Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague from the east coast from the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. It is great to see him in the House this morning.
It is great to be back in the House this morning and to hear some of the debate. It is not so great to hear the level of discourse coming from members on the other side, the opposition benches, where they will stay for a very long time if they continue as such. I say that through you, Mr. Speaker, to my friend from Carleton, who I sit on the finance committee with.
Bill C-82, an act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty-related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting, is one of those international accords we can all applaud. We can also applaud the tax cut for nine million Canadians, which brought about $20 billion in tax savings over a four-year period, or about $550 per year per couple. To a working couple benefiting from our tax cut for middle-class Canadians, $550 is a substantial amount of money. It helps pay for many activities for their kids. It helps put gas in their vehicle and to buy groceries and so forth. It is too bad the Conservatives voted against that, and I think they need to be held to account for that. It is too bad they also voted against the Canada child benefit, which benefits nine out of 10 Canadian families, representing an average of $2,300 more. In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, I consistently hear about how the Canada child benefit is helping families fund their kids' day-to-day activities.
It was also noted about what is called “refundable” or “non-refundable” tax credits. A lot of the boutique tax credits the opposition party member referenced in his comments were ones working middle-class Canadians could not take advantage of because they did not have taxes payable, and only benefited wealthier working Canadians. It is a little fact that was missed.
Turning to Bill C-82, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said the following:
The conclusion of this multilateral instrument marks a new turning point in tax treaty history. We are moving towards rapid implementation of the far-reaching reforms agreed under the BEPS Project in more than 1,200 tax treaties worldwide. In addition to saving the signatories form the burden of bilaterally renegotiating these treaties, the Convention will result in more certainty and predictability for businesses and a better functioning international tax system for the benefit of our citizens.
Bill C-82 basically follows our government agenda from budget 2016. In chapter 8, we talked about making our tax system fairer, simpler, more efficient and also ensuring all organizations, enterprises and high net worth individuals follow the tax rules that everyday businesses and people in my riding follow. It is great to see Bill C-82 come to the House for approval, and it is great to see our party is shepherding this as quickly as possible.
On a personal note, I sat on the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants user advisory council for a number of years. I understand full well the importance of working with our international partners at various accounting institutions in the world, and also with our partners for multilateral purposes, including the base erosion and profit shifting deal.
To give an indication of the annual losses that are occurring, the OECD estimates 10% of global corporate taxing income, or approximately $100 billion to $240 billion is lost, where little or no overall corporate tax is being paid. This agreement is far-reaching. Working together in the OECD G20 BEPS project, over 60 countries developed 15 actions to tackle tax avoidance, improve the coherence of international tax rules and ensure a more transparent tax environment. Leaders of OECD and G20 countries, as well as other leaders, urge the timely implementation of this comprehensive BEPS package.
That information comes right from the document I was reading over the weekend on the multilateral convention to implement tax treaty-related measures to prevent BEPS from OECD. I encourage my colleagues to read it because it is an interesting document.
It pertains to our economy and ensuring we have a strong middle class and that we continue to help those who are working hard to join the middle class. It pertains to ensuring that all corporations in Canada with operations in the world and vice versa, those foreign entities that operate in Canada domestically, pay their fair share, much like all our residents do in each of our ridings. With that, it is great to stand up and speak to Bill C-82.
Taxes paid by Canadians are what fund the programs and services that make our country thrive. When the wealthy use international tax avoidance schemes to avoid paying what they owe, it is the hard-working middle class, those folks in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, who foot the bill. That is unacceptable.
Tax fairness continues to be a cornerstone of our government's promise to Canadians to grow a stronger middle class. In each of our three budgets, the government has passed laws on both the international and domestic fronts to enhance the integrity of Canada's tax system and give greater confidence that the system is fair for everyone. I encourage some of the opposition folks here this morning to look at our budgets. They are actually great documents that pertain to tax fairness for all Canadians, especially with respect to putting in resources. Over $1 billion was invested in the CRA, after those many years of cuts by the Conservatives. The Conservatives are synonymous with cuts to the system and the CRA. We want to ensure that all institutions in Canada are paying their fair share, because we know all hard-working Canadians go to work, pay their fair share of taxes, and want to make sure they create a better standard of living for their families and a better future for their children and for all Canadians.
Since our first budget in 2016, the government has continually strengthened the ability of the CRA to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance with increased funding. This funding has supported transformational changes to the CRA's compliance programs, allowing them to better target those posing the highest risk of tax avoidance, and more effectively fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
Today we take another step toward levelling the playing field and ensuring all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes. With this legislation, the Government of Canada is upping the ante in the fight against aggressive international tax avoidance and safeguarding the government's ability to invest in the programs and services that help the middle class and people working hard to join it. Whether it is putting in place a 10% increase in the guaranteed income supplement for our most vulnerable seniors, increasing the Canada workers benefit for those hard-working Canadians at the lower end, giving them that bump up, that extra few hundred dollars a year to make a big difference in their lives, we are doing those things while ensuring that our tax system is sound, efficient and fair for all Canadians and all Canadian organizations.
Ensuring tax fairness is complex. I know that for a fact because I sat on the CICA user advisory council. Understanding tax and accounting language does require a certain amount of specialization. It requires that we work with a wide range of partners at home and around the world, which is what we have done with the legislation we are debating today.
Bill C-82 would implement treaty-related measures to counter base erosion and profit shifting, also known by its acronym BEPS. This term refers to tax avoidance strategies through which businesses and wealthy individuals can use gaps and loopholes in tax rules to shift profits inappropriately to low-tax or no-tax locations. It would also ensure that transfer pricing is done fairly.
My riding is blessed with entrepreneurs of all different stripes. The city of Vaughan has over 11,000 SMEs. We have some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. I applaud their efforts. I meet with them regularly. I like to listen to what is working to ensure they have the skills and resources for their workers and that they can invest in their Canadian operations, and they are doing that.
That is why our unemployment rate is at a 40-year low. That is why our growth rate is near 3%. That is why firms across the world are choosing Canada to invest in. I am proud of that. However, we also need to make sure that our social programs are funded, that investments are made in early learning, that we enhance the Canada pension plan, that we reduce taxes for nine million Canadians. Yes, we ask those who are very fortunate and privileged in our society, those who are doing well, to pay a bit more. I think that is fair. I wish my colleagues on the opposition benches would appreciate that as well.
With that, I would like to close by saying that Bill C-82 is a good piece of legislation. It concerns an instrument that has recently been ratified by our counterparts, by many European countries, by France, Australia, Singapore, and some of the South Asian countries which have also adopted it in the last few weeks.
It is something that moves the needle forward on combatting aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, which is something good for our society. It makes our society fairer but at the same time allows those companies and corporations that do the right thing day in and day out to make the right decisions for their employees and their employees' families. I will end with that.