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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was taxes.

Topics

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-13, which is awkwardly titled keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

I will focus my remarks on jobs. I want to first touch briefly on the general failure of the government and this bill in particular to address what is the most important challenge to this country and indeed to the world at this time, and that is climate change.

Whether it is the increased frequency and intensity of severe weather events, be that storms or flooding, whether it is the rapid shrinkage of the Arctic ice shelves, evidence of climate change is all around us.

The government seems not to understand that threat to our entire economy and indeed our way of life. In this bill we have a much more specific failure. We have a very specific threat here to cut our capacity to even understand and respond to climate change.

With the levels of reductions in expenditures by the government that are needed to reach its financial targets, the climate scientists at Environment Canada have been receiving layoff notices, the very people who might help us design a way out of this crisis and to limit the effects on our economy.

I do want to be alarmist on this issue because to state the obvious, ultimately there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Let me come back to the main topic that I want to talk about today, and that is the topic of jobs. Just like climate change, the warning signs are all around us here. We have instability in the international financial markets, the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, stagnant growth projections for Canada, all-time high levels of household debt, an increasing balance of payment deficits for this country, and low levels of private investment here at home.

Low levels of corporate investment, despite a 43% tax cut for the big corporations, yet their business investment levels as a share of the GDP have not increased one iota despite those tax cuts.

What do we hear from the government? We hear a very familiar message. We hear, “Stay the course. Continue with corporate tax cuts. Continue to slash public expenditures”.

When did we last hear this? We heard this in the election campaign of 2008 and we heard this from the new Conservative government after that election. The government continued on that path and only brought in its much discussed economic action plan after the threat of defeat in this House of Commons by its failure to act on the economic crisis at that time.

Here we are again, staring another recession in the face with a government that continues its plan of inaction rather than an action plan that would truly benefit Canadian families. I am afraid this time, because we have a majority government, we will continue down this path and leave Canadians at the mercy of these unstable markets.

Conservatives like to trumpet their record on job creation, but when we take into account labour force growth, the new jobs created fall 250,000 jobs short of what we would need just to keep employment levels steady in this country.

When we look at unemployed workers and discouraged workers, they amount to nearly two million in this country. When we look at youth unemployment rates, we have reached a high this summer of more than 17% of youth unemployed. The Conservative response was, “Well, let us continue to cut those corporate taxes.”

As I said, there is no evidence, in fact the evidence is to the contrary, that these corporate tax cuts will do anything to create jobs.

Now the Conservatives, in this bill, are talking about a small business tax credit of $1,000, but it is very clear that this is too small to have any major impact. The NDP has talked about a much larger credit available over a much larger period of time.

Rather than getting stuck in the details of this bill, I want to return to that question of broader economic policy, though these radical spending cuts that we are facing in the budget bill will only make the situation worse. On top of the direct hits these will cause for public services, it will mean a decline in jobs in our economy as economic growth is slowed by the cutting of public sector spending.

One of the things that we know is key to an economic recovery is demand. In order to have sufficient demand in our economy, employees need to earn a living wage. When they go to work every day, work hard, come to the end of the month, there has to be a little bit left over to spend. What we are finding, increasingly, that for families this is not the case.

In 1996 the Liberals eliminated the federal minimum wage and instead adopted the provincial wage rates. These rates have continually fallen behind inflation. Now in my own province of British Columbia, the minimum wage is $8.75 an hour. When the social service agencies in Victoria got together and calculated what it takes in my community to actually earn enough to pay for basic food, clothing and shelter, and transportation to get to a job, the answer was $18.03 an hour.

There is a gap of $10 an hour here for families. When they get to the end of the month, it is no surprise that they are choosing between putting away a little for retirement, putting away a little for their kids' education and actually paying the bills that are coming due.

The major contributor to our economic crisis in the long term is inequality. This is a concern not just of New Democrats, but of business leaders in this country.

In September the Conference Board of Canada, not a noted left-wing organization, put out a report that discussed the increase in poverty rates in this country. After 10 years of some modest progress up to 2009, these rates began to increase once again, and that gap continues to grow.

The Conference Board of Canada pointed out that the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is now growing at a much faster rate than it is in the United States and that very soon we will catch up to them as among the developed countries with the largest gaps between the rich and the poor in the entire world.

Why are we having this increase in inequality? The Conference Board said it is a result of globalization and other market forces. When the government says market forces will fix the recession, it is also saying that market forces will fix inequality, and we have seen that simply is not true.

The Conference Board of Canada also points to dwindling unionization of the Canadian workforce and the stagnation of minimum wages as two key contributors, yet we have seen a constant attack from the government on trade unions as the representatives of workers in the attempt to get a living wage, a family-supporting wage and a wage that will actually promote economic growth and development in this country.

As a spokesperson for the NDP on the Asia-Pacific region, I have also spoken in the House about the lack of investment in this key area, an area in which we can make great progress. We should listen to the president of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, Yuen Pau Woo, who spoke at the Asia-Pacific conference sponsored by the B.C. council of business about two weeks ago in Vancouver. He said that yes, we have made some progress in exporting resources like forestry resources, and yes, the government has done some good work on infrastructure around the ports, but we are missing the boat when it comes to the key factor in expanding our trade with the Asia-Pacific region because we are failing to invest in human capacity.

He said that we need increasing investments in language training, cross-cultural communication and international business education, but there is nothing in the government's Asia-Pacific strategy that speaks to any of those fundamental needs that would help forge more ties with the Asia-Pacific region and help build the basis for strong trade in the future.

When it comes to equality, I read a book over the last year called The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, two demographers who looked at the actual evidence. I know the government does not like evidence, but they looked in 11 areas of health and social services challenges, everything from physical health to mental health to child health to obesity to crime rates to violence. What they found was that in every case, a society that is more equal does better on every indicator.

Unexpectedly, it also shows that the rich in those countries also do better than the rich in the less equal countries, so this is not just a matter of benefiting the poor but a matter of benefiting all parts of our society by increasing equality.

I see nothing at all in the budget that would move us in that direction of more fundamental equality.

Despite a few crumbs and gestures toward small business and health care and a few non-refundable tax credits that will not help those really in need, there is nothing in the bill to promote jobs. There is nothing here to promote retirement security. There is no action to help the most vulnerable.

As we head into this Thanksgiving weekend, I wish all members of the House and all Canadians a happy Thanksgiving, but like others who have spoken today, I ask them to think about those less fortunate, those who will be going to food banks for their Thanksgiving dinner and those who are in even more dire situations: those who are homeless and who will be going to the soup kitchens for their Thanksgiving dinner.

I would much like to see the government take action that would decrease the inequalities in our society so that veterans, seniors and families with children do not end up in these dire situations on the next Thanksgiving.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone will be thinking about those less fortunate over Thanksgiving. The best thing we can do for people without jobs is give them jobs.

Today there was some great news. The unemployment rate in Canada went down to 7.1%. Over 61,000 new jobs were created, mostly full-time jobs. That is why the member's speech was so painful to listen to. He had the opportunity to give some really solid ideas about the economy that have worked internationally, but instead he chose to give an idealistic and alarmist rant.

He said one thing that was correct. He talked about the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, and it is a debt crisis. What is the NDP's solution? What did the NDP talk about today? It talked about the same solution as Greece: to tax more and spend more.

I would like the member to contrast the idealistic socialist approach that did not work in Europe with our low-tax job creation philosophy that has worked. We got more information today on how well it has worked.

Could he please contrast those? The proof is in the pudding. Could he let Canadians know why he keeps going on with this ideological rant instead of telling them the facts?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question because it gives me a chance to point out the fallacies in the Conservatives' argument that the proof is in the pudding.

If the proof is in the pudding, then the proof is in the two million Canadians who are unemployed or have given up looking for jobs. If the proof is in the pudding, it is in the growing poverty rates in this country. If the proof is in the pudding, the pudding is right in front of us, and we have only to take a close look at what is actually happening in our communities to see the growing inequality and the effects of it on our future prosperity.

To talk about where it has worked, again I point to The Spirit Level and to other economists who have pointed out that the long-term way to prosperity is through equality and through public investments in infrastructure that will help our economy grow in the future.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my best Thanksgiving wishes to my colleagues and constituents.

I want to come back to something asked by the last questioner. Essentially he was blaming the problems in Europe on social democratic governments.

I would like my colleague to tell me what is at the root of the problems, both in Europe and in the U.S. Is it social democratic principles, or is it unbridled capitalism?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, what is clear is that the crisis we entered into in 2008 was sparked by corporate greed and unregulated corporate profits.

New Democrats are pointing to figures in Canada that show that giving a 43% tax cut to big corporations has done nothing to bring private investment into our economy that would create jobs and growth in the future, so we have essentially thrown away that revenue and borrowed money to subsidize major corporations when we could have kept the tax rates where they were.

That is where the Conservatives are a bit disingenuous: in saying New Democrats want an increase. We were actually just talking about stopping the decrease in corporate taxes in this country. In fact, when we had the highest rates of growth in this country, we also had high corporate tax rates.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his insightful views on what is going on in Europe.

If we look at unemployment figures in this country, we are looking at an unemployment rate that is much higher than what was cited in the House today. A number of people are underemployed and a number have given up looking for employment, and in fact the unemployment rate at this point is well over 11%. Over one in ten persons in Canada is either unemployed or underemployed. That is pretty high.

New Democrats have a proposal for some tax credits for creating employment. I would like my colleague to further elaborate on tax credits that would actually create employment in this country.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question and I would like others to speak on that aspect later.

I would like to come back to his point that there are more than two million people who are unemployed or underemployed. In addition to that, a very large sector of our workforce is working at minimum wage. As I stressed in my speech, working at minimum wage in this country means that people do not earn enough to pay for the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter, and they do not earn enough to put away money for their kids' education or for retirement. If the Conservative government's inaction continues on the question of inequality, low wages and unemployment, we are actually mortgaging our future.

I would ask the government to take an approach that will provide real job creation and a real attack on the inequalities in this country.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

London North Centre Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of our government's low-tax plan for jobs and growth, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

On May 2 Canadians voted for continued economic growth and stability. Our Conservative government has continued to deliver for Canadians, with a strong, stable and ever-growing economy.

The members opposite believe that raising taxes on Canadians and small businesses is the right thing to do. This is simply not the route to continued prosperity. Tax cuts, not tax hikes, create jobs.

How effective is our government's tax-cutting plan for Canadians?

Our Conservative government believes in low taxes and in leaving more money where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses. The opposition's high-tax agenda would increase taxes on job-creating businesses to pay for billions of dollars in reckless spending and bloated government programs in Ottawa. The opposition's high-tax plan would kill jobs, stall our fragile economic recovery, and set families back.

Since 2006 our Conservative government has cut taxes over 120 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.

It is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that a typical family saving over $3,000 due to our government's tax-cutting plan should be entitled to that. It is a shame that the members opposite show disregard to the arts community by opposing the children's arts tax credit, a tax credit that would deliver up to $500 for parents across the country who enrol their children in arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities. It is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that Canadians should be entitled to our government's new family caregiver tax credit. This credit would provide $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.

Finally, it is a shame that the members opposite do not believe that small businesses should be given the necessary tools to be successful in this country of ours.

In this budget, our government provides a new hiring credit for small businesses. I know there are a lot of small businesses in my riding that are pleased about this.

I heard the comments from the member for London—Fanshawe, who painted a bleak, negative picture of our great city of London. Perhaps she would like to explain to the small businesses in our city why she opposes a $1,000 one-time credit against the increase in their 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2010.

I, for one, am proud to be a member of Parliament from the great city of London, Ontario, and I am proud to support our small businesses, because tax cuts create jobs.

As I just mentioned, the member opposite from London—Fanshawe decided to paint a bleak picture of our great city. As a proud Londoner, I would like to highlight to this House why we should all be proud of our city.

First, the member opposite claimed that London has the highest unemployment rate in Canada. The hon. member is factually wrong. We do not. According to last month's labour force survey from Statistics Canada, London's unemployment rate actually dropped in the month of August.

Further, today Statistics Canada indicated that the economy created 61,000 new jobs across the country in September, with the unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level in nearly three years. Ensuring my constituents and all Londoners can find employment is certainly a priority of mine and of our government. That is why I was pleased to participate in August, via teleconference, in a job summit hosted by the mayor of our city of London, a job summit that the NDP member for London—Fanshawe did not attend.

This summit brought together political representatives from all three levels of government, businesses and other stakeholders from across this city to discuss how, together, we can strengthen economic growth in our city. If the member for London—Fanshawe had decided to attend, she would know that the answer was resounding. We must work together to create more jobs and strengthen economic growth in our city.

This budget would do exactly that.

The member opposite stated that she is worried that Londoners would get the short end of the stick with our government's investment in the Ontario federal development agency. I am happy to report that the member opposite has nothing to worry about at all, and I will explain why. Instead of speaking negatively about our city and its hard-working residents, our government has been hard at work to provide the necessary tools to strengthen our economy and create jobs.

Since being elected to represent my constituents of London North Centre on May 2, I have been pleased to deliver over $7 million in investments to businesses and organizations in my riding through Federal Development Ontario and millions more through other departments.

It is a shame that the member for London—Fanshawe failed to mention that the London Economic Development Corporation reports that 1,451 new jobs have been created in the city of London thus far in 2011. These new jobs mean $163.3 million for the local economy.

It is a shame that the member for London—Fanshawe failed to mention the millions of dollars in investment our government has made in the University of Western Ontario , located in my riding of London North Centre.

What do these investments mean for businesses and institutions in our city? Ted Hewitt, the vice-president of research at the University of Western Ontario, had this to say:

By providing researchers with the tools they need to develop innovative ideas, treatments and technologies that benefit us at home, we are able to continue to enhance the country’s research reputation on the global stage

There is more.

Our government has supported the arts by investing in festivals, such as the TD Sunfest, one of the largest music festivals in Canada that takes place in the heart of the city of London. Our government has invested in the seniors and disabled in my riding of London North Centre and all Londoners by investing $3.2 million in the centretown project. This initiative will create jobs for Londoners and offer 72 affordable housing units for low-income seniors and the disabled.

Also, our government supported job creation for youth in my riding by investing in nearly $30,000 in Youth Opportunities Unlimited, an organization in my riding that offers top-notch training to youth.

Londoners are hard at work in almost every aspect of the everyday life of Canadians and those abroad.

Canada's military is equipped with quality light armoured vehicles, thanks to the employees of London's General Dynamics. It is worth noting that, in 2010, our government invested $34.4 million into the LAV III upgrade project at General Dynamics.

Balanced breakfasts are brought to families across Canada by Kellogg Canada located in London.

Synergy Manufacturing, a small business in my riding that manufactures specialty windows for homes, has doubled its employment numbers, thanks to our government's economic action plan.

One hundred thousand pounds of honey are produced by McCormick Canada located in London, Ontario.

The hundreds of Londoners working at Labatt Brewing Company in my riding of London North Centre produce 1,029 bottles/cans of beer every minute.

New York city will have 2.5 billion gallons of safe, clean water thanks to London's Trojan Technologies.

Employees of London's Brose Canada ensures one in three cars are safer and more efficient.

There are 2,000 tonnes of CO2 that will not be in the air that we breathe tomorrow, thanks to the 100 new jobs created for Londoners at the London Plant of KACO New Energy.

For two million Canadians, retirement is secure due to the efforts of Freedom 55 Financial, an insurance company located again in the heart of London.

Millions are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, thanks. in part. to the design team at London's Cyborg Trading Systems. There is a number one best selling app for that created by designers at London's Big Blue Bubble Inc.

Those are just some of the examples that the hard-working Londoners put in for us.

Actions, not empty rhetoric, are why Canadians have sent us to this House. Since 2006, our government has put on its hard hat, steel-toed boots and have built a strong foundation for Canada's future. The members opposite, however, choose empty rhetoric over economic growth, empty rhetoric over helping seniors and empty rhetoric over helping families and job creation.

Our government chooses to stand up and deliver for seniors, for small business and for students. Our government chooses to stand up and deliver for the volunteer firefighters. Finally, our government chooses to stand up and deliver for Londoners and all Canadians.

I am pleased to support Bill C-13, a budget that delivers for my constituents and all Canadians. I am proud to be a member of Parliament from a city that is truly second to none. I am proud to be a member of Parliament from the greatest city in the greatest country in the world, London, Ontario.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is great to hear that the government's policies are helping the riding of the member across the way, but I would appreciate a little more detail on these newly created jobs that the members opposite have been bragging about.

I wonder if she could provide a little more detail on exactly how the budget has created those jobs. Could she advise us on the regional breakdown of those new jobs? How many involve temporary foreign workers? How many of those jobs are in aboriginal communities? How many of those jobs are for the High Arctic?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, Statistics Canada announced that 60,000 net new jobs were created in September, that is all across Canada, not just in the riding of London North Centre. The unemployment rate declined to 7.1%, the lowest level of unemployment since December 2008. Indeed, this week Forbes magazine ranked Canada as the best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs.

While Canada's economy has now created nearly 650,000 net new jobs since 2009, there are a lot of Canadians still looking for work and our global recovery remains fragile, especially in the United States and Europe, and Canada is not immune to global economic turbulence. That is why we are working hard in Parliament to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan and its job creating measures, like hiring credits for small businesses.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in her presentation, the hon. member mentioned that the opposition parties were against the tax credits. I want to let her know that we are in favour of the tax credits that are in the budget. That is a good move.

However, why does the government not consider it a good idea to make those refundable tax credits so that the people who are in the lower incomes will be able to take advantage of them? I know the government wants to be fair to all Canadians. It would like the children of poor people to be able to take arts courses. It would like low-income volunteer firefighters to also be able to benefit from the tax credit. It would not cost that much more to make it a refundable tax credit.

I would like to hear her ideas on this, what I think, is a useful suggestion.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for supporting keeping taxes low.

In regard to keeping taxes low, we have cut taxes over 120 times since 2006, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. We have removed over one million low-income families, individuals and seniors from the tax roll altogether. We have cut taxes in every way government collects them. We have cut personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes and much more. This includes cutting the lowest personal income-tax rate to 15%, increasing the amount Canadians can earn tax free, providing seniors with pension income splitting and reducing the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 back in the pocket of an average family.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women and my colleague from the city of London on an excellent speech pointing out the good things about London and how it got there.

We continue to hear from the other side about what a rotten place we seem to live. I was reminded by a piece of fan mail from someone, not even from my riding, after my speech saying, “Good! Tell them, Joe. Tell them that we live in the best country on the face of this earth”.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary why she thinks that happens in this place.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from London, Joe Preston from Elgin—Middlesex—London--

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. We know the sentiment is there but members are just reminded not to mention hon. members by their names but rather their riding names.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts show that there are positive signs for Canada's economy. We are not immune to the problems facing the global economy, problems chiefly caused by out of control debt and reckless spending.

While our government has a plan to create jobs and grow Canada's economy through low taxes, training and increased trade, the NDP's medicine for Canada's economy is the same reckless spending and out of control debt that has affected the global economy.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, the remarks by my hon. colleague across the floor would lead me to begin my speech a bit differently because his remarks reminded me why I am here. I am here because I live in the best country in the world, a country that is worth serving, a country in which it is worth perfecting legislation as best we can and a country where it is worth looking at the details of the legislation and answering detailed questions on that legislation. That is what living in the best country in the world means.

I will begin by first acknowledging my family, my wife, Tara, and my daughters, Ella-Valentine and Vera-Claire. I work here in Ottawa but my life is back home in Kingston and the Islands. I want to acknowledge them here today. This is actually the first time I have stood to give a formal speech and I wanted them to know they are the centre of my life, even though my work is here in Ottawa and at my constituency office in Kingston and the Islands.

When I think about my family, this bill reminds me of filing income tax. It is a privilege and honour to stand here and realize that the things we are talking about in the chamber today are the things that will be on everyone's income tax return next year. It is amazing. It makes me think about why the income tax form is the way it is and what we decide in this chamber will determine what our income tax forms will look like next year.

That brings me to one of the main problems with the budget. As my colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie mentioned, a lot of the good ideas for tax credits would only be available to people who have extra taxable income left at the end of their tax form in order to claim the non-refundable tax credits.

The government members have not been able to answer the question posed several times, once in question period and on several other occasions by my hon. colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie. It would not cost a lot more to make the tax credits refundable so that they are available to people who do not have the incomes to afford these credits.

I think we will all be looking at the economy over the next year or two. This country is like a ship on the ocean and we see some storms on the horizon. The other side of the House is now in charge of the ship. The captain is on the other side of the House. He has responsibility for taking care of all the people on the ship. His officers are telling him that there is a storm on the horizon and that it is his duty to protect all of the people on the ship. Some of the people are on the deck, the ship is starting to sway and they are holding onto the rails. Others are sitting comfortably in their cabins. The captain should be thinking about the people on the margins. When it comes time to protect Canadians from the perilous economic situation, from the storms that we see on the horizon, in Europe especially, we should be giving preference to the poor and their situation and try to figure out how to protect them first because they will be the first people to feel the brunt of this economic storm.

I do not know if the government realizes this, but I remember that in 2008, when the markets first started collapsing and it was clear to many people that the global economy was in trouble, the government took a bit of time to recognize that danger.

Therefore, it would be a good idea for the government to reconsider that part of the budget, to make these tax credits refundable in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, the ones who are clinging to the rails on the deck of the ship as it is swaying back and forth as the storm brews. The captain has a duty to protect all of the people on the ship.

One example of that which really strikes me, and it does not make sense at all, is the family caregiver tax credit. A lot of us have heard of situations where people have to quit their jobs to take care of loved ones at home who are seriously ill, so their incomes go down. It is very easy to imagine that in this situation they would not have sufficient income to have taxable income left at the end of their tax forms to be able to claim the family caregiver tax credit. It would have been a much better idea to have extended the employment insurance program to provide for longer benefits in the case where someone had to take an extended time off to take care of a seriously ill family member.

The next thing I would like to do is to think about numbers. I would like to talk about the hiring credit for small business and the scheduled increase in employment insurance payroll taxes. If we look at the numbers, for most small businesses, the EI payroll tax increase will swamp the hiring tax credit for small businesses. This does not make sense, especially when we know there is another tax cut coming for larger corporations at the beginning of next year. It strikes me that there is not a very coherent strategy here.

I know what is going to come from the other side. The Conservatives are going to talk about the announcement by Stats Canada of the 61,000 jobs that were created in September. I know about that, so they can save their time. They do not need to mention it in the next question. We have to think about a coherent strategy.

While I am on this, I will just take the opportunity to mention something that is a little different, but it is a concern that has been brought up by constituents in my riding and it is very appropriate to mention it at this time.

In the past, Canada has had quite a good program for funding capital costs of research and development. There is something called the Canada Foundation for Innovation. It has been quite good at funding big projects and little projects and new researchers going to universities, giving them the money to buy the equipment they need to start up their laboratories, to start up a research group and to have the equipment they need to be world-leading researchers. However, it turns out, as a good rule of thumb, that for every dollar that is spent on capital improvements about 10¢ a year is needed to utilize and maintain that equipment.

For example, for a university researcher that would mean funding for graduate students, for post-docs and for technicians to maintain and run the equipment. Big projects have had there problems recognized, but for small scale research and development, the funding streams from the granting councils, such as NSERC, for operational funds, which is needed to really take full advantage of all the capital expenditures, has not kept up with the great funding for infrastructure and capital expenditures. Therefore, I would request that the government consider, perhaps in the committee stage, adjusting the funding so the money set aside for our granting councils, and other councils that can give operating funds, be unrestricted funding to be consistent with the great level of funding that we have for capital expenditures in small scale research and development.

I will end with that. I have not spoken about the whole budget bill, nobody can, but these are some areas that I think are important.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, for the record, so we are sure we have heard the number, more than 650,000 net new jobs have been created by this government and our economic action plan.

My hon. colleague from Kingston and the Islands is already talking about his next year's income tax form, so I am sure he is concerned with what that is going to look like.

As the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development said this morning, we have taken nearly a million people off the income tax rolls already. We did that because we wanted to assist the people who were the most vulnerable in our society, to ensure that they had their own money in their pockets to spend. We have lowered the GST by 2%, which is a tax credit for everyone when they go shopping for consumerable items.

Since the hon. member is looking at his own income tax, how much more income tax is he willing to pay so we can help more people?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me answer the question in this way. Sometimes people ask me why I am a Liberal. The simplest answer I can give is I have been pretty successful in life. Fifty per cent of that is hard work and some of that hard work is other people's hard work. The other 50% is luck. A lot of that 50% of luck is having grown up in Canada.

As a Liberal, I feel it is very appropriate for me, as part of a society that has given so much to me, to work, to give back and to ensure that everybody in this society has equal opportunity. That is how I would answer that question. I am willing to pay taxes to ensure this is the best country in the world.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know the record of the Conservatives. They have had the largest deficit ever recorded in our history. That is their financial record.

I want to ask my colleague a question. We know there is nothing in this budget for small businesses. We have big corporate tax cuts, yet the engine that drives this economy are the small businesses.

Now the government will be adding a new payroll tax on small businesses, on workers, starting in January. That is called a tax.

There were $54 billion in the EI fund. Where did that money go?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I have to confess, because I do not want to say anything that is not true in the House, that I do not have an answer to the question. I would be very happy to answer it at another time.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer the question on behalf of the member opposite. The fact is that money went into the consolidated revenue fund, which the then Liberal government used to fund programs and balance its budget.

Our government has introduced rules to ensure that premiums paid into the Canada pension plan eventually go into a separate fund and that there is an independent arm's-length oversight of that pension plan—sorry of the employment insurance fund to ensure that the premiums match the payouts. That is what we have done to ensure this situation never happens again.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thought I heard “Canada pension plan”. I wonder if the hon. member meant to say employment insurance.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

He corrected himself.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Liberals just do not listen.