Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures

Sponsor

Status

Third reading (House), as of April 14, 2021

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 amends the Income Tax Act to provide additional support to families with young children as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic progresses. It also amends the Children’s Special Allowances Act to provide a similar benefit in respect of young children under that Act. As part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, it amends the Income Tax Act to provide that an expense can qualify as a qualifying rent expense for the purposes of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) when it becomes due rather than when it is paid, provided certain conditions are met.

Part 2 amends the Canada Student Loans Act to provide that, during the period that begins on April 1, 2021 and ends on March 31, 2022, no interest is payable by a borrower on a guaranteed student loan and no amount on account of interest is required to be paid by the borrower.

Part 3 amends the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to provide that, during the period that begins on April 1, 2021 and ends on March 31, 2022, no interest is payable by a borrower on a student loan and no amount on account of interest is required to be paid by the borrower.

Part 4 amends the Apprentice Loans Act to provide that, during the period that begins on April 1, 2021 and ends on March 31, 2022, no interest is payable by a borrower on an apprentice loan and no amount on account of interest is required to be paid by a borrower.

Part 5 amends the Food and Drugs Act to authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations

(a) requiring persons to provide information to the Minister of Health; and

(b) preventing shortages of therapeutic products in Canada or alleviating those shortages or their effects, in order to protect human health.

It also amends that Act to provide that any prescribed provisions of regulations made under that Act apply to food, drugs, cosmetics and devices intended for export that would otherwise be exempt from the application of that Act.

Part 6 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund

(a) to the Government of Canada’s regional development agencies for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund;

(b) in respect of specified initiatives related to health; and

(c) for the purpose of making income support payments under section 4 of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act.

Part 7 amends the Borrowing Authority Act to, among other things, increase the maximum amount of certain borrowings and include certain borrowings that were previously excluded in the calculation of that amount. It also makes a related amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

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

April 15, 2021 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures
March 8, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I will take the opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian public.

The last few months have been a unique time for us all. We are in a pandemic. In the last few days, the situation seems to have become more fraught, and some citizens have been protesting. Here in Canada, the right to protest is a legitimate right, and when a protest is held in a civilized manner, it is respectable. I urge the people who are protesting by causing mayhem, destroying public property, and attacking businesses and restaurants that are really having a hard time and are not responsible for the present situation, to protest in a civil fashion. I would like to ask the Canadian public to follow public health guidelines, not to give up and not to let their guard down. The vaccines are coming. Unfortunately, in Canada, they are very slow in coming, but they are coming. I am asking the Canadian public not to let their guard down, but to keep their spirits up for a few more weeks. Hopefully, it will only be weeks, and not months. As I said, in Canada, the vaccines are slow in coming, but they are coming. I think it is important to point that out.

The current government eagerly dangled the first vaccines in front of Canadians in December in an attempt to dazzle us. To evaluate the government's strategy, we need look no further than our plummeting global ranking. In December, with a few hundred thousand vaccines, we were ranked first or second. After that, it was radio silence. Sure, Canadians got a nice Christmas gift, but then we dropped to second, and now our ranking is plummeting. It was all smoke and mirrors, and we cannot forget that.

We need to look at how we have dropped in the global rankings. It is rather shameful for us, as Canadians, to be in this position. Canada is used to being a leader, but the current government is not showing much leadership here. Canada looks pretty pathetic with just 2% of Canadians having received both doses. By comparison, Great Britain ranks five spots ahead us, with 11% of its citizens having received both doses. Worse yet, 25% of our neighbours in the United States have gotten both vaccinations, which is 12 times our rate. Our Prime Minister says that he has a good strategy, but we must have different definitions of “good”.

What is the Prime Minister's plan to remedy the situation and protect Canadians? I do not know. I do not want to hear that this is because Canada does not manufacture vaccines. That is just an excuse. Look at Chile. It found ways to get vaccines. Chile has one of the highest vaccination rates after Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Today, I am participating in the discussion on Bill C-14, an act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures. This bill establishes the spending power set out in the fall economic statement, amends the Income Tax Act to top up the Canada child benefit, closes the loophole in the second version of the Liberals' legislation on commercial rent assistance, amends the Canada student grants and loans program and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to waive interest on student loans by 2021, amends the Food and Drugs Act to deal with shortages of therapeutic products, and amends the Borrowing Authority Act and the Financial Administration Act to increase the federal government's borrowing limits.

I want to focus on two things. The bill closes the loophole in the second version of the Liberals' legislation on commercial rent assistance, referring to the Canada emergency rent subsidy or CERS.

This is what the government says about the Canada emergency rent subsidy:

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021. This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords. If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

We know that businesses create jobs and bring in revenue for the federal government. They pay taxes and create wealth.

This program has its share of shortcomings. I said as much to the Minister of Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. They both told me that they would resolve the problem. They have a prime opportunity to modify the program.

The program is there to help. In the spring, it was geared to landlords. Renters whose businesses were closed, who were victims, could get a subsidy: 25% from the federal government, 25% from the provincial government, 25% from the landlord and 25% from the renter.

I will give one example among many from my riding. I want to speak for all Canadian businesses that are victims of this rule, and I urge the government to rectify the situation.

The business that owned the closed property qualified for the subsidy. Now, even though the circumstances are the same and the business is the same, only the renter can apply for the CERS, not the property owner. In the example I am talking about, the renter is the son of one of the shareholders in the company that owns the building. Because his father is a shareholder, he is not entitled to the subsidy.

Everywhere we turn, we hear that the current Prime Minister's Liberal government is there to help all Canadians: seniors, youth, families and businesses. I just want to help the government get back on track.

This spring, there was a clause in the program concerning non-arm’s length relationships stating that, if a property owner has a non-arm’s length relationship with an otherwise eligible tenant, then the lease must be on fair market terms, the total gross rent payable under the lease cannot be higher than fair market rent, and the lease must not have been created or amended after April 1, 2020.

This clause is clear. It is in writing. We should use it. All we have to do is cut and paste to apply it to the new program of last September.

Do we really want to help businesses? The government has a strange way of showing it. However, it now has the opportunity to get back on track and fix the situation. If it does not do so in this bill, I hope it will do it in its budget next week. We are talking about young entrepreneurs who got help from their parents in the past and who need help today to grow their businesses. We all know that people need more help at the start of their careers than at the end.

Since we are short on time, I will proceed to the next point. The government is asking for a blank cheque. We have seen how the government controls spending: it does not, and it has no plan. We in the official opposition are prepared to take the necessary measures to help the government help honest Canadians. However, we do not want to give it a blank cheque.

We asked the government to split the bill, but so far it has not agreed to our request. I would ask the government to be reasonable and to find solutions to help our young entrepreneurs.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:20 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I want to address the member's comments toward the beginning of his speech. The Conservatives have an attitude of wanting to spread misinformation in regard to vaccines. I think it is deplorable, quite frankly, as it comes right from their leadership all the way down. I would ask the member to give his comments.

Let us go to the raw numbers. We know, for example, that Canada will have approximately 44 million doses of vaccines before the end of June. Can the member provide the House with any other country that will have more vaccine doses on a per capita basis than Canada?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. I will take the time he has used in his question.

Can he tell us what is going to happen in the future? The answer is very simple. No, he cannot. The current government continues to make promises and not keep them, as usual.

I would like my colleague to withdraw his comment because what I said is based on actual fact. Only 2% of Canadians have received both doses of the vaccine. As of yesterday, 11% of the population in Great Britain had received both doses, and that figure was 25% in the United States.

I invite my colleague to withdraw his comment.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech, in which he mentioned the Canada emergency rent subsidy.

What can he suggest for our farmers, who still do not have access to the program, since certain expenses are not deferrable so they are not eligible?

I would like to know what he would tell them, because for some farmers, it is a real problem that they are still not eligible for the program.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Shefford.

As I mentioned earlier, the government is always going around boasting that they help everybody: young people, seniors, businesses, families, farmers. They say, “No problem, we help everybody.”

That is simply not true, and there are concrete examples. I invite my colleague to contact the Minister of Finance so that we can work together to convince the government. Our role as members of the opposition is to make sure the government comes up with solutions and honours its commitments.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, the member did not touch on this a lot, but he did mention students at the beginning of his speech. Certainly, this government has touted how much support it has provided for students. Unfortunately, this bill states that there is $315 million being waived for a six-month moratorium on student interest, and yet, year after year, the government collects over $600 million in profit on student loans.

I wonder if the member could comment on that and on what the government should be doing going forward for students.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from London—Fanshawe.

The opposition is made up of three different parties, and we have just identified three groups of Canadians that the government is neither serving nor helping. Other members mentioned students and farmers, and I talked about young business owners who are non-arm's length tenants.

This is a great opportunity for the current government to take meaningful action to honour its commitment to these groups, who are not receiving the help the Prime Minister said they would.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Marty Morantz Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier about part 7. Until 2020, the total cumulative debt of Canada was just over $700 billion. The bill before us, which is essentially buried into a COVID relief bill, would increase that debt limit from roughly $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion.

Would my hon. colleague agree that something this substantive should be the subject of a separate bill and an entirely separate discussion?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-14. I think it is important to note the curious situation we find ourselves in today. Here we are, with the government putting this legislation on its agenda this week, debating the fall economic statement in the middle of April. In yet another example of Liberal mismanagement of important files, we are here debating legislation introduced last year, comprising a whole host of financial measures.

There are some good parts of this legislation, but there are measures that could have been implemented last year to help people. Now, it seems odd debating this when we have a budget set to be released in just five days. Similarly to how the Liberals have no plan for Canada's economic recovery, they had no plan to get Bill C-18, the Canada-U.K. trade continuity agreement, ratified within deadlines, and they also seem to have no plan for Canada's finances.

After years of pre-pandemic deficits since forming government in 2015, with little to show for it, now the federal debt will be well over $1 trillion, and the Liberals are asking for substantive additional borrowing capacity in this bill, Bill C-14. The staggering asked increase of an additional $700 billion would put our federal debt just a stone's throw away from the $2-trillion mark. It took our country over 150 years to reach a trillion-dollar debt, yet the Liberals seemingly want to take us to nearly $2 trillion in the blink of an eye.

Conservatives have supported programs to help Canadian businesses and not-for-profits that have been struggling under the current government's failure to procure PPE early in the pandemic, sustain jobs, procure vaccines, ramp up domestic vaccine production and put data-driven plans together for rapid testing and at-home testing, all activities many other developed countries did.

Why is the government tabling a bill that has some good measures in it to help many people, and then tagging on raising Canada's maximum borrowing limit by $700 billion, a 56.8% increase? There is no reason, other than to play politics rather than getting real help to real people in a timely manner. The Liberals have not explained why they need to increase the total federal debt to $1.83 trillion. Companies do not operate this way; not-for-profits do not operate this way; households do not operate this way. Why does the federal government feel it can operate this way?

Pre-pandemic, the government had years of needless borrowing and debt the Conservatives had warned against, debt that led to a credit rating cut. Constituents I am hearing from in Kelowna—Lake Country are rightly worried about the challenges we are facing today under the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also terrified about the future we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

At every step of the way, the government has burdened our economy with taxes, investment-stifling regulations and red tape. It has refused to halt tax increases during the pandemic, including from escalator or automatic tax increases. To truly prosper, we must unlock the power of Canadian industry; remove barriers to innovation; remove interprovincial trade barriers; do everything we can to expand exports of agriculture, innovative technologies and manufacturing; and bring our resources to market around the world. This legislation would do none of that.

In November 2020, we learned that the federal deficit for that year alone was going to exceed $380 billion. We already have over $1 trillion in federal debt, and this legislation would allow the government to borrow up to $1.78 trillion. The reality is that under the Liberal government our country has been on the decline. We have had the highest unemployment in the G7. We have had indicators pointing to a debt crisis, dismal vaccine per capita numbers and investment leaving the country. Women have been especially impacted, with over 100,000 women leaving the workforce since the onset of the pandemic.

It is one thing to fund pandemic response programs, and we are willing to do what it takes to support Canadians during this time of crisis. It is another thing entirely for us to be willing to support unchecked borrowing for unspecified initiatives.

The past two weeks have been constituency weeks, and I spent time focused on connecting with residents and local organizations in Kelowna—Lake Country. I hosted three community outreach virtual round table meetings with a focus on three areas: small business, tourism and housing.

My official opposition colleagues who are the shadow ministers for those files joined me to hear from locals on each of those very important topics. I would like to thank the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, the member for Niagara Falls and the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.

Groups in attendance included Tourism Kelowna, Kelowna Hotel Motel Association, Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors, BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Festivals Kelowna, Big White Ski Resort, BC Hotel Association, Downtown Kelowna Association, Community Futures Central Okanagan, Lake Country Chamber of Commerce, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, Uptown Rutland Business Association, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Association of Interior Realtors, UDI Okanagan, Western Canadian Shippers' Coalition, Canadian Home Builders' Association Central Okanagan, and Journey Home Society.

We received a substantive amount of insights, information and suggestions from what collectively represents well over 5,000 businesses of all sizes and from almost all sectors in Kelowna—Lake Country. There was a lot of consensus on the most important pressing issues that need to be addressed, and many solid recommendations.

Another issue I am hearing about from businesses is that they are advertising for jobs and no one is answering their ads. I was speaking to a construction company owner in Kelowna—Lake Country last week, who is advertising to pay considerably higher than what is the usual wage for the job. People are calling him and saying they will only come to work if they are paid under the table so that they can continue to collect the CRB. If not, they will just relax for a little while yet. He said these people know they will make more working, but they are prepared to stay on the programs as long as possible. How does that help the economy? How does that help that business owner, and how does it help those individuals, ultimately?

I spoke with another business owner, who laid off 30 employees last year, and as the economy reopens he does not feel these employees will be coming back. This is not just about creating jobs. At great effort and expense, he will likely now have to recruit, hire and train all new people. This is their reality.

In my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, our airport, YLW, is municipally owned, so not only does it feel the effects of the travel reductions, but it was also unable to obtain some of the government support provided to non-municipally owned airports.

Entertainment venues are also under threat. In my community, beloved institutions like the Kelowna Actors Studio and all those who work in the performing arts are in serious jeopardy. The many local arts and cultural organizations have been shuttered for a year. Doing virtual fundraising and a few virtual performances is not sustainable. Musicians have been hit particularly hard. I was speaking to a resident this weekend who told me that two professional musicians he knows in Kelowna—Lake Country are losing their homes right now. Businesses and not-for-profits are looking for a plan for recovery, not a plan to remain shut indefinitely.

The Conservatives put forth a motion asking the government to put forth a plan to safely and gradually reopen our economy when the time to safely do so is right, and the Liberals voted it down. The bill we are debating today, Bill C-14, fails to do so as well. It is only through ensuring that we are fully utilizing all the tools available widely to test and vaccinate those who wish it, as well as putting forth a solid recovery plan where people in all sectors and in all parts of the economy and the country are ready to go back to work, that we will have a meaningful recovery plan.

If there is one thing that we have learned so far from the Liberals, it is that it is entirely possible to spend billions of dollars and still leave millions of Canadians behind. Conservatives are working tirelessly to promote a recovery that benefits all Canadians, a recovery that provides jobs and growth in every sector of our economy, in every part of the country, to secure jobs, secure vaccines and PPE, secure our economy, secure mental health and get us back to a road to recovery.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, Conservatives have been raising this issue over and over since we came back for the last reading of this bill, talking about the government wanting to increase and take on more debt, in excess of what is actually being proposed in this legislation. The reality is that all that is being requested is that the ceiling be extended, not to actually take on debt.

As a matter of fact, in order to take on additional debt, a different bill would have to be put forward explaining exactly what that was, so it is a false narrative that the Conservatives are trying to use to justify why they are not going to vote in favour of this, when they know full well that more spending cannot occur unless another bill comes forward outlining what that spending is.

Can the member at least inform the House whether she is aware that another bill would have to be put forward in order to justify and make a decision to spend more money?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, the member may not be aware that this issue was brought up and discussed at the finance committee. Questions were asked about the costing-out of the existing programs, which are part of this legislation, and where the difference was, and what that would be used for. During that committee meeting, no answers were provided as to what that would potentially be used for.

Therefore, to increase the debt ceiling to that amount with the hope and trust that things will be coming forth and it will be just fine is not overly transparent. It does not show accountability, it leaves a lot of uncertainty and it is certainly not the way to bring that type of legislation forward.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I was at the Standing Committee on Finance, and I agree with the Conservative member's comments.

The government did a bad job of introducing this idea. Increasing the debt ceiling is a measure that has not been used before by the government in its legislation.

In my opinion, the government should have taken the time to meet with each party to explain the idea behind the proposal and what needed to be done. However, I can tell the member that, in committee, the Parliamentary Budget Officer assured us that the debt ceiling could be raised, but that each expenditure would have to be voted on, and that the government could not incur expenses during an election campaign, even with sign-off from the person standing in for the Governor General of Canada.

I would like to hear my colleague's comments on that.

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the legislation was tabled quite some time ago. Of course, a lot has changed since then. A number of points in the legislation would have been helpful for people a long time ago. The legislation has dragged on. We have been continually making recommendations. We have seen from the very beginning—

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, a year ago, the government, after much pushing by the NDP, realized that seniors and people with disabilities needed financial help because of the higher costs they were facing. One year later, they are facing even higher costs. Food has skyrocketed as have the costs of rent, heat and hydro. Now we are into a third wave, and in Ontario we are in a complete lockdown. Does the member not agree that there has to be something in there, immediately, for our low-income seniors and people with disabilities until we find a permanent resolution?

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020Government Orders

April 14th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, this goes back to the point of costs increasing for everyone. We have called for the government to halt all tax increases during this time. Tax increases make the costs go up for everyone. One of the most prominent ones is the increase of carbon tax, which we know just—