Motion No. 1
That Bill C-207 be amended by restoring the title as follows:
“An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions)”
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-207 be amended by restoring clause 1 as follows:
“1. The Income Tax Act is amended by adding the following after section 118.7:
118.71 (1) The definitions in this subsection apply in this section.
“base period” means the first 52 weeks of the aggregate of all periods each of which is a period during which the individual
(a) holds qualifying employment; and
(b) ordinarily performs the duties of the qualifying employment at an establishment of the individual’s employer situated in a designated region or is ordinarily attached to such an establishment.
“designated educational institution” has the meaning assigned by subsection 118.6(1).
“designated region” has the meaning assigned by section 3 of the Regional Development Incentives Act.
“qualifying employment” means an office or employment that the individual begins to hold in the 24-month period that follows the date on which the individual successfully completes the courses and, where applicable, the internships leading to the awarding of a recognized diploma, or the date on which the individual is awarded a recognized diploma that is a master’s or doctoral degree under an educational program requiring the writing of an essay, dissertation or thesis, if
(a) the individual begins to perform the duties of the office or employment after January 1, 2007;
(b) at the time that the individual takes up the office or employment, the establishment of the individual’s employer at which the individual ordinarily performs the duties of that office or employment, or to which the individual is ordinarily attached, is situated in a designated region; and
(c) the knowledge and skills obtained during the individual’s training or educational program are related to the duties performed by the individual in connection with the office or employment.
“recognized diploma” means a degree, diploma or attestation awarded by a designated educational institution.
(2) For the purpose of computing the tax payable under this Part by an individual for a taxation year, there may be deducted an amount equal to the lesser of
(a) the amount that is 40% of the aggregate of all amounts each of which is the salary or wages of the individual for the year from qualifying employment and attributable to the individual’s base period; and
(b) the amount by which $8,000 exceeds the aggregate of all amounts each of which is an amount that the individual is deemed to have paid to the Receiver General under this section for a preceding taxation year.
(3) For the purposes of paragraph (2)(a), an individual who was resident in a designated region in Canada immediately before the individual’s death is deemed to be resident in a designated region in Canada at the end of December 31 of the year in which the individual died.”
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Bill C-207 again today at the report stage and I would like to thank everyone taking part in today's debate.
Bill C-207 is designed to fight two problems that affect the regions facing economic challenges: the exodus of young people and the shortage of skilled labour. Briefly, Bill C-207 would give an income tax credit of up to $8,000 to recent graduates who accept employment in a region that is facing economic and demographic difficulties.
I would like to use the short time I have to respond to some of the concerns regarding Bill C-207 raised by my colleagues at the Standing Committee on Finance meeting held on February 27, 2008. Above all, I would like to appeal to the two Conservative members from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, who are fully aware of the benefits of this measure, to support Bill C-207, which will hopefully help convince their colleagues to also support this bill.
All the members of this House know that the most isolated regions are the ones losing the most residents. In many cases, they depend on one type of industry—we call these single-industry regions. There is often little room in the traditional economic base of these regions for skilled jobs. So with the forestry crisis, the economy of a single-industry region will experience distinct ups and downs.
To compensate, new businesses in other fields must be developed to diversify the economy. Unfortunately, there are not enough workers in these regions to make it possible to create new businesses in new fields.
When the Government of Quebec examined the regions that depend on a single industry, it set three criteria: a decline in the economy, a shrinking population and the need for diversification. It looked at six administrative regions, in addition to some regional county municipalities that are part of certain administrative regions. For example, the RCM of Mékinac, in the north of Mauricie, was included because it is a single-industry community, its economy is declining, its population is shrinking and it needs diversification.
In Quebec, the total population of the regions where the tax credit for new graduates would apply is approximately 900,000 people, out of a total population of 7.5 million.
There is no denying that other areas, such as northern Ontario, are experiencing economic hardships. That region has lost a lot of young people in recent decades. These regions have a hard time staying vibrant and strong. Northern British Columbia is also experiencing economic difficulties, as well as the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia, and northern Manitoba, an area where the economy is weak. This proposal would not apply only to Quebec. On the contrary, almost all the provinces could benefit from it.
This bill is not designed to discriminate against new graduates in major centres, as some Conservative members are implying, but simply to put in place a proven measure to help regions with declining populations.
Last week, in the newspaper Progrès-dimanche, MigrAction, an organization in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean that encourages young people to settle in the region, said that the Government of Quebec's program is an excellent way to encourage people to come back to the region and that young professionals really seem to appreciate it.
We propose to use the Regional Development Incentives Act to determine the designated regions. In the part entitled “Designation of Regions”, this act sets specific rules for designating regions. First, the federal government and the province have to agree on the designated regions; a region must have an area of not less than 12,500 square kilometres; and the region must be in economic difficulty.
There are communities in every province that meet these criteria.
We must take action to prevent hundreds of cities and towns from disappearing in future because no one is settling there. This is the danger facing many communities in Quebec and Canada.
I am counting on the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec to make their Canadian colleagues aware of the how effective the Quebec legislation has been and what a positive impact it has had.
To allay some Conservative members' fears that such a measure will cause a loss of productivity, I want to point out that the Government of Quebec set up the Gagné commission to study tax measures targeting the regions. The commission found that productivity increased much more slowly in resource regions than in urban and central areas. Productivity rose by 2.5% from 1998 to 2005 in Quebec as a whole, by 3.5% in metropolitan areas, but by only 0.2% in resource regions or remote areas.
The Gagné commission found that growth in the highest value added businesses, in other words leading edge, secondary and tertiary processing businesses, was behind the increased productivity. It also noted that the difficulty attracting skilled labourers to remote areas prevented leading edge and processing businesses from opening in those regions. The purpose of this measure is to avoid that type of situation and to resolve the problems of low productivity in the more remote regions or regions that are far from major centres.
As far as the cost of such a program is concerned, based on the new criteria established by the Government of Quebec in 2006, this Quebec program cost $30 million in the first year. In 2007, the estimated cost of the program was $45 million and, in 2008, the cost is estimated at $60 million. The cost should then level off at around $60 million for subsequent years.
When economists were asked to estimate the cost of such program for all of Canada, they estimated it would be $90 million the first year, $135 million the second year, $180 million the third year and roughly $180 million in subsequent years.
I am calling on all hon. members of this House of Commons and the hon. members from Quebec—specifically the two Conservative members from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma in my region—who are well aware of the effectiveness of such a program, to help our regions support their young people. We have to put a stop to this population hemorrhage and start allowing the processing industry to develop by giving our entrepreneurs the chance to get the skilled workers they need.
I will close with a summary: if the majority of hon. members voted in favour of Bill C-207, it would provide tax creditof up to $8,000 over a certain number of years that a young person could use to pay off student loans or as a down payment for a home. These are measures that would encourage our young people to move back to the regions where there is a dwindling population, an economic downturn and economic difficulties.