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House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was veterans.

Topics

Multiple SclerosisPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the thousands of MS patients throughout the country. In Newfoundland and Labrador alone we have 1,100 of these patients. They are asking the Government of Canada to take a leadership role in trying to ensure that the liberation treatment that is showing to be so helpful to MS patients be made available throughout the country.

Right now we find that, in different provinces, different approaches are being taken. Some provinces are doing a hands-off type of approach, while provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan are in fact playing a leadership role, but again, offering a different type of approach.

We need some consistency for our MS patients. They need to know that they can avail of this liberation treatment, which tends to show that it is not a cure but a treatment that enables MS patients to lead better and more productive lives.

The point here is that time is not on the side of MS patients and waiting for more study is not helpful to them. We need to offer the liberation treatment simultaneously with research so that MS patients can avail of this treatment and move on with their lives.

Passport FeesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition calls on the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The number of American tourists visiting Canada is at its lowest level since 1972. It has fallen by five million visits in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009. Passport fees for an American family of four can be over $500.

While 50% of Canadians have passports, only 25% of Americans do.

At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, attended by myself and over 500 elected representatives from 11 border states and three provinces, a resolution was passed unanimously, which reads:

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian Prime Minister] to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism; and be it further

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] encourage[s] the governments to examine the idea of a limited-time two-for-one passport renewal or new application;

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border. Therefore, the petitioners call on the government to work with the American government to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism, and finally, promote a limited-time two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.

The first petition is on the same subject. In fact, I think it is the identical petition to the one presented earlier by the member for York South—Weston in support of Bill C-544. He went into considerable detail explaining what it is about, so I will not take up the House's time with further information on that petition.

Cattle IndustryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is something that has not been presented today. This is a petition from a number of concerned citizens, many of them farmers, who ask us to cast our minds back to the shutting down of the U.S. border and other borders to Canadian beef in 2003 and the period of time during which a tremendous financial hardship was suffered by beef farmers and the beef industry in Canada as a result of the BSE crisis. The evidence that the petitioners point out strongly suggests that the agriculture department did not adequately take protections in advance to defend their interests.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to appoint someone like Justice Frank Iacobucci, who served as a mediator in a similar case of government neglect, to serve as a mediator to facilitate a settlement between the Government of Canada and cattle farmers with respect to the costs that were imposed on the industry by the inappropriate actions of the agriculture department at the time.

Child Access AgreementsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to present a petition signed by 75 people in my riding of Red Deer and surrounding area. The petitioners believe that the family justice system is failing children and their families. Therefore, they call upon the House of Commons to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that decision-makers, including parents and judges, consider a list of criteria in determining the best interests of the child in access agreements.

Multiple SclerosisPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to table a petition today. This is the fourth such petition, following up also on the one tabled by my colleague from Random—Burin—St. George's. It is signed by a number of people from the National Capital Region, mostly on the Ottawa side.

They call on the Minister of Health of the Government of Canada to convene a meeting of the ministers of health of the provinces for the purpose of discussing allowing hospitals, private clinics and individual doctors to test for and treat CCSVI in all Canadians who so desire testing and treatment; and secondly, to plan and implement a nationwide clinical trial for the evaluation of venography and balloon venoplasty for the treatment of CCSVI in persons diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

October 8th, 2010 / 12:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Gatineau has five minutes remaining for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his excellent speech on Bill C-47. He spoke about some inequalities experienced by workers at AbitibiBowater in the Outaouais. The government is pleased that the senior managers received huge bonuses when the plant was shut down, while the workers are having difficulties getting their pensions.

I would like the member for Gatineau to explain this situation a little more.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Bloc Québécois colleague, the hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé, has asked an excellent question.

A few years ago, AbitibiBowater handed out $60 million in bonuses to its managers when it was under Companies' Creditors Arrangements Act protection and $6.8 billion in debt. One individual alone, John Weaver—let me say his name loud and clear—received $27 million.

In the meantime, workers are losing their jobs because AbitibiBowater is under CCAA protection. They are not getting severance pay. They may not even get their pensions if they are not 55 since older workers are not being offered any adjustment measures. The Conservatives are not doing anything or introducing any legislation to address this inequality.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the parliamentary secretary claimed that Revenue Canada is cracking down on people who made overcontributions to the new tax-free savings accounts, but he said nothing about trying to collect the tax on some $6 trillion to $10 trillion in tax havens around the world, Canadians who are investing in those things.

Four years ago the German government gave the Canadian government the names of 106 Canadians with a combined total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein bank accounts. So far, the Canada Revenue Agency has closed 26 cases, assessed $5.2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties, but has not collected one dime from these tax evaders.

Since 2006, the Germans have received 200 million euros from the people investing in tax havens. In fact, the United States government is chasing its own taxpayers.

The question is, why is the government not trying to get this money back? Who is it trying to protect?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague very much for that excellent question.

When the Conservatives were in opposition, they would rant and rave about tax havens. Now that they are in power, they are letting tax havens be. They even want a Canada-Panama agreement, even though Panama is known as a tax haven. There are tax havens in Switzerland, yet the government is not doing anything to ensure that Canadians and Quebeckers who put their money there pay taxes here.

Before and during his tenure as prime minister, Paul Martin, the owner of Canada Steamship Lines, put his money in tax havens and avoided paying $105 million in taxes. That is scandalous.

Today, the Conservative government, which has the support of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to abolish tax havens, is doing nothing, even though the Conservatives condemned tax havens when they were in opposition. That is scandalous. Tax havens must go, because they take money away from the government, money that should be paid by all taxpayers to help improve living conditions for the less fortunate in this country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise and speak on Bill C-47, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures.

For the sake of bringing people up to speed on why we are even discussing such an unusual bill with a strange title, it is simply due to the fact that once the annual budget is presented, parliamentarians debate and then vote on the major overlying principles of the budget that is tabled. However, in order for the items presented in that particular budget to come into force, bills need to be presented so that the necessary provisions of the budget can be written into law.

Therefore, Bill C-47 is simply a technical bill that implements certain provisions of the last budget into law. As usual, a technical bill has turned into a possible reason to call an election. In the time I have been here, I have never seen more suspense surrounding technical bills than during the term of the Conservative government, simply due to the unusual way the government handles its parliamentary affairs when it comes to implementation bills. The budget says one thing and the bills say another.

For example, in a previous implementation bill tabled in the spring, the government included items to amend that had nothing to do with the budget. It requested amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, introduced an airport security tax, proposed changes to the Employment Insurance Act, changes to the Canada Post Corporation Act and changes to allow for the sell-off of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. All this occurs because of the secret nature of the government, which tries to sneak divisive items into legislation through the back door in order to avoid public input or any type of parliamentary oversight. In this way, all decisions made by the government can be made under a shroud of secrecy to advance the Conservatives' secret agenda.

The budget for the year ending March 31, 2011, is expected to cost Canadians over $238 billion this year alone and add almost $25 billion to our national debt. The government likes to misrepresent itself by saying it is fiscally disciplined, but this is simply not true. The Conservative government has been the highest-spending government year after year for the last four years, and every year it has been in office it has broken the previous record for spending. Never in the history of Canada has any government spent as much money as this one has.

The government also likes to misrepresent itself by saying it does not raise taxes, but this is simply not true. To pay for its out-of-control spending spree in the last six months, the Conservatives are finding ways to increase taxes. The new airport security tax proposed by the government is in fact a tax increase. The government can call it anything it wants, but everyone in the chamber knows that it is a tax. Ordinary Canadians will feel that the government is reaching into their pockets whenever they have to travel, and they will know it is a tax.

In addition to the air travellers tax, this January coming, the government will charge Canadian workers, entrepreneurs and companies a payroll tax increase. The economic recovery is weak and fragile, and this latest tax hike will put countless small and medium-sized enterprises out of business. It will put thousands upon thousands of hard-working Canadians out of a job, and it will certainly cause a great amount of suffering in homes across Canada.

The Conservatives like to sprinkle money around on pet projects, they like to have their pictures in local newspapers holding giant novelty cheques and they like to fly the Prime Minister all over the country at the Canadian taxpayers' expense to make spending announcements, but the fact of the matter is that for all the spending the government has done, we have not seen any progress.

The budget 2010 stimulus package just is not working. National groups from different sectors of industry have all said that the stimulus is not doing what it is intended to do. As part of prebudget consultation hearings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am vice-chair, groups that have testified as early as this week have time and time again said the stimulus was appreciated but was not working. They say “appreciated” because they get intimidated by the government. However, when they say “not working”, they mean that the program was implemented, but with no consultation and vision for the future, how effective can the program be?

Canada's unemployment rate is 2% higher today than it was 18 months ago. Still, this number does not tell the full story. Too many full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time work. The government likes to claim that the stimulus package has helped to recuperate lost jobs, but replacing a high-paying full-time job with a low-paying part-time job is like a bad trade for a sporting team, and we all know how that works out in the long run.

Canada's economy shrunk in July, and this includes a downturn in the construction industry during what should have been the height of the construction season.

Just this morning, it was confirmed that the Canadian economy lost 6,600 jobs in the month of September, while expectations were for 10,000 additional jobs to be created. This is because the government has been slow to approve projects and has concentrated spending on pet projects in areas where the Conservatives hope to score political points rather than spending fairly and intelligently by listening to local officials who know what their communities need.

Consumer confidence has declined four months in a row. In this period of supposed recovery, Canadians are not feeling the benefits, and that is because the recovery is a lie. When unemployment is high, that is not a recovery. When people cannot get enough hours at work to make ends meet, that is not a recovery. When Canadians have to decide whether to fill up their gas tanks or buy groceries this week, that is not a recovery. When construction equipment idles while Conservative ministers take credit for a spending announcement, that is not a recovery. It is a photo op.

Household debt is at record levels. The average Canadian owes almost $42,000, which is among the highest levels of all the OECD countries. Canadians are trying to keep their heads above water, and all the government has to offer them is tax increases, billions in spending on prisons we do not need, jet fighters that have not gone through the proper bid process, and millions of dollars in advertising for Conservative propaganda. The only people to come out ahead during this recovery are the folks who make the economic action plan billboards.

Canada's monthly trade deficit is at a record high of $2.7 billion, and this is a warning sign for a country that depends upon trade for jobs and prosperity. Not long ago, we used to run a trade surplus in this country. Canada used to take in more money than it spent compared to trading competitors, but since the government has taken power and crippled our economy, we have seen revenues fall relative to expenditures.

When the Conservatives took power, Canada was running trade surpluses, unemployment was low, taxes were low, the government had a $13 billion surplus and the economy was growing steadily. In the last five years, its economic mismanagement has undone all of these accomplishments and Canadians are paying for its failure. The numbers are in and there is no hiding from the facts. The government has lost jobs, depleted our finances, increased our debt burden and raised our taxes.

This year's budget was critical because it needed to be bold enough and effective enough to stop the bleeding brought by three years of Conservative economic mismanagement. Budget 2010 failed to address the real economic challenges facing Canadian families, such as record household debt, the rising costs of education and home care, pension security and the loss of 200,000 full-time jobs in just the last 18 months.

The Conservative record of waste and mismanagement does not reflect the priorities of Canadians. The borrow-and-spend Conservative government has wasted Canadians' money with a record $130 million on shameless, self-promoting advertising; $1.3 billion for a three-day G8-G20 photo op, with spending on everything from a fake lake to glow sticks; $10 billion to $13 billion on American-style megaprisons to lock up unreported criminals, as the crime rate declines; $16 billion on a bad deal for stealth fighters, awarded without competition or guaranteed jobs for Canadians; and $20 billion in corporate tax cuts that we cannot afford.

The deficit has reached a record high of $54 billion and is projected to go even higher. The $156 billion of new debt that the Conservatives plan to borrow between 2009 and 2014 will cost taxpayers $10 billion in interest payments each and every year for decades to come. We have to pay $10 billion every year before we can even put a dent in repaying the debt.

What makes this even worse is that the government chooses to deflect criticism away from its pitiful record by creating divisions in this chamber and throughout the country by trying to stifle meaningful debate and oversight.

During a debate, we share ideas. I know that some issues are complex and can be emotional. But this government has gotten into the habit of constantly introducing bills that create divisions. Because of its rigid right-wing ideology, it does not want to put forward its ideas in separate bills.

Bill C-47 is a wasted opportunity by the Conservative government. Instead of offering meaningful help to Canadians in this time of economic uncertainty, the Conservatives have provided us with a mixture of taxes on ordinary Canadians, crippling deficits and recklessly ineffective spending on non-priority measures.

The Liberal Party of Canada would prefer we spend our time debating and implementing priority measures that benefit all Canadians.

These are difficult economic times, which means that governments must choose. The Conservatives choose tax breaks for corporations. We choose to help Canadian families.

That is why the Liberal Party has announced the Liberal family care plan to help people with the cost of caring for sick or aging loved ones at home.

Here are some statistics. There are approximately 2.7 million family caregivers in Canada. These people are responsible for 80% of home care services in Canada, providing more than $9 billion in unpaid care each year. More than 40% of family caregivers use their personal savings to survive. More than one-quarter of family caregivers miss one or more months of work to provide care, and 65% have household incomes under $45,000. Canada's population is aging; one in five Canadians will be 60 by 2020, and by 2017, Canada's 150th birthday, it is estimated that the number of seniors with chronic conditions requiring home care will increase by one-third.

Canadians want choices when it comes to caring for their families. Providing care at home allows our loved ones to live in dignity as they face their health challenges with their families. Making family care easier will also help to contain health care costs in the long run.

To enhance care for our parents, our grandparents and our sick loved ones, a Liberal government will invest $1 billion annually in a new Liberal family care plan to help reduce the economic pressure on hundreds of thousands of struggling Canadian families.

Our Liberal family care plan reflects the real value of family caregivers in our society—their value to our economy, our health, our families and our communities.

Canadians trust the Liberal Party to safeguard public health care. The fact is, the Canadian population is aging, and most Canadians expect to be responsible for the care of a very sick family member at home in their lifetime. The Conservative government has not shown any leadership on this issue, which is an important priority for Canadian families. One Conservative minister even suggested that family caregivers could use their vacation time to take care of their loved ones.

I would like to take a few moments to explain the Liberal family care plan in detail, in order to avoid any confusion.

The plan includes two measures: a new six-month family care employment insurance benefit and a new family care tax benefit.

The six-month family care employment insurance benefit, similar to the EI parental leave benefit, will allow more Canadians to care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs.

For extended benefits, we will replace the six-week compassionate care provision with a new EI benefit lasting up to six months.

To make benefits more accessible and build more flexibility into the program, we are proposing changes to the nature of the required doctor’s certificate. At present, a doctor must sign a form confirming that a family member is “gravely ill with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks”. We will work with the medical community to relax that definition with a form confirming that the family member requires a great deal of care because he or she is gravely ill.

With regard to the flexible sharing of benefits, we will make the program more flexible by allowing the six months to be split up into blocks of time over a one-year period and by allowing eligible family members to share this time in order to provide care.

The new family care employment insurance benefit will cost approximately $250 million per year and will give support to 30,000 caregivers. A Liberal government will not increase employment insurance premiums to fund this measure.

The Liberal plan will also establish a new monthly tax benefit for family care. This new benefit will be applied in the same way as the Canadian child tax credit and it will be offered to all caregivers.

This new benefit will consist of a monthly tax-free payment, for a total of up to $1,350 per year.

The benefit will be gradually reduced based on family income starting at $41,000 and will be available to families with annual income under $106,000.

To qualify, families will have to produce a doctor's certificate confirming that a sick member of their family requires significant care and assistance to carry out daily or critical life tasks.

The new family care tax benefit will give support to approximately 600,000 caregivers at an approximate cost of $750 million per year.

We talked to Canadians. We know that more of us need to provide long-term care for our loved ones. The Liberal Party will do whatever it can to ease this burden. The choice is simple: stand with Canadians or stand with special interests. We will stand with Canadians.

Canadians are feeling the crunch of personal debt and they are worried that they will not be able to save enough for their retirement. Pensions are a priority concern and the Liberal Party has proposed pragmatic solutions to help out ordinary Canadians.

To further promote saving, we, the Liberals, are asking the government to consider our pension reform projects: creating a supplementary Canada pension plan to help Canadians save more and providing employees who lose their pension funds as a result of bankruptcy with an opportunity to increase their pension income through the Canada pension plan.

To allow Canadians to further invest in our national pension plan, on which we can rely, the Liberal plan proposes that the government work with the provinces, retirees, unions and the private sector to develop and implement a supplementary pension plan.

The Liberal Party will do whatever it can to help Canadians help themselves, which is why we have proposed a simple, pragmatic solution that will allow Canadians to save for their retirement.

The choice is simple: stand with Canadians or stand with special interests. We will stand, like I said before, with Canadians.

Budget 2010 fails, not only to address the real challenges facing Canadian families but to recognize that those challenges even exist.

When Canadians need their government to stand with them, the Conservatives have chosen to stand with special interests. Bill C-47 is just the latest example of the Conservative government's failure to stand with Canadians. As a Liberal, I have always stood with Canadians and will continue to do so by voting against Bill C-47.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in the interest of parliamentary debate, things rattle back and forth, and I find it always advantageous when a position is based on facts. In painting a picture of a devastated Canadian economy, I wonder if my colleague across the way has reflected on some statements made by those outside Canada in evaluating Canada's economy.

The International Monetary Fund affirmed again yesterday that Canada's economy leads all industrialized nations. The OECD has said, “Canada's economy shines”. The Economist Intelligence Unit says that Canada's economy is an economic miracle. The World Economic Forum has said that Canada's financial system for the third year running now is the strongest in the world.

The job numbers posted today, although they show a drop in part-time jobs, they show an increase of 37,000 new full-time jobs.

In light of my colleague's unfactually based assessment of Canada's economy, would he be willing to say that the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the World Economic Forum and the Economist Intelligence Unit are all wrong or are they simply fabricating their evaluations?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it a bit hilarious to hear a statement like that from a minister of the government. However, I will try to address a few of those questions.

He asks why Canada is coming out as one of the leading countries in its economic status. It is because of the Liberal government, let us face it. We had a German delegation and it understood that. A minister of the state who was an international minister and has been able to speak to people abroad should be the first one to understand that. The President of the Treasury Board has not been able to grab hold of the funds. He should be worried about why he is continuously spending more money than any government in the history of Canada. I think that is what he should be worried about.

The fact that the Canadian economy has been in such a positive light is because of the Liberal government, which is what everybody has been saying, except for the Conservatives.

When it comes to jobs, 6,600 jobs were lost in the month of September when the government expected 10,000 jobs to be created. We are missing out on 16,600 jobs. We can cut it as we wish, part-time or full-time, but we are missing 16,600 jobs, without including all that money we spent on stimulus funding.

With regard to the question concerning the OECD, I will try to answer that question later.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, other than Senator Percy Downe, I have not heard a Liberal in this House talk about the necessity of trying to collect taxes from people who are hiding money in tax havens.

We have a case here with the parliamentary secretary just yesterday talking about a crackdown on people who have overcontributed to the TFSAs, the tax free savings accounts, but not one mention was made of all the money the government should be trying to recover from people who invested in tax havens in Liechtenstein four years ago. As a matter of fact, the government was given the information that 106 Canadians had a total of more than $100 million stashed in Liechtenstein accounts. So far, Revenue Canada has collected not one dime of that money. However, in Germany, since 2006, it has recovered 200 million euros in back taxes from people investing in tax havens.

I would like to know why the members opposite are not pressuring the Conservatives to be more active on that file to collect those back taxes.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I first want to know where the member is getting this information from because I am having trouble getting information on my own tax return from CRA. He must have some inside information. If he is able to get all these statistics, I think he should be put in charge of CRA and try to go after that money. I do not think there is anybody here who is against going after that money. However, he must have some great contacts if he is able to determine that there are 40-odd people where the file has been closed. They cannot even find my file.

That is part of the problem. The government has not taken any leadership to go after the taxes owed by Canadians who put their money into offshore tax havens. What it is doing is going after people who have decided to put a couple of bucks into an account called the tax free savings account. It is a gimmick that the Conservatives decided to put together and I think less than 1% of Canadians have decided to utilize it.

Yes, the government has decided to go after the people who have not even offended.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I note that many quotes have been attributed to economists. I am reminded that when people come to my office they are actually looking for accountants to help them. They do not go to economists. I am trying to find those who can answer their questions with respect to taxes and so on and so forth.

My friend from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is an accountant and is also a vice-chair of the finance committee. I would like to ask him a question with respect to the contradictions in the budget. For example, I think we would all agree that it is a good thing to concentrate on the accelerated capital tax allowance for green energy that encourages the production of green products. However, the real job creation is through consumers buying those products.

The contradiction I find in the budget concerns the accelerated capital tax allowance, which is good, but then we see the discontinuation on the consumer side of the eco-energy program which would in fact allow people to buy those green products.

From a strategic fiscal planning perspective, does the member not think that is a good example of the contradictions in the approaches taken by the government? Could he give any other examples of that?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my seat mate is one of the best MPs in the House and one of the best looking and he represents his constituents with a lot of hard work and devotion to his riding. I commend him for all the work he does, because I see it personally.

An example is quite easy. The Conservative government loves the corporate stuff. That is why it gives out all the candy to the corporate people and nothing is left for individuals. A perfect example is the corporate tax. Corporate tax deductions will be in effect in two months, but what is their for you and I, Mr. Speaker? Very little. That is the perfect example and that is the biggest difference between Conservatives and us.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will have to forgive me if I am just a little skeptical when I hear of yet another tax and spend Liberal program. We have heard of a national daycare program being part of the Liberals' creation since 1993. We never saw anything come of that one. That is the very reason why we put in place the child tax credit to allow parents the options for choosing their own child care.

I was pleased to hear him say, however, that he agrees with us that the economy is still weak and fragile and that our economic recovery still needs to be handled with great caution.

When I look at that and see the Liberals vote for a 45-day work year after their leader has said that it is fiscally irresponsible, I have to scratch my head. We know the projects in the economic action plan have created jobs across the country. It has created jobs in every jurisdiction of our country. I do not know how many projects are going on in the member's province.

Since these projects are a demonstration of three levels of government working together to create jobs, which constituents would the hon. member want to tell that they should not be working?

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to address one aspect before I address the question. The hon. member said something related to the Liberal Party being a tax and spend party. At least she caught 50% of what I said, and that is we will spend on family care when we are in government, but I am not sure where she got the part about the tax. Perhaps she can table the document where it says the Liberal Party will tax. I am sure she has a copy of our newest announcement on the long-term care family help, so I do not need to table that for her.

However, in answer to her question, as I stated in my speech, as a member of the finance committee, we have been going across Canada, listening to Canadians. Different Canadian organizations are saying that the stimulus program is not working. There are deficiencies. There is money being spent, but the projects are not being done, or are not being completed and there has been overspending on certain projects because they have been overbid and they have all been rushed to get these jobs done before the deadline.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the sustaining Canada's economic recovery act.

Before I address economics, I must first pay tribute to the people of Etobicoke North and the community in which I was born and raised and pay tribute to my constituents, many now friends and many now family. I am humbled to serve my constituents each and every day.

I must also honour a new constituency I serve, namely the veterans of Canada. In our country's short history not every generation was called upon to defend our freedom, but every generation that responds does so with courage and conviction. It was 65 years ago that World War II veterans were among the members of a generation that saved the world from tyranny and it was 60 years ago that our veterans were dispatched to Korean waters.

Since then, our veterans have been among members of combat and peacekeeping operations to protect freedom, human rights and justice around the world in places such as Bosnia, Cyprus, Haiti and Iraq.

Our veterans' legacy of bravery and commitment to the leadership is continued by a new generation of Canadians serving tour after tour in Afghanistan. We must therefore invest, protect and defend the rights and legacy of our veterans.

Sadly, the government's 2010 budget failed to take action to really help veterans, including much needed housing and supports for operational stress injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder. To be fair, Veterans Affairs recently announced $52.5 million for temporary housing, wheelchairs and other help for seriously injured soldiers on September 28.

However, Canadians must ask, where is the vision? Where is the budgeting for our veterans? Responding to crisis with piecemeal announcements is no way to run a department. Our veterans deserve better.

Moreover we learned during the summer that the government was considering recommendations to cut spending at Veterans Affairs, even though a report found the number of new veterans was expected to increase. A cut to the Veterans Affairs budget means less support to our veterans once our mission in Afghanistan comes to an end.

Lest we forget Canada's most precious asset is human, our serving men and women, and our defence commitments must include serving the men and women of our armed forces when they return home.

We also learned during the summer that the government would forge ahead with a sole-sourced military aircraft contract worth up to $16 billion, an enormous expenditure once the House of Commons recessed, with no transparency and no guarantee that Canadians would get the best value for their money.

While budget 2010 claims to recognize the significant efforts of veterans who helped build our country and make it strong, it does not ensure that our proud veterans are shown the dignity and respect they deserve. Coming home, for example, should not be the beginning of another battle, a battle for compensation, a battle for support, a battle for treatment.

Budget 2010 offers $1 million per year for the community war memorial program to partner with communities across our country that wish to build memorials to commemorate the achievements and sacrifices made by those who served our country.

Remembrance is a touchstone of Canada's identity in Canadian society. Canadian veterans, however, want their country to honour the covenant they entered to take care of them when they come home injured and to take care of their families when they do not return and that their government not break a sacred trust with veterans and their families.

Veterans want a change in culture at Veterans Affairs and a change in philosophy from the current insurance policy climate to a return to the social contract of the past. Veterans need real investment, investment that comes in the budget and not in response to criticism. Veterans want action on long-standing problems.

While the United States dramatically increased funding for veterans health care across the board, Canadian Forces members badly wounded in Afghanistan were shortchanged. On September 19, after four years in power, a task force and advocacy by the veterans ombudsman, the government finally took action, boosting aid to soldiers wounded in Afghanistan with more changes promised to come. Unfortunately the package is far from satisfactory and numerous questions remain.

Veteran Paul Franklin, who lost both legs in a 2006 suicide bomb attack in Kandahar, said that the announcement was good but that more needed to be done. He said that the changes were nice but it was not enough. He said that they would support the right decisions if they put vets first and not Treasury Board or budgets.

Franklin suggested boosting payments to the most seriously injured, overhauling the insurance payments to soldiers who lost limbs and making many of the payouts tax-free. He said that those were pretty cheap commitments to take care of people who had laid their lives on the line for Canada in our missions.

When will the government come forward with legislation for compensation for veterans suffering with ALS, which research shows that veterans are more likely to develop the devastating disease? Americans came forward in 2008 with compensation.

At most, injured veterans who are unable to ever work again can claim a lump sum payment of up to $276,000. Few Canadian veterans have ever qualified for the maximum. In the United Kingdom, total disability carries compensation of $850,000.

There are questions regarding the announcement. Will the monthly boost be retroactive? Will the extra $1,000, which is not very much, particularly when added to 75% of a private's pre-injury salary, be available only to the most severely injured and how will that be defined? Is the pension clawback issue being addressed and if not, what are the real dollar figures?

While President Barack Obama is making it easier for about 200,000 Vietnam veterans who might have been exposed to agent orange and who now suffer from three chronic diseases to get the health care and benefits they need, Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran reports that Canada has yet to pay out half of its agent orange claims. Moreover, only those who were still alive on February 6, 2006, the date the Conservative government was sworn into office, are eligible to receive compensation for exposure to agent orange. Widows of those who died prior to this date justifiably feel left out. Additionally, the list of eligible illnesses is much more restrictive in Canada than in the United States and other countries.

The quality of life for our veterans must be a top priority for Canada and we must keep faith with our newest veterans returning from Afghanistan; that is we must offer more of the economic, familial and work supports and counselling needed to transition back to civilian life.

We must offer real support for post-traumatic stress disorder. No one should have to suffer with the hopelessness, the nightmares that keep coming back and the rage that strikes suddenly. Too many of our veterans are taking their own lives. We need investments in awareness, outreach and suicide prevention, hiring more mental health professionals, improving care and treatment. Once veterans have a diagnosis, we need to make it easier to get the support.

We must uphold Canada's pledge to all who serve by pushing for targeted investments to improve the quality of life of our veterans and their families.