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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

5:50 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Winnipeg North. I would note that the party that formed government previously cut $25 billion from the provinces, which caused a great deal of problems.

I would also note that his party voted against many initiatives that benefit that member's riding, be it the F-35 contract, or the money for the human rights museum, or any of the great initiatives this government has undertaken that benefit Manitoba, including significant transfer payments.

The member should also reflect on the fact that his party did not win a single seat in the rural areas of the Prairies. In fact, I understand that his party did not win a single poll in rural parts of the Prairies. I think that indicates that the Conservative Party reflects Prairie values, Canadian values.

Why will the member not just come to this side of the House and support the Conservatives and the people of Canada?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I can indicate to the House that the human rights museum is a wonderful project that I supported. When billions of dollars are spent, a lot of what is spent is fairly favourable toward good ideas and good projects. I do support those.

However, at the end of the day, there are some outstanding issues that are fairly significant. The member is right. In Manitoba we have 1 of the 14 seats but there was a time when we had 12 of the 14 seats. When the government takes a position, such as it has on the Canadian Wheat Board, I foresee a time in the future when we might be able to get back 12 of the 14 seats.

I would give it more of a cautionary note that the government might want to tread somewhat carefully in the current direction it is going.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, perhaps my hon. colleague could shed a bit of light on the following. We have a government that has presented a budget, that is supposedly fiscally responsible and understands the situation, and yet by destroying the capacity of the Canadian Wheat Board to negotiate on behalf of farmers around this world and not having a feasibility study or anything on paper to show what will happen, does the member not think that this may not be quite the right direction in which we should be going?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, when individuals from the agricultural stakeholders in the United States are saying that this is a good thing, and when a majority of our Prairie wheat farmers are saying that they want to keep the Wheat Board, that should be sending up quite a few red flags.

Let there be no doubt that there has been very little, if any, statistical or factual research that the government has been able to do on this issue that clearly enunciates why it is a good policy decision. The reason is that it is a bad decision. The reason that the government is moving in this direction is more so because of a philosophical, ideological twist that the current Prime Minister has. I do not know why he is so passionately against the Wheat Board. It just does not make any sense, and a vast majority of Canadian Prairie wheat farmers have recognized it and that is the reason they voted the way they did in the plebiscite.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-13. I enjoyed the last speech and the questions and comments. The very short answer to that is my relatives who live in Wainwright, Alberta should have the same rights that my relatives who live in Lucan, Ontario currently have, which is choice in terms of how they market their grains. Rights should extend across the country.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

We're not getting rid of the Wheat Board.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

That is exactly right. We are not getting rid of the Wheat Board. We are allowing marketing choice.

I also want to respond to some of the comments made about the job creation numbers. I encourage people if they question figures that parliamentarians may be using on both sides, to go to the Statistics Canada website and read it. The October 7 release says that following two months, employment rose by 61,000 in September, all full-time employment. This increase pushed the unemployment rate down to 7.1%, the lowest rate since December 2008. It is also dramatically lower than the unemployment rate of the United States, which has been a reversal over the last two to three decades and has occurred under our government. As the Minister of State for Finance has said today, one person who is looking for work and is unemployed is too many and that is why we are continuing to work and introduced this budget implementation act.

For people following the debate, we introduced the first budget in March. The election occurred so we reintroduced the budget in June. However, following a budget there are typically two implementation acts that take all of the measures in the budget and puts them into legislation. We had the first implementation act in June, which passed Parliament, and now we are debating the second budget implementation act.

I will read some of the highlights of the bill which introduces the family caregiver tax credit, the children's arts tax credits making it eligible for artistic, cultural, recreational development activities, the volunteer firefighters tax credit. It removes the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses that can be claimed under the medical expense tax credit.

There are many other things including the accelerated capital cost allowance, which I will speak about at length later. Qualifying environmental trusts for the Canadian pipeline sector is something that many of us from Alberta have worked on. This ensures that those in the pipeline sector set aside some money to ensure the land is returned to the condition it was in before when the pipeline is removed. I know the member for Calgary Centre has worked very hard on that initiative as well.

There are measures in terms of RRSPs.

The bill also proposes to amend the Canada Student Loans Act to authorize the minister to forgive portions of family physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, guaranteed student loans if they begin in underserved rural or remote communities.

It also proposes to amend the Employment Insurance Act to provide a temporary measure to refund a portion of employer premiums for small business. This is the hiring credit and something the member who spoke previously should be very interested in and should support. This measure was proposed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to assist small businesses in hiring more Canadians, because they are the primary employers of Canadians.

The bill also proposes to amend the Wage Earner Protection Program Act to extend in certain circumstances a period during which wages earned by individuals but not paid to them by their employers who are bankrupt or subject to receivership may be the subject of a payment under that act. That is certainly a good measure and I encourage parliamentarians to look at that seriously.

Another measure is the amending of the Canadian Human Rights Act to repeal certain provisions that provide for mandatory retirement. This is another very good initiative in this legislation. That is why I am standing strongly in support of the bill.

I want to talk at length about the extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments and machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector for an additional two years. This was a recommendation that came from our industry committee. In 2006 the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and others even in the labour movement came forward at committee and said that manufacturing was facing some very severe challenges. They said that they were facing a dollar that had rapidly appreciated in a short period of time. They were also facing some energy costs and challenges from emerging economies such as China. They wanted Parliament to look at ways in which we could address these challenges. It was a very co-operative and collaborative approach. The committee studied it through 2006. I would commend members of all parties for their work in that area.

The report was tabled in Parliament in 2007.

In March 2007, the Minister of Finance, to his credit, took the first recommendation we made, which was the extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance for two years, and put that in the 2007 budget. Now it is being extended for another two years in this budget. Essentially this would allow companies across the country to invest in their machinery and equipment.

I would encourage members of all parties to go to manufacturers in their own ridings or across the country and ask the plant managers or the CFOs as to how this has impacted them directly. When I did a walk-through with a manufacturer in Edmonton, he pointed to specific pieces of equipment and said, “This piece of equipment cost $1 million. This one cost $1 million. Because of the accelerated capital cost allowance which allows us to write it off at a faster pace, we can afford it. If that was not in place, we could not afford it.”

It allows that company to be more productive. In fact, from an environmental perspective, it is using the most up-to-date technology. That means it is more environmentally efficient as well.

This is one of the reasons the committee obviously supported this in 2007 and it is the reason the government is continuing to extend this type of accelerated capital cost allowance.

Again, I would encourage members to talk to manufacturers in their own area as to whether they do support this measure or not.

I will point to a couple more companies.

Argus Machine in Nisku in my riding was very straightforward with us. I think the member for Westlock—St. Paul was with me when we visited that facility. Representatives of that company said there are some very specific things our government has done to assist them, such as the accelerated capital cost allowance and the work-share program. In the work-share program the government covered part of the cost of an employee and the company covered the other part. This enabled companies to retain employees through the downturn. One of the biggest challenges, in fact, perhaps the biggest challenge in an area like mine, in Alberta, is ensuring there are enough workers, both skilled and unskilled, who can satisfy that labour need. In fact, this allowed companies to retain those people for when their orders picked up, and they did not lose them to another company, or a company in another part of the country or, in fact, a company in another country. It enabled them to retain them.

The other thing they pointed to was the investments our government has made in things like the industrial research assistance program, which especially assists small- and medium-size enterprises, if they want to make some innovative investments.

Another thing that the IRAP does is it provides good mentorship to businesses, especially businesses in our area, that have gone from $1 million to $7 million in sales. It provides very good mentorship to companies that are expanding in that way.

Another program they point to is the SR&ED program, the scientific research and experimental development program. As parliamentarians know, we received the report today. We were very thankful for the input in that report because it is a very generous program. It is one that works generally very well, but there certainly could be improvements. I would like to thank them for their work in that area.

In terms of the accelerated capital cost allowance, I would like to quote from the March 22 press release by the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters:

The extension of the two-year write-off for investments in manufacturing and processing technologies announced in...budget [2011] is critical to sustaining Canada's economic recovery.... “In an era of economic uncertainty, this tax measure gives manufacturers the confidence to invest in their future by boosting purchases of productivity-enhancing technologies”....

Another area I would like to turn to is loan forgiveness, especially as it pertains to rural areas, on portions of student loans to family physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners if they begin to work in underserved rural or remote communities. The Canadian Medical Association stated:

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.

It is important to point to these specific initiatives because a lot of rhetoric flows when a budget is introduced. However, these are the specific measures that are in this budget implementation bill that members on the other side of the House should think very carefully about before they vote yea or nay to this measure.

Another initiative I want to point to is the extension by one year of the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors to support Canada's mining sector.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Perhaps the hon. member could elaborate during questions and comments. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Drummond.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the hon. member from Edmonton—Leduc on his speech.

He talked about several measures to create jobs and get the economy moving; on the other hand, he did not talk about the environment. Yet the environment is very important to getting the economy moving, because it could be very costly in the long run. In a report released on September 29, 2011, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy reported that climate change could cost Canada $21 billion per year by 2050. So this is where investments are needed—in the environment, in renewable energy sources, green energy, innovation and so on—in order to improve the Conservatives government's record. For now, this budget does not cut it.

Should we not be investing in the environment, rather than in small measures that do not seem to make any difference right now?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member raised environmental issues, but as he knows, the budget did in fact make some investments in the environment.

If he is looking at this specific piece of legislation, the accelerated capital cost allowance which I mentioned, investments in new machinery, makes a specific company more environmentally efficient.

Further to that, this piece of legislation expands eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and conservation equipment. I encourage him to look at that specific part. I also encourage him to look at the expansion of the eligibility rules for qualifying environmental trusts.

There are very specific measures in this bill that address environmental concerns he may have. That is why I encourage members on the opposite side of the House to think very carefully about the measures in the budget before they vote yea or nay to this measure. The environmental spending was in the first budget implementation act that was passed in June, but these specific measures that address some of the environmental concerns are in this budget implementation bill which we will be voting on very shortly.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech, but I also want to discuss the retention of work that he talked about, and some of the measures that are in the bill to help retain the workers.

I appreciate his comments on the capital cost allowance and other smaller measures. There is one measure, however, that is not directly addressed but is of great benefit to areas of higher unemployment, which is the current pilot projects that are in existence for employment insurance.

In one case in particular, by way of illustration, it allows people to rely on the best 14 weeks of work in order to achieve that benefit, whereas before this pilot project, it was the last 14 weeks. Without the pilot project there is a disincentive to go after shorter weeks, as we call them.

I would like him to comment on that. Should these pilot projects be a permanent feature of the Employment Insurance Act?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Madam Speaker, as the member pointed out, the pilot was extended in some fashion. He may disagree with the specific way in which it was extended, but it was extended to the best 14 weeks.

I would also point to the extension of the work-share program which did allow companies to retain a lot of the employees they had, especially during the downturn.

I also point to the hiring credit which was very strongly endorsed and recommended by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business as the strongest measure that we could make at this time to enable small- and medium-size businesses to hire new employees.

If the member is concerned about job creation, the job creation numbers, as I mentioned at the outset of my speech, from Statistics Canada itself are fantastic when we compare them to those of other nations in the G7 and the OECD, in part because of things like the work-share program, the best 14 weeks, the sharing credit through EI.

I encourage the member opposite to look very carefully at these measures that are included in this budget implementation bill.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must inform the hon. member for Drummond that he may begin his presentation, but that I shall interrupt him at 6:15 p.m.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that I will not be able to give my entire speech. Nevertheless, I will begin my speech on Bill C-13.

This bill would give large tax breaks to very large business without setting any conditions. What a mistake. Not only are these tax cuts not contingent on the creation of new jobs but they also do not put Canada on the right track for the future, that is the green track, the environmental track.

I will explain why this legislation is but a drop in the bucket in terms of the challenges we will face in coming years. And they will be significant challenges.

First, as I mentioned, the legislation will not create any jobs—and we need jobs. We must continue to create jobs because there are still too many people left behind in Canada and in my lovely region of Drummond. The huge gap between the rich and the rest of the population continues to grow. The vast movement of global occupation and protest make us realize that Canadian families, and those of Drummond as well, are feeling a tremendous amount of pressure. I recently noticed that relief agencies, such as the Comptoir alimentaire Drummond, are being used by more people, which worries me a great deal.

In this respect, let us look at the numbers and statistics that prove that the Conservative government is missing the mark when it comes to job creation.

The number of Canadians who are officially unemployed is still approximately 1.4 million. In addition, if we include those who are discouraged or underemployed, the number is close to 2 million.

So, we would expect serious and concrete job creation measures. For example, the Conservatives could draw on our excellent election platform in which we proposed the introduction of a job creation tax credit of up to $4,500 for each new job created. This initiative would help to create 200,000 jobs per year, jobs that would meet the needs of families.

We also have other proposals that hon. members can find in our election platform. Unfortunately, I do not have time to share those proposals with them. These are concrete measures to reward businesses that create jobs, not just gifts for very large corporations, banks or the oil and gas industries. No. These are real measures that would benefit families in Canada and in my riding, Drummond. They are real measures that would create good-quality jobs for the future.

Speaking of the oil and gas industries, does the Conservative government really believe that these are the industries of the future? No, they are not. And it is not true that oil sands are an ethical oil source, that is for sure. Give me a break.

In my riding, people have joined forces. I have to stop there? Okay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, October 6, 2011, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #39

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The motion that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:44 p.m.)