This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was business.

Topics

The House resumed from October 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13 today. I will start by taking about what Bill C-13 should be doing and what we should be doing with any budget bill in 2011. The most recent economic slowdown has made it clear that policy makers and legislators, we in this chamber, have some really important decisions to make to ensure that Canada has an economy that is healthy and responsive to not only the realities of 2011 but also beyond that. This budget is not just about today or next week; it is about Canada's economic future.

The decisions that we are about to make are, in reality, an opportunity to establish an economy of the future for Canada. It could be a green economy. It could be an innovative-based economy. It could be a knowledge-based economy. It is such a gift that we actually get the chance to think about the future and about the direction toward which we want to bring Canada.

I would like to see an economy that is based on green technologies and renewable energy, for example, not fossil fuels. I would like to see an economy where students would not come out of school graduating with crushing student debt, but would have a chance to start work right away, to contribute and invest in their local communities. I would like to see an economy of the future where older workers are supported to transition into new work as industries evolve. I would also like to see an economy where we realize that it costs less to eradicate poverty than it does to pay for the negative effects that poverty has on our system as a whole, in particular our health system and our social security system.

We need to invigorate productivity in the country and we need to promote research and development. I have been working on this in the riding of Halifax. As members probably know, Halifax is an emerging knowledge-based economy. We understand that an innovation and knowledge-based economy will give Canada the flexibility it needs to help the country weather economic ups and downs in a global economy.

I think a paper came out this weekend for the Institute for Research on Public Policy. It said that we needed a renewed research and development strategy, one that stressed the fact that innovation was a key component to the future of our economy.

A report from the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation points out that there are successful and productive systems in countries considered innovation leaders where targeted grants are used instead of just tax breaks. This makes really good sense because Canada has an innovation problem. This has been noted internationally. One way we can help our entrepreneurs, our knowledge thinkers and innovators get a leg up is by having very targeted incentives to reward innovation, to reward solid R and D plans and to reward commercialization of innovation. This is an area where we are lacking. It is not the money per se. We are doing okay when we look at other countries and when we look at what and how much the government is investing. The problem is the lack of strategy. The government is investing in blanket tax cuts and not saying in what direction we should be going.

For example, Halifax has so many PhDs in oceans research. It is really a hub of oceans research and innovation around oceans and marine technology, but we do not have a real strategy to build and develop that. Luckily, we have some incredibly innovative thinkers and civic entrepreneurs who have taken it upon themselves to bring the Bedford Institute of Oceanography together with Dalhousie, the National Research Council and Bionova and facilitate a hub development in Halifax around oceans and marine research.

A lot of that had to do with one person, the vice-president of research and development at Dalhousie, Martha Crago, who said recognized that the people were there and suggested they get together and have coffee. Believe it or not, having a cup of coffee with innovators and entrepreneurs can do a lot to come up with good ideas and strategies for the future that will catapult us toward an innovation and knowledge-based economy.

I point out that the Conservatives do not seem to want to do any of this. They are sticking to their own outdated policies, their pretty ideological policies. It is all about tax cuts. It is not about thinking strategically. This way of thinking is contrary to many of Canada's leading thinkers on this issue.

The government is also ignoring what history and current statistics have taught us; that is tax breaks do not necessarily lead to greater investment by companies in research, innovation or in capital and that improving the conditions for productivity through investment, infrastructure and research is often much more responsive and effective.

However, are we really surprised by that? If we think about recent history, in 2008 the Conservative government was dragged kicking and screaming toward the realization that we actually had an economic crisis. If it were not that the NDP and opposition parties were relentless in telling the Conservatives to wake up and recognize that we were in an economic crisis, pointing it out and showing that there was a way we could get out of this, we would not have even had the stimulus package that was brought forward. We are grateful there was some recognition that we needed a stimulus package, but it lacked that vision for critical investment. It was about policies to give tax cuts and not targeted investments.

Three years later the New Democrats are still focused on addressing the real priorities of Canadian families. We know what those are: jobs, health care, pensions and helping seniors in need. On May 2, Canadians voted for change. This budget is a fantastic opportunity to recognize that and to have that vision for change.

The government should be looking at ways to make life affordable for people. We could look at ways to do the “belt tightening”, but we could invest targeted moneys that would help us save money, for example, and I have talked about it in the House before, pharmacare. Imagine if we had a program that would take a very small amount of initial investment that would save Canadians and the government possibly billions of dollars.

We are one of the few G20 countries in the world that is not negotiating prices for drugs. We just pay whatever the drug companies want us to pay and say that is fine. That makes no sense. The Conservatives purport to be great business leaders. Why are they not at least saying that they will negotiate, because company A has a better price than company B.

Bulk purchasing is a very small step that we could take. We see it happening in individual provinces, like Nova Scotia, and they are saving buckets of money. Why would we not look at programs like pharmacare that could bring down the expenses for government and Canadians, make life more affordable and provide a framework like this?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member alluded to the fact that in the stimulus package brought in by our government there were no targeted investments.

In my community, Wilfred Laurier University had a research and academic centre built, which is very targeted toward the very things the hon. member talks about, and those are technology, innovation and being world leaders. It is extremely targeted to our community because it is a satellite campus that is growing by leaps and bounds. It gives the stimulus for more economic activity around the knowledge economy in my community.

This happened, not only in my community, but there were 13,000 projects across the country, which the member's party voted against. In her opinion was that not targeted?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member was listening. Yes, that is targeted when it comes to a particular community or building, but not in thinking strategically about a future in where we are going with all of this. I will give an example.

In the north we have an incredible research facility north of the Arctic Circle, just about at the North Pole. It does incredible work on climate and predicting weather patterns. It is a top-notch, state-of-the-art, beautiful facility, but no one is there. It is empty. We built it, but there are no scientists or researchers there because we are not continuing to fund the thinkers. We are not continuing to fund the innovators so they can actually use the equipment that is there and work toward a better future for Canada.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has talked a great deal on the priority of this session, which is jobs, jobs and jobs. The government has fallen short in coming up with innovative ideas that would materialize those real jobs necessary in our community.

My question for my colleague is with regard to housing programs and investing in programs that would improve our housing stocks across the country, particularly in some of our urban centres where there is a need for that. Does she see a benefit in having a home renovation program put in to place on an annual basis? I believe this would guarantee good solid jobs within an industry that is in need, especially when we look at the importance of housing across the country.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right to point out what investing in housing could do for people.

I held a press conference in an empty lot in Halifax to talk about the fact that the lot was slated for affordable housing development. I had members from the construction trade unions with me who said that these were jobs, that they were ready to build and that they had the expertise. A fantastic woman, who does home retrofits, talked about the impact of building energy efficient housing and how it could help our environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also had folks from the low-income community saying that if it was built, they would have housing.

What is the solution to the housing crisis? It is building houses. It is a win, win, win.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I have a question for her about the government's lack of vision. She said that the government's budget was lacking vision. What suggestions does my colleague have for turning our economy into a green economy, as she said?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I know the Conservatives do not like the word “strategy”. I know they do not like the word “plan”. However, that is what we need. We need a strategy and we need to think about how we move forward. I see no plan. It is just willy-nilly and it will not help us in the future.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is not about this week or next week. It is about the future of our economy and we need strategy.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address the House on this issue. As this is the first time I have been able to formally stand in the House since my election in May, I hope the House will indulge me for a few moments for some brief comments.

First, I want to thank all those constituents who had confidence in me and voted for me to return to Ottawa as their representative to our federal government. It is an honour and a privilege to be returned to Ottawa as the member of Parliament for the great riding of Medicine Hat, and I am humbled by the opportunity and r the overwhelming support I received from constituents from Bassano to Brooks, Barnwell to Taber, Vauxhall to Scandia to Rosemary, Bow Island to Foremost, Elkwater to Irvine, Redcliff to Medicine Hat, and all those exceptional communities in between.

I especially want to recognize some individuals who volunteered and worked so hard giving their time and energy to re-elect me under the excellent direction of my campaign manager, Dan Hein and his wife Pat, and all their tireless work. Our sign coordinator, Bob DesRosiers; official agent, Dale Stein; our office staff managed by Judy and Earl Morris; and the many enthusiastic volunteers and friends without whom the campaign would have been much more difficult. I thank each and every one of them.

I also thank my children and grandchildren for their encouragement. Most of all, I thank my life partner, my wife, Micheline. Without her support I would not have been able to carry on the rigorous campaign or to continue the extremely important role as a member of Parliament. I promise that I will do my utmost to ensure that their concerns are heard here in Ottawa. They deserve nothing less. Not only did they show wise judgment and character in re-electing me, but also by helping send a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government to Ottawa they were sending a clear message to all Canadians. The people of the Medicine Hat constituency wanted a party with a solid grip on the economy and the only party with the experience to push the agenda through. Our government has shown that it cares about communities and ridings like my own.

We are assembled here today to discuss an important bill, the budget implementation act. It would create jobs and growth, which, of course, is a key part of our plan. As members know, the heart of our plan builds on five years of work that has already been completed by our government. We will continue to deliver on our low tax agenda. We will continue to support a highly-skilled, innovative workforce, which is key to growing our economy and ensuring that we will remain in the top of the pack when it comes to job creation.

Although we have made much progress in ensuring Canada has stayed strong during the global economic downturn, we have much more to do to ensure that we are well equipped to resist future economic pressures.

it is important to note that we have had seven straight quarters of economic growth since 2009. Our government's progressive economic policies have led to the creation of at least 600,000 jobs as well.

We have made it the foundation of our government's plan to support Canadian families. We have delivered numerous tax credits to families and individuals. Families now pay, on average, $3,000 less in taxes than they did before we introduced our tax reduction in our government's economic action plan.

Our government has promised to deliver investments in education. Our plan is to invest millions of dollars in research and development.

Our plan also involves the hard-working taxpayer whose contributions allow us to make Canada a great nation. That is why we have committed to closing tax loopholes and resorting to other measures to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang for their bucks.

The President of the Treasury Board has also been given a mandate to find $4 billion of savings by finding inefficiencies in all federal government departments.

We have done so much to promote job creation and economic growth. Our government has expanded tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments.We have extended the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector.

This government has simplified customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and lower the administrative burden for businesses. We have extended for two years the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment. This will allow manufacturing processing firms in my riding of Medicine Hat to improve production efficiency and further job creation opportunities.

We have eliminated the mandatory retirement age for federal regulated employees. We have also ordered the formation of the red tape reduction committee. We are supporting unemployed workers by strengthening the EI system so that newly unemployed Canadians can use their best 14 weeks for EI claims. A new hiring credit for small business has been initiated. This is a temporary, one-time credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2010. The new credit will help up to 525,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring.

We are also supporting our young entrepreneurs by investing $20 million to enable the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to continue to help young entrepreneurs succeed.

What do industry stakeholders say? Well, the Toronto Board of Trade said that it:

...welcomed new initiatives to spur small-business productivity and hiring, such as the Hiring Credit for Small Business. SMEs are the engines of job growth. Spurring productivity and employment growth among SMEs, as this Budget does, should help Canada’s economic recovery.

As I mentioned before, we will continue to support families and communities across Canada, communities like my own in the Medicine Hat constituency. We will legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable, long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities.

We will introduce a volunteer firefighter tax credit of up to $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who bravely serve their communities. We will implement a new children's arts tax credit up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, cultural, recreational and development activities. We will implement a new family caregiver tax credit in an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of loved ones with infirmities, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

Again, we have found support among industry stakeholders. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:

...budget [2011] delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a new, long-term federal infrastructure plan.

I will go back to our plan to support education, innovation and training. Our government has committed to forgiving debt for doctors and nurses who pledge to work in remote and underserved areas. The following is what the Canadian Medical Association had to say:

The initiative to address the shortage of primary care physicians recognizes the particular challenges of providing health care in rural and remote areas of the country.

I will now talk about the targeted initiative for older workers for which the budget adds $50 million. In particular, this program was very successful and the working in successful employment, or WISE program, has been very successful in Medicine Hat. Actually, seven out of ten individuals who took that program have already secured employment.

Some of my colleagues talked about the housing initiative. In the Medicine Hat riding, some $741,000 has gone toward funding for housing. I also want to talk very briefly about the Medalta historic site in Medicine Hat. We received about $3.4 million to help with the renovations and construction on this national historic site. That was in our budget from the historic society, as well as $3 million from the community adjustment fund.

Those are just a few examples of what has happened under Canada's economic action plan. The people of the Medicine Hat constituency live in a more prosperous and productive economic environment. Our government has continued to support the communities in the riding of Medicine Hat and other communities right across this country.

The next phase of our economic action plan, contained in budget 2011. encompasses many ways of achieving this as we deliver our great country toward prosperity. There is no doubt that budget 2011 is worthy of support.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on what my colleague from Halifax had touched on in her presentation, which is the failure of the government to recognize the innovation agenda.

What we have seen in other jurisdictions is that just going down the tax credit route for R and D actually fails. We have corporations sitting on tons of cash and they are not investing. However, when we look at other jurisdictions, and I will reference Germany, there are no tax credits for R and D. It invests in the public sector and is doing much better.

I am wondering why the government continues to go down the path of corporate taxes without any strings to get those companies to invest when the Minister of Finance acknowledges that he cannot get them to invest. He is trying to encourage them but he does not have the policy framework. R and D is not working in this country because of failed policies.

Why is the government not looking at other jurisdictions, like Germany which has successfully invested in the public sector to get things moving for R and D?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that our government has invested more money in research and development than any other previous government.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

An hon. member

The Grain Growers.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

In particular, I would like to read the following quote:

The Grain Growers are also pleased with the announcement of a $50 million fund for research and innovation.... Farmers from across Canada have lobbied aggressively for the Government to invest in this area, and they have heard us.

We have also heard them.

In addition to that, through our knowledge infrastructure program, millions and millions of dollars have been invested in universities and colleges right across Canada, including the Medicine Hat College in my own riding.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it may surprise the government but I agree with some of the tax credits that have been put into this budget implementation plan. In fact, the ones dealing with home caregivers and volunteer firemen were in our own platform as well. The reason we put them in and made them refundable was because we wanted to ensure that everybody had a chance to benefit from them, including low income Canadians.

Does the member believe that the government should consider making these tax credits refundable?Otherwise, low income Canadians will not be able to take advantage of them. I am sure that his government wants all Canadians to benefit from these tax credits, which are good.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was in Tilley, Alberta, which is a very small community in my riding. It opened a brand new fire department and has a new fire engine. The fire chief and the volunteer firefighters were absolutely delighted with the funding that we are providing through this tax credit. They told me that without that tax credit, a lot of them would have considered not volunteering again. That tax credit spurred them on and they will continue to volunteer their services to their communities.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member for Medicine Hat is with regard to innovation.

The member talked about education, innovation and training. I want to let the House know that last week I visited a company in my riding of Mississauga South called Electrovaya. It manufactures lithium ion batteries for plug-in electric vehicles. In the last year alone, it doubled its staff to over 100 and part of that had to do with the fact that it received funding, through the Department of Industry, Science and Technology's clean energy fund, for this project.

I wonder if the member for Medicine Hat has a similar story to tell about his riding or from his travels where innovation and our policies in that area have helped out a business.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased to hear that the innovation moneys we are providing to companies across Canada is working, in particular in the riding of Mississauga South. That just shows that our government is listening. We are putting our budget dollars in the right place to ensure we can grow the economy and create jobs.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-14, especially after having had a chance to talk to a number of constituents in my riding last week to see the real picture of what is happening at the ground level.

The week before the break I heard my Conservative colleagues talk about how we are ranked number one by the IMF, Forbes magazine and a number of different organizations internationally and how we are doing so well compared to the G7.

I also heard my colleagues talk about spending $50 million here, $50 million there, $200 million here. Those are hollow words. If we look at what is happening in our communities, that is not translating into jobs. The Conservatives do not believe in statistics and real facts. They are cherry-picking some of the numbers to highlight that they are working toward a great plan. The problem is they do not have a plan. The Conservatives do not have an economic action plan that will help our communities and create jobs locally. Basically, they pretend to have a plan through a piecemeal process.

After having had a chance to visit in my community, I would suggest that the Conservatives get out of this Ottawa bubble and visit real communities and people to see what is happening. There are two million Canadians who are unemployed or underemployed.

I had a chance to visit the South Fraser Community Services Society last week. I commend the members of its staff for the wonderful job they do under very difficult circumstances with the resources and tools they have available. The South Fraser Community Services Society provides valuable services to the community. It provides shelters for homeless people. It helps them with their medical needs. It provides counselling and helps people find permanent housing. The staff is wonderful. I was pleased to see what they are doing for the community.

The Conservatives talk about the prosperity of this country. What is troubling is that 20% of the people using shelters are employed but are not making enough money to pay for housing. Not only are there those who are unemployed in this country, but there are also the working poor who are not making ends meet. In the bubble within which the Conservatives live, they do not see what is happening in the communities. In my community I did not see the prosperity the Conservatives speak about.

The Conservatives talk about a great trickle-down economics plan, but it is not trickling down to average families in my community. The Conservatives talk about a different Canada which I did not see in my community.

The Conservatives talk about cutting corporate taxes and giving billions of dollars to their friends yet they are raising taxes on working families. For example, over the last year gas prices have been rising almost daily. The oil companies are making big money. There is tax on gas. More money is being siphoned from average families who are having difficulty making ends meet.

If we look at the price of food, what I am hearing from my constituents is that the bag of groceries they are buying with today's dollars is not enough to carry them through the week because taxes are being raised on a number of items. If the pricesof food goes up, the tax also goes up. The government is giving away billions of taxpayers' dollars to corporations yet it is taxing the working families who are having a tough time making ends meet.

We need real action to create jobs. The Conservatives simply do not have a plan. We need to provide relief for families who are paying higher taxes, higher gas prices and higher grocery bills. We need to provide relief for students. The Conservatives say they are investing in universities but it is piecemeal investment. It does not make sense because they do not have a plan. Basically, their plan is to give away billions of dollars to corporations. They have done that consistently over the last seven or eight years.

I hear my friends across the aisle talk about the economic engine that drives our country. On this side of the House we know that economic engine is small business, the mom and pop operations that drive our economy. I do not know why the Conservatives are against small businesses. If they believe in an economic strategy and that small businesses create jobs, then we need to provide relief for small businesses.

There is $500 billion sitting with corporations but they are not investing. When small businesses make money and prosper they spend their money locally. They do not send it to another country. Yet we do not have a plan from my friends across the aisle.

The tax rate for large corporations has been cut enough over the past years. We need a real economic action plan that would provide relief to families, that would invest in our communities, and that would create local jobs to help this country move forward. Clearly, the Conservatives' plan, which is not a plan, is not moving our country forward.

Further reducing taxes for large corporations basically gives away billions of dollars, money which comes from families, working class people and small businesses. That is not fair. We need a real economic action plan. I suggest that my colleagues across the aisle get on with it and invest in local jobs. They should get out of this Ottawa bubble and visit their communities to see what is happening.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised by my colleague's attitude this morning. He is generally a positive guy but he is grumpy today. Maybe he had a bad constituency week.

My colleague is implying that there is no plan. If he would take the time to look, there have been 650,000 new jobs created. There is no better plan for a person who is trying to make ends meet than a good job.

The member also complains that there are no targeted investments. Bill C-13 includes green energy investments. As well, there are targeted investments in communities. The permanent gas tax funding will help municipalities with long-term planning and initiatives.

What the member is really missing are the amazing investments that the bill makes in education and training, forgiving loans for new doctors, helping apprentices in skilled trades and improving federal assistance for students. These are all fantastic initiatives.

Why would the NDP be against helping students and our next generation get the kind of good jobs that they need to support their families?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the aisle has correctly stated that I am grumpy. I am grumpy because I have spoken with my constituents and the Conservatives' economic policy is not trickling down to my constituents. They have elected me to be their voice. I am grumpy because my constituents have told me what matters to them. Clearly, the Conservatives' action plan is not helping.

With regard to the employment numbers, the government now claims to have created 660,000 new jobs. That is also a distortion. We know the Conservatives do not believe in facts and stats. We have barely seen 200,000 new jobs since the pre-recessionary employment high point in 2008, yet the labour force has grown by 450,000.

Basically, the Conservatives fudge the numbers or cherry-pick them. That is not--

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The hon. member will know there may be other members who wish to ask a question.

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Surrey North for his capable exposition of his party's position and his support for small business. This being small business week, I do want to add my concern about the Conservative budget picking large business over small business.

The billions of dollars that would come out of the treasury and into the coffers of larger more profitable businesses is a choice the Conservatives are making. It is their choice to spend that money on large businesses rather than make those funds available for small businesses. What small businesses would receive is a tax hike.

I ask my colleague from Surrey North how would businesses in his riding deal with the 5.6% increase in EI premiums next year that would be taking a further $1.2 billion out of businesses? How would those small businesses feel about having their payroll taxes go up?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen over the years the large giveaways to large corporations and money being taken from the small businesses which will be facing a payroll tax in the new year. I am glad the member brought that up because that is what the Conservatives believe in. They believe in taking money away from small businesses and families, taxing them, and giving it to their friends. Frankly, that is not fair.

I have talked with a number of small businesses in my constituency. They are already hurting. They were hurt by the government when it introduced the HST. That hurt our construction industry quite a bit. We are barely recovering from that. That is where small business is hurting. Clearly, the Conservatives are bent on giving away billions more dollars to large corporations.

We have a corporate tax rate that is one of the lowest in the G7 and G20. We are competitive. We do not need to give more money away to large corporations.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic action plan has assisted Canada to have the strongest job growth record in the G7 with nearly 600,000 net new jobs having been created since July 2009. The IMF projects that Canada will continue to have the strongest economic growth among the G7 over the next two years. We are not immune from the global economic turbulence and that is why we have to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

In the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing bill, our government is focused on what matters to Canadians: creating jobs and promoting economic growth. The incredible investments our government has made in my community of Mississauga East—Cooksville have enabled us to weather the economic turbulence with major investments that have enhanced the lives of those living in our community.

Mississauga, Ontario is one of Canada's most diverse and quickly growing cities. Canada's economic action plan invested in the city specifically in Celebration Square. This square will do what Mississauga has struggled to do for years: develop a city-wide spirit. The public square of the 1950s where people could go to meet and enjoy their community is back and thriving in Mississauga. Thanks to Canada's economic action plan, this dream was realized and the square is now fully functional and is being used by tens of thousands of people, bringing the population of one of Canada's largest cities together.

Canada's economic action plan investments have redeveloped the Lorne Park, Lakeview and Burnhamthorpe libraries. We have rehabilitated more than 20 roads and invested in transit priorities and garage repairs. We have added additional lighting in 73 parks and neighbourhoods, resulting in safer play spaces and communities for all our citizens.

Mississauga has had its old water mains replaced, reservoirs rehabilitated and its Meadowvale north pumping station expanded. Community centres have been resurrected. Entire communities have been raised from the ground up because our government's economic action plan was in place to help those who needed it the most.

There were 60,000 net new jobs created in September. Over 90% of those are full time and over 80% are in the private sector. Many people who were struggling before the economic action plan are now enjoying a better life because they are working at jobs they love and participating in Canadian life.

Canada's economic action plan has produced the results that Canadians needed, but the global economic turbulence means we must stay the course. We must continue on the road we are currently travelling in order to maintain the strength and stability that we are building. The second phase of Canada's economic action plan is a much needed continuation.

We will invest in job creation and economic growth by providing a temporary hiring credit for small businesses. We will expand tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments. We will extend the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector. We will simplify customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and lower the administrative burden for businesses. We will eliminate the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery to support the manufacturing and processing sector. We will eliminate the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees in order to give older workers who wish to remain in the workplace the opportunity to choose the option that works best for them.

The second phase of Canada's economic action plan will help families by introducing a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers of all types to participate and make memories with their loved ones who fall terminally ill. We will also remove the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit in respect of financially dependent relatives. We will continue to help families by introducing a new children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

We will invest in education and training by forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas. We all want Canada's students to succeed in the global economy with the help of the best education possible. We will invest in our students by improving federal financial assistance for students so they can continue to gain the education they need to continue toward their dreams. We will make it easier to allocate registered education savings plan assets among siblings without incurring tax penalties or forfeiting Canada's education savings grants. We are doubling the in-study income exemption from $50 per week to $100 per week, benefiting over 100,000 students by allowing them to work more without negatively affecting their loans.

We are going to support communities by legislating a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities. We are going to enhance the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy or receivership. This government will support the tireless hard work of volunteer firefighters by introducing a volunteer firefighters tax credit.

This government will respect the taxpayers by phasing out the direct subsidies of political parties and closing numerous tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

The government will support seniors by enhancing the GIS, enhancing the new horizons program, and extending the eco-energy retrofit program.

We recognize the vital role that small businesses play in the economy and job creation. That is why we declared 2011 the year of the entrepreneur. We are committed to helping entrepreneurs grow their business and succeed.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan includes a number of measures to further enable small businesses and entrepreneurs to grow and create jobs. This includes a new hiring credit for small businesses. This is a temporary one-time credit. This credit will help up to 520,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring. We will reduce the red tape and support youth entrepreneurs by investing $20 million in them. This builds on the government's significant action to reduce taxation for small businesses. We will reduce the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%. These reductions will help create jobs and economic growth for Canadian families and communities by making Canada the greatest country in which to develop a business.

Canada has seven straight quarters of economic growth. We will remain on track to balance the budget by 2015. This builds on top of the action the government has taken since 2006 to support Canadians. We have cut taxes over 120 times since forming government. We have cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. We have removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We have increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 5%.

We have also introduced enhancements to the universal child care benefit, the child tax credit. We have introduced a fitness tax credit. We have brought in the landmark tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs.

We introduced the registered disability savings plan to help families who have children with disabilities. Families are benefiting from other new targeted measures, like the first-time home buyers' tax credit and the public transit tax credit.

This government's strong record—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I regret to tell the member that the time allocated for his remarks has expired. We will now move on to questions and comments.

The hon. member for Kings—Hants.