Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I am pleased to be here to discuss Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures.
I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you the progress we have made for middle-class Canadians over the past year. I will be happy to answer your questions.
As Minister of Finance, my overarching goal is not only to grow the economy, but to do so in a way that benefits families, workers, and the most vulnerable members of our society. You will have heard me say before that we simply can't claim progress unless we all share in the prosperity that we create together. I can tell you that this has now truly become a global challenge. The world's attention has been focused recently on the fact that many of our citizens haven't seen the benefits of the growth we've had over the last several decades. Unfortunately, hard work doesn't always equal progress anymore. It's what Canadians asked us to fix when they elected our government a year ago. It's what we're working to fix with measures like the ones contained in the budget implementation act that we're reviewing today.
Just a few days ago, I had the privilege of travelling to the United Kingdom to tell Canada's stories. I met with students studying at the London School of Economics, where I studied myself just a few short...well, maybe more than a few short years ago. I met with members of the editorial teams at the The Economist and at the Financial Times. I spent some time at the BBC. I met with investors who are looking for opportunities to invest in our country and in our people. Across the board, the feedback I got was this: it's nice to hear from a country that has such a positive story to tell. I can say that I felt very proud to be Canadian after that trip, and we all should. That's because we were one of the very first countries to put our finger on the fact that when you have an economy that works for the middle class, you have a country that works for everyone.
You know the story well, but I'd like to provide a few highlights of what this means.
In the past year, we took some big, important steps towards helping families regain the confidence they'll need to drive our economy forward. We cut taxes for nearly nine million people and introduced the new Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 families with children.
With the budget implementation act that we're discussing today, we'll help ensure that the Canada child benefit will be indexed to inflation starting in 2020 so that families can count on the real value of this benefit well into the future.
Over the past year, we also increased Canada student grants for students from low- and middle-income families, and part-time students. We increased monthly payments for the most vulnerable seniors and struck a deal with the provinces to strengthen the Canada pension plan so that this generation of young Canadians and future generations will be able to retire in dignity. Know that we'll be discussing ways of making the Canada pension plan even better at the upcoming meeting of provincial and territorial finance ministers in December in the context of the triennial review.
In our fall economic statement, we clearly indicated that Canada's success in the economy of the future rests on investment and openness. We act in the way confident countries do. We invest in our country and its population by supporting the growth and prosperity of today's middle class, while generating economic growth for the years to come.
Thanks to our measures, Canadians will get home faster after work. They will spend more time with their children. They will breathe clean air and have quality drinking water. They will be able to live in better neighbourhoods and will have confidence in their future.
In this same economic statement, we also took steps to facilitate the process we are undertaking for the future. Over the coming months, we will co-operate with you in order to devise a more coherent calendar for the presentation of the budget and the main estimates.
I know this will be an improvement we will all appreciate.
Mr. Chair, allow me to come back specifically to the bill we're studying today and focus on two measures in addition to the ones I've already mentioned. The first is tax fairness, which is a central pillar of the promise we made to middle-class Canadians. The second is consumer protection.
On tax fairness, let me be very clear. We believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, period. Budget 2016 committed $444 million in new resources for the Canada Revenue Agency to address offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. This will enable the Canada Revenue Agency to enhance its assessment capabilities through the hiring of additional auditors and specialists who will have the resources needed to undertake more expansive and comprehensive investigative work.
In addition, we're committed to combatting international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by strengthening existing efforts at home and abroad by introducing new measures. The introduction of the common reporting standard for the exchange of information between national revenue agencies on financial accounts held by non-residents is an important global development. Canada will implement the standard consistent with our commitment to the G20 and similar commitments made by more than 100 other jurisdictions.
Similarly, we're proposing to implement one of the key recommendations from the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to address so-called base erosion and profit shifting, BEPS, by multinational firms. With our international partners, we are proposing to require large multinational enterprises to file a country-by-country report with a tax authority in their headquarters jurisdiction. The reports will provide revenue agencies with a high-level overview of the firms' global operations to assist them in performing more effective risk assessments.
Through this second budget implementation act, we also want to amend the Bank Act in order to strengthen and modernize the financial consumer protection framework. We are introducing enhancements to financial consumer protection to strengthen access to basic banking services, business practices, disclosure, complaints handling, corporate governance, and accountability. Together these enhancements will make the regime easier to understand and accommodate consumers' needs in a rapidly changing sector, as well as allow Canadians to benefit from an efficient national banking system from coast to coast to coast. We'll be working collaboratively with stakeholders to support the implementation of the framework.
I want to thank the committee for your work on this important piece of legislation.
Consequently, Mr. Chair, whether we are talking about the Canada Child Benefit, protecting consumers, or measures to guarantee tax fairness, you can see that our document makes the interests of middle-class families our priority.
By supporting Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament in 2016, you will support us in continuing our plan to put people at the heart of the economy and to give them the help they need right now, while investing in the years and decades to come.
I would now be pleased to answer your questions.