. However, since then, Canada has fared far better than most countries in the world in terms of job creation and recovery. In fact, since the pit of the economic recession in July 2009, Canada has created 1.2 million net new jobs, with employment all across this country. This has allowed our government to move toward a balanced budget and deliver on many promises made in the 2011 campaign.

The federal tax burden is now at its lowest in 50 years. People are paying less in taxes than they did in part of the Diefenbaker era. Things are going well in Canada. We have more employment, more growth, and larger projected growth than any other country in the G7. The IMF and KPMG both predict that for this year and next year we are going to have very successful job growth, job creation, and overall economic growth in this country. Canada is on the verge of a great economic and prosperous time, and we are going to keep putting measures in place so the people of this country can benefit from it.

What has allowed us to do this? What has allowed Canada to do so much better than many other nations emerging from a global economic recession? I believe it was our commitment as a government to balance the books and then use surplus spending to invest in tax cuts and to support jobs and economic growth. This was a commitment we all made on this side of the House as we went door to door in the 2011 election. We committed to first balance the budget and then to reinvest in Canadians by lowering taxes, supporting young families, and reinvesting in jobs and growth.

There are some members of the House who believe balancing the budget will happen by itself and that we do not need to focus on that, but it is hugely important. The only way to balance a budget, whether it is a household budget, a municipal budget, a provincial budget, or a federal budget, is to make it is a huge priority and put a plan in place to reach that balanced budget in a targeted amount of time. That is what this government did following the 2011 election. We kept our commitment to the people of Canada by putting the economic action plan in place, with the goal of balancing the budget within the mandate of this government, which we have.

It is not easy, and it does not just happen by itself. To do it, there are really three choices a government can make to balance the budget. The first choice, and I would argue the easy way to do it, is simply to raise taxes. We have seen governments and previous administrations, both provincially and federally, try to balance budgets on the backs of Canadians by raising taxes: raising business taxes, raising income taxes, raising fees. That, I would argue, is the easy way.

We saw the NDP government in Nova Scotia try to do this a few years back. It raised taxes to try to balance the budget. This government gave the Canadian people a cut in their GST sales tax, or HST in some provinces, like mine, in Nova Scotia. When we cut the GST federally from 7% to 6% to 5%, almost every Canadian was able to benefit from that tax reduction, except in my province of Nova Scotia, where the provincial government came right in behind and almost immediately raised the sales tax by 2%.

While in New Brunswick, right next door to my riding, people were paying 13% sales tax in the combined HST, in Nova Scotia we were paying 15%. A border riding like mine saw jobs flowing across the border. Gas stations were shutting down, because between that and the increased fuel taxes in Nova Scotia, people could pay far less a litre in New Brunswick than they could in Nova Scotia. While everyone else was benefiting from this cut in the sales tax, the people in my province were not, because the provincial government decided to do that in an effort, it argued, to balance the budget, which, in fact, never really happened. That is the easy way to try to balance the budget: by simply raising taxes.

The second way a federal government can try to cut taxes is by eliminating, cutting, or reducing transfers to the provinces. Transfers to the provinces pay for education, put teachers in classrooms, pay for educational assistants for special education students, and provide other support services in every school.

Those transfers pay for our health care system so seniors across this country can enjoy the health care they deserve in an equitable health care system, from one end of the country to the other. That is why we have these transfers. It is so the provinces can deliver their constitutionally designated role of delivering effective, equitable health care from Newfoundland all the way to British Columbia and to the north. That is what Canada is all about. We are all in this together. That is why those transfers are so valuable.

The Liberal government in the nineties chose to balance the budget, coming out of an economic recession, on the backs of the provinces, on the backs of our seniors, and on the backs of our children by reducing those valuable transfers to the provinces. Significantly cutting those transfers, I believe, destabilized both the education system and the health care system in many provinces across this country. It was an effort, arguably, to balance the budget.

The third way a federal government can try to balance a budget is not by raising taxes on the people and cutting the valuable transfers to the provinces that need those dollars so desperately to deliver those effective services I talked about. The third way is to look at how the government spends money. We can look at ourselves, look across federal departments to see what we can do to save money for the Canadian taxpayer so we can get the budget balanced and start making targeted investments for the future of all Canadians.

In 2011, that is what we promised to do, and that is a promise we have kept. We have delivered on that promise, and now we have the budget balanced and are moving forward.

Every department across the board had to look at reductions. With targeted savings, usually in back-office services, making sure that we protected front-line services, particularly in the regions of this country, we were able to slowly move the budget to balance. Now, on schedule, we have a balanced budget in this country due to excellent fiscal management by the Prime Minister, former finance minister Flaherty, and the present Minister of Finance.

This government has moved Canada to a balanced budget, and that gives the government the financial flexibility to deliver the other promises we made when we all went door to door during the 2011 election. I am speaking of things like income splitting for families, the family tax cut, and an increased UCCB. Support for young families across this country is a target of this government to ensure that the future of this country is protected.

By raising the universal child care benefit, we are supporting the next generation of Canadians in getting the child care they need. We are supporting the next generation of Canadians in getting the education they need. We are now focusing on changes to our education system, changes funded by the federal government through our post-secondary support for apprenticeships, a $100-million program for interest-free loans for apprentices across this country.

Budget 2014 supports our young people and our young families and is delivered under a balanced budget format.

Now that the budget is balanced and we are moving forward and are keeping those commitments to Canadian families, what is the next step for Canada? Where can we go? The future of this country is bright. We have worked so hard to come so far from the great recession of 2008. The strong fiscal management of this government and this party, led by our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, will support the bright and prosperous future of this country.

I hope the opposition will stand in support of this legislation on Monday night, because it is in the best interest of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 5th, 2014 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak once again on this budget implementation bill, Bill C-43, on behalf of my city, Toronto, and on behalf of my community, the riding of Parkdale—High Park.

As we meet here in Ottawa, the city that I come from has been under considerable pressure for some time. It is a wonderful city. It is the biggest city in the country. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. It has so many strengths that it is just a wonderful place to live. However, I have to say that there are a great many challenges in our city that require action from the federal government. It is everything from the crushing lack of affordable housing to the gridlock in our city streets because of the lack of federal dollars coming in to boost our transit infrastructure.

I was born and raised in the city of Toronto and I remember it having, at one point, one of the best transportation systems in North America, if not the world. It had a great subway system, as well as streetcars and buses. While the population has grown in leaps and bounds and the city is much more sprawling geographically, the transportation system has not grown equally. As a result, public transit is a huge problem no matter where a person lives. A person living in a suburb of the city cannot get from one northern part of the city to another northern part without hours of waiting and sitting on buses, because the subway system has not kept pace. A person living in the centre of the city, where I live, often sees one subway car or streetcar after another go by because they are jam-packed. That is because the population has grown so much in the city, and the transit system has not kept pace. Transit is a huge issue.

I have to say that housing is a massive issue. I meet with people who live in public housing and Toronto Community Housing. Frankly, it would break members' hearts to see the conditions that some people live in. Seniors who worked all of their lives are living in apartments where the oven does not work, the elevator is often out of service, and there is mould on the walls. We see overcrowded apartments. I have seen families of five and six living in a bachelor apartment. We see people living in rental housing that is overpriced and often not well cared for. We have seen loopholes in the rent control system being exploited so that rents can be jacked up, and people are excluded from affordable accommodation as a result.

We have a crushing need for affordable rental housing, but we also have a great many families in the city of Toronto with mortgages. Toronto is not quite as expensive as Vancouver, but boy, it is expensive. The average three-bedroom home in the city core seems to be going for almost $1 million. We see young families with massive mortgages, and if they have a couple of kids, they are paying tens of thousands of dollars in child care fees at the same time—that is, if they can find quality child care.

We also see young people graduating from university with sometimes tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. Often they face a very bleak job market. I will talk about that more in just a minute.

There are many crushing problems, not to mention what I think is the most serious challenge globally, which is climate change. There is the pressing need for this country, which has once again just been called out by Ban Ki-moon of the UN for shirking its responsibilities, to address the pressing need of climate change. Surely to goodness we are all in this together. It is one earth. From space, it is one blue dot. Surely the countries and the leaders of the world can all agree that this is a pressing need that we need to deal with, yet the Conservative government seems to be on a one-track path, which is oil and gas.

We have these wonderful natural resources, but it is to the detriment of our investment in clean energy, energy efficiency, advanced manufacturing, and advanced innovative economic measures to get our economy moving into the 21st century. I raise these issues, but there are many other challenging issues that we face in our city and our country, and the budget implementation act before us does not address any of these issues. It does not deal with the concerns that I hear every day.

Rail safety is an example. During question period, we were debating the pressing need for better rail safety. We have hundreds and hundreds of tank cars carrying hazardous goods and who knows what is rolling through our neighbourhood. The citizens in my community not only do not have the right to know what is in those tank cars, but they also have no right to know if they are protected or if there are effective emergency measures in place. They have no right to know if their safety is being adequately protected by the experts and regulators in the government who are supposed to be doing that job. We saw at Lac-Mégantic they were not doing that job, and many people died.

The bill is yet another of these omnibus budget bills into which Conservatives love to cram all sorts of measures in a very undemocratic, unaccountable process that lacks transparency. There are many measures in the bill that were not introduced in the budget and that they do not want Canadians to even know about. They are counting on people not paying attention to them in a bill with 460 pages and 400 clauses.

However, there are a couple of things I want to highlight.

First, it is an outright attack on some of the vulnerable people in our society, refugee claimants.

There is also the implementation of a job credit that has been panned by experts. It would dip into the EI fund when, in fact, EI should be used to give unemployed workers adequate benefits so that they can keep their heads above water when they are faced with the catastrophe of losing a job. There is nothing in the bill to help the more than 300,000 unemployed Canadians or to help to replace the more than 400,000 good manufacturing jobs that have been lost.

Just today, new job numbers have come out, and in November Canada lost another 10,700 jobs. Most shockingly, 46,000 jobs were lost in the private sector. So much for being good economic managers.

Our economy is not recovering, and youth unemployment is now back up to 13%. We have over 1.2 million unemployed Canadians. What does that mean? It means that poverty is increasing.

Twenty-five years ago, we voted to eliminate child poverty. Well, guess what? One out of every five children is living in poverty in Canada today. The numbers are up from 25 years ago. Four out of ten indigenous kids are living in poverty. This is not only a tragedy for them, but a scar on Canadian society and the Canadian economy that we will have to deal with in the future.

Inequality is rising. The top 10% of Canadians have seen their net worth grow since 2005 by 42%, while those in the bottom 10% saw their net worth shrink by 150%. That is growing inequality. We are talking about joblessness and poverty, and the Conservatives are turning their backs, rewarding their friends, focusing only on the oil and gas sector, and to heck with the rest of the economy.

We are committed to a national child care program. We want to make sure that parents have a real choice in having quality, affordable, accessible child care. We want to make sure that we are defending our health care system and that we are investing in medicare, which is a program that was created and defended by the NDP. We are going to continue to defend health care. We also want to invest in transit. We want to get the job done, both on the economy and on the environment. That is what New Democrats will do in 2015.

We wish we could work with the government to get the job done now. We invite the government to join with us. We can make a difference for Canada now. We do not have to wait.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 5th, 2014 / 12:10 p.m.
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South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand and express my strong support for Bill C-43, the economic action plan 2014 act, no.2.

The success of Canada's economy is the result of the hard work and innovation of millions of individual Canadians and Canadian businesses. Our government wants to build on this success by creating the conditions that will continue to allow them to prosper.

Canada's economic action plan creates jobs and economic growth. It supports families and communities. It improves the fairness and integrity of the tax system. In short, it keeps Canada strong.

Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, are the engine of economic prosperity. They create jobs and growth in communities across the country.

Our government is committed to supporting Canadian businesses. That is why economic action plan 2014 includes our proposal for a new small business job credit.

The new tax credit would save small businesses more than half a billion dollars in the next two years. The small business job credit would lower the employment insurance premiums that small businesses are required to pay. The current legislated rate is $1.88 per $100 of insurable earnings. In 2015 and 2016, it would go down to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings. If a business pays $15,000 or less in employer EI premiums, it would be eligible for the new credit in 2015 and 2016.

These are more than just numbers to the millions of small business owners in this country. The effect of this change would be huge. It would effectively reduce EI payroll taxes by nearly 15% for eligible businesses, and almost 90% of all EI premium-paying businesses in Canada would be eligible.

Mindful of our commitment to red tape reduction, we have ensured that no new paper burden would be imposed on business owners in relation to the new credit. The Canada Revenue Agency would determine eligibility based on information in the business' tax return and automatically calculate the credit amount. There would be no additional application form to fill out to benefit from this new tax relief.

Furthermore, both employers and employees would soon see a substantial reduction in their EI premiums. A new rate-setting mechanism, which would come into effect in 2017, would make sure that EI premiums are high enough to pay for the EI program over time, but no higher than required.

The proposed small business job credit builds on the many other actions our government has taken to foster an environment for small businesses to grow and prosper.

We have delivered tax reductions totalling more than $60 billion to job-creating businesses from 2008-09 through 2013-14.

In 2012, we reduced the federal general corporate income tax rate to 15%, down from 22% in 2007.

We have also worked hard to reduce red tape and make it easier for business owners to meet their tax obligations. For example, we have introduced many enhancements to the Canada Revenue Agency's online services. Businesses can now complete 50 different kinds of transactions online with the CRA, including managing their banking information and signing up for pre-authorized debit services through My Business Account.

To help business owners remember what is due and when, the CRA has recently launched its first-ever mobile app. The Business Tax Reminders app enables users to create custom reminders and alerts for key CRA due dates related to instalment payments, returns, and remittances.

Earlier this year, the CRA launched the liaison officer initiative and consultations for the proposed registration of tax-preparers program. Both are designed to reduce red tape and help small and medium-sized businesses more easily meet their tax obligations.

These are specific examples of the real results we are delivering for small and medium-sized businesses across the country.

We are delivering results for Canadian families, too. In fact, families have been major beneficiaries of the numerous tax relief measures that our government has introduced since 2006.

With balanced budgets just around the corner, our priority is to continue to lower taxes so that Canadians can invest more of their hard-earned money in the economy.

One of the most popular family-related tax credits we have introduced is the children's fitness tax credit, which came into effect in 2007. What parents do not want to start their children on the road to a healthy, active lifestyle early in life?

Every year, millions of Canadian families register their children in supervised programs of physical activity: basketball, baseball, gymnastics, karate, soccer, figure skating, folk dancing, and the like. Activities such as these, which require a significant amount of physical activity, are all eligible for the children's fitness tax credit.

The children's fitness tax credit allows parents to claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit for expenses up to $500 each year. They may claim the credit for registering their children in eligible physical fitness activities, as I have just outlined. Until now, this has meant that they could receive a credit of up to $75.00 per child each year. Our government wants to double the maximum amount that could be claimed under the credit, and we want to make the credit refundable so that more families could benefit from tax savings.

These proposals would fulfill a commitment we made to Canadians in 2011, and they are contained in the legislation we are debating today. The new limit of $1,000 would come into effect for the 2014 tax year, so families could see the savings when they file their tax and benefit returns next spring.

The children's fitness tax credit would then become a refundable tax credit starting with the new 2015 tax year. This would mean that people with no tax owing might be eligible for a refund of 15% of the amount claimed. As a non-refundable credit, the children's fitness amount could only be applied against taxes that they owed.

The children's fitness tax credit provides about $115 million in tax relief to 1.4 million Canadian families each year. With the changes we are proposing, about 850,000 families would benefit from this additional tax relief.

In addition to the two tax credits I have highlighted today, the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2, contains many other measures that would affirm our government's commitment to economic growth, families, and communities.

The facts speak for themselves. Canada has one of the strongest job creation records in the developed world; our performance, in terms of real gross domestic product, is the best in the G7; our economy is growing; and our economic action plan is working.

I sincerely hope that all members on all sides of this House will join me in giving Bill C-43, the economic action plan act, no. 2, their full support.

This country is moving forward. We are moving forward in a judicious manner. There is tax relief in the bill and economic policies that would benefit all Canadians. I ask for the total support of the members in this House.

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.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 5th, 2014 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it really is a privilege for me to speak to Bill C-43, Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2.

I was thinking that if I were asked by some of the wonderful people in the riding I represent—volunteers like Randine Hardy, Mary Ann Smith, or Tom Dalimor, or some of our wonderful youth who take leadership positions, like Andrea Choo or Yuan Kim or Ania Salehirad—what a budget implementation act is, I would go back to a question of mission and values. I would say that a budget implementation act is like a rudder steering the ship of government. The budget itself is like the road map, but if we do not understand the mission and values of the government, then it would be hard to put these things in context.

I like to think that this government stands for values that Canadians cherish: freedom, responsibility, equality, compassion, and integrity. We see these values in acts like the budget implementation act. In very specific terms, this act touches upon the economy, on jobs, on responsible resource development, on health, and fitness and volunteers. I will take us through some of these things in the act and am looking forward to questions from my friends.

There are many good things in Canada's economic action plan 2014. There is the promotion of jobs and economic growth, which we see brought forward through the budget implementation act. There is an underlying commitment to return to balanced budgets in 2015, a sense of that responsibility. While we are controlling departmental spending, federal support to Canadians, like seniors benefits, would keep growing. That is essential to some of the leading seniors in the riding I represent, like Brooke Campbell, Garry Sutherland, and Christopher Hebb, who have been bringing me issues about RRSPs and how these can be improved.

We see in this budget implementation act major transfers to provinces for health care, education, and other services that Canadians rely on. These will keep growing to record levels.

There is a focus on connecting Canadians with available jobs, which is key in the sunshine coast and corridor areas of the riding I represent. We see the launching of the Canada job grant so that Canadians can get the skills training they need to get in-demand jobs. There is the creation of the Canada apprentice loan, which would provide apprentices in Red Seal trades access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year; and there is the launching of a job-matching service, a new service that would match Canadians looking for work with the employers who want to hire them. There would be more paid internships for young Canadians. In fact, $55 million would be invested to create such internships. This is good news for universities in the riding I represent, including Quest University Canada, Capilano University, Vancouver Island University, as well as for academic institutions across the country.

There is also the initiative to help older workers get back to work, with some $75 million invested in this targeted initiative to support these older workers who want to participate in the job market. That is something we often hear about at breakfast tables at the West Vancouver seniors' centre.

Budget 2014 also focuses on ensuring responsible resource development and on conserving Canada's natural heritage. If there is something that matters to British Columbians in addition to creating jobs and spurring the economy, it is ensuring that we preserve our wonderful natural heritage and that we have sustainable investment in the environment and fisheries. Groups like the Future of Howe Sound Society and people who want to ensure that if there is an LNG natural gas project at Squamish Woodfibre, it is done according to international standards of safety and good environmental standards, will be delighted to see the initiatives brought forth in the budget implementation act of 2014.

We see an emphasis on responsible resource development, including an increase in funding for the National Energy Board, to ensure that projects like that one I mentioned are reviewed in a comprehensive and timely manner. There is also tax relief for green energy, encouraging investment in clean energy generation thereby.

I come back to the conservation of Canada's natural heritage. Included in this effort are investments in Canada's national parks and historic canals; expanded tax relief for environmental conservation of lands; and bolstered recreational fisheries. The latter will be of great encouragement to the West Vancouver Streamkeepers and streamkeepers throughout our riding, as well as the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which does a great job in encouraging up to 40,000 volunteers throughout British Columbia.

I would like to touch on steps that our Conservative government is taking related to health and fitness, including the introduction of the children's fitness tax credit and the search and rescue volunteer tax credit.

It is Christmas time. It is a time for gift giving and for thinking of others above ourselves. Our government's job is to think of our citizens first. It is not about creating more bureaucracy, as other parties in the House would like to do. It is about empowering others to be the best they can be. That is where the value of responsibility comes in. It is in tune with that value that our government has recently doubled the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000, effective this tax year. It is also providing a refundable tax credit for the registration of a child under 16 in a sports program or physical activity.

Why is this children's tax credit so important? We have noticed dwindling rates of physical activity, alarming and increasing obesity rates, and climbing cardiovascular and diabetes problems. The economic costs of these issues are huge. The Public Health Agency of Canada is telling us that it costs $7 billion a year to deal with the consequences of inactivity relating to cardiovascular and diabetes problems. We are now facing the terrible situation where children will die at a younger age than their parents. This will be the first time in history that has ever happened.

I am pleased to see that these government initiatives are supported and bolstered by a bill that I have sponsored in the House, the national health and fitness day bill. We will be speaking to it this coming Monday, December 8, and voting on it for the third time on Wednesday, December 10. It is my hope that this will be a gift from the riding I represent to all Canadians as we approach the Christmas season.

Beside the children's fitness tax credit, I would like to bring to the attention of the House the increase and expansion in the universal child care benefit. This represents a benefit of almost $2,000 for families with children under 6, and $720 a year for parents with children aged 6 to 18. As someone who is passionate about promoting health and fitness for all Canadians, it is my hope that these changes will help parents offset the cost of having their children enrolled in organized sports or other physical activities.

Finally, I would like to emphasize how much the Conservative government shines a light on our volunteers. We have seen an illustration of this through the introduction of the search and rescue volunteer tax credit. Three years ago, the Conservative government introduced a volunteer firefighters' tax credit in recognition of the important role played by volunteer firefighters in contributing to the security and safety of Canadians. I was pleased to advocate for that tax credit on behalf of firefighters throughout the riding I represent.

In the same spirit of recognizing those who play a critical role in emergency preparedness and response, economic action plan 2014 announced a search and rescue volunteer tax credit for ground, air, and marine search and rescue volunteers. This credit would be available to search and rescue volunteers who perform at least 200 hours of service during the year.

I would like to bring this down to one individual, Tim Jones, a hero from the North Shore in the Vancouver area. He led the huge team of search and rescue volunteers in the North Shore, who over 50 years have committed themselves to more than 2,500 search and rescue operations. These people put themselves in harm's way day in and day out, with more than 200,000 hours of selfless effort by them in the North Shore search and rescue team.

Whether it is supporting volunteers, promoting health and fitness, spurring jobs, or creating economic development, these are all consistent with the five key values I mentioned at the beginning. These are the values of freedom, responsibility, equality, compassion, and integrity. I am proud to stand in the House on behalf of the people I represent and to speak on behalf of all Canadians and to support the government's budget implementation act, 2014.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 5th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-43, economic action plan 2014.

I want to step back for a moment. Three and a half years ago, I sought the nomination for the Conservative Party. At that time, I was not a political guru. Part of the nomination process was to go through the policies of the government. I read the Conservative policies and realized that they so applied to me. These were policies that spoke to caring for our families, supporting our businesses, ensuring that we are participants rather than observers in the global economy, caring for our seniors and our veterans, and promoting jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, to name but a few.

Economic action plan 2014 builds on those policies and those initiatives. Today I want to focus a bit on those that are particularly important to northern Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie.

My history is in northern Ontario. I went to high school in North Bay, when my father was stationed there as part of the Canadian Armed Forces. I went to college in Sudbury and got a diploma from Cambrian College and then received a university degree from Laurentian University. I then moved to Sault Ste. Marie, where I reside now. I have been there for 33 years. During that tenure, I travelled all around northern Ontario as part of the Ontario March of Dimes, so I am very familiar with northern Ontario and its needs.

One of the most important components of the economic action plan is FedNor, which is the economic development fund for northern Ontario. It is a significant fund. The economic action plan continues to fund this program. It is a program that delivers programs that support innovation, sustainable community economic development, and business growth and competitiveness. Since 2006, $329 million has been funded through FedNor for 1,600 projects across northern Ontario that have created 21,000 jobs.

As part of economic action plan 2014, the minister announced what is called the targeted manufacturing fund, which is part of FedNor. This would provide financing for operational assessments and upgrading capital equipment. I encourage those who are watching at home to go to fednor.gc.ca to learn more about the programs offered through FedNor.

On December 4, the Minister for FedNor announced the community investment initiative for northern Ontario. This is a great initiative for rural municipalities and first nations communities that will facilitate staffing, the identification of opportunities, and the management of local economic development efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs. Up to $100,000 per year is available over a three-year period for non-repayable financing toward staffing positions.

This agency has been incredible in Sault Ste. Marie. I just want to speak to a couple of the projects that have occurred in Sault Ste. Marie.

One is a company called JD Aero Maintenance. FedNor provided financing of $475,000 to assist it in its hanger development. As a result of that, it has created 28 jobs in Sault Ste. Marie, as JD Aero services the last Porter flight that comes into Sault Ste. Marie every evening.

Recently, $762,000 went to the Innovation Centre to deliver broadband e-business and marketing and innovation accelerator programs to enhance innovation, commercialization, management, and trade capacity for small and medium enterprises in northern Ontario over the next two years.

The Economic Development Corporation in Sault Ste. Marie just received $2.2 million. This is for an incredible new initiative in Sault Ste. Marie. A study done in 2013 by KPMG stated that the “economic and other benefits of the proposed harbour expansion are expected to be significant”. The report states that combined with anticipated production capacity increases by Sault Ste. Marie's steel products manufacturers, the expanded port would add as much as $228 million to Canada's GDP and would support up to 1,800 new employment positions as a result of the direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts. It would provide $262 million in economic activity generated by the infrastructure investments in the harbour and would support just under 1,400 person years of employment.

The project right now is in the process of establishing the critical path for port development. They are doing logistics, a market and commercial sensitivity analysis, a traffic forecast, and business planning and development. There is also port project infrastructure planning, design, and preparation, port logistics, and the preparation of the business case. That is what is really critical. Once that is done, the port project will apply to the new building Canada fund. This is a national infrastructure component. This project is a $120-million to $150-million investment that will happen in Sault Ste. Marie.

That leads me to another component of economic action plan 2014 that is incredibly important to northern Ontario and to all of Canada, and that is the new building Canada fund. The new building Canada plan is the largest long-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history. It will provide stable funding for a 10-year period. It includes the community improvement fund, consisting of the gas tax fund and the incremental business services tax rebate for municipalities. This will provide $32 billion to municipalities for projects such as roads, public transit, recreational facilities, and other community infrastructure.

I spent eight years on city council in Sault Ste. Marie, and one of the biggest concerns was infrastructure funding. Through our gas tax fund, which we will increase by at least 2% per year, we have put $4.6 million a year for the past couple of years into that fund for major infrastructure projects for Sault Ste. Marie.

There will also be a $14-billion new Canada fund, which will consist of the $4-billion national infrastructure component that will support projects of national significant. For smaller communities, there is the $10-billion provincial-territorial infrastructure component for projects of national, regional, or local significance. Of this amount, $1 billion is dedicated to projects in communities such as Sault Ste. Marie, with populations of fewer than 100,000 residents.

An additional $1.25 billion will be put into the P3 public private partnership Canada fund, and that will go along with the $6 billion in funding that continues to flow across the country this year and beyond under existing infrastructure programs.

I want to talk a little bit about taxes. The average family of four, under our government, pays $3,400 a year less than when we formed government. We formed government in 2006. Since then, we have administered over 160 tax cuts, and most recently, under economic action plan 2014, we have done some incredible things for families.

The first is the universal child care increase. It was originally $100 per month. It would now go up to $160 per month. If a family has a child under six years of age, there would be $1,920 available to use as the family sees fit. We would also expand the program to include funds for children aged six to 17. We would put $60 a month into that program, so there would be an additional $720 a year available.

On top of that, we have introduced the family tax cut, which is geared towards couples with minor children. This would allow a transfer of up to $50,000 a year in income to the spouse in the lower tax bracket, and it would be capped at a $2,000 credit. We would also increase the child care expense deduction limit by $1,000 and double the fitness tax credit to $1,000 and make it refundable. These initiatives in economic action plan 2014 would put an average of $1,140 back into the pockets of families with children.

On top of that, we have introduced initiatives for empowering Canadian consumers, investing in skills and training, investing in Canada's youth, supporting small business, supporting seniors, supporting Canada's veterans, and supporting Canada's farmers.

I could go on and on. I am just very proud to stand here and talk about these policies that are so incredibly important to Canadians.

Bill C-43. Report stage

The House resumed from December 2 consideration of 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.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

December 4th, 2014 / 3:05 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue the second reading debate on Bill S-6, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act.

Tomorrow we will debate Bill C-43, the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2. This bill would put into place important support for families, as well as key job-creating measures, which would build on our government's record of over 1.2 million net new jobs created since the economic downturn.

On Monday, before question period, we will resume the second reading debate on Bill C-12, the Drug-Free Prisons Act. By tackling drug use and trafficking in federal penitentiaries, we will make the correctional system safer for staff and inmates, while also increasing the success of rehabilitation.

After question period, we will consider Bill C-44, the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act, at report stage. I understand that, regrettably, the NDP will be opposing this bill.

Tuesday will see the House debate Bill C-43 before it gets its third and final reading.

Wednesday we will consider Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, at report stage and I hope at third reading. This bill was reported back from the very hard working justice committee yesterday. It was adopted unanimously after a thorough and exhaustive study all autumn. The victims bill of rights act would create statutory rights at the federal level for victims of crime for the very first time in Canadian history. This legislation would establish statutory rights to information, protection, participation, and restitution and ensure a complaint process is in place for breaches of those rights.

The chair of the justice committee implored House leaders yesterday to pass the bill expeditiously. I hope my colleagues will agree.

Next Thursday we will resume the uncompleted debates on Bill C-32, Bill C-12, Bill C-44, and Bill S-6, as well as taking up Bill S-5 at third reading to establish the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve act.

Next Friday, the House will complete the third reading debate on Bill C-40, the Rouge national urban park act, to create Canada's first national urban park.

After that we will have an opportunity to wish everybody a Merry Christmas.

Bill C-43—Time Allocation MotionEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 4th, 2014 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, since we are about to impose time allocation on report stage debate in the House, I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask about the committee's work on this bill.

The first point is that it does not seem to me that the committee properly considered the fact that there is very little for veterans in Bill C-43. I would have thought that the committee would have spent more time on omissions in the bill as well as the things that are wrong about the bill.

The second point I want to make is about something that is a little more detailed and that I do not believe the finance committee considered. Bill C-43 contains some changes to the Industrial Design Act. Budget 2014 said that there would be legislation to implement certain treaties, and one particular change in the Industrial Design Act says that a design is registerable if the design is not contrary to public morality or order.

My questions to the minister are as follows: why did the finance committee not consider this bill in more detail, how is the government intending to regulate the industry based on this line in the Industrial Design Act, and is that change related to a treaty?

December 4th, 2014 / 9:20 a.m.
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Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

They are important. As you know, this is a commitment we made, and the administrative monetary penalties are within Bill C-43 on telecom. Ending pay-to-pay billing and ensuring that there is more competition in the wireless sector is something that as a government we've been very proud of, for its self-evident benefits.

I'm not sure, Kelly, if you want to give an update on the AMPs, the administrative monetary penalties, where that is at, and how the CRTC is viewing the reforms we've put in place.

Bill C-43—Notice of Time AllocationEconomic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

December 3rd, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the report stage and third reading stage of Bill C-43, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting motions to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stages of the said bill.

December 3rd, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

The four pillars of our counterterrorism strategy are oriented toward prevention, detection, denying someone from committing an attack, and responding. So in the realm of prevention, the RCMP is doing a lot of outreach towards communities throughout the country. We have cross-cultural round tables and we are also training our officers. I'm sure Deputy Commissioner Cabana can expand on this. Once again, if I may add, I think that the late Jim Flaherty will certainly wink at us, when the budget implementation act is adopted and Lindsey's law will become the law of the land, from his Irish paradise. He certainly can find some comfort in this.

Thank you.

December 3rd, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

I really want to thank you for your question because we can be proud as a country of the DNA system we have put in place.

Once again, this is a system that has been ongoing for many years without any major change or improvement, and the technology is evolving. The current DNA missing persons index.... Actually, we will be given the opportunity to support tonight very important votes that will take place. Not only will we support the budget implementation act but also this very important bill.

There are five indices that will be added to the current system. Our deputy commissioner knows this issue very well. Let me just put the emphasis on those indices that will allow the collection of DNA at a crime scene, DNA of a missing person, DNA of relatives of a missing person, and also DNA of people working on crime scenes, so that the results are not conflicted when they are doing these analyses.

This is a major step, a major improvement. This is done in a very reasonable and practical manner. One objective is to bring closure to families of the fallen, like Ms. Peterson, or any other family who is wondering what has happened. This is the objective. Those indices will be added.

One important issue is that the current.... There will be a barrier established between the DNA of a relative and the DNA of a criminal. There are firewalls to protect privacy and the rights of those who are sharing information. These provisions are in the bill. It has been very well crafted and I would be happy to provide you with more detail.

Once again, we're going to make a leap forward to help victims in their willingness to seek the truth on what sometimes happens in tragic events.

December 3rd, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Thank you to all of you who are here.

It strikes me that in this Christmas season of peace and goodwill to all, you deal with the other side of the coin. We know that's not an easy task. We appreciate the fact that people like you are carrying a heavy load on behalf of the rest of us, so that we can feel secure and contented, not just at this time of year but all year round.

Minister, we were just looking at a section of the budget implementation act that had to do with expanding the DNA indices, the kind of information that law enforcement can now collect in terms of DNA.

Why do you think this expansion of the DNA bank is so important and what do you believe will be the benefit to Canadians?

December 3rd, 2014 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Absolutely, and I thank you for this question.

Even as the bill was tabled, members were provided with the opportunity to get some technical briefings. Those who have benefited from those briefings then could clearly understand that due to some court decisions, it was important to update the CSIS Act, which has not really been updated for the last 30 years. This is exactly what the protection of Canada from terrorists act is doing, clarifying the authority of CSIS.

One important thing, which is now obvious to us, is clearly defining that CSIS has the capability to operate abroad. That seems very obvious, but this needed to be added to the CSIS Act. This is exactly what Bill C-44 achieves.

While we can protect witnesses, which is very important for an intelligence agency, there is a mechanism that anyone who could be accused under the information provided by those witnesses is entitled to a fair trial. Once again, there is the amicus curiae legal mechanism so that the law will help the court and help CSIS in its mandate while clarifying its mandate.

There are some other elements in that bill like improving and accelerating the removal of dual citizenship. This bill was already adopted, but now we are willing to move forward as the terrorist threat evolves. These are the measures in the bill. These are certainly measures that I would appreciate and seek support on from all members.

Unfortunately, as I have pointed out—through the chair, of course—I would have expected that the NDP support this important bill, especially as the terrorist threat is real. I was given the opportunity to highlight this fact, so were the experts in this area. Unfortunately we did not get support. I still feel that when we're placed in front of accurate facts, we should seek support.

You may recall that the NDP did not support the Combating Terrorism Act. I think we as Canadians can be very relieved today to know that charges have been laid under this new act. With the law we have in place in this country, terrorists are now prevented from committing a terrorist act. This is why it is important as legislators that we provide the tools to those who are there to protect us. This is why I intend to come back in the near future with additional measures that will fully comply with our Canadian law, but in the meantime will provide tools necessary for our national security agency and law enforcement agency to better protect Canadians.

December 3rd, 2014 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

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

Fine.

I think I have time for one more question.

Under votes 1b and 5b, the Canada Revenue Agency is seeking funding for the implementation of the intergovernmental agreement between Canada and the U.S. in relation to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

When the committee was studying the legislation setting out the agreement's implementation, Bill C-31, experts expressed concerns about the intergovernmental agreement. One of their concerns was the fact that the definition of a "financial institution" was being changed and replaced by 13 types of entities—14 with the most recent amendment contained in Bill C-43. That definition is not compatible with the intergovernmental agreement and needs to be changed.

The definition has given rise to major problems, such as the exclusion of most Canadian private trusts despite their inclusion in the intergovernmental agreement, as well as the lack of clarity around investment entities. These are some of the criticisms we heard from witnesses when the bills were under study. Some experts even said that adopting FATCA could undermine the implementation of the intergovernmental agreement.

I'd like to ask you two quick questions on the subject. First of all, have there been any discussions to incorporate changes that would clarify things, allowing for clear implementation of the legislation and regulations?

December 3rd, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I'm sorry for this unintentional loss of time.

I am always impressed when I appear before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, especially when I am surrounded by officials from agencies responsible for the protection and security of Canadians.

I am accompanied today by Harvey Cenaiko, from the Parole Board of Canada; Michel Coulombe, from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; Mike Cabana, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Don Head, from the Correctional Service of Canada; Luc Portelance, from the Canada Border Services Agency; and François Guimont, who is the Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada.

I would like to tell the members of the committee that these people work very hard, particularly when we were called to respond to the recent terrorist attack. We were in the House a few minutes ago, and I had the chance to meet the person who administered first aid to Warrant Officer Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. We are currently preparing a proper and balanced response to this growing terrorist threat. Obviously, we are not going to overreact, but we are not going to stand idly by in the face of this threat, either.

Furthermore, I would like to publicly thank the heads of the agencies that help us to adapt. They have already taken concrete action to protect Canadians.

We are here today to make budgetary adjustments that will allow these important individuals to continue to ensure our protection. As you know, our department was created in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Even now, I note that the priority for national security is fighting terrorism.

That said, we must not in any way neglect the other important aspects of public safety, which is why I am here this afternoon.

As you know, we have implemented many initiatives to move forward our government's ambitious public safety program. This involves cracking down on crime, improving the rights of victims and strengthening our national security. For example, I recently announced the coming into force of the Safer Witnesses Act, which will increase the effectiveness of the federal government's witness protection program for the individuals it protects, while meeting the needs of law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, we just sent Bill C-32, An Act to enact the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain Acts, back to the House for debate at report stage. This fundamental bill will change the way we handle justice in Canada and will put victims at the heart of our justice system.

I also want to thank the committee for its work on division 17 of Bill C-43, which amends the DNA Identification Act to create Lindsey's law. This important measure will create a DNA-based missing persons index to help provide closure to the families of missing persons.

I understand that Judy Peterson made a very emotional presentation to the committee. I would like to thank you all for your support on this important legislation that she has advocated for on behalf of her daughter.

Many of you may remember that November 16 was the sad anniversary of the disappearance of Julie Surprenant, in Terrebonne. Her sister, Andréanne, wanted to pay tribute to her on that occasion. It was a moving experience. It allowed us to remind the victims and loved ones of the families of missing or murdered individuals of the implementation of this act, which will help them to get through this type of situation and to find some comfort.

On other fronts, I have introduced measures to provide a simple and safe firearms licensing regime with Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act. This bill was thoroughly debated one week ago. I look forward to this bill being referred to this committee for study in the very near future.

Just last week, I appeared before you regarding Bill C-44, the protection of Canada from terrorists act. I know the committee has completed its study, and has returned the bill to the House without amendments. As I said earlier, recent terrorist attacks are a reminder that the terrorist organization ISIL is a very real threat to Canadians. It is the reason we are working very determinedly to strengthen the tools available to the police and intelligence community in the areas of surveillance, detention, and arrest. The protection of Canada from terrorists act is just the first step in our efforts to do that.

My department and its agencies continue to give priority to efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism, which includes working with our international allies.

Mr. Chair, I could speak more about the measures that we are implementing, but I would now like to move on to the Supplementary Estimates (B), 2014-15. Essentially, these are adjustments to the budget envelope that we were allocated and some modifications that need to be made to properly reflect the actual accounting and current expenses.

These estimates demonstrate our ongoing commitment to keeping Canadians safe from those who wish to harm them without creating billion-dollar boondoggles.

Allow me to provide some highlights of what I mean.

As the committee members can see, the Supplementary Estimates (B), 2014-15, aim to transfer $3.3 million from the Canada Border Services Agency to the RCMP to build a joint use firing range in British Columbia. It also aims to obtain a transfer of $5.2 million from the Correctional Service of Canada to the RCMP to support the renovations of C block at the RCMP training academy for correctional officer training.

These are prime examples of how we are using taxpayers' money. This way of operating is more effective. We are achieving this by grouping resources, while creating stronger ties within the department.

In addition, the estimates seek $5.2 million for CSIS in support of national security initiatives. I would also like to highlight two key items related to the RCMP. First, on November 28—as of Monday—the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act came into force, bringing in a new era of modernization and accountability for the RCMP. In order to implement that act, these supplementary estimates provide for $7.9 million to the RCMP to implement new processes relating to grievances and public complaints.

Additionally, there is $710,000 to the RCMP External Review Committee to maintain the committee's existing operations. This entails the review of certain grievances and appeals of decisions and disciplinary and other labour relations matters involving members of the force. This is a very important accomplishment, Mr. Chair. We've been working on that for years. In less than two years, the RCMP has been able to implement this major shift. The deputy commissioner can expand on this later on, but this is certainly a great accomplishment. As you know, we now have beefed up—if you allow me this expression—the oversight of the RCMP.

Second, the estimates seek to transfer $41.9 million to the RCMP for policing services provided pursuant to the first nations policing program. This funding will further support policing services that are professional, dedicated, and responsive to the first nation and Inuit communities they serve.

In addition, $3.7 million is set aside for the national public safety campaign for the next phase in the fight against bullying, called “Get Cyber Safe”. I must tell you that we have had very interesting results in terms of market penetration and our ability to reach out to young people.

We are very proud of the success of this campaign, which is having a significant impact across the country. More than a million people have visited the “Get Cyber Safe” website, and there have been different initiatives in that respect. Of course, I encourage committee members to pass on these constructive messages on the importance of having healthy practices when visiting social media sites and using information technology or any electronic device.

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, it is clear that our Conservative government is taking strong action to keep Canadians safe. We are ensuring that victims are at the heart of the justice system and ensuring that child sexual predators face serious consequences. We are making our firearms laws safe and sensible, and we are making sure that our law enforcement and national security organizations have the tools they need to do their jobs.

The one threat that seems to run through all of these initiatives is that they have been delayed, obstructed, or sometimes opposed outright. But we are prevailing, Mr. Chair, and I am proud to say that we intend to stay the course. We have the protection of Canada act coming back into the House of Commons, and we intend to come in the near future with additional legislation so that we can tackle this evolving terrorist threat.

With that in mind, Mr. Chair, I would be more than happy to respond to questions from the members of this important committee.

Merci.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2Government Orders

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

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to inform Canadians about how our Conservative government is successfully implementing the initiatives in our economic action plan to promote jobs and growth and support families and communities. Our initiatives, which are part of Canada's economic action plan, greatly benefit families in rural regions, such as my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

One of the important requirements of municipalities that is being met by our federal Conservative government is the provision of long-term predictable funding for infrastructure. I am very proud of our government, as it has delivered a new building Canada plan to help finance the construction, rehabilitation, and enhancement of infrastructure across my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. As the people in my riding know, they have been abandoned by the Liberal Party of Ontario. Unlike the Province of Ontario, which discriminates against rural Ontario by withholding provincial gas tax revenues, our federal government returns gas tax revenues to the municipalities to do the needed infrastructure upgrades and take the pressure off the property tax base, which, along with the high electricity energy prices, is forcing people on fixed incomes, like seniors, out of their homes.

Through the now-permanent and indexed federal gas tax fund, last year communities in my riding made needed infrastructure repairs. Communities like the Township of McNab/Braeside received almost $221,000 for road reconstruction. Madawaska Valley received approximately $134,000 to reconstruct Tamarack Road; and the Township of Laurentian Valley received almost $600,000 in federal gas taxes to resurface or reconstruct five roads in 2013: Ema Street, Spruce Street West, Whispering Pines Crescent, Vaudry Drive, and B-Line Road. North Algona Wilberforce received over $98,000 to begin work on Marsh Road, to resurface Snodrifters Road, and to construct a dry storage shed for salt.

The Township of Admaston/Bromley received $83,000 to resurface South McNaughton Road. The City of Pembroke received almost $860,000 to reconstruct the Pembroke Street Bridge, as part of an ongoing federal contribution since 2011 to fix various streets and replace water and sewer lines, amounting to over $1.7 million. The County of Renfrew received $2.5 million for road resurfacing and rehabilitation. The Town of Renfrew received $250,000 in federal gas tax dollars to rehabilitate Queen Street. In 2013, Petawawa received almost $0.5 million for Herman Street, with a cumulative federal gas tax fund total for that project amounting to almost $1 million.

The Township of Whitewater Region received $378,000 to resurface Pleasant Valley Road and Rapid Road and Bromley Line Road to the end. The Town of Arnprior received $360,000 for roadwork; and the Township of Bonnechere Valley received over $93,000 to reconstruct and put a new surface on Crimson Maple Road.

The Town of Deep River received $96,000 for work at the W.B. Lewis Public Library parking lot and sidewalk. The Township of Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards received over $24,000 for sidewalks, and $150,000 for roads and culverts. Horton Township received $40,000 for roads. The United Townships of Head, Clara, and Maria received $23,000 for HVAC improvements.

Greater Madawaska received over $84,000 to pay down debt on a waste management project started in 2005, for a cumulative total of over $400,000, and other federal funding of $225,000 for a total project cost of $1.2 million. The Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan received over $180,000 to resurface a 2-kilometre section of the Jewellville Road and a 3.5-kilometre section of the Addington Road. The Township of South Algonquin received $226,000 to do Hay Lake Road repairs, and to repair Maple Drive, Galeairy Lake, and Algonquin Street.

In total, in 2013, $6.9 million flowed to my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, generating over $20 million in municipal construction activity.

I remind municipalities, particularly municipalities in Ontario, that the backroom advisors in Toronto who devised the policy to discriminate against rural municipalities and only pay out the provincial gas tax revenues to urban communities have surrounded the inexperienced leader of the Liberal Party here in Ottawa. They want federal gas tax dollars to pay for failed social experiments, like the industrial wind turbines that no community wants, and have cancelled the gas plants.

They refer to the industrial wind turbine white elephants as a green initiative to save the environment. In fact, the Liberal Party in Ontario is being sued for $653 million for manipulating the so-called Green Energy Act by using “political favouritism, cronyism and local preference”, according to the court filing. Compare and contrast that with the long-term predictable funding associated with the way our federal Conservative government manages federal gas tax funds to municipalities.

Just ask the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, AMO, what he thinks of federal municipal partnerships. He said we are open, honest, and transparent.

Moreover, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has acknowledged that our tax relief has successfully targeted low and middle-income families. He said, “Cumulative tax changes since 2005”, which is when our government took office, “have been progressive overall and most greatly impact low-middle income earners (households earning between $12,200 and $23,300), effectively resulting in a 4.0 per cent increase in after-tax income”.

The federal tax burden is at its lowest rate in 50 years. We have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls entirely. The average family of four will save nearly $3,400 this year, and a small business with revenues of around $0.5 million now saves over $28,000 in taxes, thanks to our low-tax plan.

It is clear that Canada has become an international success story, but Canada is not immune from economic challenges beyond our borders. Those challenges include foreign dirty money funnelled to special interest groups to implement policies that would kill jobs in our forestry and energy sectors. Our government is clear that as long as Canadians are looking for jobs, we will not pursue policies, particularly ones based on junk science, that will put ordinary working Canadians out of their homes and out of work.

With that, I will now turn to the measures in today's legislation that would build on our success and ensure that we would continue to keep Canada on track for job creation and balanced budgets. First, Bill C-43 reaffirms the government's commitment to making our tax system simpler and fairer. It closes tax loopholes and strengthens tax enforcement to ensure that taxes are low for all taxpayers, not only a select few. Allow me to highlight some of the measures we have taken to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.

I would like to close my initial comments by saying that for the first time, according to The New York Times, middle-income Canadians are better off than Americans. That is something Canadians can be very proud of. I urge my parliamentary colleagues to support their country by voting in favour of all the good measures contained in Bill C-43.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Income splitting is not in Bill C-43, and we all recognize that. On the other hand, I will give the member for Red Deer the opportunity to continue. I think he is making a point that, indirectly at least, is relevant to Bill C-43 and to tax policy more generally. I will allow him to continue.

The hon. member for Red Deer.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I gave a speech a few weeks ago about Bill C-43, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour went on a rant for several minutes about the Arctic offshore patrol ships, none of which is even mentioned in Bill C-43. I commented that it was a very broad bill, an omnibus bill, as opposition members call it, yet they found things to talk about that were not even in the bill.

Of course, the Speaker at the time said that there was considerable latitude and the member would get to his point eventually. I wish the opposition would extend that same courtesy and understand that there are things connected to the budget.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate it is a 468 page bill. I do not know if you have gone through every page yet. I am not sure my friend has, or others in the House, but it is an incredibly complicated bill.

He is speaking very specifically about a number of measures that are not contained in the bill. It is one thing to say that he is speaking about taxes. It may change in the rest of the discourse. He may have a speech that is about the measures contained in the bill. We welcome that debate. We are here to debate the amendments that we brought forward and also the bill itself, if that is the broad interpretation of what this debate is about.

I know he is getting some sage advice, but to get into other measures that are completely not contained in the legislation stretches the bounds of relevance. Again, I understand the disadvantage he has of whether it is in Bill C-43. It is one of those moments where I say “Trust me on this one”. The measures he has discussed so far are not at all contained in the bill. They are not referenced. There is no enabling amendments or pieces of legislation. It is just not contained in the bill.

If he wants to speak to Bill C-43 or the amendments we have moved, then of course we are interested in the debate. He now is getting papers from the lobby, which I am sure will help move this discourse along.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to speak to Bill C-43 and about families.

The week after the events of October 22, my wife Judy and my daughter Megan and our then 10-month-old grandson came to Ottawa to be with Dad. Like many of us, I underestimated the effect that day had on our friends and our loved ones. Touring this building together, watching my grandson sit where you are sitting, Mr. Speaker, brought home how important our families really are.

Our new family friendly tax measures would make it easier for all kids to get involved in the many exciting opportunities that exist in their communities. For that, as community representatives, we should all be proud. This is the reason that economic action plan 2014 has my backing. It is a tremendous support for Canadian families. This bill would put more money back into the pockets of Canadian families, and work on improving the fairness and integrity of our tax system by closing loopholes and strengthening tax enforcement to ensure that all Canadians, not just a select few, have lower and fairer taxes. Under this plan, every family with children would have money put back into their pockets so they can spend their money on their priorities.

These latest tax cuts and benefits would see an average Canadian family save close to $1,140 in 2015. All in all, these savings represent close to $27 billion returned to the pockets of Canadian families over the next five years. These latest tax cuts and benefits include the introduction of a family tax cut, an increase and expansion of the universal childcare benefit, an increase in the childcare expense deduction limits, and a doubling of the children's fitness tax credit, as well as making it refundable.

The new family tax cut is a federal tax credit that would allow a higher-income spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket. This credit would provide tax—

I remember when my kids were young and we took them to everything. People would say that I must put in thousands of miles just driving my own and neighbouring kids to sports and community events. At the time, it never really dawned on me. After all, there was the excitement of watching my son Devin score the first touchdown for our new football team on the same field where my youngest brother had scored the last touchdown 20 years earlier before that team had folded; or the excitement of watching our daughter, after being fouled at the buzzer during the very first game for the Elnora junior high basketball team, then sink both foul shots to first tie and then win the game. I have seen NBA players who cannot do that. The coaching, watching my kids and their teammates competing at regional and provincial levels in all types of sports, performing in plays and pageants, and even working on the farm together are memories of a family that worked, played, and laughed together. What about all those miles? I have always said I would much sooner drive my kids around than drive around looking for my kids.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, since I was not able to get to the floor when my hon. colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, was speaking, I want to thank him for his remarks.

I am pleased to hear the official opposition turning a light on the question of the economics of this country and what is generally considered an unquestioned benefit of developing the oil sands.

There are, of course, benefits economically to developing the oil sands, but there are huge economic risks in putting all our eggs in the bitumen basket. I appreciated my friend, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, asking, “What is plan B?” It does not seem to me that the current administration has a plan B.

Although it is not the subject or the pith and substance of the bill before us, I want to underline that it is important that we not just examine what is wrong with putting all our eggs in the bitumen basket from the point of view of the threat to British Columbia's wilderness of these ill-advised, risky pipeline schemes and the risk to our coastline of putting bitumen mixed with toxic fossil fuel condensates, called diluents, and calling it “dilbit” and shipping it to refineries overseas.

This whole project is a decision that Canada is better off when we take a resource from northern Albert and do not process it in Canada but put it in pipelines to ship to other places, without any consideration of the climate impact and without any consideration of the environmental threats. The failure to even examine whether the economics line up is astounding, and I am pleased to hear another member raise that issue in this place.

However, I want to address the bill itself.

As we know, it is an omnibus budget bill. It is, again, over 400 pages long. It is the kind of abuse of Parliament that really constitutes a daily contempt of democratic process in this place.

Here is a bill that covers everything from aerodrome regulation to getting rid of the Canadian Polar Commission and replacing it with the Cambridge Bay research station, which is now called the CHARS.

There are sections of the bill that deal with patent legislation. We are told by experts in patents that they are not properly thought through and will cause real problems.

There are changes in social assistance that appear to be targeting the most vulnerable in our society. I want speak more to this issue and the way this piece of legislation would affect refugees.

There are changes in the way the Chief Public Health Officer is allowed to run the department.

These are very profound changes.

Before getting into the details of the individual changes, I want to make the point again that making changes in myriad, unrelated sections, most of them non-budgetary, is an offence to parliamentary process. I have raised this point in points of order, Mr. Speaker, and take your explanation that it is up to the House itself to set some parameters around omnibus budget bills.

However, it must be said again that up until the current Privy Council and Prime Minister, we have never had omnibus budget bills topping each other each year. There is a spring budget bill and a fall budget bill, so we have had about 900 pages of legislation in 2012, 2013, and 2014 in these omnibus forms. The contempt is compounded, because none of these have been adequately studied. Most of them go through the finance committee, which finds itself trying to deal with questions about high Arctic polar research and how aerodromes should be run. One piece of the legislation should properly be before the transport committee. Another piece of the legislation should properly be before the environment committee, but no, they are all bundled up and stuffed down the throat of the finance committee.

On top of having them in omnibus form, we also have time allocation, so there is not the time to bring in the witnesses who could explain all the provisions and how the bill would affect myriad areas of public policy. That is offensive.

On top of that, we had in this place independent motions from 20 different committees, which were, amazingly, what a coincidence, identical motions last fall. They were for the purpose of limiting the rights of members of Parliament from smaller parties, such as me in my own role as leader of the Green Party or colleagues who sit as independents or the newly formed Forces et Démocratie or the Bloc Québécois. Our opportunities to debate and to present substantive amendments at report stage have been eliminated by, I have to say, the Machiavellian expedience of 20 different motions in 20 different legislative committees that created the bogus “opportunity”, which I put in quotes, for members such as me to present amendments at each of those committees.

Some of these committees meet at the same time. I will not go into the details of how coercive, difficult, and unfair this measure has been. Never in the history of Canada has a majority party gone to such lengths to shut down individual members of Parliament.

I would like to turn to the aspects of this bill that are the most egregious.

I am very concerned about the change in the management of the Chief Public Health Officer. The bill changes his role from being the person responsible for his department to being subservient to a president of the organization, and no longer a deputy minister. The Public Health Agency is a relatively new institution in the history of this Parliament, but is an important office. When we face public health threats we need to know that our Chief Public Health Officer will not risk being told, “We would rather you not talk about that now. We want to keep that under wraps for a while”. That is a dangerous road to go down and it is being accomplished in this omnibus budget bill.

I am also concerned about the changes that have been made to the provisions that deal with the ways in which the federal government transfers money to provinces and the requirements around those transfers, changes that were almost under the radar screen before people noticed them because they were not trumpeted. In the past, social assistance transfers did not have residency requirements and there were provisions to make sure that the most needy would always be able to get social assistance. The changes that are being made in clauses 172 and 173 of Bill C-43 would make it much harder for refugees to gain that desperate assistance, despite refugees being the most vulnerable people in our society who get here with just the clothes on their backs. This does not accomplish it in one fell swoop, but is the first step in allowing a province to decide that a refugee claimant would not be able to get social assistance. It opens the door to the provinces to make those kinds of changes.

There are also changes to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. These changes do not affect questions of justice, fairness, and equity in our society but would make the whole area of patent law much less certain and much more confusing. Amendments were recommended by experts in patent law, but as with all opposition amendments, they were ignored and voted down at committee.

The piece of legislation that creates the Canadian high Arctic research station at the same time also eliminates what was previously the Canadian polar research station and the Canadian polar research commission. It is not at all clear how the two would merge. This bill repeals the polar research station. Of course, it must be noted that the current Canadian high Arctic research station facility, which is in the front window as the current administration's commitment to science and is being built in Cambridge Bay in the Minister of the Environment's riding, is designed not to do any research on climate or ozone. It is specifically focused on research for resource development in the Arctic. It certainly is to be commended for highlighting the important and essential role of indigenous and traditional knowledge going forward. However, it is hardly appropriate in this day and age to focus so much research money in the Arctic and ignore climate, ozone, and the toxins that concentrate in the body fat of the wildlife that people of the north rely on for country food.

Let me sum up. These omnibus budget bills year after year are unbelievable. There was an omnibus bill in the spring and another in the fall. Each one made significant changes to a number of other Canadian laws without allowing enough opportunities for speeches or enough time to study or debate these major changes.

It is an offence to this place that we continually have omnibus budget bills forced down our throats and done so quickly with time allocation.

Once more, as a member of Parliament, I protest against these offensive measures, which strike at the heart of the role of parliamentarians.

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

December 2nd, 2014 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved:

Motion No. 56

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 253.

Motion No. 57

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 254.

Motion No. 58

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 255.

Motion No. 59

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 256.

Motion No. 60

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 257.

Motion No. 61

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 258.

Motion No. 62

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 259.

Motion No. 63

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 260.

Motion No. 64

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 313.

Motion No. 65

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 378.

Motion No. 66

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 379.

Motion No. 67

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 380.

Motion No. 68

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 381.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleagues for their speeches on the amendments. Since this latest omnibus bill is over 460 pages long, we hoped to improve even a small part of this very complex and problematic bill.

Since getting their majority in the House, the Conservatives have introduced close to 2,200 pages of omnibus budgets, but they have agreed to just one single amendment proposed by the opposition. That is incredible.

This omnibus bill alone will amend a huge number of Canadian laws. The incredible thing is that this omnibus bill will fix a problem created by the last omnibus bill, which fixed a problem created by the omnibus bill before that. That is the kind of government the Conservatives are now running. It is bad for our economy and our country.

In this 460-page omnibus bill, there are many corrections to the previous massive omnibus bill, which fixed previous omnibus bills, because the Conservatives got it wrong and accepted no amendments. The Conservatives think this is a good way to manage the Canadian economy and to govern Canada.

This is a process that has failed Canadians. We see it creating conflict and uncertainty. We see it creating bad economic conditions that I will go into in a minute. It is a problem because it is using the power that a majority government has completely irresponsibly. There are a myriad of quotes from Conservatives who are now in cabinet who used to decry the Liberals when they used this exact same technique, ramming together all sorts of different laws that had nothing whatsoever to do with the budget into one package, one Trojan Horse bill. That is also true in this case.

The Conservatives called it anti-democratic and unfair. For once, they were right. However, if it was right in opposition, then it must be even more right when forming government, because the power that a majority government has to affect our country and our laws is a power that must be used responsibly, as opposed to the abuse of power that we see again with this bill, Bill C-43.

To put this into context, which is important with any budget implementation act, under the Conservatives' watch more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country. Consumer debt is at an historic high for Canadians. Canadians owe more money now than they ever have in our history. We have seen a persistently high youth unemployment rate in this country, usually double that of the unemployment rate broadly.

We have also seen consistency of long-term unemployment, which refers to Canadians who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. It is at the same level as its worst level during the recession. There were Canadians who were finding it harder and harder to get back to work during the worst times of the last global recession, and the same is true now. Twenty per cent of the jobless in Canada are made up of the long-term unemployed. I will leave talking about the unemployed until later. It is something that Conservatives are often chagrined to hear.

In this bill, their feature item is oil. In the midst of global uncertainty and with oil prices falling below $70 a barrel, dropping almost 40% this year alone, we see no plan B from the government. Plan A is oil, plan B is oil, and plan C is oil. When oil drops below $70, federal and provincial government revenues go off, but any hope for job creation also goes off because that is the only plan the Conservatives seem to know and have.

It was in previous omnibus bills that the Conservatives tried to put truth to the idea of what the Prime Minister said back in 2006, which was that Canada would become an energy superpower. They would bulldoze their way through the countryside, laying pipeline down everywhere and exporting all that oil to market. They made changes in Canadian law through these omnibus bills to attempt to achieve that goal.

What have we seen but uncertainty and conflict? When pushed against the wall and forced to accept something without debate or input or any decent consultation, Canadians resist. They say they want fairness. They want their government to play an equal role in the economy and not favour one side over another.

Canadians want to see the $1.3 billion subsidy to the oil sands, a direct subsidy to some of the richest companies on the planet, come to an end. They want to see an alternative. They want to see some options. They want to see plan B. They want to know we can have a green economy. Despite a complete lack of effort from the federal government and another failed opportunity in this budget implementation act, we see the clean tech sector growing by leaps and bounds. It is up 37% in just a few years, and $25 billion has gone into the green energy sector in the last five years. That is greater than what has gone into the oil sands in northern Alberta.

Do members ever hear the Conservatives talk about that? Do members ever hear them talk about the great success of the green energy movement in Canada, the clean technology industry's high-paying and high-quality jobs? No. They blow all their capital on one industry alone. It is always wise to have a little diversity in an ecosystem and also in an economy. With Conservatives, we have seen all the eggs put into one basket, with no plan B.

As China's economy weakens, as Europe remains fragile and some European countries enter a recession, as some American indicators are showing weakness even as America rebounds, the Governor of the Bank of Canada said we may have a 0% or near flat recovery in the jobs sector, and in the midst of all that uncertainty and in the face of all that difficulty, the Conservatives bring forward an omnibus bill. In 460 pages, their one economic initiative to help Canadians get back to work is an EI jobs scheme that does not work. It is a $550 million raid on the employment insurance fund, which even Conservatives admit does not belong to the government. More than half a billion dollars is ripped out of the EI fund in this omnibus bill.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer, who has done the only credible analysis of this scheme, says it will create an astounding 800 jobs. He said each job created by this EI raid will cost upwards of $550,000.

I have had a number of constituents write me. They want to know where they can apply for these $500-million-per-year jobs. They wonder why the government is promoting such a program.

We know that far too high a number of Canadians who fall out of work cannot even access employment insurance. That is the worst kind of insurance there is. It is something one pays into but can never draw from. The reason they cannot access it is that the Conservatives, and the Liberals before them, kept rigging and changing the rules so that fewer people, particularly women and low-income Canadians, could actually access employment insurance. It is a scam, a scheme, and that is why it is put forward in this bill rather than as a stand-alone piece of legislation that members could actually debate here in this House.

When we asked the government for its analysis of its scheme, its $550 million EI raid, we heard that the government had done no analysis at all. We asked the finance officials and the minister himself, who came before the committee. We said he was about to rip off the EI fund for $550 million to create these jobs, but had he done an analysis? He said they had not. They had outsourced it to a lobby group, the CFIB.

However, even the CFIB has said time and again that this employment scheme will not necessarily create the jobs the government hopes for. We see this as a failure of process and a failure of integrity.

Just today in the stock market, the TSX is quoted as saying:

The Toronto stock market deepened its decline on Monday as concerns about the Chinese economy, and discouraging signs from early U.S. holiday sales.... ...the mining and metals sector fell, while energy stocks tumbled.

In the face of all this, we would expect the government, with the powers of a majority government, to take the opportunity here in the House of Commons to do something about our weakened economy, to do something to help the green energy sector, to do something to help Canadians get back to work. We wonder when Conservatives are actually going to do something, drop the ideology, pay attention, and face reality in our economy.

We need to help Canadians get back to work. We need to restore those well-paying manufacturing jobs. We need to do more than what is in this bill.

We have attempted, through our amendments, to make something good out of something bad. My concern, my suspicion, my reality is that Conservatives will do what they have always done, which is ignore the evidence in front of them. They will take an ideological stance and say that they know best. However, the numbers tell the truth. They do not.

Conservatives are failing Canadians and they are failing the Canadian economy.

The House proceeded to the 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.

December 1st, 2014 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Chairman, this is somewhat similar to the last amendment. The purpose is quite simply to ensure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is informed. I'll put it this way, I guess; if the ministers are sharing this information, and the approval of Foreign Affairs is required, then it's less likely to jeopardize the government's agenda in other areas. Ms. May named some of those: trade, diplomatic issues, etc.

I think it's important to keep in mind that these operations in a foreign country could be in violation of the law of that country. As such, if that activity is covered, it could have serious repercussions on Canadian interests in that country, be it trade, diplomatic, or otherwise.

Professor Wark, when he was before this committee, made reference to what he felt was an oversight that was lacking in Bill C-44. At the very least, if a CSIS operation that is in violation of the law in another country is discovered, and there may be repercussions, at least the Minister of Foreign Affairs, if informed ahead of time, would better be able to respond.

I think it's an absolutely necessary part of this bill to ensure that there is consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on this kind of issue. That's what the amendment spells out.

December 1st, 2014 / 4:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Clause 8 of Bill C-44 is very troubling. I'm even more troubled to hear Diane suggest that we'll have a lot of instances where we'll want to have warrants that may be used in other countries. We're explicitly setting out in this law that Canada's agents can operate knowingly in violation of the sovereignty and rule of law in another country. This was already drawn to the committee's attention as a source of concern by two different branches of the Canadian Bar Association, the immigration law section and the criminal justice section. They advised us, “we urge caution in adopting an approach that could suggest Canada is disregarding its obligations under international law.” I think definitely, as the Canadian Bar Association also pointed out, it could also undermine mutual cooperation.

With this amendment, Green Party 4, I've attempted to ensure that at least within the federal cabinet, the director, before applying to the court for a warrant that would apply extraterritorially, will be required to also consult with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This way we'll be certain that if there are other diplomatic considerations, other trade considerations, at least the Minister of Foreign Affairs is in the loop before the director, in this case, goes and seeks a warrant from a Canadian court to allow CSIS agents to break the law overseas.

December 1st, 2014 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

I disagree. I think that Bill C-44 already includes the provisions that would allow for the disclosure of the identity information if it's essential. I think that decision is left to the judiciary, and I disagree with it being added to this section. It's already there.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings]

November 27th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Therrien, thank you for being here.

I have a simple question. On the Bill C-44 study in committee, did you request to appear in front of committee?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 27th, 2014 / 3:05 p.m.
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Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the fact that the comments on our commitment to veterans made by all of my colleagues opposite are completely untrue, our commitment to our veterans in this country in terms of the level of funding we have given them has been unprecedented. Frankly, there has not been one nickel that we have clawed back from veterans. In fact, we have spent over $5 billion more on veterans since taking office than the previous government.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all members, once again, on the eve of this year's Grey Cup, that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the defending Grey Cup champions. They are known not only as Saskatchewan's team but also Canada's team. I ask all members to once again applaud the efforts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, as they are the backbone of the CFL, our great football institution in this country. I see that my colleagues share my enthusiasm.

It is a pleasure to rise this afternoon on behalf of the government House leader to give the weekly business statement to my colleague opposite. This afternoon, we will continue with the NDP opposition day debate. Tomorrow, we will return to second reading debate on Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, also known as Quanto's law.

On Monday, before question period, we will start the second reading debate on Bill S-6, the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act. This bill is the final step toward completing the legislative portion of Canada's action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes. After question period, we will start the report stage of Bill C-2, the respect for communities act, which was recently reported back from the public safety committee. This bill will ensure that our communities, and especially parents, will have a say before drug injection sites are opened.

On Tuesday, we will start the report stage debate on Bill C-43, the economic action plan 2014 act, No. 2, which has been considered by the hardworking finance committee and several other committees this autumn. Bill C-43 would implement measures from this year's federal budget and other newer measures that would support jobs, economic growth, families, and communities, as well as improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system as the government returns to a balanced budget in 2015.

On Wednesday, we will have yet another NDP opposition day, as confirmed yesterday by the government House leader. That will be our last supply day of the autumn, so we will consider the supplementary estimates and an appropriations bill that evening.

Thursday will see us resume debate on Bill C-40, the Rouge national urban park act, at third reading. My colleagues from the greater Toronto area will be keen to see progress on this legislation, which would create Canada's first urban national park.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Finance 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.

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House, with amendment.

November 26th, 2014 / 8:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This amendment is to change it so that Bill C-43 in clause 364 be amended by replacing in the English version line 2 on page 432 with the following:

to in subsection (1) that systemic risk or payments system risk is being

The proposed amendment is to correct an editorial error. The term “payments system risk” was inadvertently omitted from proposed subsection 6(2) in clause 364 of the English version of the bill, not in the French version.

The amendment ensures consistency with proposed subsection 6(1) of clause 364, which will allow the Governor of the Bank of Canada to issue a directive to a clearing house for systemic risk or payments system risk. The amendment ensures alignment between the English and the French versions of clause 364. The French version includes the term risque pour le système de paiement, i.e., payments system risk .

That is the purpose of the amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

November 26th, 2014 / 8:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Perhaps I will make some general remarks about division 24, if that's okay, at the beginning here.

The Liberal Party generally supports the measures in division 24, except that Bill C-43, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, includes some new fees to pay for this new compliance regime, and it exempts these fees from the accountability measures in the User Fees Act.

We don't think that exemption is justified. In fact, given the Conservative record, we need to strengthen accountability measures for user fees, not weaken them. Under the Conservative government, processing times for economic immigrants has gone up between 19% and 113% since 2007, depending on the different streams of federal skilled workers. We're concerned that the same thing could happen with processing times under the new temporary foreign worker regime. The government needs strong accountability measures to ensure that it provides timely service in exchange for charging the fee.

In the words of the Canadian Bar Association, “Exempting these fees from the User Fees Act invites the imposition of fees without accountability.”

November 26th, 2014 / 7:50 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you very much, Ms. May.

The ruling is as such: Bill C-43 amends the Public Health Agency of Canada Act by repealing subsection 10(2) of the act. This amendment seeks to reinstate subsection 10(2).

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, states on page 768:

An amendment that attempts to delete an entire clause is out of order, since voting against the adoption of the clause in question would have the same effect.

As members are aware, parliamentary practice does not permit to be done indirectly what cannot be done directly. Members who do not agree with the repealing of subsection 10(2) are to vote against the clause. The amendment is therefore inadmissible

We will then move to the vote on clause 258.

Shall clause 258 carry?

(Clause 258 agreed to)

(Clauses 259 and 260 agreed to)

I want to thank Mr. Segard for being here with us this evening. I appreciate that very much.

(On clauses 261 to 265 inclusive)

Colleagues, we'll go to division 21, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2. We have clauses 261 to 265. I do not have any amendments for these clauses. Do we want discussion on this? We'll allow the officials to come to the table.

Do you have a very brief comment, Mr. Cullen?

November 26th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

This committee has heard from experts who have told us how the Public Health Agency of Canada was created in response to Canada's experience with the SARS epidemic. These experts told us how the decision to make the chief public health officer a deputy head was a deliberate decision, so that he or she would have the necessary power and autonomy to work with the provinces to speak truth to power and effect change.

This division of Bill C-43 undoes some of that good work. It demotes the chief public health officer and reduces his or her authority, and ability to effect change. The Liberal Party believes that's a step in the wrong direction.

November 26th, 2014 / 6:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

We need to be clear that what this amendment does would require the government to publish a report on national security reviews under the Investment Canada Act. National security, as we all know, is a very sensitive matter, and it's important that the government has discretion concerning what is disclosed. For this reason, information on national security reviews was not included as part of the requirement to publish an annual report on the administration of the act, which came into force in 2009. No amendments have been proposed in Bill C-43 to the provisions of the act related to the annual report. The amendments in Bill C-43, however, would provide the government with discretion to disclose more information about individual national security reviews.

November 26th, 2014 / 6:40 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I call this meeting back to order, meeting number 62 of the Standing Committee on Finance, dealing with clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-43.

(On clause 186)

Colleagues, we are at division 9, the Investment Canada Act, and we have clause 186 in front of us. There are no amendments to clause 186, so we'll go to the discussion of clause 186.

Mr. Cullen.

November 26th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I call this meeting back to order.

Colleagues, we were dealing with part 4 of Bill C-43 and we're now on division 3 dealing with the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act. This deals with clauses 145 to 170.

We want to welcome our officials to the table for this part of the bill.

(On clause 145—Enactment)

We have four amendments under clause 145. We have Green Party-4, NDP-2, NDP-3, and Green Party-5.

Ms. May, you can speak to both of your amendments or you can speak to your amendments individually. It's up to you.

November 26th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Prof. Kent Roach

As you've heard from Professor Forcese, and as we argued in our joint National Post piece, Parliament is being candid about the reality that some of these warrants may actually violate foreign law. It seems to me that one of the remedies for that really has to be more political and ministerial than judicial. Obviously, courts will have to grapple with this problem, but I agree with Professor Forcese, in that I think we need some ministerial oversight.

Of course, in our security environment—and this is part of the general accountability problem—it makes a lot of sense to have a whole-of-government approach to our security threat. The problem is that too often we're still remaining in silos. One of my concerns is that there might be a warrant granted under Bill C-44 that not only should the Minister of Public Safety be aware of, but that his or her cabinet colleagues in Foreign Affairs and Defence should also be aware of. I do think it's necessary for CSIS to be able to act outside of Canada, but I think the political risks of that are significant, and I think Bill C-44 could be improved by having some form of ministerial notification.

I would note that SIRC,, in its latest report, for 2013-14, has raised concerns that CSIS is not always keeping the minister informed. I agree that under a parliamentary system the responsible minister has to be aware, but I think that in the post-9/11 environment, where we have a whole-of-government approach to security, ultimately the accountability must rest at the prime ministerial level.

That was one of the reasons why, after a lot of thought and deliberation, the Air India commission recommended not what Bill C-44 is enacting, which is a privilege for CSIS, but rather a privilege for the Prime Minister's national security advisor, who the commission thought would be in the best position to determine the competing poles of promising confidentiality to get intelligence now—and that's sometimes going to be the right decision—or not promising confidentiality because we want to be able to prosecute people after. These are very difficult tensions. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

My concern about Bill C-44 is that it may mean that CSIS makes even rational decisions at a preliminary stage of a counterterrorism investigation that could actually have repercussions and prevent us from being able to successfully prosecute extremist foreign terrorist fighters down the road.

November 26th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, As an Individual

Prof. Kent Roach

Well, certainly not in the United Kingdom, where there's ministerial authorization, much as is available with CSEC. In the United States, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does grant warrants. I think there are some examples of a judicial warrant and there are some examples of a ministerial warrant.

Bill C-44 has decided to opt for the judicial model. I think that's probably a wise choice.

November 26th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Royal Military College of Canada, As an Individual

Dr. Christian Leuprecht

In essence, I endorse the current amendments, however, Bill C-44 does commit one sin of omission, in my world. Many more expansive powers for security intelligence should be balanced with robust parliamentary accountability, not to be confused with oversight. My preferred model is Belgium's, where two permanent agencies headed by judges are empowered to audit not only past, but also ongoing investigations in real time and report their findings directly to a select group of security-cleared members of Parliament.

November 26th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Very well. I will come back with pleasure to bill C-21. Since—

November 26th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

The Chair NDP Pierre-Luc Dusseault

I understand your point of view, but we need to brings things back to bill C -21.

November 26th, 2014 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

On the scope of clauses 143 and 144, we've heard from a number of Canadians who've made a case that we need stronger federal regulation around aerodromes, particularly when it comes to environmental standards around landfills, but it's clear that we need better and clearer rules regarding the development of aerodromes.

Unfortunately, this division isn't a serious attempt at strengthening the law. In fact, the Canadian Bar Association identified some problems with this. I'll quote from their brief:

The amendments to the Aeronautics Act in Bill C-43 present regulatory and legal problems concerning the exercise and scope of the Minister’s powers. The additional powers are overly broad and do not take into account the everyday operation of aerodromes. In addition, it is unclear whether the exercise of the Minister’s power to prohibit the development or expansion of an aerodrome is reviewable. ...The proposed amendments allow the Minister to get into the minutiae of the operation of the vast number of aerodromes in Canada (approximately 3500). The operation of an aerodrome changes daily, if not hourly or moment-to-moment. Providing the Minister with such power may cause administrative difficulties from a legal and regulatory perspective.

This division gives the minister sweeping powers. The government says it's doing this so that it can insist on public consultation, but the irony is that these measures were put forward without public consultation.

Finally, not that this really matters under the current regime, these measures don't belong in a budget bill and don't really belong in finance committee deliberations.

November 26th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As Mr. Cullen was kind enough to welcome me to committee, I remind you all that I'm here because I've been summoned. Thank you very much. I'm sure you're all glad to have at least some gender parity around the table. A bit shocking, but anyway here we go, my amendment.

As Mr. Cullen suggested, you have had x evidence from patent experts. I draw my amendment from the advice you received on November 14 from the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. This amendment to page 305 of the omnibus bill, proposed paragraph (b), says, just to give you the context, that the subsection is deemed never to have produced its effects if:

(b) the Commissioner determines that the failure occurred in spite of the due care required by the circumstances having been taken and informs the patentee of this determination.

This is exactly as Nathan was just saying, injecting uncertainty and standards that the experts in this field believe are going to cause difficulty. As the expert evidence from the Intellectual Property Institute pointed out, Bill C-43 changes the reinstatement procedure very substantially. I quote:

In some circumstances, reinstatement is only permitted upon a determination by CIPO that the applicant's failure to take action.... The due care standard is not mandated by the PLT. It is inherently uncertain and subjective.

On that basis, I hope you'll consider this amendment favourably.

November 26th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Bill C-43 explicitly excludes cable laying from the preferential tax treatment that applies to international shipping activities. The committee heard from Canada's only international cable laying company, International Telecom. They told us that this provision in Bill C-43 is inconsistent with how other developed countries tax cable laying and would put Canadian jobs at risk.

The government, in our view, failed to make a compelling case on why cable laying should be excluded from the definition of, in this case, “international shipping”. As such, we are proposing an amendment that supports the status quo and opposes this change. This amendment both removes cable laying from the list of exceptions to international shipping, and for greater clarity explicitly includes cable laying as part of international shipping.

We prefer our amendment to the NDP amendment, as our amendment provides greater clarity that cable laying is, in fact, a recognized activity that is connected to international shipping.

November 26th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Wesley Wark Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, it's a privilege to appear before you. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I'm the long-winded witness, so I'm going to read a condensed version of my statement.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the role of intelligence in Canadian national security policy has been revolutionized. Canadian intelligence has become more significant, more powerful, better resourced, more closely aligned with allied partners, and more globalized in terms of its operations and capabilities. As an important constituent of what is called the Canadian security and intelligence community, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, CSIS, has undergone its share of revolutionary change since 2001. CSIS has become, de facto, a hybrid service, required to deal with an ever-expanding range of threats to national security and to operate both at home and abroad.

The issues that arise with regard to Bill C-44 reflect the fact that CSIS’ functions have changed enormously since the 9/11 attacks, and also, clearly, since the passage of the original CSIS Act itself, and have changed both in terms of the kinds of threats that CSIS must operate against and in terms of its geopolitical scope.

In my specific remarks on C-44 I intend to focus on what I think are its key provisions regarding CSIS overseas operations, including those targeting Canadians. C-44 would add clarifying language to section 12 of the act, indicating that in the performance of its security intelligence function it can operate both within and outside Canada. It further adds that Federal Court judges may issue warrants to allow CSIS to collect threat-related intelligence on Canadians abroad under its section 12 powers. C-44 also stipulates, in amendments to section 21 of the CSIS Act, that CSIS may apply for warrants to conduct section 16 operations, that is, the authorized collection of foreign intelligence within Canada.

To understand the key elements of Bill C-44 we need to put these in the context of a series of judgments made by the Federal Court with regard to CSIS extraterritorial warrant applications. This history begins in 2005 and follows a winding and complex path down to the present. There is not time in these hearings to adequately summarize this history, but let me note that the current stage was set by a ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal this past summer, which has been followed by an appeal by the Attorney General to the Supreme Court that remains pending.

In his application for leave to appeal, originally dated September 29, 2014, and unsealed in November of this year, the Attorney General summarized what was at stake as follows, “This case is about how the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) may lawfully enlist the aid of foreign security agencies in monitoring the activities of that small number“ of Canadians who leave the country to engage in activities that threaten national security.

Whatever is ultimately decided by the courts with regard to the lawful enlistment by CSIS of foreign security agencies, there are other issues of principle and practice at stake. The most important such issue concerns sovereign control. To enlist the aid of foreign security partners, such as the Five Eyes countries, in intelligence sharing is one thing. To outsource intelligence collection to a foreign partner, no matter how close and trusted an ally, is another. Outsourcing means potential loss of control of an operation, loss of control of Canadian intelligence, and loss of control over outcomes. The Security Intelligence Review Committee commented on this matter by saying:

The risk to CSIS, then, is the ability of a Five Eyes partner to act independently on CSIS-originated information. This, in turn, carries the possible risk of detention or harm of a target based on information that originated with CSIS. SIRC found that while there are clear advantages to leveraging second-party assets

—that is, the Five Eyes countries—

in the execution of this new warrant power

—the so-called CSIS 30-08 warrants—

—and, indeed, this is essential for the process to be effective—there are also clear hazards, including the lack of control over the intelligence once it has been shared.

C-44 cements the evolution of CSIS into a hybrid agency that conducts both domestic security intelligence and foreign intelligence missions. Clarification of the legal standing of CSIS in these regards poses the danger of closing off discussion of the eventual need for a separate foreign intelligence service as a better solution to Canada’s intelligence needs, and a solution much more in keeping with the practices of our close Five Eyes partners.

More important than what C-44 does is the question of what it does not do. What it does not do is provide any sensible underlying definition of the kind of hybrid agency that CSIS has now become, and it does not provide any added controls, accountability measures, cooperative frameworks, or transparency measures around increased overseas operations by CSIS.

I want to conclude with a selection of some of the issues that I see arising from Bill C-44.

Bill C-44 applies legal band-aids to the conduct of section 12 and section 16 operations, only because we persist with a wholly artificial legacy distinction between security intelligence and foreign intelligence. CSIS officials used to make the distinction between security intelligence and foreign intelligence in terms of security intelligence being what Canada needed to have and foreign intelligence being a category of knowledge that it might be nice to have.

In a post-9/11 world, I would suggest that a distinction between foreign and security intelligence is meaningless for Canada, and the fact of its meaninglessness underscores the need for a more root-and-branch redrafting of the CSIS Act itself.

Having decided to appeal to the Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Appeal's ruling with regard to the Mosley judgment on CSIS' use of extraterritorial warrants, the legislative provisions of Bill C-44 may be rendered null or may require further amendments, depending on whether the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal and depending on the nature of its findings.

The Federal Court of Appeal's decision was available to the government long before Bill C-44 was tabled. Why the government decided go down two separate forks of the road, with partial amendments to the CSIS Act and with an appeal to the Supreme Court, when these two forks might well bring them to a collision at a future junction, remains a mystery to me.

Bill C-44 does not add any new provisions to the CSIS Act to ensure proper consultation between the service and its minister, the Minister of Public Safety, and the two departments most likely to be impacted by expanded CSIS overseas operations—the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Department of National Defence. Both of these departments engage in their own overseas intelligence and information collection through dedicated branches.

Bill C-44 does not add any statutory requirements on the part of the CSIS director to inform the minister with regard to the undertaking of sensitive overseas intelligence collection. The most recent SIRC annual report found that CSIS needed to keep the minister more fully informed about foreign operations and section 16 investigations. SIRC, in a special study of what it calls a “sensitive CSIS activity” also urged that CSIS reporting to the minister be done in a “formal and systematic manner”.

These are indications that not all is well in terms of the relationship between the service and the minister, and that ministerial accountability for CSIS may be less rigorous than it should be.

Bill C-44 does not restore the functions of the Inspector General's office, originally established in the CSIS Act in 1984, and closed down by the government as part of an omnibus budget implementation bill in 2012. The role of the Inspector General as the “eyes and ears of the Minister” might be considered all the more critical in an age of expanding CSIS overseas operations. As the former long-serving CSIS IG, Eva Plunkett stated that the abolition of the IG function was a “huge loss” for ministerial accountability.

Bill C-44 adds no new clarifying mandate or resources for the Security Intelligence Review Committee, in keeping with the statutory provisions authorising CSIS collection under section 12 abroad.

Last but not least, Bill C-44 is silent on the issue of the need for a dedicated, security-cleared parliamentary committee to ensure the ability of Parliament to properly scrutinize the activities of CSIS and related Canadian intelligence agencies in an age of globalized operations and diverse threats to national security. Such a committee of Parliament was recently proposed by Joyce Murray in her private member's Bill C-622, and has also been proposed in the Senate Bill S-220 advanced by now-retired Senators Hugh Segal and Romeo Dallaire. And Wayne Easter of this committee earlier offered the House a similar version of proposed legislation, Bill C-551. The government continues to deny the need for such a new structure, despite all-party support for just this thing in 2005.

In conclusion, Bill C-44 in my view is a poor quality band-aid. It may also be a very temporary one, depending on a future Supreme Court ruling. It is unimaginative and it fails to address the most significant legacy issues around the CSIS Act, which is now 30 years old and was created for a different threat environment, in a different technological age, and in a different climate of democratic legitimacy.

It persists with an artificial statutory distinction between security and foreign intelligence, offers insufficient clarity about CSIS powers, and offers no new measures of transparency and accountability concomitant with the new and increased role being played by CSIS.

Thank you.

November 26th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I call this meeting to order. This is meeting number 62 of the Standing Committee on Finance.

For our orders of the day, pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, November 3, 2014, we are doing clause-by-clause 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.

Colleagues, we have with us here today witnesses from the finance department and from other relevant departments, depending on which clause we are dealing with.

I'll give a brief statement at the outset. Many of you know how I will proceed in this matter.

I will follow the motion that was adopted by this committee with respect to time allotments, but as you know, it says that “the Chair may limit debate on each clause to a maximum of five minutes per party, per clause”. As we've done in the past, parties have been very good at indicating which clauses they wish to spend a little more time on and which ones we can proceed with more quickly. Obviously, we'll be spending more time on the ones we have amendments for.

That is my intention as to how we will proceed here. We do have some amendments from Ms. Elizabeth May as well. As was agreed to, she will be allotted one minute to speak to each of her clauses as well.

We will move to clause-by-clause consideration.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title, is postponed. Therefore, the chair will call clause 2.

I will go to Mr. Cullen, please.

November 25th, 2014 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Deputy Minister, I didn't hear you say that in fact you had told them in advance. It doesn't suggest that and, in fact, in view of that it's no wonder the aboriginal groups who have been talking to my office have been viewing this as pretty much a punitive measure.

What resources will be provided to aboriginal communities to allow them to meet the new requirements under division 28 of Bill C-43?

November 25th, 2014 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

The minister said that the department plans to go out over the next number of months to aboriginal communities to talk about the new extractive sector transparency provisions in Bill C-43. I assume that if this is a serious undertaking and a comprehensive engagement with first nations communities, it will require adequate funding.

Exactly how much is budgeted for these consultations, whether it's in the main estimates, the supplementary estimates (A), or supplementary estimates (B)?

November 25th, 2014 / 9:20 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Carino Processing Ltd.

Dion Dakins

—a discussion that can lead us forward to structuring ourselves internally, such that we can approach international markets to allow value-added trade in our commodities. As you've recognized, right now the world is struggling with how it's going to manage itself as it relates to global food security.

Proteins have never been in higher demand. Omega-3 oils have never been in higher demand. The pressures on these resources are only being exaggerated.

Not only does the seal provide an adequate commodity to go in and fill those market demands, but it also adds a value-added ecosystem service, whereby we control seal populations to allow for the sustainability of fisheries.

Unless we achieve the scientifically allocated quotas, we're going to continue to experience imbalance in the ecosystem.

As I described earlier, the seals are already showing the stress indicators. They're having pups later in life, which is an indication that they're stressed. Adult seals are carrying 20 kilograms less fat at maturity than they used to when the population was under five million.

DFO itself recognizes through its science that perhaps we've reached the carrying capacity of the marine ecosystem, because it has stabilized now. We've been at 7.4 million to 7.6 million for two years with essentially no harvesting pressure. The pressure of the harvesting itself has been minimal over the last five years.

I think the ecosystem—the seal populations and the fish populations—is telling us that we need to do something different, because we have been doing the wrong things. I think we're now at a very interesting point, and a unique opportunity exists for Canada, because other countries—including America, since the Canadian seals are eating the American fish—are perhaps more agreeable to having a discussion to help solve what is now a common problem manifested and created by falsified campaigns around what the Canadian seal hunt is.

I'm very proud to be a part of this industry. The hunters and the veterinarians who do the continual science in this industry are very proud to be a part of it. I think it's a model for conservation of marine mammal species internationally and one that we should further support with correct bills like Bill C-555 and where it's leading. I think we should create a validation system so consumers can have the confidence that Canada is doing the right things to make sure we meet global food security challenges and adhere to high animal welfare standards.

November 24th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Michel Coulombe

It is important to know that the current legislation provides this protection to individuals who are involved in these activities at present or who were in the past. Bill C-44 adds individuals who could be involved in this type of activity.

There is a problem if we try to provide a tighter definition of who we are talking about: the threat and context are changing so quickly that there are individuals involved now in this type of activity who, five or 10 years ago, I could not have imagined that they would be involved. It isn't just the intelligence agents who can be involved. We would run the risk of truly limiting the protection of the identity of the service's employees.

Like any other of the service's activities, designating employees who come under this protection is subject to the review of the Security Intelligence Review Committee. This is one thing it can monitor in the context of its review.

November 24th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Bill C-44 also contains a provision that has to do with providing better protection—or less disclosure—of information about CSIS agents. We are also talking about future agents. Do you have more details? Given the way Bill C-44 was drafted, this could be practically anyone who is working for CSIS. Wouldn't it be easier to target individuals you would potentially like to send abroad as agents? This provision is really quite broad.

November 24th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Michel Coulombe

The first way to facilitate the investigations, as I mentioned earlier, is the certainty—with a few exceptions—of protecting the identity of the sources. More people would come forward with information. It would be easier for the service to obtain the cooperation of individuals who would become sources if they were certain that their identity would be protected.

In terms of the protection of sources, as your colleague mentioned earlier, when we appear in criminal court, for example, the current system judges situations on a case-by-case basis. That is very demanding on resources. We have to dedicate a lot of resources to this, which leads us back to the issue of uncertainty. It is important to know in each case whether the identity of the source will be disclosed. The protection of sources under Bill C-44 will really facilitate the voluntary provision of information sources, the recruitment of individuals and the management of cases and files when we go to criminal court or elsewhere.

November 24th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Michel Coulombe

Bill C-44 has no impact on our relationship with the RCMP.

November 24th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Still on the topic of the exchange of information, I would also like to know whether Bill C-44 will facilitate cooperation between the RCMP and CSIS. Are there any measures that will help you work with the RCMP?

November 24th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Michel Coulombe

As we mentioned previously, Bill C-44 does not provide new powers or tools. It simply clarifies what we are already doing and a certain part that we had stopped doing following the Federal Court ruling last fall.

There is nothing new in terms of what we can do. No powers or tools have been added. This has no impact on the service's resources.

November 24th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Elizabeth Kingston General Manager, Nunavut, North West Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman.

On behalf of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines thank you for the invitation to speak to you today in relation to Bill C-43.

The Chamber of Mines is the industry association and leading advocate for responsible and sustainable mineral exploration and development in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. We support the merging of CHARS and the Canadian Polar Commission as an appropriate efficiency measure that will assist in achieving the goals of the northern strategy.

We are eager to do our part to support this institution and help shape Canada's future through the advancement of Arctic science. The chamber could be a helpful broker in identifying those of our members who might be interested in partnering with the science and technology program to advance new knowledge creation in areas of mutual priority.

We have been a member of the CHARS advisory panel since 2011 and we're pleased to participate in the development of the science and technology blueprint. During its development we recommended that CHARS' research priorities focus on three key areas that affect our industry. The first is marine shipping. Virtually all new mines in the Arctic regions of Nunavut and the NWT will rely on marine shipping. We believe that new research in this area will show that responsible marine shipping is not harmful to the environment.

We like to think our industry helped Canada set a leadership role in Arctic shipping back in the 1970s when Canada joined with industry to support Arctic mining and marine shipping development. At that time the federal government took an 18% ownership share in the Nanisivik mine, supplying transportation and community infrastructure for the most northerly mining operation in Canadian history. It was that government that invested in the technological creation of the world's most advanced ice-breaking cargo ship, the MVArctic, to service the Nanisivik and Polaris mines.

It is that MVArctic technology that was the foundation of the latest advancement in Canadian Arctic marine shipping, the much larger and more sophisticated MV Nunavik, which recently successfully took a load of mineral concentrate from Arctic Quebec through the Northwest Passage to China. We hope that CHARS' work will help remove barriers to mining development, the goal being that years from now we will have determined that marine shipping to support mining is not environmentally significant.

Our second key area of interest is improved community health. We would like to see research with appropriate indicators that provide scientific evidence to support mining's contributions to healthier communities. Training and capacity building that has arisen from the CHARS project in and of itself supports resource development. For example the Nunavut Arctic College has developed an environmental technologies foundations program primarily to develop technicians for CHARS. However, some of these future potential graduates could also consider environmental management positions with mining projects.

Science literacy amongst the public is another mutual objective. With active research programs under way in the north involving community participation, it is more likely that the general public will have a greater knowledge of scientific methods and be better able to understand the assessment and monitoring results of mining projects.

A third key research priority for our industry involves improving baseline wildlife data for environmental assessment. CHARS has an important role in supporting our advancing potential mines in filling the gaps in knowledge in environmental data. This data, particularly with respect to marine and terrestrial wildlife, will assist resource development companies in completing their environmental studies.

To conclude, we are pleased with a number of the legislative changes proposed by Bill C-43 in division 3, part 4, and expect they will be an incentive for increased mineral investment in the north. The chamber looks forward to future dialogue with the federal government as the CHARS institute is established.

That concludes my presentation. Thank you.

November 24th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Ian Culbert Excutive Director, Canadian Public Health Association

Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the invitation to present to you today.

I would like to be clear, first and foremost, that my comments and those contained in our written brief are not intended as a reflection upon any current or former employees of the Public Health Agency of Canada. We have only the greatest respect for all of them.

It is the position of the Canadian Public Health Association that the chief public health officer should continue to be the deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Canada and continue to operate at the deputy minister level. As such, we recommend to this committee that the amendments to the Public Health Agency of Canada Act proposed in Bill C-43 be withdrawn and that the consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act also be withdrawn.

While we agree that there should be a division of roles and responsibilities between the administrative and professional sides of the agency, we feel strongly that the titular head of the agency must be a public health professional. The current structure was established based on the recommendations of the Naylor committee after the 2003 SARS outbreak. That committee was very specific in its recommendation that the agency should be headed by the CPHO and that the CPHO report directly to the federal Minister of Health. The Naylor committee reviewed the organizational structures in place for a number of different jurisdictions and felt that its recommendations represented the best option for Canada's national public health body.

In 2010 the position of executive vice-president and chief operating officer was created to provide administrative support to the CPHO. This change formally split the administrative and professional responsibilities of the CPHO while leaving the CPHO as the deputy head of the agency. Since that time that structure has served the agency and Canadians well.

Our concerns for the proposed amendments are as follows.

First, while the CPHO has the responsibility to promote and protect the health of Canadians, in the proposed structure the position would retain responsibility but have no authority to mobilize resources.

Second, the country's public health priorities must take precedence over bureaucratic priorities, but this does not preclude the executive vice-president and chief operating officer from being responsible for day-to-day operational and administrative duties.

Third, it is essential that the CPHO work closely with fellow deputy ministers at the federal and provincial/territorial levels. Under the current structure the CPHO has a seat at those tables by right of his or her position. Under the proposed amendments the CPHO could only be invited to those discussions, and only as an adviser so that he or she would not be taking part in the decision-making process.

At the end of the day, rank matters and these amendments will essentially strip the position of CPHO of its current rank.

Our final and possibly most troubling concern is that the new model would give both the CPHO and the president of the agency direct access to the minister. In the unfortunate situation where agreement cannot be reached between the CPHO and the president, the minister could be faced with contradictory policy advice and left in the role of arbiter. This model is not considered good practice in a modern bureaucracy and should be avoided.

During a public health emergency such as a pandemic of H1N1 or Ebola, the importance of evidence-based advice from the CPHO is clear. This advice, however, is important at all times as Canadians are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their publicly funded health care system. Public health has at its foundation the protection and improvement of health and well-being of Canadians and, as such, its policies, programs, and initiatives are focused on keeping people out of hospitals and doctors' offices. If the CPHO does not have the necessary authority to direct agency staff and marshal its resources, his or her advice may not be worth the paper on which it is written.

The structure of the agency with the CPHO at its helm has been effective for the first decade of its existence, and there is no clear evidence that the proposed changes are needed.

Thank you.

November 24th, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Steven Hoffman Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you for inviting me to make submissions about Bill C-43 concerning changes to the Public Health Agency of Canada Act.

By way of background, I'm an assistant professor of law and director of the global strategy lab at the University of Ottawa. My research focuses on global health governance and institutional design.

Based on my research, it's clear that our chief public health officer needs an independent voice and the ability to speak scientific truth to members of the public and to those in power. This bill, in splitting the chief public health officer's role in two—one part technical, one part administrative—removes the little independence this position once offered. This bill achieves this effect by demoting the chief public health officer from his current deputy minister rank, by removing his direct line to the minister, by making him subservient to a bureaucratic agency president, and by eliminating reimbursement for his public activities.

Any loss of independence matters because it erodes the trust that we can all place in our chief public health officer of Canada. In reviewing this bill, it seems to me that we've forgotten the harsh lessons of SARS. It was just 11 years ago, in 2003, when the World Health Organization slapped Toronto with a travel advisory, costing that city $2 billion and 28,000 jobs. That's a lot of money and a lot of jobs. This loss was not because of the number of SARS cases. Singapore had a similar number. The loss was because the federal government did not have a trusted public health leader who could effectively coordinate with the provinces and communicate the outbreak status with other countries.

SARS shone a light on the hurdles that Canada's version of federalism places before effective pandemic responses. Significant changes followed, including the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada and its chief public health officer. The big idea behind all of this was that we needed to build trust. Provinces and their public health departments needed a guarantee that the federal government's public health pronouncements were based on scientific principles, rather than political talking points. Unfortunately, this guarantee was never realized. The chief public health officer was made an officer of government instead of an officer of Parliament, thereby preventing him from exercising full independence, as our Auditor General or Privacy Commissioner would have. Let there be no doubt about this: in my mind that was a mistake.

But this bill takes us even further away from where we need to be. At least the original legislation gave the chief public health officer some independent powers to speak and be reimbursed for those public activities. This encouraged the provinces to buy into a nationally directed system. The removal of these limited independent powers is not helpful. On this basis, demotion and politicization of the chief public health officer is undoubtedly a wrong-headed move. With an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa, it seems that this isn't the right time to be weakening our national public health infrastructure. This change would make us less prepared for Ebola and other diseases like it.

I understand that last week this committee heard contradicting testimony from the new chief public health officer. I understand he said that shrugging off managerial oversight of the agency would free him to focus on providing scientific advice. He might win back some of his time, but I think we all need to ask this question. After his demotion, will anybody be listening to him? Will his bureaucratic boss even allow him to speak?

Ultimately, if this change really must go forward, I would suggest two very small revisions that would lessen its harm.

The first is to add a provision granting scientific independence to the chief public health officer and legislatively allowing him to speak without political interference.

The second is to just drop section 258 that would remove the reimbursement for the chief public health officer in performing his public duties.

These two small changes would ensure that the chief public health officer could serve that interprovincial coordination function that was shown to be so important in SARS, and ultimately be trusted by all Canadians.

I would have suggested a third small revision, to maintain the chief public health officer's deputy minister rank, which is important for him to access federal decision-making tables, but I think I'm already pushing my luck by suggesting any changes at all.

Just to conclude, in coming here today my only hope is that we won't need another SARS or Ebola in Canada to make us realize the harm that the proposed changes would cause. I implore you to do whatever you can to minimize the bill's damage. We would all be less safe with these proposed changes, and we're all going to suffer the consequences if the committee allows them to pass.

Thank you.

November 24th, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Cullen.

Our orders of the day, pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, November 3, 2014, are to continue our study of Bill C-43, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014, and other measures.

We have seven witnesses, four with us here in Ottawa and three by video conference.

First of all, we have Professor Steven Hoffman. He's from the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. We have, from the Canadian Public Health Association, the executive director, Mr. Ian Culbert. From l’Initiative citoyenne de vigilance du Port de Québec, we have Véronique Lalande, la porte-parole. From the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, we have Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien.

By video conference, first of all we have from Nunavut Ms. Elizabeth Kingston. By video conference from Whitehorse, we have the director of the Cold Climate Innovation centre from Yukon College, Mr. Stephen Mooney. Also by video conference, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, we have Professor Joel Kettner from the University of Manitoba.

Welcome to all of you, both here in Ottawa and by video conference. You each have five minutes maximum for your opening statement, and then we'll have questions by members.

We'll start with Mr. Hoffman, please.

November 20th, 2014 / 11:50 a.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to the witnesses.

I hope I get the opportunity today for Ms. Woodside, Mr. Bauer-Gador, and Ms. Holguin to respond to Mr. Chalmers' recommendations in particular, and perhaps also to the CAPP ones. I had a heads-up from a colleague about Mr. Chalmers' recommendations, so I hope we'll hear some responses to see if you're in agreement with those recommendations, or if there are key ones that you disagree with while agreeing with the rest.

That said, let me ask all of the witnesses to briefly respond to what I'm about to propose. Based on the testimony this committee has heard today and Tuesday, it's obvious that divisions 28 and 29 of Bill C-43 need to be modified and strengthened. In light of that clear evidence, there are a number of recommendations for amendments that I will be proposing when we go in camera to discuss what recommendations we should report back to the finance committee. Mind you, I'll be amazed and pleased if my Conservative colleagues agree to change a comma.

I will ask the committee to include the following recommendations and hope that the Conservatives will not kill them when we're in camera. First, with respect to division 28, proposed section 29 provides that the act will apply to aboriginal entities two years after the definitions section of the bill comes into force. I will recommend that this section of division 28 be deleted, given the clear evidence from Mark Pearson—

November 20th, 2014 / 11:20 a.m.
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Andrew Bauer-Gador Economic Analyst, Natural Resource Governance Institute

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to speak today, Chairman and all the members of the committee.

By way of introduction, as Mr. Benoit said, I'm an economic analyst with the Natural Resource Governance Institute. I've been working with Publish What You Pay Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada for the last few years on exactly this issue, payments transparency. My organization is a non-profit policy institute, working in over 30 countries on improving the management of oil, gas, and mineral resources. Previously I was with Finance Canada.

I'm here today to talk about division 28 of Bill C-43 and I'll be referring to the same handout Claire was referring to and will be highlighting one recommendation and two revisions that would align what's been proposed with EU and U.S. standards.

We strongly support Publish What You Pay Canada's call to include project-level reporting in the legislation. The U.S. and EU laws require disclosure of payments for each project. This is important for a few reasons.

First, in more than 30 countries, payments made on extractive projects determine fiscal transfers from the national to subnational governments. Local governments in Mongolia, Myanmar, the DRC, Ghana, the Philippines, and lndonesia each collect a share of oil, gas, or mineral revenues on their land, as prescribed by formulas. Project-level disclosure is essential for helping these local governments plan their budgets, but it can also mitigate violent conflict in resource-rich regions.

An example that I know quite well and I think is a good one is the Philippines. There, some mining communities are entitled to a minimum 1% royalty on the minerals extracted on their lands. Since they don't have access to this information, there's no way for them to determine whether they're receiving their 1%. As a result, communities usually don't receive their legally entitled benefits. The result has been that this has fuelled kidnapping, the destruction of mining company property, and a communist insurgency. The U.S. and EU laws are designed to address exactly this type of problem.

Second, knowing the payments companies are making at the project level can help investors in oil and mining companies determine the political and social risks. lnvestors managing over $5.8 trillion have written publicly that this information is critical to deter corruption and improve the overall business climate in the countries where they invest.

Both the U.S. and the EU clearly require project-level disclosure, and we recommend that Canada does the same.

I would also highlight two additional concerns that we have with the draft legislation.

Our first concern is that the current draft leaves open the possibility of exemptions from disclosure. Any exemptions would undermine the intent of the legislation, which is to improve governance in the places that need it most. I think we can all agree that we would not want to give tyrants veto power over Canadian lawmakers. The EU rules specifically rule out exemptions, and we encourage Canada to do the same. If you turn to page 3 of the joint submission from Publish What You Pay Canada and NRGI, you will see that section 23(1)(b) explicitly opens up the possibility of exemptions in possible future regulations. We recommend that this provision be removed.

Our second concern involves the public availability of information and format of disclosure. Under the current draft, there is no clear and unequivocal commitment to making the information public. Keeping this information secret defeats the purpose of the legislation. We're recommending that we remove section 23(1)(f) to ensure that no information is hidden from public view. Linked to this issue, for the law to be effective, all users must have access to it. The U.S. and EU rules require that the information be centrally provided and publicly available. Canada should align with this international standard. We agree with the Canadian mining industry that these rules serve Canada's interests well and as such the bill is welcome. But in order to achieve the stated goals, improvements are needed. A requirement to disclose information at the project level, and addressing concerns around exemptions and format of disclosure would align with the U.S. and EU standards and level the playing field globally.

Thank you.

November 20th, 2014 / 8:50 a.m.
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Julia Deans Chief Executive Officer, Futurpreneur Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning and happy global entrepreneurship week. My name is Julia Deans. I'm the CEO of Futurpreneur Canada which until May was known as the Canadian Youth Business Foundation or the Fondation Canadienne des Jeunes Entrepreneurs. We're the only national not-for-profit organization that's helped close to 6,000 Canadians, 18 to 39, launch businesses across the country. I'm very happy to have the opportunity to speak to you today in support of a proposed amendment in division 12 of Bill C-43.

This amendment will expand BDC's ability to support young entrepreneurs through not-for-profit organizations like ours. We have been co-funding with BDC for young entrepreneurs since 2008. With one application, a young entrepreneur can obtain a loan of up to $15,000 from Futurpreneur Canada and a further loan of up to $30,000 from the BDC. That's up to $45,000 collateral free with just one application through Futurpreneur Canada.

We work really hard to make it easy for young entrepreneurs to work with us. We use as many of our resources as possible for the front-line programs and services we provide to young entrepreneurs. Our admin costs are about 7% of our budget.

The way it works is this. Futurpreneur Canada manages the initial relationship with the young entrepreneur applying for financing and we conduct the due diligence. BDC relies on our strong track record and our sound adjudication process when it looks at applications from young entrepreneurs who also would like loans from BDC.

Since 2008, we have had close to 1,700 young people take advantage of BDC's co-funding. Last year, 44% of our young entrepreneurs also secured co-funding from BDC, so it's on the rise.

I should note that since October, BDC has also provided all of the financing, that's up to $45,000, for 34- to 39-year-olds. They might not strike you as young people but they are and they're often coming to entrepreneurship for the first time at that point. This is a really growing group.

Through this co-funding arrangement, BDC is able to help young entrepreneurs who are considered too risky to get mainstream financing. They're also people who are very hard for BDC to reach and who need a lot of extra support when they're starting their businesses.

The proposed amendment won't change this co-funding arrangement at all. It will, however, make it possible for us to help start more new businesses with less money from government. Right now, we raise money from governments and other sources to provide loans and services to young entrepreneurs. In the future, we plan to secure our loan capital from a private bank. This is a new relationship and so to start with, the private bank, while they get to know us, requires a guarantee. The proposed amendment will allow BDC to provide this guarantee. Given our loan repayment track record, there's a very low risk of the guarantee ever being called upon and BDC will price the guarantee accordingly.

This amendment will mean that the money we raise to provide services to young entrepreneurs will be leveraged to raise private sector money for the loan capital. This could be up to $50 million of new money from the private sector going into the hands of young entrepreneurs in the next five years. It will also mean a reduced ask of governments and improve our future sustainability and our capacity to help grow more successful businesses in the future.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Just so that we understand, this is not part of this consultation on Bill C-43. This is part of future considerations.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, I'm hoping everybody is in agreement. I'm going to put forward this motion:

That the Chair of the Committee send a letter to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance stating that this Committee has achieved the objective that it set, and that this Committee has no amendments to propose to clauses No. 232 to No. 249 of Bill C-43, C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:30 p.m.
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Chief Economist, President and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Bank of Canada, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Chris Dobrzanski

I'll be quite pedantic here. There are specific rules that apply for the credit unions with respect to activity within the area of incorporation in British Columbia. With the bank, while it's under the Bank Act and the federal charter, we also have to register in the provinces we seek to do business in. These are quite separately run organizations even though there is a single shareholder and it's Vancity.

The view that I was presenting today around Bill C-43 is really that, as was noted, as membership-led credit unions, consultations are an essential part of our forum. Over the last decades we've been able to find a forum that builds scale nationally. Some regions have an equal importance of credit unions relative to their population but don't have the same dollars. We run the pool, as Vancity does, by putting all of its scale of clearings and systems in with our region so that our region can aggregate up to be at scale and competitive. Our region then aggregates that up with the other provinces.

That is what we're understanding today and we think that member-led consultation will require a little bit more time than perhaps was anticipated in the bill to get to the new framework. We've said that we're very much in favour of tighter financial regulation, in favour of sound banking services from industry, and we will stand behind that statement.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:20 p.m.
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President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Martha Durdin

That's right. The Department of Finance issued a technical paper in mid-October, discussed the framework around some of these changes, and asked for our feedback by the end of December of this year. They are allowing a two-year timeframe for these changes to be implemented, but it's unclear to us when the clock starts.

Does the clock start at the end of December when the period is over or will it start when Bill C-43 is enacted? When does it actually start? We're asking for a minimum of two years, a timeframe that's more related to what needs to be done once we understand the full scope of what changes are required, because some of them are beyond our control.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you very much.

Bill C-43 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to allow BDC to extend credit or provide liquidity to any person through a category of transaction that's prescribed by the regulations.

Do you have any concerns that these changes to BDC's potential mandate may creep into work that you're doing? Do you have any concerns or thoughts on these changes?

November 19th, 2014 / 5:15 p.m.
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President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Martha Durdin

Could I just add to my last answer? If your question relates to amalgamation, because credit unions are provincially regulated, the amalgamation within a province shouldn't be impacted by Bill C-43.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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Chief Economist, President and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Bank of Canada, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Chris Dobrzanski

Yes. Vancity, as you know, has the privilege of being both provincially incorporated as a credit union and having a federal chartered bank solely owned. Our board of directors, elected by our members, has taken a view that the credit union's purpose is for local impact and for creating and responding to our community. They continue to view that a provincial incorporation actually strengthens and enables that regional and local model.

As for the bank, the bank gives us an important plateau in the payments structure. While we are not an active deposit-taking financial institution, we remain in proper status with our regulators OSFI and CDIC.

I will say that the credit union Vancity has been supportive of the transition measures that Bill C-43 seeks to clarify, so those credit unions that wish to make the choice to become federal have a clear path and a clear line of sight.

If I can use the observation about a clear line of sight, we understand in the current structure how our cooperation with the current regulations create a line of sight for our members through our central into the payments into a federal financial institution network. It's that consultation we would wish to carry, going forward.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

In your opinion, how will the measures in Bill C-43 help streamline the process, specifically for amalgamations, and providing choice and stability for consumers?

November 19th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Martha Durdin

The impact of Bill C-43 and the changes are, from what the government has told us, to clarify the roles of provincial jurisdiction and federal jurisdiction. That is the impact of the changes.

The impact on the centrals is still to be defined. We're working through that process to understand what changes need to be made to accommodate that change. It's difficult to say at this point because we're still responding to the technical paper and trying to understand what needs to be done.

November 19th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Chair, and thanks to our witnesses for being here today.

My first questions are for Credit Union Central, Ms. Durdin.

Economic action plan 2014 proposes to improve and clarify the federal regime for credit unions. In your opinion, how will Bill C-43 help to clarify federal regulation in respect to provincial credit union centrals that want to be federally regulated?

November 19th, 2014 / 5:05 p.m.
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President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Martha Durdin

The way I'll address that is to say that's why we're here today, to ask for more time in terms of the implementation of Bill C-43 and when the clock starts.

November 19th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Chris Dobrzanski Chief Economist, President and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Bank of Canada, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

I want to thank the chair and the committee members for inviting Vancouver City Savings, or Vancity, to be part of today's discussion on Bill C-43.

My name is Chris Dobrzanski, and I am the Chief Economist at Vancity Credit Union, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. I am also the CEO of Citizens Bank of Canada, which is fully owned by Vancity and provides a national financial framework to our credit union.

Today, I will share our perspective, which is rooted in community and provincial incorporation. As Ms. Durdin was saying, credit unions and caisses populaires continue to attract a growing number of members and talented financial services employees who serve many sectors in the real economy. Constituents benefit from the national network of provincially incorporated deposit-taking financial cooperatives. The Canadian credit union sector, excluding Desjardins caisses populaires, represents 5.3 million members, or 20% of the population.

Since 1946, Vancity has known that members make us who we are. We were founded by providing banking services to those in our community who weren't served by existing financial institutions. As a cooperative, Vancity is driven by the needs of its members, which has resulted in the provision of many firsts extending the reach of financial inclusion.

This ability to work with the needs of the community serves us well today and has allowed Vancity to be an innovator in providing real-time solutions to community challenges in areas of affordable housing, local food systems, social enterprises, renewable energy and environment, and financial literacy, to name a few. This local innovation, in part, relies on direct access to payment settlements. Specifically Vancity, via its membership in Central 1, has Canadian Payments Association, or CPA, protocol, reliability, and stability. Vancity is grateful for the existing framework that allows regional central credit unions to be equal partners in the CPA. Today, with over 501,000 members and assets of nearly $18 billion, Vancity is Canada's largest community credit union.

Vancity understands the big picture for financial regulations emerging, especially for the implementation of Basel III internationally by 2018. We agree that some financial reform will inconvenience regulated deposit-taking financial institutions to provide more stable credit pipes that support the real economy, which is aided greatly by harmonizing and tightening regulation. Vancity favours regulation that provides for a stable supply of banking services to Main Street, where our credit union members work.

Nationally, Vancity cooperates with credit unions across the country to create a large-scale secure network. In our case, this is done through Central 1. We are grateful for the current framework that today allows our regional central credit unions to be equal partners in the CPA, and be subject to the same rules of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. These uniform standards support Vancity members, as they create greater financial stability for all deposit-taking financial institutions, and not just credit unions and their member centrals.

As a cooperative, Vancity is democratically governed by its members. Together with other British Columbia credit unions, we are members of our regional central credit union. Through our member-elected board of directors, we consult with each other on matters of financial reform, financial scale and sound financial practices. Our consultation process reaches a deeper consensus, perhaps, than our competition. It does take time to consult within our peer groups and to coordinate across our credit union regions.

We note that the important changes envisioned in Bill C-43 with respect to credit unions would also benefit from a deeper consultation. Our experience is that when we devote adequate resources and time to policy changes, like those in the bill, we are able to ensure a smooth transition to a new state with clear benefits for all those involved. We ask the committee, therefore, to understand that we would welcome sufficient time to allow for our system of cooperative collaboration to develop a coordinated response to the regulatory changes envisioned.

In closing, Mr. Chair, on behalf of the members of Vancity, I wish to emphasize our agreement that it is only prudent to start planning for the topics we covered today.

I thank you very much for the opportunity to present to you today. You can always come by Vancouver to see the positive effects we have on the communities we serve and the importance of our values as the basis for our financial activities. We hope you will visit Vancity next time you are in Vancouver.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 5 p.m.
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Avvy Yao-Yao Go Member, Steering Committee, Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change Network

Thank you.

The network is actually a provincial network, based in Ontario, of individuals and organizations that are working to address the growing racialization of poverty in Ontario. I'm also the clinic director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, which is also a member of the network.

I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak to you today about the amendments. We've also signed the letter that Ms. Rico mentioned earlier. We believe that the amendments as proposed are discriminatory and illogical and contradict the federal government's stated commitment to poverty reduction.

The proposed amendments purport to give provinces the power to impose minimum residency requirements on certain groups of individuals based on refugee or immigration status. While on its face these sections are silent as to which groups of individuals will be excluded from receiving social assistance, the combined effect of the residency requirement and the enumerated groups of individuals who are exempt makes it abundantly clear that the only and real targets of these provisions are refugee claimants.

As many speakers have talked about before, refugees are among the most vulnerable in our society. They often arrive in Canada with nothing, just the shirt on their back, so these provisions, if implemented, will effectively render them ineligible for even the bare minimal amount of support they need for food and shelter. These sections are clearly discriminatory towards refugees, the vast majority of whom are racialized, so they face additional barriers not simply because they're refugees, but also because they are people of colour.

Further, the bill will have a disproportionate impact on refugees who are the most vulnerable, namely women, children, and people with mental health issues or post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also the ones who are most likely to rely on social assistance when they first arrive in Canada.

As many have mentioned, the bill violates international human rights laws that prohibit discrimination. It's contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including section 15, the equality rights, and section 12, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

I also want to say that there are other problems with the bill apart from it's being discriminatory. First, it draws an artificial distinction between refugees and refugee claimants while denying assistance to all refugees, including those who will eventually be accepted as protected persons under our refugee determination system.

Second, the provisions are actually self-contradictory; for instance, by exempting only victims of human trafficking who hold a temporary residency permit but not those who apply for a refugee claim when they first arrive in Canada.

The provisions actually purport to give provinces the powers that they say they do not want and will likely not exercise due to the serious concerns about the human rights breach resulting from the provisions. The provinces, by the way, already have rules that will disentitle visitors if someone is concerned that visitors will get assistance. They already have rules around that, so they don't need any new power.

The proposal is touted as a cost-cutting measure without considering the real cost that would be borne by Canadian taxpayers in the form of increased use of homeless shelters, food banks, emergency care, and hospitals when refugees become ill after they become homeless and hungry.

Besides, if the goal is to discourage individuals who don't need protection from coming to Canada, there is actually no evidence that in fact it will do so. Meanwhile, refugees, all refugees, will be painted with the same brush and be affected in the same way.

But at a more fundamental level, we're also opposed to these provisions because they undermine the role of the federal government in poverty reduction. The passage of these sections will signal to Canadians that the Government of Canada does not believe in reducing poverty. It suggests that the government is wanting to download its responsibility onto provinces, territories, and municipalities by eroding the national standard that sets the bare minimum baseline security for all Canadians and by downloading the costs of caring for the most vulnerable among us. While the government's immediate goal might be to deny refugee claimants access to social assistance, this very blunt instrument it has chosen to achieve that goal will, in the long run, hurt all Canadians.

Therefore, we think it's a good idea for this committee to call on the government to remove these sections from Bill C-43.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Martha Durdin

Currently five provincial centrals in Canada are dually regulated by OSFI and the federal institutions of the centrals. The implications of adjusting to such a significant departure from past practice will take some time to understand and to respond to.

I think I'll just go straight to my conclusion, seeing as I'm over the time.

Bill C-43 is proposing changes to the system framework that governs parts of the system and we're looking for time to prepare for and implement the transition envisioned by the federal government. To that end we request that this committee when it reports on Bill C-43 include a recommendation that the federal government ensures that credit union stakeholders have the time to prepare for the transition to an exclusively provincial regulatory regime, and that the transition timetable be dictated by the requirements of the smooth transition.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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Martha Durdin President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union Central of Canada

Good afternoon.

My name is Martha Durdin, and I am President and CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to speak to Bill C-43.

Credit Union Central of Canada is the national trade association for the 317 credit unions operating in Canada outside of Quebec. These credit unions hold over $166 billion in assets and operate out of 1,740 locations across the country. They provide over 27,000 jobs and banking services to 5.3 million Canadians.

Credit unions are provincially regulated financial co-operatives owned by their members. These member-owners play an important role in guiding the evolution of their credit unions and exercise control over their institutions on a “one member, one vote” basis.

Credit union innovation goes beyond our unique ownership structure. Credit unions have a rich history of Canadian financial sector firsts. Credit unions were the first Canadian financial institutions to lend to women in their own names. They were the first to offer daily interest savings accounts, the first to offer full-service ATMs, and the first to offer fully functional online banking.

Credit unions have strong relationships with the communities they serve.

We do not seek short-term profits and we stay invested in our communities when competitors chase profits elsewhere. ln fact, the credit union system today operates in 380 branches in communities where there is no other physical banking presence.

Credit unions also have a special affinity for small businesses.

I hesitate to raise them after the exchange a little while ago, but the Canadian Federation of lndependent Business data shows that credit unions, including Desjardins, have the second highest share of small business lending in Canada at 18.6%, just behind the Royal Bank of Canada, which of course is a much larger institution. According to the CFIB, credit unions have achieved this success because they dominate the banks in providing exceptional service to small business.

Credit unions are also a force for stability in the Canadian financial sector. Our loan growth is steady. Our average credit union loan losses have been significantly lower than those of the chartered banks.

In short, credit unions are a Canadian success story.

They are innovative, community-focused, a key support for small business, and a force for stability in volatile times. They are key elements in a competitive financial sector ecosystem. The success is a product of efforts at individual credit unions but it is also the result of collaboration between credit unions. Over time this collaboration has built provincial centrals, and more recently, regional centrals like Central 1 in B.C. and Ontario, and Atlantic central that provide back-office services to credit unions across provincial boundaries.

Collaboration helps the credit union system build scale and find common approaches to technology, branding, liquidity management, compliance, and market strategy. ln many instances, this collaboration has been aided by a federal legislative framework that has facilitated cooperation across the credit union system. That brings me to Bill C-43.

Bill C-43 proposes significant changes to the federal framework that has governed aspects of the credit union system for decades. These proposed legislative changes were initiated by the federal government in the budget in 2014, as you know, and were not made at the request of the credit union system.

ln basic terms, Bill C-43 will reorder the federal government's relations with the credit union system. This is particularly true with regard to the relationship with the provincial credit union centrals, and regional credit union centrals.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:55 p.m.
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Loly Rico President, Canadian Council for Refugees

Good afternoon. First of all, we want to say thank you to the chair and the committee members for allowing the Canadian Council for Refugees to present our position on clauses 172 and 173 of Bill C-43.

I am not going to read the whole submission, because it will take longer than the six minutes. I am going to focus on one of the points.

Just to let the members know, if they don't know, the Canadian Council for Refugees is a national umbrella organization that is made up of 170 members that work for refugees and immigrants. We are firmly opposed to the proposed amendments. As you see in our written submission, we have several concerns.

One point we want to share with the members is that we are not the only ones. We presented an open letter to the Minister of Finance, Joe Oliver, where 160 organizations were opposed to the amendments. These organizations represent not only refugees but also health, poverty, and human rights sectors, faith communities, women, and legal advocates. Among them are national, local, and provincial organizations. The main reason why we oppose these amendments is that refugee claimants are the most vulnerable population.

I want to give you a specific case, because in all the presentations we talk about refugee claimants in very broad terms. I work specifically with women and children. This is the experience of one refugee claimant whom I welcomed in my daily work. She is from the Congo. She fled persecution and even jail. Her family sold everything to protect her life. She arrived at Pearson airport and claimed refugee status. She didn't have money. She got to one of our refugee houses.

She has 15 days to present her basis of claim and to get a legal aid certificate. She also needs to have her medical exams. Once she has completed the BOC and the medical exams, she is allowed to apply for a work permit. That will take between three and four months. At the same time, she has to prepare herself to present her refugee case at the refugee hearing two months after she has arrived.

Imagine that she is living... I am talking about a case that is in a major city, but imagine that this woman went from Pearson to a refugee house in Windsor. She has to go and see her lawyer in Toronto. She has to go and do her refugee hearing in Toronto without money. Just put yourself in her shoes. At the same time, she doesn't have money to pay rent. She will be in a homeless shelter with other people, and one of the challenges she will face is that she won't have the right support.

With this example and this situation I'm presenting you with, these amendments are clearly targeting refugee claimants. Even though refugee claimants are not mentioned in the amendments, all the criteria and all the categories are there. That means this is a clear violation of the principle of human rights, because it is treating refugee claimants in a different and discriminatory way.

We need to remember, as some of the presenters expressed before, that Canada is a signatory to human rights international treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in which we recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.

In addition, you need to take into consideration that refugee claimants are not only adults, but there are also children among them. Canada is a signatory country to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has an obligation to protect children and provide basic services to them, including refugee claimants' children.

They were talking about the settlement organizations that serve immigrants and refugees. I want to clarify that the settlement organizations funded by the federal government are not giving services to refugee claimants, because they do not fit the eligibility criteria.

The eligibility criteria for immigrants and settlement organizations covers only immigrants and government-assisted refugees, and some of the sponsorship. That's a clarification of what happened at the beginning of the afternoon.

We are very sorry to see that the Canadian government is applying changes and amendments. They are considered in other countries.... Looking at the U.K., Peter Showler explained to you that they provide social services. But in 2003 the U.K. removed social assistance to asylum seekers, and in 2005 the House of Lords ruled that this provision was inhuman and degrading treatment. That means the court found that the cuts didn't deter the asylum seekers from going to the U.K. This is not going to stop refugee claimants from coming to Canada. These provisions of the House of Lords were used by the court when they told the Canadian government to re-institute the interim federal health program.

One of the things that I want to bring is that in my—

November 19th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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Dr. Gregory Taylor Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for giving me an opportunity to discuss with you the amendment to the Public Health Agency of Canada Act—which is presented in Bill C-43—and my role as Chief Public Health Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

As you know, that amendment aims to redefine the role of the chief public health officer so that it would focus exclusively on the public health needs of Canadians. This amendment also aims to create a position of president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, who would be in charge of managing the agency.

I strongly support this amendment. My unique journey has allowed me to gain a lot of experience and come to this conclusion.

I started my medical career as an M.D. in a private small city practice. As a family physician I experienced the challenges of holding two jobs much like the position of chief public health officer. On one hand I was helping patients improve their health and essentially managing a business on the other, often causing tension between the two.

In the 20 years since, I've held progressive leadership positions in the federal government, specializing in public health, and I've watched the agency grow from a branch of Health Canada to a global leader in public health. Today with an ebola epidemic in the public spotlight, we're reminded why the country needs its leading public health professional to focus exclusively on one major task: public health.

Since the agency's inception, the competencies and experiences to lead national public health issues have grown, as have the skills needed to manage a growing public sector organization. The Public Health Agency of Canada now has over 2,000 employees across the country. It's annual operating budget is over $600 million.

For years now it's been clear to me and my colleagues that the CPHO role must evolve and complement that growth in a way that makes sense. Division 20 of this bill will allow my position to focus on moving Canada forward in public health issues, providing advice directly to the Minister of Health and to Canadians, collaborating with all partners and interacting with multiple key players including the Canadian public. At the same time, a dedicated agency president will provide focused strategic management and corporate leadership for a world-leading, vibrant and strong organization.

The president, as deputy head of the agency, will assume some of the management responsibilities currently assigned to the CPHO including accountabilities for finance, audit, evaluation, staffing, official languages, and access to information and privacy. These are all important functions requiring the attention of a senior leader.

The changes proposed do not diminish the role of the chief public health officer, they enhance it. In essence, they associate internal management and capacity issues with a dedicated agency head and direction on public health issues with the CPHO. It makes good management sense and good public health sense to make these changes.

It's a structure that works well for many provinces and territories, and for countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia. In fact, we've been moving this way as an agency for some time now and have, in fact, adopted this type of management structure since 2012. At that time we began to separate out the roles and responsibilities of the CPHO on an interim basis. My appointment as CPHO on September 24th of this year—the date of the agency's 10th anniversary—reflected the first step needed to move public health forward in Canada.

The next step will ensure we have the right people in the right positions focused on the right tasks for Canadians. I'm very proud of the agency's maturation. The agency has become a world leader in public health, and just as its profile of importance has grown, so have public expectations of our work. We need to enhance our public health connections globally.

After 10 years and many high-profile public health success stories, the agency and the position of chief public health officer are no longer young. We now need to adapt and advance in a way that makes good management and public health sense.

Mr. Chair, committee members, for these reasons I strongly support division 20 of Bill C-43 before you today that will amend the Public Health Agency of Canada Act.

The associate deputy minister and I believe these changes are the right thing to do for the health of Canadians. I thank you for inviting me today.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:50 p.m.
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Aaron Wudrick Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to be here today and to speak on the subject matter of certain clauses within Bill C-43 and I thank the committee for the invitation.

Just quickly, my name is Aaron Wudrick and I'm the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Our advocacy is centred around three key principles: lower taxes, less waste, and accountable government. It's largely on this third principle of accountable government that I appear today to speak to these provisions. My remarks are fairly limited in scope. We support the changes proposed in these provisions for the simple reason that, from our standpoint, they are purely jurisdictional in nature. We, of course, are not experts in refugee or immigration policy and we take no position at all as to whether or not provinces should actually set minimum residency requirements. 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.

In short, if it is objectionable for the provinces to have this power, surely it must also be objectionable that the provinces already have the same power with respect to determining eligibility for health care services. As committee members are likely aware, many provinces already set a minimum residency requirement for access to health care services.

In our view, most opponents of these provisions are conflating two very separate debates. The first is whether or not foreign refugee claimants should be subject to a minimum residency requirement. The second is whether provinces should be able to make this decision without being penalized by Ottawa. It is, of course, entirely appropriate to debate whether or not there should be minimum residency requirements, but, again, this is not the area I'm here to comment on. The only contribution to the debate made by these proposed changes, however, is ensuring that this debate takes place in the provincial legislatures, and we view that as a positive change.

In our view, the real principle underlying these proposed changes is respect for provincial jurisdiction. When different levels of government overstep their constitutionally defined areas of jurisdiction, accountability suffers because Canadians are left unclear as to who bears responsibility for what. Only when each level of government takes proper responsibility can Canadians pass judgment at election time as to whether or not they approve of these policy decisions. Indeed, the inappropriate use of the federal spending power by federal governments to encroach upon areas of provincial jurisdiction has long been an unfortunate source of federal-provincial tension. These proposed changes would be one small step towards reducing that tension.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:45 p.m.
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Hassan Yussuff President, Canadian Labour Congress

First, James, let me thank you on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress for inviting us to come to present our views today on Bill C-43.

The Canadian Labour Congress, as you know, is the national voice on behalf of 3.3 million workers across Canada.

I will focus my comments on the issues of employment before turning to the temporary foreign workers program.

We continue to face a very serious unemployment challenge in this country. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment, remains stubbornly high. The overall labour force participation rate and the employment rate have still not recovered to their pre-recession days of 2008. On the contrary, the participation rate continues to fall, and the employment rate has been stagnating since 2010. We still have a crisis on our hands with respect to jobs for young people, and especially good jobs for young people.

Bill C-43's response to this crisis is inadequate, to say the least.

Bill C-43 implements a small business job credit. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, this will create 800 new jobs in 2015 and 2016. Instead of doling out a $550-million El premium cut to employers, the federal government needs to make this program work for the unemployed workers.

There are nearly 270,000 unemployed workers in Toronto, and only 17% of them are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. It's fundamentally unfair that workers are paying into this program and are unable to access benefits when they lose their jobs. Imagine paying premiums for house insurance only to be denied compensation when your house burns to the ground. We need action to improve the employment insurance program, not to erode it. The CLC has long been calling on the government to allow more workers to access El benefits.

We also need a major public investment, economic growth, and a lift to private sector productivity in this country. High-quality and accessible child care for all Canadians would create jobs and increase the labour force participation for parents with young children. The federal government could also be doing much more to encourage skills training and expand the apprenticeship programs. We need a skills training and workforce development strategy if we are ever going to end employer dependence on the temporary foreign worker program.

I want to speak next to the temporary foreign worker program. Bill C-43 gives the government great powers to beef up the inspection and compliance verification of the temporary foreign worker program.

In our view, the efforts to protect migrant workers' rights will continue to be undermined by the fact that workers in the low-wage stream are unfree, dependent on employers, and of course vulnerable to exploitation and abuse as a consequence. Temporary migrant workers must be given access to permanent residency and given the legal means and support to escape abuses from employers. Otherwise, no amount of compliance efforts will suffice to safeguard migrant workers' rights.

The government has not moved to address the temporary migrant workers entering Canada under the international mobility program. Employers who hire these workers are not bound by any of the rules that are set out under the labour market impact assessment process. The requirements that employers pay prevailing wages and first advertise for permanent residents and Canadians don't apply.

The federal government's decision to change the live-in caregiver program rules add further to the problem. They will almost certainly restrict the ability of caregivers to gain access to permanent residency.

Finally, I want to say that it is irresponsible that Bill C-43 allows provinces to set minimum residency requirements for social assistance. This will restrict social assistance benefits for refugee claimants who are awaiting a determination of their claims. This serves no policy purpose, and only serves to demonize refugee claimants.

With that, I want to thank the committee and welcome any questions that you may have.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

There are a number of ways in which we have addressed the issue of fairness. I mentioned how the fishing industry benefits.

Bill C-43 reflects our government's ongoing commitment to improving fairness and integrity in the system and to ensuring that everyone pays their fair share. This includes a package of actions to address aggressive tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.

A well-functioning tax system is essential to keeping Canada positioned as an attractive place to work, invest, and do business, so efforts to ensure the integrity of the system also benefit provincial governments by protecting provincial revenues on our shared tax basis.

Specifically the bill will eliminate a graduated-rate taxation for trusts and certain estates. It will better target income tax rules relating to non-resident trusts. It will protect the tax base by preventing the shifting of certain Canadian source income to no- or low-tax jurisdictions. It will adjust the policy that encourages the exchange of tax information, and it will add new conditions for qualifying under the regulated foreign financial institution tax rules.

Since we have been in government, we have introduced over 85 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Thank you very much.

Minister, you also mentioned during your opening remarks that the government has taken many actions, in fact 80 different measures, to increase fairness and the integrity of our tax system.

How does Bill C-43 build on the tax fairness measures the government has already introduced?

November 19th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

—ongoing commitment to the north and our record on the environment. Maybe you could tell us how Bill C-43 will build on that.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Our government committed in the 2013 Speech from the Throne—and reinforced this in budget 2014—to end pay-to-pay billing practices so that customers do not pay extra to receive paper bills. Bill C-43 will end pay-to-pay billing practices in the telecommunications sector. Any company that breaks the rules faces penalties of up to $15 million.

Our government is committed to putting the interests of Canadian consumers first. I could quote from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Consumers' Association of Canada, which welcomed the fact that the federal government will introduce legislation to end pay-to-pay billing practices in the telecommunications sector.

John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre said, “Consumers are clearly opposed to paying for paper bills and the federal government has clearly committed to 'eliminating' these charges.”

November 19th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Well, Mr. Chairman, let me deal with that important question. Bill C-43 fulfills Canada's 2013 G-8 commitment to establish reporting standards for the extractive sector by next year.

Our government is committed to improving transparency and accountability in the extractive sector, where Canada has a world-class reputation. I had the opportunity of travelling around the world representing our country when I was the Minister of Natural Resources, and I can attest to that directly.

Our government's commitment builds on Canada's reputation as a global leader in responsible resource development, and already the sector has a well-established financial reporting system that ensures transparency and good governance of natural resource revenues.

The new reporting system will complement existing reporting requirements and will be established with a view to improving transparency, ensuring as well that Canada's framework is aligned with other G-8 countries and is consistent with existing international standards, particularly those of the United States and the European Union. It will also ensure a level playing field for companies operating domestically and abroad. It will enhance investment certainty and help reinforce the integrity of the Canadian extractive companies. Finally, it will help ensure that citizens around the world benefit from the natural resources in their countries.

The government's pan-Canadian approach will require Canadian extractive companies to publicly report payments of $100,000 and over to all levels of government, both domestic and abroad, including aboriginal entities, on a project-by-project basis. This approach would apply to public and private and medium and large mining, oil, and gas companies operating in Canada.

November 19th, 2014 / 4:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Just so you know, so we can get all the rounds in, I'm going to be splitting my time with Mr. Van Kesteren.

Minister, one of the things I'd like to ask you, being a former member of the natural resources committee and also recognizing your former position as the Minister of Natural Resources, is this question with respect to part 4 and division 28 on the natural resources extractive sector.

In 2013 and in the past number of years, there have been a lot of things in the House in with respect to the extractive sector, as you're well aware. We made a G-8 commitment to establish reporting standards for the extractive sector. Recognizing your experience in the past and also as the minister, how do you see Bill C-43 helping our government to demonstrate our leadership on this issue?

November 19th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

The other thing in Bill C-43 is how it addresses tax non-compliance and how it combats money laundering and terrorist financing.

One of the issues that we've heard from Canadians on a constant basis is the amount of tax non-compliance and money laundering that we believe is going on offshore. We've done a good job of collecting a lot of those dollars back.

In particular, with the events of the last month and a half to two months, the idea that we can shut down the source of terrorist financing is something that I think all Canadians will embrace.

Can you expand on how this budget works to do that?

November 19th, 2014 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

I would be happy to do that.

Bill C-43 makes the tax system simpler and fairer for farming and fishing businesses.

A special income tax rule will be available to farmers who dispose of breeding livestock due to drought or excess moisture conditions existing in specific regions in a given year. This rule permits farmers to exclude up to 90% of the sale proceeds from their taxable income until the year following the sale, or a later year if the conditions persist.

Bill C-43 will also help amateur athletes. Currently, income contributed to an amateur athlete trust does not qualify as earned income in determining an athlete's annual RRSP contribution limit.

I can elaborate on that if you like.

November 19th, 2014 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome, Minister and department officials.

First of all, Minister, congratulations on the budget. Quite frankly, when any budget measures give any portion of EI remittances back to the small businesses who pay those remittances, I think that's good policy.

There are a couple of steps in Bill C-43 that make the tax system simpler and fairer for Canadians. In particular, two that are near and dear to my heart are the changes to the tax rules for combined farming and fishing businesses and the changes to the rules for farmers who face catastrophic weather-related losses to breeding livestock.

Can you just expand on those a bit, please?

November 19th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Our government, as you suggest, recognizes that the charitable sector plays an essential and irreplaceable role in our society by providing valuable services to Canadians, including those most in need. Thanks to the work done by this committee, our government is continuing to respond to the report entitled “Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving in Canada”. The report recommends, as you know, that the government reduce the administrative burden on charities. It recommends that the government amend the Criminal Code to remove an antiquated restriction and allow charities to conduct their lotteries through the use of modern technology. We're doing just that. The bill amends the Criminal Code to allow charities to conduct lotteries through modern technology.

Each year charities in Canada raise hundreds of millions of dollars to support worthy causes through lottery sales, but outdated legislation forces them to process and activate all the sales manually and then send customers their tickets by mail. In order to reduce these costs, Bill C-43 will amend the Criminal Code to allow charities to conduct various aspects of lotteries through the use of a computer. It will also allow charities to use modern e-commerce methods for purchasing, processing, and issuing lottery tickets and receipts.

Prominent Canadian charities, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and SickKids hospital, report that allowing for the use of computers could save millions of dollars each year in administrative costs for all charities that run lotteries. For example, the Heart and Stroke Foundation identified potential savings of $1 million in annual administrative costs. The charities will be able to use these substantial savings to support their important work.

November 19th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you.

Our government recognizes the good work that charities and charitable organizations do across this country, helping disadvantaged Canadians as well as those in need. They also display the great generosity of Canadians and their compassion.

How does Bill C-43 cut red tape for Canadian charities and help them raise more funds? Can you give us some examples of which charities will benefit?

November 19th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Thank you for the question.

Currently the Business Development Bank of Canada may assist Canadian small businesses and medium-sized businesses wishing to expand beyond the domestic market, but it can only offer the financing to the parent company located in Canada. Small businesses can expand from coast to coast to coast in Canada, but they are limited when it comes to expanding beyond Canada's shores. Bill C-43 will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada to help finance an SME's subsidiary in a foreign company and support its access to global value chains. Bill C-43 will help all SMEs in Canada expand beyond Canada's borders.

It also aids small businesses to expand into international markets as well as to draw foreign investment into Canada by adhering to the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague agreement. The proposed amendments will standardize and will simplify administrative processes when Canadian businesses apply for a patent, ultimately resulting in lower costs and eliminating red tape.

November 19th, 2014 / 3:45 p.m.
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Assistant Commissioner Peter Henschel Deputy Commissioner, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Thank you, and good afternoon.

I would like to provide you with a brief overview of the proposed legislative amendments and explain the five new indices that would be created. I also want to describe how those indices would support the investigation of missing persons and unidentified human remains, and strengthen the current DNA regime in Canada.

Proclaimed in 2000, the DNA Identification Act governs the national use of DNA for criminal purposes and enabled the creation of the National DNA Data Bank, or NDDB.

The DNA Identification Act created two indices: the convicted offender index, comprised of DNA profiles taken from offenders convicted of a designated offence, and the crime scene index, comprised of unknown DNA profiles derived from biological material found at crime scenes. The use of DNA has contributed significantly to criminal investigations. In Canada, the NDDB has assisted investigations of over 2,200 murders, 3,800 sexual assaults, and 24,000 other designated offences.

Other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, use DNA identification to support investigations of missing persons and unidentified human remains. This is not currently possible in Canada. Since the establishment of the National DNA Data Bank, there have been a number of calls for the creation of a national DNA-based missing persons' index that could assist investigators in finding missing persons and identifying human remains.

Notably, committees of both the House of Commons and the Senate recommended the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index following their reviews of the DNA Identification Act in 2009 and 2010. These recommendations were echoed by the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women and the B.C. Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

This past spring, budget 2014 announced $8.1 million over five years beginning in 2016-17 to specifically create a DNA-based missing persons index. Since then, consultations on proposed options for legislative amendments were undertaken with a number of stakeholders, including provincial and territorial policy-makers, coroners and medical examiners, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National DNA Data Bank Advisory Committee, as well as a preliminary engagement with the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Stakeholders generally supported the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index. Feedback provided through these consultations informed the development of a number of safeguards in the legislation which I will address in a moment.

Bill C-43, economic action plan 2014 act, No. 2, proposes amendments to the DNA Identification Act that would expand the use of DNA identification to support the investigations of missing persons and unidentified remains by creating three new indices.

The first is the missing persons index comprised of DNA profiles of missing persons developed from personal effects, such as a toothbrush or an article of clothing.

The second is the human remains index comprised of DNA profiles from found human remains.

The third is the relatives of the missing index, comprised of DNA profiles voluntarily submitted by close relatives of the missing, and used to either confirm the DNA profile of the missing persons, or to compare against the human remains index.

To ensure the most effective use of these new indices, the missing persons and human remains indices would be compared to approximately 400,000 unique DNA profiles in the convicted offenders and crime scene indices. Comparison against the crime scene index would help to place a missing person at a crime scene at a particular time, thereby providing vital clues to the missing person investigator. Comparison against the convicted offender index could help to link found human remains to a specific convicted offender.

In addition to the changes to support the investigation of missing persons and unidentified human remains, the proposed legislative amendments would also strengthen the existing operations of the National DNA Data Bank.

Currently, the act does not permit the use of a victim's DNA to support criminal investigations, nor does it permit the use of DNA from relevant individuals who may wish to volunteer their DNA to further an investigation. To address these issues, the legislation would create two additional indices. The victims index would be comprised of DNA profiles from the victims of crime. These profiles would be uploaded in a number of circumstances including when a victim may voluntarily provide a sample. The victims of crime index will help police identify serial offenders and link crime scenes.

The voluntary donors index would be comprised of DNA profiles, voluntarily submitted by any person other than a victim, to advance a criminal, missing persons, or unidentified remains investigation. This index will be used primarily to exclude individuals from an investigation.

I would also like to note that the proposed legislation does not provide any new authorities to police to compel the collection of DNA from individuals. The proposed legislation would make retention provisions for offenders who have received either a conditional or an absolute discharge consistent with retention provisions for sentenced offenders. This change would address situations where the National DNA Data Bank may be retaining DNA profiles when it should not, or destroying profiles when they should be retained.

Finally, the proposed amendments would allow the RCMP to share DNA information related to missing persons or identified remains with foreign governments or international agencies. Consistent with current practices, this sharing would occur on a case-by-case basis and be governed by strict international agreements to protect the privacy and security of Canadians.

I would now like to explain the measures in the legislation to ensure the proper use of the new indices and the privacy safeguards in place.

First, it would remain a criminal offence for anybody to use or communicate any DNA information for a purpose other than what is specifically stated in the act.

Second, a two-factor legislated threshold would require investigators of missing person cases to demonstrate to the RCMP before a DNA profile is added to the data bank that there are reasonable grounds to suspect DNA analysis will assist in an ongoing investigation, and that other investigatory techniques have been tried and failed, or exigent circumstances exist.

Third, in the event that a DNA profile of a missing person links to a profile from a crime scene, the RCMP would communicate this information to investigators for humanitarian purposes only. Should a criminal investigator wish to use information derived from such a match to further a criminal investigation, that investigator must have reasonable grounds to suspect this information would assist in the investigation or prosecution of a designated offence.

Fourth, recognizing that the relatives of the missing persons index, the victims index, and voluntary donors index would be populated with voluntarily provided profiles, a number of consent provisions have been included in the legislation. To submit a DNA profile of any of the relatives of those on the missing persons index, the victims index, or the voluntary donors index, informed consent must be obtained. Anyone volunteering a DNA profile may withdraw their consent at anytime requiring its removal from the National DNA Data Bank.

Finally, the RCMP will remove profiles after a period specified in regulation unless the investigating agency confirms that DNA profiles remain associated with an ongoing investigation and that informed consent has not been withdrawn.

Operationally, this legislation will leverage the existing work of two program areas within the RCMP: the National DNA Data Bank and the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.

Funding identified in budget 2014 will be used to create and maintain the infrastructure within the RCMP to operate the new humanitarian indices, so as to provide investigators with technical and scientific support and ensure the national coordination of information.

Thank you for the opportunity to present to you today. My colleagues and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

November 19th, 2014 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thanks to the minister, the deputy minister, and the finance officials for being here today.

Our government understands the important role that small business plays in our economy by creating jobs and economic growth as well as paying their fair share of taxes, but opportunities for expansion often lie beyond our borders. How does Bill C-43 help small businesses that wish to expand beyond our borders?

November 19th, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Conservative

Joe Oliver ConservativeMinister of Finance

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with the Standing Committee on Finance to discuss Bill C-43, an act to implement certain provisions of economic action plan 2014, tabled in Parliament on February 11.

Canada's Economic Action Plan underscores the government's top priority to create jobs, foster growth and ensure long-term prosperity. A weakened global economy has made that priority even more important.

Last week I presented to Canadians our government's economic and fiscal update. I outlined the state of both the Canadian and the global economies.

In the aftermath of worst recession since the Great Depression, Canada has done well. Since the depths of a recession that cost 62 million jobs worldwide, we created over 1.2 million net new jobs in Canada—one of the strongest job creation records in the G-7.

The federal tax burden is at its lowest level in over 50 years. In 2013, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in Bloomberg's ranking of the most attractive destinations for business. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the G-7 and are 46% lower than in the United States.

Both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G-7 this year and next. A recent New York Times study found that after-tax middle-class income in Canada, substantially behind in 2000, now appears to be higher than in the United States. In fact, the Canadian middle class is among the richest in the developed world.

But today's prosperity is not a guarantee for tomorrow. This is especially true in a global economy defined by weak, uneven growth, or what IMF director Christine Lagarde has called the “new mediocre”. We must relentlessly take action to remain resilient and secure our prosperity, and that is what we have set out to do.

Therefore, we have to work persistently to remain resilient and ensure the prosperity of our generation, as well as the generation of our children and grandchildren.

First, we are taking action to improve the integrity and fairness of the tax system. Since 2006, and including measures proposed in economic action plan 2014, the government has introduced over 85 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system.

Bill C-43 goes further.

This bill takes the tax system and makes it simpler and fairer for fishing and farming businesses. It empowers amateur athletes to save money—money for their retirement. These kinds of amateur athletes, Mr. Chairman, are the ones who bring home the gold in the Olympic Games and in competitions around the world.

This bill puts in place new tax incentives to encourage clean energy generation. We are doing this by expanding the eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance. We're making it easier for Canadian film and video producers to receive the Canadian film or video production tax credit.

Mr. Chairman, we are cracking down on tax evasion, including offshore regulated banks and captive insurance schemes, ensuring that all Canadians pay their share.

Keeping taxes low and fair is an important element of our economic action plan. Another priority is creating jobs.

This is one of our government's priorities. Measures must be implemented to connect Canadians with the skills training they need to succeed.

In Canada, apprentices in skilled trades learn the most through paid jobs in the workplace and receive six to eight weeks of technical training a year.

They can face serious costs, including educational fees, tools and equipment costs, and living expenses. That is why we introduced the Canada apprentice loan in the first budget bill to help connect Canadians with available jobs. This initiative is helping apprentices register in Red Seal trades by providing access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.

Given that the parameters of the Canada apprentice loan program are similar to those of the Canada student loan program, we believe that both programs should benefit from the same treatment. Specifically, Bill C-43 proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to extend the existing student loan interest credit—which is a non-refundable tax credit available for interest payments on loans approved under the Canada student loans program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.

By helping Canadians acquire skills that will help them get hired or find better jobs, we are investing directly and wisely in our country's most precious asset—our citizens.

Mr. Chairman, this is only a small sample of the measures contained in this bill.

Let me briefly review a few more. The bill would amend the Telecommunications Act to prohibit service providers from charging their subscribers to receive bills in paper form, fulfilling a commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to end pay-to-pay billing practices. It would establish the Canadian High Arctic research station, a world-class research station that will strengthen Canada's leadership in Arctic science and technology. It would also promote transparency and accountability in the extractive sector both at home and abroad; cut red tape for charitable organizations, allowing them to use new technologies to raise funds for the causes that matter to Canadians; and provide more than $8 million over five years, starting in 2016-17, to create a DNA-based missing persons index.

I take particular pride, Mr. Chairman, in this last initiative. Lindsey's law, which called for a DNA-based missing persons index, was named for Lindsey Jill Nicholls. At age 14 she went missing while on a car ride to meet friends in Kootenay, British Columbia. Her mother, Judy Peterson, has been a courageous advocate for a national DNA-based databank that can compare the DNA of missing persons with that collected through crime scene investigations and convicted offenders. Lindsey's law represents further action on the part of our government to stand up for the victims of crime and their families.

Mr. Chairman, it has been a pleasure to highlight some of the key measures to defend Canadian values and support growth and prosperity. The measures in this legislation are necessary and the benefits enduring.

Thank you.

November 19th, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

I call this meeting to order. This is meeting number 59 of the Standing Committee on Finance, and in our orders of the day pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, November 3, 2014, we are continuing our study of Bill C-43, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.

Colleagues, we have two panels here today. In our first panel, we're very pleased to welcome back to the committee the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Joe Oliver.

Minister, welcome back to the committee this afternoon. You have two officials with you and we understand that you have an opening statement.

Then we'll have questions from all of the members. Please begin at any time.

November 18th, 2014 / 3:30 p.m.
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Maureen Basnicki Co-founder, Canadian Coalition Against Terror

I must say I was scheduled to be here in October, the day after the terrorist attacks in Ottawa, so that was a real trigger for me.

Today I come here after the attack in Jerusalem. The co-founder of CCAT, the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, is in Israel at this moment in time, and it is a friend of his who has been greatly injured, the gentleman who lived in Toronto. All this affects me needless to say. Bear with me, please.

Good afternoon, everybody, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the justice committee. I am grateful to be here today to lend my support and to thank the current government for initiating Bill C-32 for all victims.

This particular bill has been a passion of mine ever since I became a member of the victims of crime club. It was the murder of my husband on 9/11 that put me in this club.

Like many average Canadians, before the murder of my husband by terrorists, I could never envision my life changing so drastically. Never could I imagine being called a victim. You will note on the written statement that I always capitalize victim because it denotes respect.

Many people ask why I continue to identify myself as a Canadian 9/11 widow and a victim. I respond with a reply that makes most Canadians uncomfortable. I am a living Canadian victim, and my late husband is the dead victim. I will continue to label myself as a victim, and not a survivor or victorious, until such time as my beloved country Canada finds the balance between rights for criminals, or in my case terrorists, and the rights of victims.

My experience as a Canadian victim living in Canada, as did my late husband, was not something Canadians would be proud of if they knew all the issues I was faced with in the aftermath of Ken's murder. In the question and answer period after my testimony, I will be pleased to give any details this honourable committee wants to hear.

The point I would like to make is that there was no plan or policy in place for victims of terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. Most Canadians just assume, first, that they will never enter the victims of crime club, and second, that if a Canadian is victimized, there will be basic rights and victim services to help them in their darkest moments.

The very basic rights of respect, compassion, and courtesy were not enforceable for me and my family after 9/11. I'm not talking about average Canadians, but rather the political powers, the government at the time of the terrorist attack in New York City.

I became a victim of politics. Even from the recent past, politicians are debating whether the murders of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent were acts of terror or cold-blooded murders. One does not need to debate whether or not they were victims. Even though they resided in different provinces and were victims of a terror attack or a violent crime, there should be rights at the federal level and a sense of fairness for the victims of these heinous crimes.

In the aftermath of 9/11, at the highest level of our Canadian political leaders, I was dismissed. Initially our former prime minister at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack discounted that Canadians were in New York. Six months after 9/11, following an outcry to have a public 9/11 memorial in Canada, the former PM said that these things happen from time to time and he saw no reason to mark that occasion.

To add to the pain of losing my husband to such a heinous crime, the prime minister publicly blamed the victims on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The prime minister was interviewed on CBC by Peter Mansbridge and publicly blamed western greed for the 9/11 attacks. I repeat, our Canadian prime minister blamed the victims.

When the fog of disbelief and hurt began to dissipate, I started to look into my rights as a victim of violent crime, albeit outside of our Canadian border.

We are not here to discuss victim services which victims should rightfully count on to navigate through the trauma they have been sentenced to for the rest of their lives. What is important to note, however, is that when I began to question what victim services were available at the provincial level, I was told that I did not qualify because my husband's murder occurred outside our borders. I have to qualify that, too, and right now, because sitting beside me is somebody who was instrumental in the Ontario victims of crime organization, Sharon Rosenfeldt. There was an outreach at the time, but they were tied by provincial mandates that didn't include terrorism. Everything was done that could possibly be done at that time. It was only later when there was a change of government that things changed.

At this time, I would like to have the committee look at the current definition of who is considered a victim of crime. As stated by the current Government of Canada Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime:

The law defines a victim as someone who has experienced emotional or physical harm as the result of a crime [committed in Canada]. Family members, legal guardians or dependants are considered victims when the victim is deceased, is a child, or is unable to act for him/herself due to illness or incapacity.

If we are to strengthen the victims bill of rights, it is most important to remember that a Canadian who resides in Canada is no less a Canadian if they happen to become a victim of traditional violent crime or terrorism outside our borders. Please ensure that victims' rights are enshrined when the crime is committed outside our border. After all, terrorists who are Canadian citizens and have been successfully convicted as terrorists—and I refer to Omar Khadr—are able to demand their rights. There should be a balance. I understand that there has been a lawsuit initiated against the Canadian government by Mr. Khadr.

At this time I would like to once again commend the current government for their initiative in proposing the VBR. I would like to invite all political parties to help draft the final result. Victims' rights are a non-partisan issue. I remind all the MPs here that they themselves narrowly escaped becoming victims of terrorism