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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

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand today in support of Bill C-13, Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act. The passage of this bill is very important to my riding of Newmarket—Aurora, as it is to all Canadians.

Bill C-13 would complete the passage of budget 2011. It contains measures that are critically important for Canada's long-term prosperity by boosting research and development, innovation and productivity. It speaks to what Canadians elected us to do, focusing on economic growth, job creation and stability.

I will direct most of my comments today on how Bill C-13 supports job creation in my riding. Over the past months, I have met with thousands of residents in my community, whether at the door, on the street, or in my office, and, by far, the top of mind priorities above all others were jobs and the economy. They made it very clear to me that they wanted their government to focus squarely on these priorities, jobs and economic growth. Why is this? It is because a stable, growing economy creates job opportunities. It supports families and it creates confidence. It is the fundamental backbone of what vibrant communities and a prosperous nation are all about.

Newmarket--Aurora is comprised of thousands of entrepreneurs, most of them small and medium sized businesses. They will all benefit from the one time hiring credit for small business of up to $1,000 contained in budget 2011 and formalized in Bill C-13. Through this measure, over 525,000 employers across Canada will be helped with the costs of additional hiring. This is an average of almost 1,400 businesses in each of the 308 ridings across the country. With this initiative, a small business can hire one additional worker at a salary of up to $40,000 or two part-time workers at a salary of up to $20,000 each without having to pay additional EI premiums.

Entrepreneurs in my riding would benefit from budget 2011 measures to support the development of clean energy technologies through a $97 million investment over two years to renew funding for technology and innovation in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency. Measures, such as the new children's arts tax credit and the extension of the eco-energy retrofit homes program, are boosting economic activity in hardware shops, contracting companies, music and art stores across my riding, just as they are throughout the country.

Manufacturing and processing businesses would benefit from the extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance rate that encourages investments in machinery and equipment. This measure builds squarely upon our previous support for the manufacturing sector.

Last week, Statistics Canada released a report showing that manufacturing sales rose 1.4% to $47.6 billion in August, the highest level since October 2008. In fact, last Friday, a news release from AirBoss of America crossed my desk. AirBoss has its head office in my hometown of Newmarket with manufacturing plants in Kitchener, Ontario; Acton-Vale, Quebec; and North Carolina. The news release announced the securement of two contracts worth $20 million with the U.S. department of defense in supplying that company's rubber based products. So we know that strategic investments, like the accelerated capital cost allowance rate, the hiring tax credit for small business and the expansion of tax support for clean energy generation, are working to create jobs for Canadians.

Indeed, earlier this month, Forbes magazine rated Canada as the best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs.

I am very excited that budget 2011 provides $20 million to support young entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, resources and start-up financing through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Many business icons today began their careers as budding entrepreneurs and this investment would help create the business leaders of tomorrow.

I would like to share a few examples from my riding of Newmarket—Aurora of how these initiatives create jobs.

Earlier this year, I announced a contribution of $115,000 for the National Research Council of Canada industrial research assistance program, or IRAP, to Treefrog Interactive Inc.

Treefrog is an award-winning Newmarket graphic design and web development agency and a shining example of a leading-edge small business. The IRAP funds, made possible through Canada's economic action plan, allowed Treefrog to fund an innovative research and development project and create new products for local and international markets. Sean Stephens, the CEO of Treefrog Interactive, said in February of this year:

These last few years, help from the federal government stimulus has been a clear and inspiring drive for us at Treefrog. Where many talk about a period of “recession”, we at Treefrog talk about a period of “innovation”. Thanks to IRAP, we have greatly increased our staff, doubled our revenue, significantly matured our products and helped many other businesses grow through web initiatives in the region--mostly through innovations in our products. This period of incredible growth has been through that extra little “shot in the arm” from IRAP--and we have Canada, through IRAP and the federal government, to thank for it.

Here is another success story in my riding.

Last year, a collaborative project led by the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce involving the Newmarket Public Library, South Lake Regional Health Centre, town of Newmarket and Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution received $2.1 million from Canada's action plan for a shared digital infrastructure project. The project created new community partnerships and received national recognition.

The Newmarket Chamber of Commerce was able to parlay this investment into an asset now benefiting hundreds of entrepreneurs, businesses, community organizations and residents through this information-sharing infrastructure. The past president of the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, Jim Gragtmans, regarding the success of this project said last year, “Dozens of jobs have been created. New creative and effective partnerships have been established and we are only beginning”.

Canada's economic action plan has assisted many businesses in my riding to expand, innovate and create jobs. In the town of Aurora, for example, Axiom Group Inc. was able to extend its product line and open new markets through support from the southern Ontario development fund and industrial research assistance program.

In fact, last year I was honoured to present, on behalf of the minister of state, a Canadian innovation leader certificate to Axiom President, Perry Rizzo, in recognition of that company's success. On the assistance that Mr. Rizzo received from Canada's action plan, he said:

We appreciate the SODP and its contribution to helping small to medium sized businesses like Axiom create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the local community of Aurora and abroad.

We know that small business owners and entrepreneurs create jobs and generate wealth in communities across Canada. Our government declared 2011 the official year of the entrepreneur to help increase public awareness of the important role played by small businesses.

It is most fitting that we are debating Bill C-13, keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, during small business week. By supporting our small and medium-sized businesses we support all Canadians by facilitating the conditions for investment and job creation.

It is important to note that Bill C-13 supports the creation of jobs and economic growth by allowing the continuation of work done by the red tape reduction commission to root out and cut business red tape. We know that red tape ties up Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs, reduces their competitiveness, and forces them to spend time and money that could be better spent strengthening Canada's economic recovery.

In January 2011, our government fulfilled its budget 2010 commitment by establishing the red tape reduction commission, to which I am honoured to have been appointed. Bill C-13 allows the means to continue this important work and the commission will present its final recommendations for lasting reforms in the coming months based on the “What Was Heard” report released last month.

I also want to note that among the many significant measures contained in Bill C-13, of great importance to my riding and all municipalities across the country is the legislation to make permanent gas tax funding for municipalities. It is why Bill C-13 and its key job creating measures, like the hiring credit for small businesses, are critically important as we continue to solidify our recovery and position Canada for a prosperous future. That is what Canadians want.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my esteemed colleague talking about the reduction in the number of public servants, especially at Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Is my colleague aware of what is happening right now in the City of Montreal? It has adopted exactly the same approach to public service reductions, especially in any area related to engineering.

The city is left with a public service that is incapable of judging the nature and value of the work it is responsible for. Is this a good way to go, from a public administration perspective? Does anyone really think this will save any money?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, no, I did not actually address that in my speech, but I am very pleased to speak to it. Our government was given a very strong mandate to take care of taxpayers' dollars and to be responsible to taxpayers for what we spend. We have asked every department to go through its own strategic review and to find savings within their department. As we find those, we will pass those savings on to taxpayers.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in her speech she talked a lot about these places that have created jobs over the past little while.

I read headlines from her riding with regard to 2008-09 and about all the job losses that were at the Newmarket—Aurora plants, concerning Magna. I wonder at what level the economic action plan has actually worked for these people because I am still hearing quite a bit of noise from that area about all the job losses that took place. I wonder if she would like to comment on that.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is correct. We did go through a drastic job loss. In fact, overnight, we lost 800 jobs when two of the Magna plants were closed very suddenly.

However, through the work of the economic action plan, many of the plants that I talked about in my speech have created jobs that have created opportunities for those people to be hired into new positions. For people who were in need of retraining, we put in place the measures through employment insurance that gave them the opportunity for retraining. We also put in place the work share program which preserved a number of jobs that could have otherwise been lost, and those jobs are still ongoing.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I know the speaker did not mention it, but her colleague, the Minister of Labour, talked about what she referred to as the per vote subsidy and how this is an unfair subsidy of political parties by the taxpayer.

However, I wonder if she would care to comment on the distinction between what this particular method of financing political parties, which is pretty democratic in nature, each voter, regardless of his or financial ability, can trigger a contribution to the public purse to a political party by his or her vote; for example, over a four year cycle, $8.00. Whereas what is left in place is a system whereby if an individual gives $100, for example, to the Conservative Party that triggers a taxpayer contribution of $75 back to the taxpayer, effectively subsidizing the contribution.

So, we really have a system that is being left in place that actually can only be accessed by people who have money; whereas the individual $2.00 per vote payment is a more democratic one available to every single person.

Does she not think that it is much fairer to say that each voter can trigger a public contribution by his or her vote rather than by someone who can afford to contribute $100 to a political party?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to that because it really was a campaign promise that we made, that we would reduce these subsidies.

We believe that a political party ought to be able to persuade citizens of Canada to support it through their own contributions by the programs that it is putting forward or the philosophy that it represents and every Canadian, regardless of the money that he or she has is able to contribute any amount he or she wants. Five dollars is a contribution that we have seen in the past and I believe that every Canadian has the opportunity to donate that from his or her own pocket. It is a very fair system. It is a very generous system that we have. I believe that Canadians will choose to support the political party that best represents them.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to give the perspective of the constituents of Vancouver Kingsway to Bill C-13. I have read the bill and given a great deal of thought and analysis to it. I would like to point out a few things that come to my mind as some preliminary observations about the bill.

First of all, the bill provides some positive measures. The bill also contains some negative measures and most notably from my analysis, the predominant feature of the bill is that it is marked by what it does not deal with, what it is silent on.

In terms of some of the positive measures that are contained in the bill, I would like to point out some of them and congratulate the government on picking up what are some policies that most Canadians would support. First, the bill offers partial loan forgiveness for family physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners who begin practising in underserved rural or remote areas. This is a provision that I personally must stand in support of in the House because it mirrors in part a private member's bill that I drafted a year and half ago and introduced in the House.

I proposed a bill that would reward doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who serve in underserviced areas with a freeze on their Canadian student loans for the first five years of practice and then for each year from year 6 through 10, they would have their loan erased at the rate of 20% per year meaning that rural and underserviced areas in our health care system in terms of family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners would get that very important service. People who practised in those areas would have their federal loans forgiven as a result of that commitment.

The bill also introduces a family caregiver tax credit for caregivers of infirm dependants. Once again, that is a positive measure although, as has been pointed out by many experts in the tax field, the government is moving toward increasing reliance on the use of tax credits and that reflects a certain philosophy of delivering government programs that is not without its problems. Most notably, it requires Canadian families to lay out the money first and then claim the tax credit much later. For millions of Canadians that is simply not a reality. For millions of Canadian families they simply do not have that money to lay out at first and so tax credits are of limited utility.

The bill also provides a temporary measure to refund a portion of employer premiums for small business. This is truly a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, although one must support a measure that would refund a portion of EI premiums for employers and workers in this challenged economic time. On the other hand, we must also remember that it was the government that is raising EI premiums starting in January to the tune of $2 billion per year.

Taking back money or giving businesses the ability to save some money after having their overall premiums raised is a cynical approach to politics that Canadians should be aware of. Also, Canadians must always remember when we talk about EI that the EI surplus of over $50 billion, premiums paid by the businesses and the workers of this country to create an insurance fund for them to draw in times of high unemployment, which as I will talk about in a few minutes we are experiencing right now in Canada, and taking that money and putting it into general revenue is still an unredressed problem that cries out for redress.

The bill also expands the eligibility for accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and conservation equipment. Again, that is a positive measure; however, in the grand scheme of things and I see my colleague from Halifax is here who has done wonderful work on the environment file, I am sure she would point out to the House, as has been done day after day, that this measure is really a drop in the ocean in terms of what Canada must do in terms of clean energy creation and environmental protection.

In terms of some of the negative things in this bill, as we have heard, the bill proposes to end the per vote subsidy for political parties that receive more than a certain percentage of the vote. If I am not mistaken, I think it is more than 5% of the vote. In my view this is a regressive policy and it amounts to poor public policy at the same time. Canada has created what can be fairly regarded as one of the finest and fairest election finance systems in the world. Canadians want an electoral system that is fair and is controlled by the citizens of our country.

The features of our federal campaign and electoral finance system are as follows. We have put in measures that limit the contributions of any one person to $1,100, so that takes big money out of politics. It has eliminated donations entirely from corporations and trade unions. That has taken the influence of non-individuals out of politics. It has set spending limits in what we can spend in a particular riding in an election and what we can spend nationally in a campaign. It evens the playing field and again it takes big money out of our political system. In short, it is a system that enshrines the concept of democracy run by people, paid for by people and to serve the people.

Canadians have a great interest democracy. Democracy is not free. A democratic system must be paid for. However, a democracy that is paid for by the public means that we do not have a democracy that is bought and paid for by private interests. I think that is what Canadians want. They want a publicly financed democracy, not a privately financed democracy.

Interestingly, in Afghanistan right now our troops are fighting ostensibly for the establishment of democracy in there. The public financing of the electoral system here in Canada helps maintain a democracy in our country.

As has been pointed out by my colleague from Newfoundland just a few moments ago, providing public money based on the number of votes that a party gets at the rate of $2 per vote is the fairest way of all to finance political parties in our country. The government has said that it does not want that. It wants parties to go out and raise money from private sector citizens, that this does not represent a subsidy, but we know that is not true.

People who contribute to a party get back, at taxpayer funded expense, 75% of the first $400 they donate and that declines to 66% for the next $350 and then 50% for the remainder of the $1,100. Therefore, we do have public subsidies of donations to political parties. The only question is one of philosophy, whether, as the Conservatives want, we do that through private interest as opposed to public funds, which the New Democrats support.

I want to talk briefly about the economy in our country. Millions of Canadians across the country know they are having a difficult time right now. They know this economy is not working for them. Statistic after statistic shows that over the last 25 years there is a growing gap between the wealthy and the poor in our country.

We also know, with statistical certainty, that the middle class is shrinking. That is because of policies pursued by the Conservatives and the Liberals before them for the past 25 years, policies of incessant corporate tax cuts, of shrinking government, of reducing public services, of pursuing free trade agreements and lowering tariffs and of attacking workers and the trade unions, which is one of the only forces that is serving to create and fight for good, family-sustaining, middle-class jobs with benefits.

The government stands in the House every day and brags that it has created 600,000 jobs since the recession began, but what kind of jobs are those? We do not hear it talk about the quality of those jobs. Those jobs are temporary, in large part, they are part-time, they are low-paying, they do not have benefits and they are primarily in the service sector. Hundreds of thousands of those jobs are those types. The government cannot take the good, middle-class, family-sustaining jobs with benefits, erase them and then replace them with $10 an hour mc jobs and call that an economic success. The government is doing exactly that.

Millions of people around the world are talking about the 99% of us who are no longer going to tolerate 1% owning 40% of the wealth in our country. The government should pay attention to that sentiment and start pursuing policies that reflect equitably a better share of the wealth of the country so we have an economy that works for everyone.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite closely to my hon. colleague's comments and I could not help but think that the NDP had finally reverted to what that party really was, spokespeople for a few special interest groups, the big unions in our country. It is not about jobs, or opportunity, or trying to find a free trade agreement with likeminded countries around the world or fairness. It is about special interests.

If Forbes magazine can say that Canada is the best country in the world in which to invest, if we have created 680,000 jobs and other countries around the world have been unable to, when an economic crisis is ready to swallow up Greece and perhaps Spain and Portugal as well and when we look around by every parameter and see we have done better than other countries, how can the hon. member say what he has said?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that simply is not true and the premise that New Democrats are a party of special interests is thoroughly flawed. We are a party that represents the vast majority of Canadians, the millions of hard-working middle-class and working-class families that go to work every day to try to put a paycheque on the table.

The median total family income in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway is $51,000 a year and 40% of the families in my riding live on total family income of less than $40,000 a year. This is a place where the average house costs $800,000 and the average two bedroom apartment rents for $1,200 a month.

I would ask my friend what special interests his government represents when it tables a budget that does nothing to address the housing problems faced by these people in our country? The budget does nothing to create affordable housing, child care or—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat enjoying the member's speech until he hit the one part where he mentioned the Conservatives and the Liberals and their corporate tax cut agenda. There is no doubt that the Liberal Party has recognized the value of corporate tax cuts in certain situations, economic times and so forth. The Liberal Party is opposed to the tax breaks that have been given by the Conservative government in both the last budget and this budget. We have called for those tax cuts to be put on hold.

Just over a year ago I stood inside the Manitoba legislature when the NDP government gave corporate tax breaks. Would he suggest that the NDP government in Manitoba was wrong, as I would suggest, which I suggested back then? Giving corporate tax breaks to those companies in the province of Manitoba was not appropriate when the food banks were continuing to grow in the city of Winnipeg because of neglect by the NDP.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is the problem with trying to understand Liberal policy on anything. The Liberals are for corporate tax cuts except when they are not and it is almost impossible to determine when that is.

The Liberal government in the 1990s went through a massive slashing of federal government departments, cutting whole departments 30%, downloading costs on to the provinces, reducing health care and education transfers to the provinces and then bragging it had a balanced budget.

Many of the worst economic measures in our country were put in place by the Liberal government in the 1990s when it started a massive corporate tax cut program, which the Conservative government has continued.

The NDP in the last election promised to reduce the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% and proposed the smartest corporate tax cut policy as well, which was to give corporate tax cuts to corporations that agreed to create jobs. These two things have to be linked.

What the Liberals fail to understand is that broad-based corporate tax cuts to banks and oil companies that the Conservatives have carried on, without the creation of any jobs, is very tax inefficient and it creates tax leakage. It does not create jobs.

The NDP would give tax cuts to corporations provided they worked with us and created jobs in our country for the people who need them to raise their families.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 4, the Minister of Finance tabled the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, which is integral to maintaining our country's economic strength and resilience. I am privileged to speak about this important legislation.

On May 2, Canadians gave this government a mandate to stay focused on what matters: jobs and the economy. Canadians recognized our government's strong track record with managing the country's finances in a fair and effective manner.

The budget is part of a process of government. Since 2006, each Conservative budget has built upon the success of previous budgets, with the purpose of ensuring Canada's economy is the strongest in the world. This legislation represents a continuation of previous budgets, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

The opposition would have Canadians believe that our government has mismanaged the global economic downturn, but the facts show the opposite is the truth. I can personally assert that the $60 billion in targeted stimulus did indeed work by setting examples within my own riding of Oakville. Federal contributions to a waste water treatment plant, a new Oakville transit facility and a new training facility for the Operating Engineers Institute of Ontario demonstrate the effectiveness of Canada's economic action plan. These improvements have yielded hundreds of local jobs, opportunities for upward job mobility and a general improvement in the economic outlook of many of my constituents. This is just one way in which the stimulus package is working for Canadians.

Other encouraging developments have lately materialized. On October 7, Statistics Canada announced that 60,000 net new jobs were created in September across Canada, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.1%, the lowest rate of unemployment since before the recession. Canada has now created nearly 650,000 net new jobs in total since July 2009, most of which are well-paying full-time jobs. This is a remarkable feat considering the current global economic climate.

Canada's economic strength and resilience has not gone unnoticed. Allow me to highlight just some of the recognition and praise Canada has received internationally.

The International Monetary Fund has forecasted Canada will have the strongest economic growth among the G7 countries over the next two years and praised Canada's “healthy economic fundamentals”.

The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report determined Canada's financial system to be the soundest in the world.

Forbes magazine has determined that Canada is the best place to do business, period.

Moody's has renewed Canada's triple A credit rating “due to our economic resiliency, very high government financial strength, and a low susceptibility to event risk”.

Even private sector economists are singing the praises of our government's achievements. BMO Chief Economist Doug Porter stated before the House finance committee on September 27, “Canada's economic policy-making has been exemplary”, while Scotiabank's Chief Economist Warren Jestin stated in the Journal of Commerce, “Canada is the best place to be and almost everything I look at screams that out to me”.

The recognition of Canada's economic performance has a lot to do with our goal of returning to balanced budgets. I believe if families and households have to control spending in difficult times, then so should governments.

Before the global recession, our government reduced the national debt by almost $40 billion to the lowest level in 25 years. Therefore, while other countries face serious debt challenges, our country is in a strong fiscal position with the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the entire G7.

In 2010 we developed a three-point plan to return to balanced budgets by slowing down temporary stimulus spending in conjunction with targeted spending restraints, as well as strategically reviewing the cost to operate government. By implementing specific spending restrictions, we have identified approximately $1.6 billion in ongoing savings already. Moreover, our government's commitment to returning to balanced budgets includes closing unfair tax loopholes.

By improving the fairness of our tax system, the government has identified $1 billion in potential savings by 2013-14 on that part alone. More important, the government's strategic and operating review has targeted at least $4 billion in potential savings by 2014-15. In fact, on October 13, the Canadian Press reported that our government had reduced the deficit by $2.8 billion before the original forecast for this year, which is a 40% decline in the deficit from the $55.6 billion deficit from the year before. Not only does this leave us in a strong fiscal position, but it gives our government leeway in determining economic policy should the global economy dip back into recession.

Although the forecasts and praise surrounding Canada's economy are encouraging, the global economy remains fragile. Severe economic challenges in the United States and a sovereign debt crisis in Europe could signal the onset of another global recession. It is very important that our government remain on the right path and complete the next phase of the recovery by implementing this bill.

This legislation contains important measures that will benefit families and businesses throughout the country. I would like to speak for a minute on what it means to my riding of Oakville.

Our government believes in supporting families, which is why we have included several tax credits specific to families. This includes the children's art tax credit which is a 15% non-refundable tax credit on up to $500 in eligible fees for artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental programs for children. It is an important element in keeping children involved in the arts and will help ease some of the financial strain that is caused when parents have to pay for the various activities in which their children are involved.

We are also helping families take care of their loved ones. The family caregiver tax credit represents a 15% non-refundable tax credit on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives including spouses, common-law partners and minor children. Moreover, we have included the enhanced medical expenses tax credit which eliminates the $10,000 limit on the amount of eligible medical expenses that can be claimed on behalf of a financially dependent relative. This aims to make it easier for family members to continue to care for their loved ones, something that has been called for for decades.

Helping families is what this government has been doing since 2006. Allow me to remind the House of some of the things we have done to support Canadian families since then. We have made tax cuts over 120 times since 2006. We have cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 in the pockets of the average Canadian family. We have introduced the tax-free savings account, the single most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs. Because of our government's commitment to relieving the tax burden on Canadian families we have helped a typical Canadian family save over $3,000 a year in taxes.

Support for Canadian families does not end with tax credits. Many families in Oakville earn their livelihood by operating small businesses, which can be challenging. I know of one family in my riding where both parents own and operate small businesses: a restaurant and an interior design company. The targeted measures our government is implementing will help small businesses like theirs hire employees, avoid red tape, and purchase equipment necessary to improve productivity. One of them recently expanded the business and hired 10 new employees.

The new hiring credit for small businesses is a one-time credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2011 employment insurance premiums over those paid in 2010. This new credit will assist 525,000 employers in hiring people for their businesses. This hiring credit will help them expand their business while trying to keep their costs down.

In my many conversations with small business owners, several of them have voiced their concerns on the difficulties they have faced when dealing with government departments. The red tape reduction commission will help reduce the burden of navigating government departments. Any small business owner knows that red tape can slow down the growth of his or her business and create unnecessary stress. We are removing many of those road blocks. But it is not just red tape that is slowing down expanding businesses, it is also the costs of purchasing and upgrading machinery and equipment.

Oakville is home to a number of manufacturers, and like manufacturing companies throughout Canada, they are key engines of economic growth and jobs. Small- and medium-size manufacturers will receive help from the federal government through the extended accelerated capital cost allowance. This will help manufacturers allocate resources toward investing in manufacturing and processing equipment. Manufacturers also want to be able to sell their products abroad, and for this reason the government is simplifying customs tariffs to speed up cross-border trade with the United States.

Our government's recognition of the enormous contribution small businesses make to our economy has been consistent since we formed government in 2006. Allow me to take a moment to remind members on the opposite side of the House what we have done for small- and medium-size businesses.

We have increased the limit on the amount of income earned by small businesses in order to be eligible for the reduced federal tax rate, otherwise known as the small business limit, to $500,000. We have reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, not to mention the federal corporate income tax rate to 15% by 2012.

All of our government's support for small- and medium-size businesses cannot be viewed independently from our commitment to finding new markets for products and services they produce. Forty per cent of Canadian companies export their goods compared to only 1% of U.S. companies that export their goods. Simply put, we need trade to continue to grow our economy. In conjunction with this budget bill, we are pursuing mutually beneficial free trade agreements with 50 countries on top of the eight agreements we have already signed.

I have highlighted many ways in which the decision making of this government is helping put Canadians first, at both the national and local levels. It is clear we are leading the world by example. We will maintain our economic strength and resilience regardless of the direction the global economy may take.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague across the floor.

I cannot quote Forbes or banks to which this government has given tax breaks, but I can quote myself. I met with forestry workers, manufacturers and mayors in the northern part of my riding, in the Mont-Laurier area. The five biggest employers were sawmills that are now closed. The local economy has been very hard hit by the forestry crisis. In the bill that has been before us for days now and is again here today, I wonder if there is anything to help the forestry industry to restructure. Is there really any plan for that? The people I met with do not see anything like that in this bill. They are trying to find ways to finance themselves and restructure their economy and they have not heard anything from this government.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we first became the government there had been a softwood lumber trade dispute that had dragged on for many years. It was finally settled by this government in a favourable position for the forestry industry. There have been many things the government has done to support the forestry industry over time.

Recent developments in our economy are also important. This government is presenting a budget that has carefully considered the past, the present and the future conditions resulting from the recession. Previous budgets committed $60 billion in stimulus spending to produce jobs and improve infrastructure. The plan worked. I believe the forestry industry was a beneficiary of that.

As new developments arise, we continue to stay focused on returning to balanced budgets. We are certainly not going to spend wildly. We have to be more responsible than that. We have seen the result of that in Europe. We have seen it in Greece. We are seeing it in Spain, in Ireland, in Portugal, and possibly even in Italy. For decades the people have been electing governments that have been giving them more than they can afford and the chickens have finally come home to roost. They are going through terrible restructuring in Europe and they are going to be going through very difficult times.

A similar situation is happening in the U.S. It is actually in the worst fiscal position--

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I am sorry, but other hon. members may have questions.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, every member from the Conservative Party talks about the thousands of jobs that have been created. Every Conservative member has talked about that, yet the reality is that in August 2008, there were 14,631,300 Canadian full-time jobs. Today, that number is down by over 500,000 to 14,106,100.

How would the member reconcile that we are out a half million full-time jobs since the government has been in office?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the source is as the member did not quote the source for his numbers.

The numbers are clear that the growth that has happened since toward the end of the recession in 2008 has been 650,000 new jobs in Canada. We saw another 65,000 jobs created in September. The economy continues to grow.

Is anyone happy that they are not the best paid full-time jobs with great benefits? Of course not. We are doing everything as a government to develop all kinds of jobs, particularly those jobs. One particular way we are doing it is by growing our economy. When our largest trading partner is in economic dire straits we have to expand to other countries so we are not dependent. The Americans have been good trading partners for many years, but we are expanding trade. We are pursuing free trade agreements with 50 countries, including the European Union and India and some of the fastest growing economies in the world as well. That is how we are going to expand growth and create more jobs, even more than we have to date.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to oppose Bill C-13, introduced by the Minister of Finance.

This bill—a second version—is entitled the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act. It contains a number of amendments by replacing certain measures and is broken into 22 parts that affect that many laws, from part 1 and the Income Tax Act, to the Customs Tariff Act, the Canada Education Savings Act, the Children’s Special Allowances Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canada Labour Code, the Conflict of Interest Act, the Canada Pension Plan, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, the Canada Elections Act, the Special Retirement Arrangements Act and more.

To give hon. members an idea of why this bill does not make any sense, part 1 implements measures that pertain to the Income Tax Act but actually do very little. For example, part 1 forgives a portion of a guaranteed loan to doctors who work in the regions, introduces a family caregiver tax credit to assist informal caregivers, refunds employer premiums for SMEs, and extends to 2013 the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investment.

Indeed, these are small things that will not really help to stimulate the economy and create employment. These measures are also completely insufficient. It would be better to give refundable tax credits to taxpayers or to provide direct payments to finance investments in SMEs and foster true economic growth.

Moreover, despite the Conservatives' repeated claims that 600,000 jobs have been created, we hear all sorts of news about the unemployment rate, which is currently the same as it was in 2008. In absolute terms, 1.4 million Canadians are unemployed; however, if we take into account those who have already withdrawn from the labour market because they cannot find work and those who are not considered to be looking for work because they are not receiving employment insurance benefits, there are actually 2 million unemployed Canadians.

No real stimulus plan has been proposed, save for a few small credits. Some measures are truly praiseworthy and satisfactory, as was so wonderfully stated by the member for Vancouver Kingsway. Other rather interesting measures were also mentioned by the member for Halifax.

Despite all the glowing references made to Forbes magazine by the members from other cities, economic growth is still fragile. And the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of Montreal, the TD Bank Financial Group, Scotiabank, the Conference Board of Canada, the Bank of Canada, the Toronto Board of Trade,and the Canadian Medical Association have confirmed this. Even the Minister of Finance recognizes that infrastructure investment has five times the economic impact of corporate tax cuts.

I am opposed to the bill being passed as is. I recommend that the Conservatives take another look at all of these proposals and make the necessary amendments.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his presentation and his vision. He is quite right. He said that cutting the corporate tax rate instead of investing in infrastructure was very ineffective. Even the Department of Finance says so.

Can my colleague explain whether the government should be investing in infrastructure or in helping small businesses?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie very much. Indeed, that information comes from the Department of Finance, which says that investing in infrastructure creates jobs. Many Canadians get work and then a lot of investment follows. That is what wealth and economic growth are all about.

I could name some other departments and other sources such as the TD Bank Financial Group, which published a rather clear document suggesting ways the finance minister's advisors could improve the bill.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague made a very good argument for the need to invest in infrastructure. In Canada, there is a $130 billion deficit with regard to infrastructure. The Champlain Bridge is an example. We must invest in that bridge, but there is nothing to that effect in the budget.

I would like my colleague to explain the importance of investing in infrastructure and how this can improve productivity and enhance the economy.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Brossard—La Prairie. First of all, I would like to mention the announcement that was made recently by the Conservative government's Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities confirming its commitment to rebuild the Champlain Bridge. It should have been announced long before we spent so long discussing such a project.

Taking all the economic parameters into account, it has been decided that this is a viable project and that building this new infrastructure would help create jobs. These investments will benefit not only those travelling between Montreal and the south shore, but also anyone who takes this bridge to return from the U.S. and other Canadian provinces.

There are also other projects, like ports. There are many projects—whether in Halifax or Newfoundland and Labrador—in fisheries. Our hon. colleague from New Brunswick once proposed such a project. On the west coast of the country, Vancouver, among other large ports, also needs new port infrastructure. Almost all of this infrastructure is aging and, as we know, maintenance alone will not suffice. We really need to create effective growth.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-13, keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, as introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Finance.

Since the last federal election, I have heard a common message from constituents, business owners and community leaders alike. They have said again and again that they want our government to continue to focus on strengthening the economy and creating jobs for Canadians.

Through the economic action plan, our Conservative government delivered a record $60 billion in investments across Canada to aid Canadians and businesses during the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Through these investments and the leadership shown by our Prime Minister, Canada has seen seven straight quarters of economic growth, one of the strongest fiscal positions among the world's top performing and advanced economies.

However, more important, Canada has seen a record of 600,000-plus jobs created since July 2009, with over 80% of them being full-time jobs. Clearly, our economic action plan is working and it is putting Canadians back into the jobs they want and need.

The good news does not stop there. On October 7, Statistics Canada further reinforced that our action plan was working. In September of this year, Canada saw employment rise by 61,000 new jobs, almost all of which were full-time jobs. This increase pushed our national unemployment rate to the lowest it has been since December 2008, down to 7.1%. These jobs were spread across a number of industries, such as education services, accommodation services, natural resources and public administration, all of which provide meaningful employment opportunities to Canadians.

The good news does not stop there. Last Friday, our good friends at Statistics Canada further reinforced that the action plan was delivering to Canadians the way our Prime Minister and ministers had envisioned. In August of this year, manufacturing sales rose by 1.4%, to $47.6 billion, which is the highest level we have seen since October 2008.

Despite this good news, I find it ironic that the “new voice of Quebec”, as they call themselves, the official opposition, has and continues to vote against every economic measure the government makes. After all, it was Quebec that saw one of the highest increases in manufacturing sales of 3.5% to be exact, to $11.8 billion.

For every realist in the House, we know that magnificent increase is due to the stimulus this government made in industries, such as manufacturing, as well as industries in our markets and our economy, and yet the opposition members continues to vote against our economic plan. When good news like this is released they are the first to claim how they did this or they attempt to take credit for it.

We must not be fooled. The facts are there. The economic action plan is working and we need to stay the course to ensure that we continue to lead our G7 and G20 colleagues in coming out of this economic recession. Why will the opposition not see that and join us in building a more vibrant, stronger and better economy by supporting this bill?

Our government tabled the economic action plan which has seen enhancements in a vast array of sectors: the economy, the programs and services that the Government of Canada delivers to its citizens, and the leadership our country has taken on the global financial stage. Whether it is extending programs to help businesses keep workers on the job and gainfully employed or enhancing benefits to seniors in our country, Canadians know they can count on this Conservative government to deliver for Canadians.

Supporting job creation, families, communities and investing in innovation and education will continue to be important pillars of our government's economic plan. Even with all these continued investments to help Canadians most in need, the Minister of Finance is still on track to balance Canada's budget. Is it a miracle? I think not.

It is clearly the result of sound fiscal management, expenditure review and proper economic management by the government, our ministers and the Prime Minister.

As stated a few moments ago, supporting job creation has been and will continue to be the top priority of our government.

From providing a one-time credit of up to $1,000 to small businesses to encourage additional hiring to enhancing and extending successful programs such as the work-sharing program and the wage earner protection program, our Conservative government is focusing on sustaining and creating jobs across this nation while improving government services and programs so that they are delivered efficiently, effectively and affordably to Canadians.

Our great initiatives do not stop there. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in economic sectors that are important to our country and our economic recovery. From innovation, agriculture, energy and manufacturing to forestry and tourism, Canadian businesses know that they can count on our government to deliver the best balance to keep their doors open and business flowing, and to aid them in hiring Canadians.

That is what it is all about: building our economy to create new jobs for Canadians, young and old alike.

However, our focus has not only been on business; we are focused on two other things that are also important to Canadians: their families and their communities. That is why the government has put into law the permanent investment, annually, of $2 billion in gas tax funding for cities to support the infrastructure programs and projects that matter most to them.

In my riding of Don Valley East, this has enabled the City of Toronto to plan and prioritize local projects because they know they will have stable funding to better our city and our local community's infrastructure.

Building strong and more vibrant communities has been a priority of our government. In Don Valley East, I am confident to say it is evident. In addition, it was our government that introduced a new children's arts tax credit that enables parents to claim up to $500 for programs associated with arts, culture, recreation and development. We did this because we know that a child's education and intellectual growth happens not only inside the four walls of a classroom but also in the extracurricular activities that they do in the mornings, after school or on weekends.

Just as important is what we did for the most needy seniors--over 680,000 of them, to be exact. In the budget, we took action to enhance the guaranteed income supplement to enable seniors to receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and up to $840 for couples.

Our parents and grandparents worked hard for many years to build Canada into the great nation it is today, and when it comes to keeping their money where it belongs, in their pocket, they know they can count on the Conservative government to deliver without the reckless spending that the opposition proposes.

I think one of the most important investments our government has made in Bill C-13 is the new family caregiver tax credit, which alleviates the financial burden on families who have loved ones who are not well. As someone with parents who are seniors, I find it reassuring to know that if a family member has to take care of them, the government will recognize their sacrifice by providing them with a tax credit when they have to file their returns with the government.

As we all know, families should always come first, and I believe the government and the ministers have made that clear in this budget and through all the programs and services we have created or enhanced. As a former professor at Centennial and Seneca Colleges in Toronto, I strongly support the investments in innovation, education and training that Bill C-13 makes.

After speaking with former colleagues of mine, I know they too applaud the government's investment and commitment to education, innovation and research. As we all know, education and training provide our young citizens with bright, vibrant and encompassing opportunities for their future.