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Evidence of meeting #33 for Finance in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was infrastructure.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mark McQueen  Board Director, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wellington Financial, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
John Gamble  President, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies
Susie Grynol  Vice-President, Policy and Public Affairs, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies
Claude Lajeunesse  President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
Robert Simonds  President, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs
Geoff Smith  Director, Governement Relations, Canadian Electricity Association
Richard Rémillard  Executive Director, Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association
Jayson Myers  President and Chief Executive Officer, National Office, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Michel Arnold  Executive Director, Option consommateurs
Anu Bose  Head, Ottawa Office, Option consommateurs
Vaughan Dowie  Executive Head of Public Affairs, McGill University
Mark Cohon  Commissioner, Canadian Football League, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Chris Rudge  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Michael Clemons  Representative, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival
Barbara Cameron  Associate Professor, York University, Centre for Feminist Research
Kathleen Lahey  Faculty of Law, Queens University, Centre for Feminist Research
Jean-Michel Laurin  Vice-President, Global Business Policy, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters
Sandra Crocker  Assistant Vice-Principal, Research and International Affairs, McGill University

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

--brings you the greatest chance of an exciting game and a successful event, what exactly will you do to ensure that the 100th Grey Cup will indeed be the game's greatest championship for our entire nation?

5:40 p.m.

Commissioner, Canadian Football League, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival

Mark Cohon

Well, if I answer that wearing green, I won't be in my role in 2012.

But thank you for your passion. There seems to be a lot of passion around the table for the Grey Cup.

We really want to turn this, as we said, into a national celebration. I think we've learned, through Chris and VANOC, the power of bringing the cup around the country. We're doing a lot of things with the military right now in our stadiums, honouring the military. We plan on bringing the cup over to Afghanistan again, for probably the second or third time. As we build up and we think about all this, we want to....

It's not about a festival, it's really about a celebration. There will be many different stops along the way to do that. It's not going to be just the CFL cities. It's also going to be Trois-Rivières. It's going to be Sherbrooke. It's going to be Saint John. It's going to be Fredericton. It's going to be Moose Jaw. It's going to be a whole bunch of other cities. When the 14 million people tune in to watch the Grey Cup, we want to bring the Grey Cup and make them feel like they're a part of it, because they always are.

Chris might want to add to that.

5:40 p.m.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 100th Anniversary Grey Cup Festival

Chris Rudge

Certainly any game that has Saskatchewan in it will be a tremendous success.

As we pointed out earlier, we want to make this a truly national celebration, beyond the football game itself. The football game itself is a catalyst to bring all of these other things together in the country.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Mr. Généreux, it is your turn.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a question for the representatives from Option consommateurs. You have 11 recommendations. Have you costed it out all your measures? If so, do you think that we will have to raise taxes to be able to afford all that?

5:40 p.m.

Executive Director, Option consommateurs

Michel Arnold

Excuse me, but I don't think we need to increase taxes. In fact, some measures simply urge the government to create committees to study various things.

I also believe that providing people with the appropriate tools to balance their finances will also lead them to invest in the Canadian economy. This will offset the fact that the government has to invest in supporting Canadians who are most in need.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

We have just defeated a bill proposed by the Bloc Québécois.

Is my turn over?

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Yes, sorry.

Mr. Allen, five minutes, please.

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I suppose I have to predispose myself to the fact that football means something different to me as a Glaswegian than it does to Mr. Clemons. Nonetheless, I did see the game in Calgary many years ago as a university student. I must admit it was quite the festival, but then I had friends who played in the college bowl and actually won twice in a row for the University of Western Ontario back in the 1970s. So I also saw those through a different prism, shall we say.

Let me talk to the folks from McGill for a moment. I talked to some students today about access to university, the debt they incur trying to stay at university, and the job they have when they go to university. I see them as workers who actually go to university as part of their job, in the sense that that's what they do, but they also have a secondary job, which is trying to keep themselves there, which means going out and actually working, in some cases almost full time to actually stay there.

From your perspective, are you seeing the same things that students are articulating to me? Do you have any sense of what we need to be doing in a budget that really takes care of--and I'm talking about undergraduates specifically here--the needs of undergraduates, so they can actually go to school, without coming out the other side with a debt load that's monstrous, or having to work in such a fashion at another job that it takes away from their abilities to be effective when they're actually attending school?

5:45 p.m.

Executive Head of Public Affairs, McGill University

Vaughan Dowie

I'll take a stab at this.

Part of this is a federal-provincial issue. By and large, undergraduate education and the education part of the university role is really part of a provincial jurisdiction. We could talk about tuition policy, and we talk about it a lot in Quebec, about the pros and cons of tuition, and how tuition should be looked at, whether or not tuition in the end, at the end of the exercise, is a debt, or whether or not tuition at the end of the exercise is an investment that then gets repaid over time. In Quebec, we're in a kind of special place in the tuition discussion, and the debate is an ongoing one.

What could there be? We look a lot to the federal government in terms of support at the graduate student level. I know that's not the thrust of your question, but there are a number of programs the federal government has rolled out nationally that have had, really, a very important role in terms of supporting graduate students. I mentioned them a little bit in the presentation, and our brief does, too: the Vaniers, the CGS, whatever.

There have been efforts by the Government of Canada in the area of millennium scholarships, for instance, which was one of the areas where undergraduates were touched. That requires a certain amount of federal-provincial coordination. Another way to try to put money in the hands of undergraduates is through a scholarship model like the millennium scholarship model, to the extent that you were able to get the cooperation of the provincial governments. This then becomes, really, a unified exercise and not an exercise that will lead to problems.

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Thank you.

Go ahead.

October 6th, 2010 / 5:45 p.m.

Sandra Crocker Assistant Vice-Principal, Research and International Affairs, McGill University

Just to pick up on that, in response to that, on a slightly different tack, there are a number of federal programs that are very effective in supporting our undergraduate students, to ensure they have research experience over the summer, so that they're actually working on research, laboratory-based research mostly, or working toward a thesis paper, as well as getting paid for the summer work.

We have programs through some of the federal granting councils and the national centres of excellence that are very effective and are the kinds of things that are very supportive, including work-term placements for undergraduate students.

I think that through our research experience we can continue to support even the undergraduate research experience as well as the graduate.

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

You have one minute.

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Since there's only one minute left, I'll give Madam Bose or perhaps Monsieur Arnold that last minute to make your last pitch, since the time was limited. I apologize for that today.

5:45 p.m.

Head, Ottawa Office, Option consommateurs

Anu Bose

I think our last pitch would be that it is well within the bounds of the government's duty of care to its citizens to take the advice of Senator Hugh Segal, who has said that the cost of poverty is borne by those who are not poor, and it is a quote that we put into our brief.

Investment in human capital is an investment and not an expenditure. I would ask members of this committee to think on this when they go home at night and to their constituencies.

Thank you.

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Allen.

Colleagues, I'm going to push it. I know the whips are going to be upset with me, but I'm going to allow three more very brief rounds of two minutes each.

We'll have Mr. Brison and Monsieur Paillé, and then I'll take a two-minute round.

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you.

My question is for the manufacturers association. When the government announced the 5% increase to EI premiums, Mr. Myers, you said that the increase on EI premiums would have a negative impact on manufacturers' cashflow and competitiveness. The CFIB has estimated a job loss of around 58,000. How many jobs will be lost in Canadian manufacturing as a result of the increase?

5:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, National Office, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Dr. Jayson Myers

I really can't say. We haven't done that calculation, but I think right now for companies—and many of them are really having a hard time surviving—any increase in payroll taxes, any increase in tax costs that would be borne by this sector, is going to have a negative impact on not only employment growth but also jobs.

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

I agree with you regarding the importance of a competitive corporate tax rate, but I think there's a big difference between cutting corporate tax rates when we're in surplus, which is what the Liberal government did, and cutting them on borrowed money in a deficit. I think your members would appreciate that difference as well.

You also said that we need to come up with creative solutions to reduce business costs. One of the best ways we could reduce your members' business costs is to cut their energy costs and energy consumption. What are the types of investment that a government can make to help you and your members cut energy consumption and their carbon footprint and the costs that are taking away from their bottom line?

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Go ahead, very briefly.

5:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, National Office, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

Dr. Jayson Myers

If you look at the progress that manufacturers have made already—and they've achieved a 9% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990—it's all been based on the investments they've been making in new technology and capital turnover. That's why our recommendations, particularly to extend the two-year writeoff for a period of at least five years, provide to especially the large capitalized energy-intensive sectors the incentive they need to make these investments to reduce emissions.

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

Mr. Paillé, go ahead.

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

I will be quick.

My comment is for the representatives from McGill. You must have surely heard about the bill in which the Conservative government wanted to set a $250,000 limit on the income of those working in charities. If it is more than that, they could not issue tax receipts. Could you tell me your opinion on this somewhat silly bill?

5:50 p.m.

Executive Head of Public Affairs, McGill University

Vaughan Dowie

I think you are talking about Bill C-470. Canadian universities say unanimously that this bill should not apply to universities. Universities have staff and top researchers who sometimes make more than $250,000. We are making representations to the four political parties so that everyone is aware of our situation.