Madam Speaker, it is an absolute honour for me to stand on behalf of the residents of Davenport and speak on Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.
As this will probably will be one of my last times to address this House this year, I want to wish everybody in this House a happy holiday, a very Merry Christmas, or whatever members celebrate in this wonderful holiday season.
For those watching at home, whether now or in the future, I want to make sure everybody is clear on what I am talking about on Bill C-24.
The changes being proposed to the Salaries Act would formalize the equality of all members of cabinet and modernize the act to allow for more flexibility. The current act allows for 35 cabinet positions, including the position of the prime minister. The bill would amend the act to include five additional titled cabinet positions, which are the minister of la Francophonie, minister of small business and tourism, minister of science, minister of status of women, and minister of sport and persons with disabilities.
The bill would also add three new untitled positions to provide flexibility to structure future ministries to reflect the priorities of the government without resorting to minister of state appointments. These changes would not impact the Ministries and Ministers of State Act. Minister of state appointments would remain an option at the discretion of the prime minister. As the Minister of Employment mentioned earlier, allowing us to make these changes would actually provide flexibility for the current and future governments to be able to appoint ministers to various positions depending on the priorities of the government of the day.
Why are we doing this? We want to make sure there is a one-tier cabinet and not have two tiers of cabinet ministers. We want to make sure we only have one tier, and not have senior and junior cabinet ministers. Everybody within our cabinet would be at the same level. Therefore, it would just be ministers working very hard to deliver results for all Canadians. We also want to update the Salaries Act to modernize it, in addition to formally equalizing the status of the government's ministerial team. We want to recognize the equality of cabinet members, and this bill would allow us to do so.
As I mentioned, we would add five additional positions, and I would like to speak specifically to one of them more directly.
I am very proud that we have a Minister of Small Business and Tourism. It is of great importance to Davenport residents that we are putting a huge emphasis on small businesses. We are very proud of the fact that we are reducing the small business tax from 11% to 9%. It will move to 10% at the beginning of January 2018 and then move to 9% at the beginning of 2019. We are very proud about that and all the support we are providing to small businesses.
In addition, there is a wonderful emphasis on tourism as well. Just last week, I was very proud to attend the Canadian Tourism Awards. A group within my riding, SESQUI, won one of the Canadian Tourism Awards. I was very proud to be there to honour them, and the Minister of Small Business and Tourism was there as well. I want to give a shout-out to both Joanne Loton and Andrea Stewart of SESQUI, who won a Canadian Tourism Award. I am very proud of them.
The Minister of Employment mentioned this, but I think it is important to highlight the fact that our government has a very strong feminist agenda. One of our first acts when we came into office, as everyone knows, was to put into place a gender-equal cabinet. We are all very proud of that, and this bill would help to formally equalize all the positions within that cabinet.
I am also very proud of some of the additional steps we have taken. One of the other steps we have taken is to add a gender lens into our budget process in 2017. It is the first time in Canadian history that this was done. Our Minister of Finance is stepping it up and has started consultations with a number of groups. I was at one of the consultations in Toronto to talk about what the next level is in addition to the gender lens. How can we do better in budget 2018? I was very proud that I was part of those discussions that took place in Toronto less than two weeks ago.
Just so people know, by adding a gender lens into the budget process, what we are essentially doing is asking every department to put on a gender lens whenever they make proposals for budget 2018. One of the statements our Minister of Finance made during our consultation with a number of groups in Toronto was that he has told every cabinet member they should only be coming with proposals for budget 2018 if they have applied a gender lens. I very much appreciate the importance he has put on the gender budget lens moving forward. I very much appreciate that he has met with a number of feminist organizations and organizations that work on issues affecting women and girls, both in Canada and abroad. Our 2018 budget will be stronger for it.
I also want to talk for a minute about pay equity legislation. I was sitting in the House and listening to some of the questions, and I know there is great anxiety, which is very well placed, about the fact that we still do not have pay equity in this country. I was very blessed about a year ago to be asked to join the special committee looking at pay equity legislation at the federal level. Unfortunately, we did not have pay equity legislation at the national level. We put a committee in place to look into it. We actually made very strong recommendations, and the title of the report is “It's Time to Act”.
I know that the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour is about to introduce pay equity legislation at the national level. I very much look forward to that. It is very much based on the hard work the committee did, as well as all other groups and advocates who have been pushing for this for a very long time. It is way past the time that we should be addressing this issue, and I will be very happy when that actually comes into place.
Personally, I am also trying to see what more I can do in terms of larger society and how we, as a national government, can help to ensure that more women get into senior leadership roles, not only in politics but also in business, in addition to ensuring we do everything we can to close the gap around pay equity outside the federal government system.
We have done a lot of really great things. We have a lot more steps to take, a long way to go, but we are making progress. We should be very proud of the steps we have taken.
I want to mention a couple of other things I am very proud of in terms of our feminist agenda. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Minister of International Trade have all talked about how they have incorporated the feminist agenda into each of their portfolios. Our Minister of International Development has incorporated the emphasis we are making in terms of the dollars we are giving to organizations abroad, and it is very much focused on women and girls around the world. There is a particular emphasis as well in some of the humanitarian assistance we are giving in the Rohingya state and the situation happening outside Myanmar right now.
I know our Minister of International Trade would say he is very proud we have a gender equity chapter that is part of the Canada–Chile trade agreement. It was a historic agreement from that perspective, and that set the stage for more of these types of chapters to be added to future trade agreements as we move along.
Lastly, I was very proud when our Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated to the world, to Canadians, and to all of us that she is promoting Canada to take on a very strong role to ensure we have more female peacekeepers in the world. By adding more women, we think it will be the next way that Canada can take a leadership role in peacekeeping in the world.
I see that my time has ended. I want to thank this House for allowing me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the residents of Davenport.