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House of Commons Hansard #28 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spoke briefly about post-secondary education and that this budget and the implementation bill supports post-secondary education. However, in reading the implementation bill, the only investment that I see is in creating more loans for students. By creating more loans for students who are carrying $40,000, $50,000, $80,000 of debt, how is the government helping students access post-secondary education?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, in this particular part of the implementation bill it is the forgiveness of those loans. In other words, if new doctors and new nurses choose to go to remote areas they have the opportunity to have their loans forgiven, and that is very important. My own daughter, who is going into medicine, is saying that this is something that is very attractive.

Post-secondary education is of paramount importance to all in this country and these opportunities will be opened up.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague on not only a great speech but on all of the good work that she does to fight human trafficking.

I mentioned earlier, with my colleague from Burlington, the issues that we have in the greater city of Hamilton regarding steel and the manufacturing of steel, and not only steel producers but also steel fabricators, and the many different aspects of the value chain. I just wanted to ask my colleague how important it is that this bill gets passed to ensure that the measures come into force for corporations so they can invest for the future and create jobs.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that very important question because the promotion of job creation and economic growth is of paramount importance.

Included in Bill C-13 is the temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage additional hiring, which will help all businesses. Also included is expanding the tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments as well. Also included is the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector. Earlier today, several members talked about the importance of the mines in their northern constituencies. The government is listening to that and needs that to happen.

There are other things too. We talked earlier about the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing. I have manufacturing in my own riding and the business people are telling me that it is of paramount importance for this to get through so they can have it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, maybe the member did not understand the question I asked previously. The loan forgiveness program would allow members of our community who have already become doctors and nurses to pay off some of their loans quicker, but the problem today is that members in our communities are not able to get into universities and colleges because they cannot afford to pay for them.

How would the bill actually support Canadians accessing education? She wants to talk about the doctors and nurses but the problem is that rural communities do not have the facilities. This does not actually go to the root problem, which is that we do not have enough doctors and nurses in our communities.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Canada grants loans program has been improved considerably, and that certainly does help the students.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget, which I have not had a chance to speak to before. I will be sharing my time with the member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

I will divide my speech into two sections. First, I will talk about why we do need, not only debate but much more information about the direction in which our economy is going in relation to what we are doing within the budget.

The budget was first put forward in March 2011 and then re-entered in virtually the same form in June 2011. Since then, we have seen many changes to the world situation, including Canada's situation.

The budget was based on projections of an increase to the GDP of about 3% a year. We hear that the IMF has said that it will be 2%. What does the budget say about that? The Conservatives talk about it here, and it is something we should address in the debate and in the information going forward. In their plan to return to balanced budgets, they talk very specifically on page 208 on the estimated impact of a one year, one percentage point decrease in real GDP growth on federal revenues, expenses and budgetary balance.

Within that, we see quite clearly that in year one we will be short, from what we had projected as a deficit, of another $3.3 billion. Those are the figures of the Conservatives. That goes on to minus $3.6 billion next year.

We have an economic turndown. Things were not as rosy as the government was presenting in a budget delivered before an election.

Now we are in a situation where the increased deficit will likely match up to what government is proposing to cut out of expenditures, which is $4 billion. Where will that leave Canadians in the future? What pressure will it put on the government to continue to cut services, to continue to knock back on Canadians and not address the real issues, which, quite clearly, are finding ways to increase the revenue of the government in a way that would assist Canadians in righting their fiscal imbalance. The NDP has proposed that we not cut the corporate tax rate to the extent that we are.

There has been debate about Manitoba cutting the corporate tax rate. Provinces are very poor examples of a corporate tax rate. Corporations move their head offices from province to province in order to attract the lowest corporate tax rate in a particular province. I saw that phenomenon in the Northwest Territories in the year 2002-03, which upset the balance of our territorial budget by about $300 million. So I know what I am talking about.

When we talk about provinces, they are the worst collectors of corporate taxes in the country because they are under constant pressure to lower their rates in relation to other provinces. The responsibility should lie with the federal government to collect the corporate taxes uniformly across the country.

Where is the debate about what is happening to our economy and to our budget in a real good fashion? We can approve these expenditures but do we understand where they are leading the country? Yes, we should debate the budget.

I will now turn to a more hopeful sign. There was an item in the budget in March and carried forward to June of $150 million for a road between Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik, an important part of the infrastructure of the north. It is a part of the infrastructure of the north that in 2007 I introduced the idea to the previous minister, Chuck Strahl, in a meeting that we required these roads and this particular road. I am glad to see that the government has taken this on. However, the $150 million will not build that road. The $150,000 will build part of the road. The rest of the cost of the road will be assigned to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

In March of this year, I had a private member's bill in front of the House. The government, a person, voted against raising the borrowing limit for my Government in the Northwest Territories to fund valued infrastructure projects in the Northwest Territories. Since then, the Minister of Finance has promised our finance minister over and over again that he would give us some answers on the borrowing limit so that we can invest in the north, make choices on infrastructure and support our economy at a time when the recession is hitting us.

The Mackenzie Valley Highway is a project that the whole north supports. Up and down the valley, aboriginal land claims organizations have taken a section of the highway, have done the preliminary estimates, have the material together and are ready to go, in the very near future, to environment assessment on the whole Mackenzie Valley Highway, a distance of some 1,200 kilometres from the southern part of the territory to Inuvik and then on to Tuktoyaktuk. It is a road that, over the next two decades, would open up, and I am not exaggerating, tens of billions of dollars of development that would impact all Canadians in a positive fashion.

We have a great made-in-Canada project where likely very little of what we spend on the project will escape Canada to other businesses in other countries. It will occur in Canada. It is a great project that will provide relief to many communities that do not now have roads up and down the Mackenzie Valley, that have incredibly high costs of living and have isolated conditions that are really not appropriate in this day and age.

We have a great opportunity but we need to improve the fiscal capacity of the Government of the Northwest Territories. The federal government would not support my private member's bill in that regard. It stood up to a person against it. We need it and we need to understand the direction we would take with it. The government needs to come up with a better plan for investing in that highway.

In the April election, I was proud to see that my party, the New Democratic Party, had identified in our platform $400 million over five years to invest in northern infrastructure, which is quite a bit more than the $150 million that was put forward for the Tuktoyaktuk-Inuvik road. That is the kind of investment that is needed from the federal government, as well as from the Government of the Northwest Territories.

We have a vision of what we want to accomplish in the Northwest Territories. Aboriginal treaty organizations up and down the valley are supporting this effort. It is time. This is a great opportunity for Canadians. It is a great opportunity to help our economy at time when we need stimulus in the economy.

We need to recognize what we can do in the next few years that will improve our economy, whether it is green jobs, which will return to us and make us a stronger and better society, or a project like the Mackenzie Valley Highway that is needed to serve the orderly development of very important resources. These are things that we should be investing in and talking about right now.

This is a time when we need plans and leadership. We need to understand how this country can avoid what is clearly a gathering storm of fiscal recession that will eventually fall onto the land of Canada. We need this kind of positive debate about the budget. It is a budget that, after four months, is not really accurate and does not provide all the answers, which is why we are standing here today.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, the government has repeatedly emerged as an obstacle to international climate negotiations, ignoring science and winning one fossil award after another. As a result, study after study ranks Canada last or almost last in terms of climate change.

The 2009 assessment of G8 countries by Allianz and WWF ranked Canada last. The 2010 Suzuki Foundation and Simon Fraser University study shows Canada with the second worst environmental record of OECD countries, ranking 24th out of 25 countries. Now we hear from the Commissioner of the Environment that the government reduced climate change reductions by 90% since 2007.

I wonder if the hon. could comment on what the economic impacts of climate change are for his region.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Madam Speaker, when we talk about climate change, we can say that we want to stop climate change and to do what we can to mitigate the advancing climate warmth before it happens. We can argue about whether or not that can happen, but the region of the country where I live probably has the fastest changing climate in Canada right now according to most scientific observers.

We do have impacts. We have problems inherent within infrastructure that will cost us more and more money in the future. We have problems with an increasing number of forest fires. We have problems with declining caribou herds.

Our whole society is having to accept that there will be adaptation. We know that no matter what we do in the next number of years we will not be able to stop many of the impacts that one or two degrees' warming in the earth's core has on northern conditions.

In the absence of this action by the government and many in the rest of the world, we need to see that adaptation plans are very clearly outlined for what is going to happen.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for telling us about the situation in his riding. He and his constituents have a front-row seat to the impact of climate change. I congratulate him for trying to help his constituents directly by proposing solutions instead of simply suffering through these changes. As he said, one way or another, these changes are happening.

Could my hon. colleague tell us how direct government support for strategic projects, which would directly help his constituents in their daily lives, could change things and solve these problems?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Madam Speaker, what we want is for the federal government to recognize that northerners understand very well what we need to do.

The government should support our territorial government in its efforts to deal with these issues. The territorial government is moving very quickly on many climate change mitigation issues. It also has an aggressive green energy strategy that it is putting big dollars into, in the absence of any money from the federal government in that regard.

The other side of it is the federal government is being very paternalistic about the borrowing limit for the territorial government. The territorial government is saddled with a borrowing limit that is far less than what it should be. We are a burgeoning, developing territory. We need to invest, and yet we are hung up by the Northwest Territories Act which limits our fiscal ability to put money into things that will actually make our society work better.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that this bill seems to be inspired by the same cynicism that Canadians have seen many times with every bill introduced by the Conservative government. The title of this bill talks about “keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing”. But the Conservatives added a provision that would eliminate per-vote subsidies for political parties.

Canadians are wondering if this is a taste of the strategy the Conservatives will be using over the next four years. They call a bill one thing, but they include provisions that have nothing to do with the main objective of the bill. These measures affect the electoral system and do not have the support of Canadians or the opposition parties. This is a cynical approach to politics. So it is not surprising that 61% of Canadians and 84% of Quebeckers did not put their faith in the Conservative government in the last election. Their worst fears are coming true.

Before I begin speaking about the economy, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to speak about per-vote subsidies for political parties. The chorus of support our party received from young Canadians during the last election aside, the participation of voters from my generation has progressively decreased over the past several decades. Naturally, since it suits the Conservatives' strategy, the government is taking little interest in this issue.

Canadians often wonder whether the Conservatives have considered why voter turnout among young Canadians has dropped because, if they did, the Conservatives would quickly realize that Canadians are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the electoral system and the cynicism surrounding political campaigns. Canadians know that better options for an electoral system exist. They also know that our electoral system systematically under-represents the political parties.

Canadians know that funding for political parties should be based on popular support, not on the number of rich friends they have. The per-vote subsidy was an important step in making our political system more fair and equitable. That is why many countries throughout the world use the per-vote subsidy—because they believe in equity. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 16th out of 17 countries in terms of voter participation. That is because people are fed up with the cynicism. Why are the Conservatives taking us backward instead of forward?

Canadians are facing difficult economic times, but the government is not taking this seriously. We see the weakness in our markets, our stagnating growth, the massive household debt, the growing inequality, the lack of security in Canadians' pension plans and the lack of jobs. In a spirit of good faith, I would like to begin by saying that some measures in this bill are a step in the right direction. Rural communities need more family doctors, small businesses deserve a break, and it is important to promote home care for those who are ill. But, like most of the Conservatives' plans, the provisions of the bill are too weak. The Conservatives do not understand that seniors need help urgently, young people cannot find jobs, people cannot retire in dignity, and families are being crushed under the burden of household debt.

Just as we saw with the Champlain Bridge, the Conservatives are blind to the severity of the current problem. Instead of truly helping families, the government is making them pay for things that should be free. What we have here is a government that takes half measures. But these half measures are not enough for Canadian families, seniors and youth. This is not what they are asking for and this is not what they want either.

Is now the time for half measures, when there are approximately two million Canadians unemployed or underemployed? No. And while the Conservatives tell us day-in and day-out that they have created 600,000 net new jobs since the recession, they neglect to mention that the labour force has grown by 450,000. And it should be said that far too many of those jobs are not full-time or permanent and cannot support families.

Youth unemployment has reached 17.2% and has risen every year since 2008. Yet tuition fees across Canada are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. Is now the time for half measures? No.

Eleven million Canadians do not have a workplace pension plan, 250,000 Canadian seniors live in poverty and private pension plans have lost 20% of their value since the recession. Is now the time for half measures? Again, no.

I want to tell my colleagues a story. On October 1, seniors day, I went to my riding to speak with seniors, and I heard a very sad story. An 89-year-old woman told me that she wanted to die because she did not have enough money to live another two years. She did not know what she would do because in a year she would not have enough money to pay her rent. I was deeply saddened by that. I am wondering what this plan does for seniors. An extra five dollars a month is not enough.

Some 5 million Canadians do not have a regular family doctor. In 2022, there will be a shortage of 60,000 registered nurses if nothing is done. Quebeckers in particular are affected by the lack of health professionals. Yet this bill will do nothing to increase the overall number of doctors and nurses at a time when Quebeckers and Canadians need them the most. Is now the time for half measures? No.

This is no time to give $2 billion to corporations. What will that $2 billion do for families who cannot make ends meet at the end of the month? What will that $2 billion do for this older woman who wants to die because she does not have enough money to keep paying her rent? Nothing.

It is clear that this bill fails Canadians in two ways. Not only does it illustrate the cynicism of the Conservative strategists, who are using a budget bill to dismantle fairness in our electoral system, but it also illustrates the Conservatives' insensitivity toward the real daily struggles of far too many Canadians and Quebeckers.

The NDP has a solid job creation program that compensates small and medium-size businesses, which are the real job creators. It has real and lasting measures, not temporary ones like what the government is proposing. It has a plan to provide security for seniors and improve our health care system in a permanent way.

What is more, the NDP believes that a fair electoral system is the best way to engage young people and all Canadians so that they come back to the polls. Canadians have a clear choice between the opposition, which wants to make life more affordable for families and promote democracy, and a government that is proposing half measures and playing political games to destroy our democratic systems.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I welcome my colleague to the House of Commons.

The member spent the first part of her speech talking about the political party subsidies. By far, a large majority of the people I talk to believe that political parties should raise their funds from those who believe in that political party by doing some fundraising of their own, not by having funds given to them by the taxpayers.

The member went on to imply that this party somehow does not care about youth. I would like to remind her of some of the initiatives for youth that are in the budget.

We are helping apprentices in the skilled trades. I cannot think of anything more important in this day and age than to help our young people who are leaving secondary school to get involved in some type of post-secondary education. The reality is that for a lot of them, university is not a channel they can follow. We are facing skilled trades shortages already.

We are improving federal financial assistance for students. We are making it easier to allocate registered education savings plans. We are forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas.

All these initiatives are really important as we move forward not just for youth but especially for youth.

How can my colleague and her party possibly vote against all of the amazing measures, of which I only listed four or five, that will help our youth and help Canada?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. He asked how I could vote against these measures. I am voting against them because they are half measures, and that is not enough. They may have programs to help students get into debt. Great, I congratulate them, but that is not right. Students should be able to attend school without the heavy burden of high debt. There have to be jobs for university graduates. This government does not have a plan to help young people get good, full-time jobs that pay more than minimum wage once they graduate. There is nothing for them.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, my beloved Canada once had an international reputation as a green country, with progressive environmental policies. However, Canada walked away from its Kyoto protocol targets. Our per capita emissions are double that of the citizens of Norway and the United Kingdom, six times higher than that of China, and 14 times higher than the citizens of Indian.

Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, confirms the data. Canada is by far the biggest defaulter on its Kyoto obligations on a tonnage basis.

We know we have a 2020 target. The government can get us 25% of the way there by reducing greenhouse gases. I wonder what the hon. member would suggest to get us the other 75% of the way there.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question. We need to take concrete action and invest in the green economy. We must invest in reliable and renewable energy. We must have a plan. Honestly, I have not seen this government's plan.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I cannot congratulate my colleague opposite on his shareholder approach to political funding. Could my colleague elaborate on her concerns about political funding?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Charmaine Borg NDP Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I will repeat what I have already said. We need an electoral system that is based on popular support for a party rather than having a party win because it has 10 friends who are millionaires. We cannot have this ideology. We cannot have an electoral system based on having rich friends. That does not work in a country like Canada.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time today with the great member for Brampton—Springdale.

It is a pleasure to stand and speak about the budget implementation act and all the great things that our government is doing for Canadians. I want to talk about some of the areas that are going to be improving the conditions in my riding of Selkirk—Interlake.

Rural Canada, especially my riding, is made up of small business. Up and down the main street are family businesses. Manufacturing facilities often started off with somebody working out of a machine shed, developing some new products and getting into the manufacturing business quite by accident, like working off the farm and developing a manufacturing company. For us to support manufacturers, like ensuring we extend the accelerated capital cost allowance, would allow them to reinvest in their facilities.

When I talk to business owners in the community and representatives of the chamber of commerce, they say they know that when we bring forward the $1,000 benefit in EI for new hires, all small businesses in Selkirk—Interlake are going to benefit. They know it is going to be well used, help them grow their businesses, and put more people back to work.

Rural areas require those opportunities and I am quite excited about this. Two-thirds of Canadians work for small businesses. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that this has been a high priority and it sees this as something that is going to support small businesses right across the country.

On a frequent basis I spend time in municipalities and over the last month I met with a number of councils. They always thank our government for putting in place the gas tax fund. They are now ecstatic that this fund is going to be put in legislation on a permanent basis, that they will no longer have to ask when it is going to come to an end or what is going to come after that.

Gas tax fund dollars really help them support their infrastructure and green projects. It is going to enable them to provide long-term planning and invest in projects they know are going to be of benefit to ratepayers and communities. This is a major investment and one that is well supported by municipalities right across the country.

Throughout the election campaign and when we brought in the budget last spring, one thing everybody got very excited about was the whole area of helping rural areas find doctors and nurses. There has been a huge shortage of doctors and nurses, especially in rural Canada. In my riding, the regional health authority is trying to recruit doctors and nurses from other countries. That is not a sustainable practice. We have to start producing our own doctors and nurses, train them in Canada, and allow them the opportunity to move to rural areas and have their student loans forgiven through the budget implementation act. Doctors can have $8,000 per year of their student loans forgiven if they practise in rural and remote communities. Nurses can have $4,000 forgiven per year, up to a maximum of $20,000. Those types of investments are going to be highly successful.

A little while ago I heard the member for Scarborough—Rouge River say that this would not provide any benefit whatsoever since rural areas do not have any facilities. That is an insult. I cannot believe she would criticize a program that is going to help rural Canada. There is a real disconnect with that NDP member. She should stand and apologize for insulting rural Canadians. We have our own doctors and medical facilities, and we need to ensure they are well staffed.

Some people would say we have a disadvantage because rural and remote areas do not have all the pleasures enjoyed in urban centres. I think that is a positive thing. I love what rural life provides, but let us make that investment happen, let us appreciate what rural communities bring, and let us allow doctors and nurses to move into rural areas with the benefit of having their student loans forgiven at a nice level. There would be young people moving into rural communities who will have a chance to maybe meet a significant other, start a family and call those areas home. I think that would be highly beneficial to all of us who need good medical care facilities, not just those of us in major urban centres.

The other thing that I heard throughout the election campaign that people are really concerned about has been the direct subsidies to political parties. Most people just cannot get over it that every party gets $2.04 per vote. Most of us go out there, work hard and raise money. We are going to phase this subsidy out over the next four years.

However, I just want to share with members a couple of numbers. Last year, 2010, the Conservatives went out and raised $17.4 million. Canadian taxpayers subsidized us at $10.4 million. So we have a lot at risk here. We have a lot of money on the line.

The Liberals, last year, raised $6.4 million and were subsidized $7.3 million. So they did not even raise 50% of the funds that they have. The NDP is about the same. Its members raised $4.3 million and were subsidized at $5 million.

The one that really gores me and gets my constituents really upset is when they see the Bloc Québécois last year raise $641,000 but was subsidized at $2.8 million. We are providing money to a party that is dedicated to the breakup of this country with $2.8 million of Canadian taxpayers' money. The Bloc funds its entire campaign based on that subsidy and its members do not even bother going out there, working hard, connecting with their voters and supporters, and raising money directly. That is shameful. That is one of the reasons why I applaud the government's efforts to reduce and finally eliminate the direct subsidies to political parties. The vote subsidies really have to go.

Seniors, of course, are important to each and every one of us. They are our parents. They live in our communities. My riding of Selkirk—Interlake is a beautiful riding. People are living up and down Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. They love coming out to cottage country and retiring there. I am hearing from a lot of them that having the extra supplement, through the GIS, of $600 per individual, or $840 per couple, would be highly beneficial.

In rural areas, where a lot of the people did not contribute a lot to CPP, farmers and small businesspeople, they are the ones who are going to benefit from this GIS supplement. Even though it works out to only about $50-a-month per person, it is still something that they would make use of. I have heard them say that this is something that is desperately needed and they congratulate us on doing it.

I was actually just talking to a friend of mine, on the street, just about a month ago. Jim said, “When can we get this done? I could really make use of that extra supplement on the GIS”. He is glad that we are moving forward on it. That is why it is important that we get this bill passed.

Finally, one thing that I also heard a lot in my riding throughout the election campaign, before the campaign and since then, when I have been going around and having my community consultations and round tables, is that people want to ensure that all kids have a chance, those playing sports, at the $500 tax credit that we have been able to put into place for kids involved in hockey, football, basketball, soccer, and figure skating, like my daughter. Those types of investments are welcome, but what about the kids who are making those huge efforts in the arts, taking piano lessons and drama classes, and wanting to become musicians?

By extending this into a new arts tax credit, we have a great opportunity to actually open the door for, hopefully, more kids to actually get involved in the arts, something that I believe in. All my daughters took piano lessons. It would be something that families with small children, families with teenagers, kids who have aspirations to become painters and who want to get involved in drama and acting, would now have a chance to do and receive that tax credit. Those families would be recognized for their investment into the arts. I think that is something for which we should be applauding the government.

I will leave it at that. I am very excited about having the bill move quickly. I am looking forward to all members supporting the budget.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, this timing is perfect, since my colleague was just talking about the arts tax credits at the end of his speech, credits for children's artistic activities. First of all, most families in my riding cannot afford to enrol their children in these kinds of activities. The amount parents have to spend in order to benefit from these tax credits is much too high.

Perhaps the government lives in an imaginary world in which all families can afford to enrol their kids in these kinds of academic or artistic activities, but that is not the reality. If the Conservative government really wants to make artistic activities accessible to all children, it needs to either reduce the amount needed to have to access these tax credits or else subsidize these activities, because not all families can afford to enrol their children in such activities.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, I cannot speak to the situation in the member's riding. In my riding it has been applauded. The families I have heard from are aware it is their responsibility to make those initial investments. We will recognize that through tax credits. It is a way to reward the families who get involved by putting their kids into arts schools and drama classes.

In my riding there does not appear to be a difference in the social class or economic standing of the parents who have their kids involved in the arts. In Manitoba, even parents who are living on social assistance will make a decision to involve their kids in music or piano or guitar classes to ensure they are in the band. They are helping their kids go down that path. I have not heard anything contrary to that.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, I will follow up on what the hon. member just said. Even people on social assistance want their children to get some exposure to the arts and that is a great idea. However, it is a non-refundable tax credit.

I hope the member understands that if it is a non-refundable tax credit and parents do not have taxable income they would not get any benefit from it whatsoever. They need to have taxable income to actually write off against the tax credit. It would not work if they are below a certain income.

It is the same with the firefighter volunteers and the family caregiver tax credits. If they are non-refundable it discriminates against people with low incomes. What does the member have to say about that?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Madam Speaker, the member can stand and rant and rave. However, the reality is that the tax credit will cost the treasury a lot of money. We know that families will benefit from it. We know that kids will be involved in the arts. Kids are already involved in sports and we have not heard a lot of criticism regarding our sports tax credit.

Members can stand and make all sorts of accusations and claims, but the reality is that this will be highly beneficial to families right across the country.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I am very concerned about the comments made by the NDP member for Scarborough—Rouge River indicating that the benefit that doctors and nurses would get by moving to rural areas would not be worth it because rural areas do not have medical facilities. That is an insult to the hard-working people in my riding who have chosen to go there to work as doctors and nurses. We want to encourage more people from urban areas to do that.

Perhaps the member should get out of Toronto every once in a while and come to a rural area like my riding to see the hard work that people are doing in such places as St. Pierre and--

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake has 30 seconds to respond.