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House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Services Agreement for the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, pursuant to subsection 20(5) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 104 and Standing Order 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence on the fourth report later today.

Health of Animals ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act (slaughter of horses for human consumption).

Mr. Speaker, whereas horses are ordinarily kept as pets for sporting and recreational purposes, and whereas they are not raised primarily for human consumption, and whereas horse meat products for human consumption are likely to contain prohibited substances, this bill would stop the import of horses for slaughter for human consumption.

Since I first introduced the bill in the last Parliament, tens of thousands of Canadians have petitioned the government to legislate an end to this practice. It is time for the government to listen.

It is irresponsible of Canada to allow the sale of meat from horses that have not been raised according to the food safety practices required for all other animals. For example, there is the issue of phenylbutazone. Bute is a known carcinogen that is banned from use in any animal entering the food chain.

It is a health concern. There are substances that are not allowed by our rules to enter the food chain. By stopping the importation of horses from the United States, we would cut this down considerably.

I urge all members of the House to support my bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Federal Courts ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-323, An Act to amend the Federal Courts Act (international promotion and protection of human rights).

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to re-table my bill on corporate responsibility. This was formerly Bill C-354 in the 40th Parliament. The bill is called the international promotion and protection of human rights act.

This is an innovative bill which mirrors the U.S. alien torts claims act. It has given rise to a very healthy and ongoing debate in civil society. It has been developed in close co-operation with Nick Milanovic, who is the adjunct professor at the Department of Law at Carleton University, and Mark Rowlinson, counsel for the United Steelworkers. The bill has been endorsed by the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and many other civil society groups, experts and concerned Canadians.

The bill calls for extending the authority of the Federal Court system to protect foreign citizens against a broad range of human rights violations committed by Canadian and non-Canadian corporations and persons operating outside Canada. It would allow lawsuits in Canada for a host of universal human rights violations, such as genocide and torture, as well as activities that significantly destroy the environment or violate key international labour rights.

Canada's judicial system protects Canadians from abusive conduct by corporations or individuals and should no longer permit some Canadian corporations to violate human rights abroad. These continue to be committed abroad with impunity by some bad apples, some Canadian mining companies and other companies. This has an impact and, as a result, we need to ensure that we have a court system that responds to the needs of these foreign nationals.

The bill is an important step in expanding the jurisprudence to protect citizens living abroad from human rights abuses that take place. I hope the bill will get broad support from all members of Parliament.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-324, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (sickness benefits).

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be an injustice that just does not want to correct itself and the government does not seem to want to move on this.

The bill deals with sickness benefits pertaining to EI benefits. Under normal circumstances, if people lose their job, through no fault of their own, they would get benefits that extend up to about 50 weeks in areas of high unemployment. With respect to sickness benefits, people need not just 420 hours to qualify, which are normally required, but they need 600 hours, which creates that discrepancy. On the other side, benefits only stretch up to about 15 weeks. My bill would extend that beyond the 15 week period.

Let us face it, if people are sick to the point where they need EI on a longer term basis, 15 weeks is severely insufficient.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Radiocommunication ActRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-325, An Act to amend the Radiocommunication Act (voluntary organizations that provide emergency services).

Mr. Speaker, I have always been quite inspired by the volunteer organizations, especially pertaining to emergency services: ambulance, search and rescue, and especially our volunteer firefighters across the region.

There are so many ways that we can help them save lives within their own communities. In my particular riding, I have 195 smaller communities. There are well over 50 brigades in the area. One of the things they want to do is to save money on certain aspects. One of the bigger fees they must pay is the radio communication licensing fee.

I again thank my colleague from Avalon who probably has as many, if not more, volunteer fire brigades in his riding, including volunteer search and rescue and ambulance services. What this particular bill would do is, “ Notwithstanding paragraph 6(1), no fee may be charged for the issuance of a radio licence to a voluntary organization that provides emergency services”.

Again, I want to thank the organizations that spend their free time helping to save lives. This is a small measure but it is a great gesture to them for what they do for our smaller communities.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Pension PlanRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-326, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act (biweekly payment of benefits).

Mr. Speaker, as is quite evident, I could not sleep much last night so I spent a lot of time doing my bills.

This is a very popular bill. I introduced it in the last session and I received a lot of positive feedback. The bill would allow people who receive the CPP or OAS monthly benefit to have an option, and I would stress it is an option to be paid biweekly, twice a month, if they choose to do so.

It is inspired largely by a provincial group of 50-plus clubs and pensioners in Newfoundland and Labrador. Year over year, they were passing this resolution within their organization where they wanted the option to be paid twice a month instead of just once.

It would be a good budgeting measure, especially for the younger seniors. This way, because it is an option, older seniors who live in homes can maintain their payment of once a month, which is also better budgeting for that particular institution that looks after them.

I am begging the government to seriously consider this as a good positive measure for seniors and their ability to budget.

I thank my colleague from Avalon, who is a great member. There is not much else I can say about him other than the fact that he simply inspired me. The fact that I stayed up all night to do this is also his fault.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Literacy Policy ActRoutine Proceedings

October 5th, 2011 / 3:20 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-327, An Act to establish a national literacy policy.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to have my bill seconded by the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a wonderful colleague.

Today is a very auspicious day to table this bill because it is International Teachers' Day.

This bill, which would establish a national literacy policy in consultation with the provinces, businesses, unions, experts, media and the public, is intended to address the serious issue of literacy in Canada. The bill would impose a leadership role on the federal government to enable action in a coordinated way among all the parties that are already working in their individual jurisdictions. It would require the government to report to Parliament once a year on action that has been taken.

I wish today to recognize the efforts of volunteers across our country who are working to improve literacy in the country, including a number of Edmonton organizations: the Edmonton literacy coalition, the Centre for Family Literacy, PALS and the John Howard Society.

Four in 10 Canadian adults fall below the literacy requirement. By 2031, more than 15 million Canadian adults will have low literacy levels. Unless some action is taken to reverse this trend, it has been stated by OECD and a number of think tanks that we will face profound challenges for Canada's social well-being and economic prosperity.

Right now, 60% of immigrants have low literacy and among aboriginal people, including the Yukon, 69% of the aboriginal population in the Northwest Territories have low literacy, and 88% of Inuit. Of course, this is also affiliated with the fact that they are struggling to learn their own languages.

I look forward to the support of the House for improving literacy in Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House earlier today be concurred in.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I do not mean to withhold consent, but I do not have a copy of that report in front of me. Could the member confirm that this has to do with certain committee membership changes on behalf of the New Democratic Party? Is that the item that we are talking about?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is what the report is.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the House give its consent to the motion?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is on the subject of the parliamentary calendar. There have been discussions among the parties and we have arrived at a consensus. I would like to table a 2012 House of Common calendar that is an alternative to the one that was proposed on Friday, September 30, pursuant to Standing Order 28(2). It is known as option C.

Therefore, I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding the calendar tabled by the Speaker on Friday, September 30, 2011, pursuant to Standing Order 28(2)(b), a new House of Commons Calendar for 2012 be tabled and that the said calendar be adopted.

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

House of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Aboriginal AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually have the signatures of thousands of constituents and citizens across this country who are petitioning the House of Commons and the government to bring attention to the issue of the “Stolen Sisters”, as the campaign is known.

The undersigned residents of Canada draw to the attention of the House of Commons that it is important that the government acknowledge the responsibility of the federal government to establish a commission of inquiry to ensure there is a fully funded process to look at the issue of murdered and missing women in Canada, that we recognize in earnest the violence faced by aboriginal women and that they are actually given the tools they need to bring justice to this issue.

I table this petition and would ask that the government follow up on this as soon as possible.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

moved 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.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to begin debate on the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act. This act represents a key component of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Today's legislation represents an ambitious, substantive, and positive response to the economic challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.

Indeed, the global economic recovery is challenged, as demonstrated by ongoing events in Europe and in the United States. While the roots of these global challenges are not from within our borders, they could nevertheless impact Canada. That is why our Conservative government has remained squarely focused on helping protect and grow Canada's economy to the greatest extent possible since the onset of the global economic turbulence.

In our initial response, Canada's economic action plan, we delivered $60 billion in extraordinary investments to support jobs and growth during the worst of the global recession. It was a plan that helped families and businesses deal with the short-term challenges, while also supporting Canada's long-term prosperity through, for instance, landmark infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, universities, colleges, and many more.

It was a plan that, according to countless independent observers, worked.

As BMO economist Doug Porter publicly declared, it was, “arguably one of the most successful stimulus programs in the industrialized world”.

Earlier this year, our Conservative government built on that record of accomplishments with the next phase of Canada's economic action plan: a low tax plan for jobs and growth.

The next phase seeks to foster positive conditions for long-term economic prosperity, while staying on track to return to balanced budgets, while helping Canadian families.

The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act represents a vital component of the next phase as it implements many of its key elements. For instance, the act would promote job creation and economic growth by: providing a temporary hiring credit for small business, to encourage additional hiring; expanding tax support for clean energy generation, to encourage green investments; extending the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector; simplifying customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and lower the administrative burden for businesses; extending the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in productivity-improving machinery and equipment for Canada's manufacturing sector; and eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees in order to give older workers wishing to work the option to remain in the workforce.

The act would support communities from coast to coast to coast by: legislating a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities; enhancing the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy or receivership; introducing a volunteer firefighters tax credit for volunteer firefighters; and increasing the ability of Canadians to give more confidently to legitimate charities, by helping combat fraud and other forms of abuse by illegitimate charities.

The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would help families by: introducing a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers of all types of infirm, dependent relatives; removing the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim for their financially dependent relatives under the medical expense tax credit; and introducing a new children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

The act would invest in education and training by: forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas; helping apprentices in the skilled trades, as well as workers in regulated professions, by making occupational trade and professional examination fees eligible for tuition tax credit; improving federal financial assistance for students; and making it easier to allocate registered education savings plan assets among siblings, without incurring tax penalties or forfeiting Canada education savings grants.

Finally, it would respect taxpayers by: phasing out the direct subsidy for political parties and closing numerous tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act includes so much more to help families, students, businesses, seniors, communities and obviously the economy and jobs. To keep Canada's economy on the right track, I am confident that Parliament will endorse today's legislation in a timely and overwhelming manner.

Before spotlighting a couple of the numerous and very positive measures in today's legislation, let me underline that, while indeed the global economy is in a period of turbulence and there are challenges that lie ahead, Canada has performed relatively well. Over the course of the debate on the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, the opposition, NDP and Liberals, will attempt, in the starkest terms and with the greatest hyperbole, to talk down the Canadian economy with its non-stop negativity.

The NDP and Liberals will downplay the achievements of our businesses, our workers and our government that have in recent years made our economy stronger and more competitive. Carried by the weight of the heavy pessimism in their overstated rhetoric and tired talking points, the NDP and the Liberals will throw their collective hands up and claim that Canada has not been up to the challenges of the global economy.

That is where we on this side of the House must differ. As Winston Churchill once noted, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. Without a doubt, our Conservative government has seen, and sought to capitalize on, the opportunities and global economic turbulence of recent years. Unlike the NDP and the Liberals, we have believed that Canada and Canadians could meet that challenge, especially with the support of our low tax pro-growth economic policies.

Let me say it once again for the opposition. The facts are indisputable. Canada is standing tall.

On economic growth, both the IMF and the OECD forecast that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead.

On jobs, Canada has the strongest job creation record in the G7 with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009, with over 80% of those being full-time jobs.

On our financial sector, the World Economic Forum has, for the fourth straight year, rated our banking system the best in the world.

On our fiscal situation, Canada has, and will continue to have, by far the lowest total government net debt to GDP ratio in the entire G7 based on IMF projections.

On fiscal and economic fundamentals, Canada's credit rating, unlike numerous other countries, has been affirmed as being the highest possible by major rating agencies. Indeed, Moody's recently renewed Canada's triple A credit rating, praising our “economic resiliency, very high government financial strength, and a low susceptibility to event risk”.

On our competitiveness, Forbes, the influential business magazine, ranked Canada as the best country in the world for business to grow and create jobs, largely due to our low tax plan for Canadian businesses.

The list goes on.

There is little wonder that The Economist and global leaders have singled out Canada's economy and our Conservative government's economic leadership for repeated praise. BMO economist, Doug Porter, testifying before the finance committee this last week, declared, “--compared to policy making in the rest of the world, Canada's economic policy-making has been exemplary. I don't think there has been a significant misstep in recent years”.

We recall the words of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron before this chamber:

In the last few years, Canada has got every major decision right. Look at the facts...Your economic leadership has helped the Canadian economy to weather the global storms far better than many of your international competitors.

As encouraging and positive as those facts and quotes may be, they should not serve as an invitation to rest on our laurels, especially in the light of the ongoing global economic turmoil in the EU and United States.

We all know resting on our laurels is no way to stay ahead. That is why, as I mentioned previously, our Conservative government remains focused on what matters to Canadians: creating jobs and promoting economic growth through the implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan outlayed in today's legislation.

As I mentioned, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act is a very substantive piece of legislation at over 640 pages. While there is no way I can spotlight each and every great measure in the bill, I would like to spotlight a couple of them, one of which garnered strong attention to date, and another that some have overlooked.

First, I would like to talk about a measure that has garnered pretty strong attention, that being the new volunteer firefighters tax credit and what it means for communities across Canada. Every day, without hesitation, volunteer men and women across Canada put their lives on the line to protect our families from harm.

Canada is incredibly fortunate to have volunteer firefighters across this country who are willing to put themselves at risk to protect the lives and the property of their fellow Canadians.

Our Conservative government is proud of these brave men and women who volunteer their time in the service of their and our communities.

While there is no way we can every truly repay them, we can show them we value all of the nearly 85,000 volunteer firefighters who keep our communities safe. That is why I am proud that we have proposed the volunteer firefighters tax credit in this legislation. It will help volunteer firefighters by providing them with a 15% non-refundable tax credit of $3,000.

Day after day, volunteer firefighters play a vital role in serving our communities. By helping these brave men and women, our government is working to make Canadian cities and towns safer.

I should note that this new tax credit has been received extremely positively. In fact, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs declared:

This measure will help with the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters across the country, which will in turn help protect Canadians and our communities.

The Charlottetown Guardian editorial remarked:

For all the time they devote to training and responding to fires in communities across the country, our volunteer firefighters deserve that much...it's a gesture of appreciation for the work our firefighters do for Canadians.

Second, and lastly, I would like to briefly talk about a measure that has not received a lot of attention: tax relief to help apprentices in the skilled trades and workers in regulated professions with the cost of occupational trade and professional examination fees.

As we all know, apprentices in the skilled trades must complete certification exams at the end of their apprenticeship to practice their trade. Likewise, students in fields like nursing, medicine, law and accounting are also required to complete examinations to practice their occupations.

Until now, the cost of these certification examinations were generally not eligible for tax relief. The keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act will now make all occupational trade and professional examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credit where the examination is required to obtain a professional status, certification or licence in a trade recognized by federal or provincial law that allows the individual to practice that profession or trade within Canada.

Examples of eligible occupations, trades and professions include: architects, machinists, bakers, bricklayers, carpenters, chartered accountants, dental technicians, hair stylists, motor vehicle body repairers, welders and much more. In fact, it is estimated that more than 30,000 individuals would benefit just this year.

The new tax relief for certification examinations builds on other measures the government has introduced since 2006 for students and those helping to improve their own skills. This includes the apprenticeship incentive grant and the apprenticeship completion grant under which eligible apprentices could receive up to $4,000 which can be used to pay for tuition, travel, tools or other expenses.

I should also note that this new measure was also very well-received. Engineers Canada has applauded it and has stated:

“Making professional examination fees eligible for the Tuition Tax Credit...demonstrates a real commitment to fostering the highly-skilled, and qualified talent the country needs to compete....It will help in the pursuit of a strong, diverse, and modern economy.”

The Canadian Home Builders' Association stated that the measure would “target a very important issue--the shortage of skilled people in our industry”.

Those are two of the countless measures in the Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act that are positive and should be supported unanimously by Parliament. The NDP and Liberal members have opposed the many positive measures that we have put forward in this legislation. Their constituents and I would be interested in hearing their explanations why.