Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2

A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, 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 March 22, 2017 budget by

(a) removing the classification of the costs of drilling a discovery well as “Canadian exploration expenses”;

(b) eliminating the ability for small oil and gas companies to reclassify up to $1 million of “Canadian development expenses” as “Canadian exploration expenses”;

(c) revising the anti-avoidance rules for registered education savings plans and registered disability savings plans;

(d) eliminating the use of billed-basis accounting by designated professionals;

(e) providing enhanced tax treatment for eligible geothermal energy equipment;

(f) extending the base erosion rules to foreign branches of Canadian insurers;

(g) clarifying who has factual control of a corporation for income tax purposes;

(h) introducing an election that would allow taxpayers to mark to market their eligible derivatives;

(i) introducing a specific anti-avoidance rule that targets straddle transactions;

(j) allowing tax-deferred mergers of switch corporations into multiple mutual fund trusts and allowing tax-deferred mergers of segregated funds; and

(k) enhancing the protection of ecologically sensitive land donated to conservation charities and broadening the types of donations permitted.

It also implements other income tax measures by

(a) closing loopholes surrounding the capital gains exemption on the sale of a principal residence;

(b) providing additional authority for certain tax purposes to nurse practitioners;

(c) ensuring that qualifying farmers and fishers selling to agricultural and fisheries cooperatives are eligible for the small business deduction;

(d) extending the types of reverse takeover transactions to which the corporate acquisition of control rules apply;

(e) improving the consistency of rules applicable for expenditures in respect of scientific research and experimental development;

(f) ensuring that the taxable income of federal credit unions is allocated among provinces and territories using the same allocation formula as applicable to the taxable income of banks;

(g) ensuring the appropriate application of Canada’s international tax rules; and

(h) improving the accuracy and consistency of the income tax legislation and regulations.

Part 2 implements certain goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) measures confirmed in the March 22, 2017 budget by

(a) introducing clarifications and technical improvements to the GST/HST rules applicable to certain pension plans and financial institutions;

(b) revising the GST/HST rules applicable to pension plans so that they apply to pension plans that use master trusts or master corporations;

(c) revising and modernizing the GST/HST drop shipment rules to enhance the effectiveness of these rules and introduce technical improvements;

(d) clarifying the application of the GST/HST to supplies of municipal transit services to accommodate the modern ways in which those services are provided and paid for; and

(e) introducing housekeeping amendments to improve the accuracy and consistency of the GST/HST legislation.

It also implements a GST/HST measure announced on September 8, 2017 by revising the timing requirements for GST/HST rebate applications by public service bodies.

Part 3 amends the Excise Act to ensure that beer made from concentrate on the premises where it is consumed is taxed in a manner that is consistent with other beer products.

Part 4 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to allow the Minister of Finance on behalf of the Government of Canada, with the approval of the Governor in Council, to enter into coordinated cannabis taxation agreements with provincial governments. It also amends that Act to make related amendments.

Part 5 enacts and amends several Acts in order to implement various measures.

Division 1 of Part 5 amends the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act to update and clarify certain powers of the Minister of Finance in relation to the Bretton Woods institutions.

Division 2 of Part 5 enacts the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Agreement Act which provides the required authority for Canada to become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Division 3 of Part 5 provides for the transfer from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the responsibility for three international development financing agreements entered into between Her Majesty in Right of Canada and the International Finance Corporation.

Division 4 of Part 5 amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to clarify the treatment of, and protections for, eligible financial contracts in a bank resolution process. It also makes consequential amendments to the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act.

Division 5 of Part 5 amends the Bank of Canada Act to specify that the Bank of Canada may make loans or advances to members of the Canadian Payments Association that are secured by real property or immovables situated in Canada and to allow such loans and advances to be secured by way of an assignment or transfer of a right, title or interest in real property or immovables situated in Canada. It also amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to specify that the Bank of Canada and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation are exempt from stays even where obligations are secured by real property or immovables.

Division 6 of Part 5 amends the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act in order to expand and enhance the oversight powers of the Bank of Canada by further strengthening the Bank’s ability to identify and respond to risks to financial market infrastructures in a proactive and timely manner.

Division 7 of Part 5 amends the Northern Pipeline Act to permit the Northern Pipeline Agency to annually recover from any company with a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued under that Act an amount equal to the costs incurred by that Agency with respect to that company.

Division 8 of Part 5 amends the Canada Labour Code in order to, among other things,

(a) provide employees with a right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers;

(b) provide employees with a family responsibility leave for a maximum of three days, a leave for victims of family violence for a maximum of ten days and a leave for traditional Aboriginal practices for a maximum of five days; and

(c) modify certain provisions related to work schedules, overtime, annual vacation, general holidays and bereavement leave, in order to provide greater flexibility in work arrangements.

Division 9 of Part 5 amends the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 to repeal the paragraph 167(1.‍2)‍(b) of the Canada Labour Code that it enacts, and to amend the related regulation-making provisions accordingly.

Division 10 of Part 5 approves and implements the Canadian Free Trade Agreement entered into by the Government of Canada and the governments of each province and territory to reduce or eliminate barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments. It also makes related amendments to the Energy Efficiency Act in order to facilitate, with respect to energy-using products or classes of energy-using products, the harmonization of requirements set out in regulations with those of a jurisdiction. Finally, it makes consequential amendments to the Financial Administration Act, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations and it repeals the Timber Marking Act and the Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act.

Division 11 of Part 5 amends the Judges Act

(a) to allow for the payment of annuities, in certain circumstances, to judges and their survivors and children, other than by way of grant of the Governor in Council;

(b) to authorize the payment of salaries to the new Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta; and

(c) to change the title of “senior judge” to “chief justice” for the superior trial courts of the territories.

It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Division 12 of Part 5 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to increase the maximum amount of the paid-in capital of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Division 13 of Part 5 amends the Financial Administration Act to authorize, in an increased number of cases, the entering into of contracts or other arrangements that provide for a payment if there is a sufficient balance to discharge any debt that will be due under them during the fiscal year in which they are entered into.

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. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Dec. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Dec. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Dec. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Dec. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 28, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 28, 2017 Failed Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures (report stage amendment)
Nov. 28, 2017 Failed Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures (report stage amendment)
Nov. 28, 2017 Passed Tme allocation for Bill ,
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures
Nov. 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-63, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support private sector investment in infrastructure in a way that puts the risk on the investor, and that is exactly what Conservatives did in government. We created infrastructure deals that ensured that the investor would suffer the losses in the event that the project went over budget or revenue came in below expectations. That is exactly how public-private partnerships should work. In fact, the only real benefit to having a public-private partnership is to shift risk off the taxpayer and onto the private sector investor. What, in fact, the government is doing is exactly the opposite. It is shifting the risk off the investor and onto the taxpayer, and that is what we oppose.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for another exceptional speech here in the House. I would ask him to elaborate a little on the finance minister's invitation to go to out to the lobby and restate what he suggested were allegations that did not refer at all to the fact that they were facts and questions. The other half of that invitation was that if my colleague did, and he did and the finance minister did not accompany him, he would face the full weight of the law and the legal proceedings that the minister's great wealth would enable.

I wonder if my colleague could speak about the fact that the threats that have been made from the Prime Minister and the finance minister, and the legal chill that they are trying to impose on the questions that are being legitimately, logically, and democratically asked in the House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the minister is in fact trying to use his prodigious wealth to silence his critics. There is no question about that. I have stated facts and asked questions on the floor of the House of Commons, which I have repeated outside the House. However, the minister, instead of just answering them here, has said that he wants to sue people who ask those questions.

In the House, we are equal regardless of the wealth that we inherited or brought to this place. We are all equal in our ability to conduct debate, to ask questions, and demand accountability, and that is all that we have sought from the minister. Unfortunately, he has made problems so much worse for himself through his absolute unwillingness to answer the most basic questions on the floor of the House of Commons or anywhere else. He has had all week to do it, he fails to do it, and instead he goes around using the Bay Street tactic of threatening lawsuits against anybody who disagrees with him.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Carleton has introduced a new phrase into our lexicon today: “political malpractice”. It is fascinating. He also said that the Minister of Finance is using prodigious wealth to silence people.

However, I recall that very member on the government benches day after day refusing to answer direct questions about a certain Mr. Nigel Wright, who I do think had prodigious wealth and wrote a cheque arguably to silence someone. How does he feel about that instance today?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think a lot of people are looking back on those quaint old times in the previous government when people had to resign because they spent $16 on a glass of orange juice, or because they, on behalf of a constituent, called a quasi-judicial body in order to try to help a constituent with a problem. Those were the days when ministers held themselves to the highest possible ethical standards. Now we live in an era where a minister can own shares secretly in a company that he regulates, introduce a bill on pensions when he owns a pension company, and where that minister can actually tell us that it is illegitimate to question his sale of shares right before introducing a tax measure. Times have changed for the worse.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, here we are once again with a budget implementation bill that fails to honour the Liberals' commitment to refrain from using omnibus bills inappropriately. In fact, the Chair decided to allow separate votes on some aspects of the bill.

Furthermore, there is the matter of time allocation. Once again, here we are at third reading of the bill, and we will only have two and a half hours to debate it. This is completely unacceptable, since the budget is one of the most important duties of government and parliamentarians. The government's frequent, or even constant, use of time-allocation and closure motions is completely unacceptable, in light of the promises it made during the election campaign. It is disappointing to see that the government is yet again proceeding in this fashion.

Let us come back to the substance of the bill. Often, when it comes to a budget and the budget implementation bill, you could say the devil is in the details. It is important to take a good look at what is in the budget and what is not in the budget, or what the government did not do. On that point, I will focus on something extremely important. I already raised it in a question that I asked the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance, and that is the issue of tax credits that keeps coming up.

Hon. members will recall one of the first promises the NDP made before the election campaign even began. It was when we quietly started talking about the measures that we were going to propose during the campaign. We mentioned this infamous loophole that allows CEOs to benefit from a tax credit on the purchase of shares in their own company. That is an extremely problematic loophole. Obviously those who benefit from it are very well off. This situation is all the more infuriating when we consider that the government eliminated other tax credits.

I realize that some of the previous government's tax credits fall under what is called boutique tax credits. Those are tax credits that truly target very specific areas or specific people and are not always very effective.

However, gone is the public transit tax credit, which benefited families, students, and those middle-class Canadians that the government says it wants to stand up for and design its policies around. The fact that the CEO loophole stays intact while the public transit tax credit gets axed shows that there is a gap between what the government says it wants to do and what actually happens in real life.

One of the most problematic aspects of this bill is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is related to another major file we looked at with the first budget implementation bill, namely the Canada infrastructure bank. We have heard very little about it since then.

There have been many debates on this subject in the House of Commons. Our biggest concern is that it is really a bank designed to privatize public infrastructure. It invests public money and then asks the private sector to invest. However, these investments come with conditions, and those conditions are extremely dangerous.

The public will be paying for infrastructure that the private sector will be asked to invest in. The public will then have to pay again, through tolls, for example, and will have to bear the entire financial burden of maintaining this infrastructure.

This is very worrisome. The Liberals support this approach. We know that these contracts will not benefit small or even medium-sized communities, which need infrastructure badly, as do municipalities. Instead, they will of course benefit the Liberals' Bay Street friends and representatives of investment companies like BlackRock, who attend closed-door meetings with the government about the development of this infrastructure bank.

We now see that approach continuing with this bill, which allows the Minister of Finance to invest $480 million of Canadian taxpayers' money in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

This is very troubling because there are risks to the sovereignty of our infrastructure. It also lets them claim that the more than $200 million allocated by the government has doubled. That amount will now be $480 million. This is a very troubling situation.

We can also see what is missing from all of this. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about local issues, issues back home, issues that affect the riding of Beloeil—Chambly.

In the last election campaign, one of the most important issues was whether we were going to get a commitment from the government. In fact, I made a commitment that if the NDP were to form government, we would change the law to resolve disputes between the federal government and many municipalities. Let me explain. This has to do with certain sites that are federal government property, such as Fort Chambly and the Chambly Canal in my riding.

The Supreme Court ruled on this a few years ago in Halifax (Regional Municipality) v. Canada (Public Works and Government Services). In that case, the City of Halifax and other municipalities involved in the matter argued that the federal government was not paying its fair share in lieu of taxes. Indeed, the federal government does not pay municipal taxes on land that it owns.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court agreed that the government was not paying its fair share. At the time, the federal government offered to create an advisory panel to help the decision-making process, in order to obtain an accurate assessment of the value of the sites and to ensure that the payments meet the municipalities' expectations.

The problem is that the advisory panel was made up of bureaucrats, and what it said was basically that if a municipality like Chambly did not agree with the federal government's decision with respect to the assessment of a site it owns, such as the fort and the canal, the government would just lob the ball to other bureaucrats, who would essentially make the same decision.

The bill I introduced in the last Parliament, which I reintroduced at the beginning of this one, would set up an independent assessment process to get it out of the hands of the governments involved in these disputes. We need independent assessment. As we saw in Chambly, the city commissioned an independent assessment to determine the fair value of the property.

This is something that really worries me. Why? During the last election campaign and during the debate that took place in Chambly, we got all of the other candidates to sign on to that commitment. That was at my insistence. If any other candidate, including the Liberal candidate, had won, he or she would have done the same thing.

Right now, we have a Liberal government that has not taken any action on this despite our repeated requests or the bill I introduced. We are talking about $500,000 a year for Chambly. For a city with a population of about 30,000, $500,000 is a big deal.

Not only is this a way for the federal government to pay its fair share, but it is also a way to make more resources available for cities so that they can offer services for residents, such as public transit, which is a free service in Chambly.

I am raising this issue because I think that introducing a budget implementation bill like this one that changes all sorts of provisions constitutes an opportunity to change the law so that Public Works and Government Services Canada is required to conduct an independent assessment when there is a conflict between a municipality and a city like Chambly.

Speaking of Chambly, there is another aspect of this bill that I find very worrisome and it has to do with infrastructure. The government and the minister responsible made announcements in Montreal and the greater Montreal area about the REM light rail project, which is extremely important for the city's suburbs, particularly the second tier of suburbs, which includes my riding.

However, there is a caveat. We realize that certain aspects of the file need to be discussed in order to ensure that the project is completed while fully respecting the people and the municipalities. A very important request was made by the mayors of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Chambly, and here I appeal to my colleague, the Liberal member for Saint-Jean. They would like the rail network to be extended so it can properly serve the residents of the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu region and the Chambly basin.

In its current form, the project will create horrific traffic jams on highways 30 and 10. It is also important to consider urban spread and population growth in areas like mine. Naturally, we are happy that people want to move to our area and start a family. That is important, because the trend is towards population aging, and we are seeing more and more young families in our neighbourhoods.

In 2011, Marieville, one of the municipalities in my riding, was one of the top three municipalities in Quebec for population growth. In 2012, two municipalities in my riding, one of which is no longer part of my riding, ranked among the five Quebec municipalities with the highest birth rates. Furthermore, in the last Parliament, my riding was the third most populous federal riding in Quebec, thanks to its relatively young population, which ran counter to the trend.

At a meeting with members of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, or FECQ, I learned that the only CEGEPs in Quebec that will not see a drop in student numbers are those that serve the greater Montérégie area and Montreal, particularly the Saint-Hyacinthe and Édouard-Montpetit CEGEPs.

Given that more and more people are living and working in my riding, but sometimes also work in Montreal, it is extremely important to have a good public transit system. When it comes to the REM, one of the biggest projects ever proposed, the government must show some respect for communities and municipalities like Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Chambly. These municipalities are making a very specific request. Not only do they want their residents to be well served, but they also want to ensure that traffic will not increase on the roads used by the people I represent. That is extremely important.

I can say today in the House that we are going to continue to call upon the ministers responsible to ensure that they are listening. I am talking about this during the debate on the budget implementation bill because, although the government says that it is providing funding, funding is not enough. Respect and project implementation are also important. Of course, that will require full and effective co-operation with the Government of Quebec and municipalities like Chambly and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

There is good news, too, but not thanks to the government. I am very pleased to say that the good news stems from the hard work of our team, my counterparts in the National Assembly, and municipal elected officials. I am talking about the Beloeil pool. Enough people signed the registry to hold a referendum about building a pool, and the outcome was positive.

The subject also came up during two election campaigns in Beloeil, including the one that just ended. It even came up during the federal and Quebec elections in 2015, because people wanted to be sure the money would be available for this infrastructure project, which is very important to the community and to the young families I mentioned earlier.

I sat down with the mayor of Beloeil, Diane Lavoie, and my National Assembly counterpart, Simon Jolin-Barrette, and we came up with a joint game plan to make sure we got the money. We got the Government of Quebec and the federal government to commit to paying equal shares amounting to $9 million to build the new aquatics centre.

Given the parliamentary budget officer's findings and other things we have heard, and given that the government has had difficulty allocating money and spending it on infrastructure, it should not be congratulating itself for this type of bill. The local stakeholders are the ones who should be congratulated. It takes a tremendous amount of work jumping through endless bureaucratic hoops to get the money we are owed. A city such as Beloeil has a robust public sector. However, we can only imagine what it must be like for smaller municipalities, which have part-time staff, for example, and even part-time elected officials. This is not a criticism; their reality is a function of their population, demographics, and resources.

In this context, we can imagine the challenges they face when it is so difficult for the federal government to negotiate bilateral agreements and, on top of that, to spend the money. That is why I give credit to local stakeholders. I am proud to have worked with them to make this project a reality, because it will be a great asset to our community.

As I only have a few minutes left, I would like to conclude with the following remarks.

The government is patting itself on the back and saying that its plan is working, highlighting the numbers that came out on employment. However, the fact remains that social and economic inequalities are as present as ever in our society. We must address them. Simply sitting back and saying that the unemployment rate is at such and such a level is not enough, because that rate does not accurately reflect the government's record. The government's record is better reflected in the quality of jobs, as well as the level of inequality in our society. In that regard, the government still has a lot of work to do.

I talked about some extremely important local files, not to mention all the other files that need to be addressed, including tax evasion. The government merely identified billions of dollars that is missing from its coffers, rather than actually going after and recuperating it. It refuses to change the tax laws and treaties that mean that taxpayers who pay their fair share are essentially being cheated by the wealthy and by large corporations that are guilty of tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Despite what the minister says, this is not a priority. When it is time to table a budget, these are the types of priorities a government must have if it truly wants to address inequality and have the necessary resources to tackle the big projects that I mentioned in my speech. The government has a lot of work to do.

Speaking of inequalities, I want to use my last remaining minute to mention another group that I have had the pleasure of working with in my capacity as public safety critic. They are known as the no-fly list kids. They did not get any money in the spring budget and were hoping to get money this time around.

All the legislative measures in the world will not get us a proper redress system without the necessary money. When we see the problems with Shared Services Canada and the Phoenix pay system, we are not very confident that a computer system can be implemented without adequate funding. However, I am an eternal optimist, and I hope to see something different this spring.

As hon. members can see, there is a lot to say. I look forward to hearing my colleagues' questions, but also to seeing the next budget. I hope that the government will do the right thing and actually have something tangible to boast about, instead of just half measures.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my admiration for the hon. member, who has covered a massive range of subjects in his 20 minutes, some of which are actually related to the bill before us.

I want to bring him back to his comments about his riding, which apparently is a younger riding, to ask him about a subject that he did not cover but I think would be of considerable benefit to him, which is the Canada child benefit. After his conversation about boutique tax credits, tax cuts, and things of that nature, does he in fact believe that the Canada child benefit is possibly the most revolutionary and effective way to get money into the hands of families who will actually use it? That is my first question, from a theoretical and policy standpoint, as it were.

The second question is whether he knows the amount of Canada child benefit money that has gone into his riding from the inception of that benefit in July 2016 to its first fiscal year-end of June 30, 2017.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who chairs the committee I sit on, for his questions.

First, it is interesting that he used the term “revolutionary”, because, as a Quebecker, when I think of measures that could be implemented to help families and expand the job market, especially for women, I think of the implementation of Quebec's child care program.

I would be very pleased to see a similar system become established across the country. It would be a good start because until child care services become affordable and even if we make all the investments possible, it comes down to one way that families can have this growing need met.

With respect to families in my riding that may or may not have received these government benefits, I would like to speak about the Canada Revenue Agency. One of the Auditor General's reports informs us that the agency never answers telephone calls and, when it does, it provides false or wrong information 30% of the time. Thus, the people in my riding who would like to take advantage of certain tax measures will find it very difficult to do so.

I would like the government to resolve these problems. When it is time for taxpayers to pay their taxes and try to claim certain credits, we expect the agency to help them and to let them claim the credits rather than helping those interested in evading taxes.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was probably a few weeks ago that I received a call from someone who lives up in northern Canada. They had seen a couple of TV newscasts, and the first one was about how the government was putting up heated tents at the borders for people entering the country illegally. Then the budget implementation act was tabled, with almost half a billion dollars going to the Asian infrastructure bank. He was so angry. It broke his heart. He said there are people up in the north who are freezing and homeless, and yet the government is providing shelter at our borders and half a billion dollars for an infrastructure bank overseas. He asked, “What about us?”

Does my colleague perhaps share some of the concerns of this person who called my office and is so angry about what is happening?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can address some of the concerns related to the files my colleague listed. In fact, I thank her for the question.

Let us start with the situation at the border that she mentioned. That is definitely a file that concerns me as the NDP public safety critic. One of the concerns raised by the union representing border officers is the lack of human resources. This summer saw a completely unacceptable situation when these people were pushed to the extreme by their workload.

I know these men and women to be extremely devoted. The government has to do its part to help them by providing them with the resources they need to deal with the current situation. This is an example where the government could have truly helped workers on the ground deal with a situation stemming from a policy issued by our neighbours to the south, among other things.

My colleague also talked about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This ties in with the government's proposed infrastructure bank, something we have not heard so much about lately. Our main concern has to do with the fact that the government is going to use taxpayers' money, public money, to fund projects that will benefit only the well off and private businesses. What is more, taxpayers will be asked to pay for this bank not once, but twice through tolls and fees. I think that is unacceptable. I doubt it is acceptable to the person my colleague was talking about or to my constituents.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the riding I represent, Nanaimo—Ladysmith, the cancellation of the public transit tax credit is a double whammy. It is affecting not only the people riding transit and who are now not able to claim it against income tax at the end of the year, but also ferry-dependent communities, such as Gabriola Island, where I live, including students and workers there. People used to be able to get back a bit of the fares they paid as a tax credit, which is particularly important for us in British Columbia after the former provincial Liberal government instituted a user-pay regime that shot fares up by 120% in some communities, way beyond the pace of inflation.

I would like to hear more from my colleague about the financial impact on the ground of this cancellation, and the message it sends to Canadians that a tax credit to encourage use of public transit has been cancelled by the Liberal government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Interestingly, when I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance about this, he said that in order to benefit from a tax credit, people need to pay income tax and therefore need to have a certain level of income. Basically, he is right.

When I was the sports critic for the official opposition, at the time, I often asked the government questions, either in writing or in the House, about the effectiveness of tax credits for certain sports, since some sports require a certain level of investment and therefore a certain level of income.

However, when it comes to public transit, we know that many people who have a very modest income, but enough of an income to pay taxes, use public transit regularly or for other reasons, as my colleague mentioned. Those people could benefit from such a tax credit. This is not just about students and commuters going to work. It could also include the families of students who still live at home.

When I finished high school, I took public transit and still lived at home. My mother was a teacher and had a modest income, but she helped me pay for my monthly pass, and she benefited from that tax credit. That is an excellent example that illustrates that the middle class, which this government says it wants to help, will pay the price for this tax credit being eliminated. As my colleague put it so well, public transit is good for the environment, and we want to do everything we can to encourage people to use it. Eliminating this tax credit does the exact opposite.

Lastly, when the Liberals leave a tax credit in place that helps corporate CEOs as well as a loophole to facilitate the sale of shares, this shows that their priorities are not in the right place.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by suggesting something that would be absolutely fantastic for Canadians, that when the government makes investments, we should put aside partisanship and politics and acknowledge and give credit where good investments for Canadians have been made. Canadians, overall, would really appreciate this. In fact, I think they are yearning for it.

I know that the member spoke about the importance of transit investments. Our government made a commitment to invest over $180 billion in infrastructure, of which transit is a part. We believe these investments will be very good for Canadians and are much needed.

I would ask the member across, first, if he would agree that we could, when a government is making good investments, put partisanship aside and give credit where credit is due in the interests of Canadians and, second, whether he thinks that the unprecedented investments we have made in infrastructure are good investments.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I agree with her in principle, but what I have a problem with is when the Liberals make announcements without inviting certain members, or when they tell us that we can announce something in the local media but that we absolutely have to use a press release that highlights the name of the minister, the minister's party, and the fact that this is a source of pride for the government without giving any credit to the local stakeholders who did the work.

When it comes to public transit, we have noticed that things seem to be done by region. Funding is allocated based on the number of users, which puts some people who need public transit at a disadvantage.

In closing, I would like to say that we are the only G7 country that does not have a national, in our case a pan-Canadian, public transportation strategy, as proposed by our former colleague Olivia Chow and others. We need this type of strategy so that we can tighten up the financial criteria, rather than just throwing money out the window and hoping to get the intended results.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

December 1st, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to follow my colleague, who is a very able contributor to the public safety and emergency preparedness committee. I did not agree with everything he had to say, but nevertheless there was sufficient there to be helpful in this debate.

I also want to inform members that I will be splitting my time with the member for Joliette.

I will focus my remarks over the course of these few minutes on the issue of the Canada child benefit and discuss it in a kind of larger context.

The Government of Canada raises revenues somewhere in the order north of $300 billion. All of that money comes in, and then it is largely distributed to various benefits and programs. The biggest chunk of that money is distributed back to provinces. After that, it is distributed to individuals, such as seniors who get the Canada pension, and various other programs, which members are quite familiar with. It then comes down to the money that the government can actually control, because most of that money is spoken for, if you will, upon its arrival in the coffers of the federal government.

Within that pool of money that the government can direct, there is obviously program spending, such as the Department of Defence, which is somewhere in the order of about $20 billion and is far and away the largest program spending that this government has. Then we get into some other nuances, and we have this discussion as to the best way to use funds in order to benefit Canadians. Some will argue that tax cuts are the best, and clearly tax cuts are the best for those who have the highest margins of taxable income. Clearly, in order to be able to benefit from a tax cut, one has to have a taxable income. Therefore, those who are in the high margins benefit the most from tax cuts. Then we have this beast called a tax credit. Again, one has to have taxable income in order to benefit from a tax credit. It is a contribution, if you will, to those tax credits. Usually they are kind of targeted tax credits, which are sometimes called “boutique tax credits”, and they are a bit hit and miss. Then we have kind of a refundable tax credit where, if one does not have a taxable income, money goes back.

However, the ones I want to talk about today are benefits. Some benefits, and this was particularly true of the previous government, are taxable benefits. For example, the government sends a person $100, that has to be declared, and it is taxed at whatever one's marginal rate might be. The revolutionary concept here with this government has been that it introduced the Canada child benefit, a non-taxable benefit, which has become an enormous amount of money that has gone into the hands of Canadians directly.

The government is always fond of speaking in large numbers. The problem with speaking in large numbers is that it does not give a feel as to how much money is really going into our pockets. Most taxpayers want to know how it affects them. Therefore, on the larger number in the 2016 budget, for instance, a family with two children with an income of $90,000 received $2,500 more per year than they would have under the previous system. This is a significant sum of money.

However, what struck me, and why I wanted to talk about this particular subject, was that I received a memorandum a few weeks ago that set out the amount of money that has come into my own riding from the Canada child benefit. This is why I asked the previous speaker whether he knew about that amount of money.

On average, the size of a riding is in the order of about 100,000 people. Some are a little more than that, some a little less, but that is a rough average. Between July 1, 2016, when the benefit was introduced, and June 30, 2017, a sum of $101,629 million came into my riding. That is a lot of money in one 12-month segment. It is by far the biggest payment of funds received by my constituents, literally in years. I think that all members would be interested in knowing how much money has come into their ridings as well.

The point is that this money goes into the pockets of families with children. It is a cheque that arrives in their bank account. It is money that goes directly back into the economy.

I looked around for a study to arrive at a kind of economic multiplier, such as the one that applies to a tax cut. How much money does a tax cut actually generate to stimulate the GDP? However, I could not find a multiplier effect on GDP for the Canada child benefit. It is not that it does not exist, I simply could not find it. If we compare this to other forms of monies that the federal government returns to taxpayers, this is possibly one of the most effective ways to stimulate the economy.

Statistics Canada announced today that the unemployment rate is down to 5.9% and that 80,000 jobs were created in the last month. That is not insignificant. It is interesting to me, and it would be an economist's paradise to try to correlate the Canada child benefit and the amount of money that goes directly into the economy, the rise in economic productivity, and the increase in GDP. This is possibly the most direct way to stimulate the Canadian economy, by putting money into the hands of people with children.

There was an American study which dealt with a tax credit. It stated that the first half of monies are spent on groceries, child expenses, and furniture. Therefore, if $100 came into the bank account of a person receiving this benefit, the first half would go to groceries, child expenses, and furniture, while the second half would go to paying past-due bills and asset building, such as saving money for education. That does put a lie to those who say that all it does is create dependencies, etc.

I would suggest that the single most significant economic initiative by the government has been the Canada child benefit. I was heartened in the past week to hear the Prime Minister announce the housing benefit, which is, in some respects, a parallel benefit, as it puts money directly into the hands of those who need it. That is the most important economic stimulus that we can do as a government and a nation.