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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions signed by the people of my riding of Red Deer. The first petition calls upon the Government of Canada to instruct Canada Post to maintain, expand and improve postal services.

Human TraffickingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition signed by 523 people urges the federal government to honour its commitment to the UN protocol by providing adequate funding to set up safe housing for victims of human trafficking.

Aboriginal Healing FoundationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition calling on the Government of Canada to extend the funding for healing programs under the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

This foundation is making a difference in the lives of residential school survivors through ongoing counselling and cultural programs. It has been in place for about 10 years but still needs time to complete the process. The petition is signed by many people from across the country.

Aboriginal Healing FoundationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to table a petition in the House on behalf of first nations people across Canada, including Swan Hills and Cold Lake, Alberta.

I am fully aware of the success story of these healing centres and the hard work of first nations people to establish them. They beg the government to continue this process. Ten years is not enough to deal with the many generations of people suffering from the abuse at residential schools.

Firearms RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of presenting a petition from a number of people in my riding who are calling on the government to maintain the firearms registry. This is a very important issue for women's associations, police officers and all women's groups.

I ask that this petition be received.

Aboriginal Healing FoundationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition signed by many Canadians on behalf of the healing projects, like the program in my city of London, Ontario, At^lohsa Family Healing Services.

As we know, the Government of Canada is planning to end the Aboriginal Healing Foundation as of March 31, 2010. This foundation helps support aboriginal people in building and reinforcing sustainable healing processes to address the legacy of the sexual abuse at residential schools.

As my colleague has pointed out, 10 years is not enough. The process of healing is a lifetime Issue. These programs and this particular foundation need extra time. The petitioners implore the government to please leave a true legacy of action to end the pain and suffering that has been experienced because of the reality of residential schools.

Air Passengers' Bill of RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today.

The first one, signed by dozens of Canadians, calls on Parliament to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights. Bill C-310 would compensate air passengers with all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly. The bill would provide compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and long tarmac delays. It would address issues such as late and misplaced bags and would require all-inclusive pricing by airlines in their advertising.

The legislation has been in effect in Europe for five years. Why should Air Canada passengers receive better treatment in Europe than when they are flying in Canada?

The airlines would have to inform passengers of their flight changes, either delays or cancellations. The new rules would be posted in airports and airlines would have to inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. If the airlines follow the rules, it would cost them nothing.

The petitioners call on the government to support Bill C-310 that would introduce Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights.

Earthquake in ChilePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by Canadians calling on the government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada for the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in southern Chile. The community has mobilized. It held fundraising events in Winnipeg on Saturday, March 6, and in Toronto as well. By the way, $10,000 was raised in Winnipeg on March 6. This past Saturday, March 20, at the University of Manitoba over 1,000 people turned out for a fundraiser.

When will the Prime Minister give the same treatment to the earthquake victims in Chile as he did for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and match funds personally donated by Canadians to help the victims of the earthquake in Chile?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 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

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North had the floor before question period and he has almost six minutes left in the time allotted for his remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for Thunder Bay--Superior North.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about employment insurance. According to the government's own figures, every dollar that is invested in EI, $1.70 is sparked in economic activity, so why is so little being done to fix EI?

The government has so far ignored the NDP motion passed last year in this very House to make EI eligibility fairer and end the two-week waiting period. As a result, most of the unemployed in northern Ontario and across Canada still do not qualify for the employment insurance they paid for.

Much worse, the government is hiking EI premiums after this year. This is just a tax on work by another name. This will take $19 billion right out of the pockets of workers and employers alike. It is a job killer and it is a killer of gross domestic product.

I would ask the government to heed what the New Democrats have been asking for, to extend the freeze on EI premium hikes until the $57 billion historical debt, some would call it theft, owed to employers and workers has been paid back. It is Canadians' money paid into EI. They have already paid and paid, and they should not need to suffer huge payroll tax hikes as well.

Let us talk about pensions. With so many Canadians still out of work and seniors worried about their financial security, the pension crisis requires urgent action by the government. Here again it has failed to respond. Yes, there was a seniors day announced, and a re-announcement of plans for public consultations on pensions, which went nowhere, but that is it. There was nothing to help workers at AbitibiBowater, who had their pensions on the line. There was nothing to help workers when their companies went under.

The government could have taken up NDP ideas such as expanding the CPP and increasing the guaranteed income supplement to lift seniors out of poverty, but it has not.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons said:

In the end all CARP members got from this budget are some nice words and the promise of more consultation.

Let us talk about fair taxation, or maybe we should call it unfair taxation. Federal spending goes up by $22 billion this year, to a record $280 billion. This will be a record deficit of $58 billion. The government is dreaming in Technicolor about its deficit reduction estimates, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer and many economists have indicated.

This is a tax and spend government if there ever was one. The government is engineering a huge tax shift from large corporations onto the middle class, onto low income earners, onto workers, and onto small corporations. Workers and employers will be saddled with $19 billion in payroll tax hikes and the government is still insisting that Ontarians and British Columbians pay for the harmonized sales tax, which was in this budget. It shifts the tax burden right onto the people who can afford it the least.

While it is taxing Canadians, the government is actually bragging about having the lowest corporate tax rate in the western world, and going lower as indicated on page 48 of the budget, chart 3.1.1. It is already roughly half that of the United States. Slightly lower might make a little sense, but why the huge difference? It is a blatant corporate tax grab, something we cannot afford right now, especially given the last 10 years, where the figures show clearly that tax cuts to big corporations have not resulted in investments or jobs, and the money has flowed to the United States or tax shelters in the Caribbean.

The government's own figures show that for every dollar of expenditure on tax cuts to big corporations, the good economic multipliers that provide stimulus are infrastructure, which sparks $1.60 in GDP growth per dollar; housing, which yields $1.50 per dollar; and spending a loonie on the unemployed gives $1.70 back. The bad investments for each buck are EI premiums at 60¢ on the dollar spent and broad corporate tax cuts, which the government's own figures show bring back only 10¢ to 30¢ to domestic growth, and the other money flows out, as per a table on page 281.

More numbers highlight how much of a tax shift the government is planning quite deliberately. Over the next four years, personal tax revenues are expected to increase by $42 billion, plus $8 billion more coming from GST. That is an increase of $50 billion from citizens versus only $10 billion from corporate taxes, five times the tax increase over the next four years from citizens as opposed to large corporations.

Canadians are concerned about the environment and there was little in this budget for the environment, except talk and inactivity. We have no national standards for drinking water quality. Canadians were expecting to see real action by the government. Instead, what they got were distractions and bafflegab. Instead of real vision and leadership, they got tinkering with the words to O Canada.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned the issue of pensions, which I agree is going to be in a grave situation over the next little while. It certainly will be when it comes to our CPP and guaranteed income supplement and OAS, but also from a private point of view and the security of our current pensions, especially those of direct benefit in nature.

I bring that up because he has the same issue that I have. The pensions at AbitibiBowater were devalued last year by 30%. There has been somewhat of a recovery, but nonetheless they are still devalued at this particular juncture. As the company is in bankruptcy proceedings, I would like him to comment on what the federal government can do to get involved in this particular situation and why this Speech from the Throne sheds absolutely no light on the issue of pension security.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, under Conservative and Liberal governments, for decades we have not fixed the antiquated bankruptcy laws in Canada. It is high time that the House passes the kind of legislation that has been put forward by NDP members again and again, which is to pay workers first in the case of failures by companies rather than big banks and other creditors.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the state of the forestry industry in his constituency and this country. I know he is certainly aware of the private member's bill by the member for Manicouagan. Bill C-429 promotes the use of wood when building, maintaining and repairing federal buildings.

We know that legislation was passed in British Columbia last fall. I think another province is considering or has considered or may even have passed legislation. This member understands the industry very well. How big a contribution could legislation like this make to the long-term viability of the forestry industry? How many jobs could we be looking at if governments were to bring in legislation like this, both at the federal and provincial levels across the country?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, enhancing the value-added products that our forestry industry can produce would not only sequester carbon and create jobs, but also think about what we could be doing right now in places like Haiti if we had ready, resting on the docks of Thunder Bay and the docks of other timber-producing countries, prefab housing for places around the world that suffer natural disasters.

We would come closer to meeting our target of 0.7% of our gross domestic product for aid to foreign countries, create jobs, sequester carbon and see our Canadian flag once again being greeted and welcomed around the world, instead of the disrepair into which it has fallen over the last four years.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know my friend always puts his heart into everything he says in this place. However, I was interested in what he had to say about EI. I know from reading the budget that over $4 billion has been injected by budget 2010 into enhancing EI benefits and training opportunities to get workers from current challenges toward future prosperity.

That includes continuing the five weeks of extra benefits; longer benefits for long-tenured workers; lower thresholds and longer timeframes for work-sharing, which are saving jobs across the country; and more money for training unemployed youth, aboriginals and the pathways to education program.

I would like to know why my hon. colleague and his party did not support these measures in the economic action plan and voted against them again in budget 2010.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, a partial answer is that these are very small steps toward a lofty goal. Unfortunately, as the hon. member knows, the government of former Prime Minister Paul Martin hoisted $57 billion in moneys contributed by workers and corporations across Canada and moved it into general revenues to appear to balance the budget, and appeared to be heroes in doing so.

My party and I are quite concerned when we look at the projections over the next four years, particularly the new worker tax to be imposed on companies and workers across Canada, which will kill jobs and productivity and is the worst possible investment in our GDP

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the 2010 throne speech.

This government has been leading the way on jobs and growth. The Speech from the Throne has outlined the priorities that matter very much to the people in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. It has outlined a strong agenda for year two of our economic action plan to deal with the current global economic crisis. This government is focused on the economy and ensuring a strong recovery. This was certainly evident throughout the Speech from the Throne.

Today I want to talk mainly about what this government is doing for our economy, for our farmers, and to rein in government spending. First, we have frozen government spending in many areas. We are reducing the growth of government spending, and I fully support this.

We are also eliminating waste, and the throne speech outlines one key item where we all know there has been a lot of waste and that is the long gun registry, which it proposes to eliminate. The people of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound cannot wait to see the House of Commons finally approve the elimination of that wasteful Liberal program from another era.

Budget 2010 and the throne speech are delivering for our beef sector, which has faced many challenges since BSE, such as the added cost of handling specified risk materials, known as SRMs. SRMs have cut into the profitability of our beef industry and we are now spending additional money on top of what has been spent in previous years to address the issue. Budget 2010 has committed $75 million to defray the cost of dealing with SRMs, to help develop and implement new technologies to process them and reduce the impact on the industry of the costs involved in removing the SRMs. This is very important to the people in my riding, the second largest beef producing riding in the country.

Another important endeavour this government is undertaking in this new session of Parliament is the announced red tape reduction commission. The elimination of red tape, that is, the unnecessary regulations and other bureaucratic barriers that Canadians and businesses have to face, is a very popular idea in Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound. It is one activity that I think we need to be vigilant about to prevent the government from getting too big and overbearing on Canadians.

I want to talk about something else that is very important to the people in my riding, and that is jobs and growing the economy. Canada's economic action plan is working and helping to keep Canadians working. Our plan is expected to create or maintain 220,000 jobs by the end of this year, with an estimated 130,000 created or maintained to this date. This does not include the 225,000 jobs that were saved through our expanded work-sharing program.

We are in the middle of the largest federal infrastructure investment in over 60 years. We are putting Canadians to work in some 16,000 projects across Canada to build better roads, bridges, public transit, colleges and universities and much more. I have two very important regional recreation centres in my riding that will also benefit from this.

We are providing extra help and training to Canadians who are out of work and are helping businesses to avoid lay-offs and keep Canadians working.

Statistics Canada has recently announced that Canada's economy grew for the second straight quarter, at a 5% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2009. This represents the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in almost a decade. Household spending has increased, thanks to our tax cuts to Canadian families. Spending on homes continued to rebound with help from the temporary home renovation tax credit. Infrastructure spending increased, supported by the stimulus projects well under way across Canada.

Our plan is ensuring that we will lead the global recovery. Not only was Canada at the head of the G7 pack of countries in quarterly economic growth, but we also had the strongest growth in domestic demand. What is more, in the coming year the IMF predicts that Canada's economic growth will be at the head of the G7 pack.

Budget 2010 injects $19 billion more in new stimulus money to create and protect jobs, secure Canada's economic recovery and sustain our economic advantage in a number of ways. It creates jobs and helps Canadian manufacturers, which matter to the people in my riding. It provides personal income tax relief of $3.2 billion, including adjustments to federal tax brackets, enhancing the working income tax benefit, higher child benefits for parents, and lower taxes for low and middle income seniors. The tax measures also include lowering the corporate tax rate to 15% in 2012, moving toward the goal of having the lowest tax rate on new investment in the G7, and a 25% combined federal-provincial corporate tax rate.

Madam Speaker, I should have said earlier that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

We are also going to be improving the taxation of the universal child care benefit by allowing single parents to choose to include it in their own income or to spend it, thereby providing them and single earner, two parent families with similar treatment. This government knows that parents are the best people to care for and know what their children need, not government.

The budget includes continued support for the housing market through the first-time homebuyers' tax credit and access to additional savings in a registered retirement savings plan to purchase or build a home.

The enhanced working income tax benefit will reduce the welfare wall by making work pay more for many low income Canadians.

Budget 2010 also contains $340 million in targeted tax relief for seniors.

Retraining and worker support of over $4 billion is included in the budget to enhance EI benefits and training opportunities to transition workers from current challenges toward future prosperity. This includes an extra five weeks of EI regular benefits for all EI eligible claimants. Long-tenured workers will have greater access to EI regular benefits, as well, and the government is also temporarily extending the maximum length of work-sharing agreements by 14 weeks to avoid layoffs. Workers will be able to work a reduced work week while their employer recovers. This is an investment of $100 million.

We are also providing $1 billion to enhance training opportunities for all Canadian workers. This includes additional support for the provinces and territories to expand training and skills development.

Our government is maintaining the freeze on the EI premium rate at $1.73 per $100 of insurable earnings to the end of 2010.

This budget contains $7.7 billion for infrastructure to create jobs, modernize infrastructure, support home ownership, stimulate the housing sector and improve housing across Canada. This includes $4 billion in provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure, and $2 billion to renew Canada's social housing stock. I have a very important project in my riding that qualified for this. Also included is $780 million for priority federal projects, as well as $285 million for first nations community infrastructure.

With respect to research and development, this government is providing almost $2 billion to develop and attract talent, strengthen research capacity, improve commercialization, accelerate private sector investment and expand market access and competitiveness to build the economy of tomorrow. This includes $1 billion to support deferred maintenance, repair and construction at Canada's colleges and universities. We are also increasing the annual budgets of the three research granting councils to sustain overall support for research, which will lead to increased commercialization in Canada.

Moreover, budget 2010 contains $126 million over five years for TRIUMF, Canada's premier national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics. This is a great item for the people of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, as many of my constituents work at Bruce Power. Our nuclear industry provides many high quality jobs in the riding. This kind of research funding will ensure that Canada continues to have a strong and safe nuclear power resource.

There is also over $450 million over five years in the budget to establish a post-doctoral fellowship program to help attract the research leaders of tomorrow to Canada.

There is targeted support to industries and communities of $2.2 billion, helping to create and maintain jobs in sectors like forestry, agriculture, small business, tourism and culture. This includes $900 million invested in communities that have been particularly hard hit by the economic recession, including $500 million through the community adjustment fund to help communities with fewer than 250,000 people deal with industrial restructuring by investing in new economic opportunities. That includes important infrastructure like broadband. Most members, especially those from rural ridings, will know where I am coming from here.

Another big item in the budget is that the government will eliminate all remaining tariffs on manufacturing inputs and machinery and equipment. We are also providing additional support for small business, forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

Budget 2010 will help protect jobs today and create the jobs and economy of tomorrow, by supporting workers, young workers in particular, and by investing in research and development and strengthening manufacturers and supporting businesses.

Let us take a look at these investments in Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and how year two of the economic action plan will benefit our economy. Under agriculture--

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Perhaps the hon. member could add a few comments in questions and comments.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, my colleague and I share very similar ridings, which is quite rare around these parts when most people are becoming urbanized in nature.

I would like to address one issue concerning a program that was very popular in the government, the RInC program, which was to help smaller communities upgrade their recreational infrastructure. The problem was that it was a 50-50 cost-shared program. For communities that are roughly less than 1,000 people, I am sure the hon. member would agree just how hard it can be to come up with their share of the money given the size of the tax base which is diminishing because of the recession and also because of an urbanizing population.

Should we move toward something that provides a little more incentive for the smaller communities to get involved in infrastructure investments?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Madam Speaker, I understand where the member is coming from, but the history of funding for recreation centres and arenas has traditionally been a provincial responsibility, and through the good efforts of this government we included it. He mentioned the 50% figure. In a perfect world or a very rich world, I guess we could say, 100% funding would be good. Because I come from a very rural area, I understand the problems that small communities face, but at the same time, with 50% funding, municipalities could be a lot worse off. Without that they would have to put up 100%.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member may or may not know that the five biggest banks in 2009 had profits totalling $15.9 billion, yet the government is insisting on reducing their corporate tax rate even further.

In fact, the Bank of Nova Scotia in the first quarter of this year during the recession made a profit of just under $1 billion. Now let us take a look at these corporate executives who work for the banks and see how much money they are taking home while Canadian workers are surviving on employment insurance. The CEOs of Canada's five banks saw their pay go up 10% this year. As a matter of fact, Bank of Nova Scotia CEO Richard Waugh was awarded the biggest increase at 29%, followed by the Bank of Montreal president at 25%. These executives earn $10 million a year in salary and compensation.

How does the member's government think that is fair to working Canadians?