Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-28, which is the second bill to implement certain budget provisions.
What concerns me is the government is not speaking to its own bill. A budget is important to Canadians and there are many important provisions in the legislation. A lot of work has gone into it. It is as if there is no need for the government to explain to Canadians what happened as it went through committee, when various witnesses were heard. Surely, some witnesses must have had some input into the various provisions.
Let me remind hon. members about some of the proposals in this second bill to implement certain provisions of the budget.
One of the proposals is the new Canada employment credit. I wonder if there was any questions about whether anybody would slip through the cracks. All of a sudden we have an income tax system which has some principle and some balance to it. It is a progressive tax system where the ability to pay is taken into account. We understand that some Canadians do not even make enough money to pay any income tax.
Another proposal in the legislation is the textbook tax credit. I do not know whether there will be any input with respect to this.
With regard to the transit pass tax credit, I have to wonder if there was any input on this. This credit is linked to the whole issue of our environmental policy with respect to greenhouse gases, smog emissions and the like and to get people to be more cognizant of their options to make a contribution. Individuals have a contribution to make. The Conservatives have not risen to reinforce why they think this proposal is one of the best ways to go and what it adds in terms of the whole scheme of our environmental policy.
What about the new deduction of tool expenses for tradespeople? Who is left out with respect to this deduction? I know some people have been left out because they do not qualify under the definitions. Did they go before committee?
How can we make an informed decision and vote on a bill if members do not defend it and show how the budget and the budget bill address the needs of the most number of Canadians possible?
There is also the exemption for scholarship income received in connection with enrolment in an institution, which qualifies a student for the education tax credit. How many people qualify for that exemption? What else has been done to ensure that those who cannot afford to go to university get to go? I understand it is important to promote excellence, but have we also balanced the need to promote access and affordability?
Another proposal in the legislation is the children's fitness tax credit. I do not know very much about it. It is a modest amount. I am not sure whether there were some concerns about it.
With respect to the pension income credit, the government has subsequently come up with a scheme of pension splitting. This will help certain Canadians. Canadians with a pension income in excess of about $35,600 will be able to split with a partner or a spouse who has less income. However, it does nothing for people with a pension income of less than $35,600. This does nothing for people who do not have a partner.
We are shifting the burden of taxation here and I am not sure of the objective of the government. I have not heard from any Conservatives. They have not spoken to the bill. They have not explained why these things are happening. They have not told Canadians their vision. How do the Conservatives see this unfolding? I cannot explain it.
Another proposal in the bill is the extension of the $500,000 lifetime capital gains exemption and various intergenerational rollovers to fishers. I certainly understand this proposal with respect to the fishery because it is a very important area. I would have hoped somebody from the Conservatives would have spoken about why this was necessary, why the extension of the exemption, and how it translated into meeting the objectives of the Government of Canada on behalf of Canadians, particularly in this sector.
We also have the apprenticeship job creation tax credit. Apprenticeship training has been a priority of every government since I have been here. It is extremely important, but I do not know whether we have done enough on the apprenticeship side. I would have hoped somebody from the Conservative government would have made the case on behalf of those who were seeking to build on their skills so they could be contributing members to society. We did not hear any of that, and I am not sure why.
We have the reduction in the current 12% small business tax rate from 11.5% for 2008 to 11% thereafter. I am not sure whether Canadians understand what a small business is compared to another type of business. However, we do know one thing. Historically, small businesses have contributed to employment growth at a much greater rate than non-small businesses. How will this translate? Are there benchmarks and targets and what does it do for small business either in reinvestment or in further expansion and job creation? Those are important issues to Canadians. Not one Conservative stood and talked about why this was important, how it translated in terms of the vision for Canadians for economic growth, sustainable development and other issues. No interest whatsoever was expressed by Conservative members, and I do not understand it.
We also have the increase to $400,000 from $300,000 of the amount that a small business can earn at a small business tax rate effective January 1, 2007. As a chartered accountant, I know the $300,000 was there a long time ago. We have the magnitude of dollars, the expansion of businesses and start-up costs for businesses. The ability to get a sustainable business going is important.
I am concerned about what is not in this budget bill nor the first one, and that is new dollars for the health care wait times guarantee. It was one of the five promises in the throne speech of the government. In today's media Canadians will be able to read how the minister said that we were operating in a vacuum, that they had no idea how it worked and how to get there, but they would study it and maybe figure it out. How can they make a promise during the election campaign to do something about which they have no idea?That is totally irresponsible.
It is about time some Conservative members stood in this place, spoke about the budget and stood the test of scrutiny of questioning by hon. members of other parties to ensure they know what they are talking about. There is no evidence of that right now.