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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

The House resumed from October 6 consideration of the motion 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.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-13. On behalf of my riding of Etobicoke North, the beautiful community where I was born and raised, I must first fight for jobs. It is an absolute priority for me, my office and our community. It is heartening to see some modest employment growth in today's statistics but it does not bring us back to where we were before the recession.

I want members to know that we have helped many residents with resumés. I personally spend hours correcting each line of cover letters and resumés. We help with job-finding skills. We send people to career agencies and we help find them jobs.

I am particularly proud that we have secured a new jobs program to help more people in our community find work. However, it is not enough. The reality is that more Canadians face economic insecurity compared to a few short years ago. This threatens Canada's economic growth and fiscal balance. We need concrete proposals to stimulate job creation right away.

Twenty per cent of my riding is engaged in manufacturing, the second-highest percentage for the country's entire 308 ridings. What new support can the government offer young Canadians? This past summer, it was heartbreaking to meet with so many young graduates who were distraught because they were unable to find work. Many of these graduates were the first person in their family to go to college and university. The only thing harder than meeting with the graduates was meeting with their grandparents who begged for help to find their grandchildren a job. We must reduce the worst youth unemployment rate in a generation.

We must also build the jobs of the future. This means we must shift to a green economy to stimulate growth, create new jobs, eradicate poverty and limit humanity's ecological footprint. It is no longer a choice between saving our economy and saving the environment. It is a choice between being a producer and a consumer in the old economy and being a leader in a new economy. It is a choice between decline and prosperity.

The government should work in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities, labour organizations, industry sectors, first nations and others to develop a national sustainable energy and economic growth strategy to position Canada to succeed in the global economy. It should develop a clean energy employment transition for Canada with goals for 2015, 2020, 2025 and 2030. This strategy should include skills development, training programs and certification courses.

I will now address environmental, economic and human costs. Climate change is our most pressing environmental issue, perhaps the defining issue of our generation, and it requires both moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility. Yet the government failed to mention the issue in the throne speech.

This week we learned that the government has reduced climate change reductions by a shocking 90% since 2007. More stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot be postponed much longer. Otherwise the opportunity to keep the average global temperature rise below 2°C, relative to the pre-industrial level, is in danger. Serious impacts are associated with approaching or exceeding this limit, including the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, shifts in growing seasons and sea level rise.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicts that climate change could cost Canadians between $21 billion and $43 billion per year by 2050.

Our capacity for managing the impacts to come is adaptation. While it is not cost-free it is a cost-effective way to alleviate some of those impacts. I must then ask why the government is cutting climate impacts and adaptation research at Environment Canada. The group was started 17 years ago. It performs groundbreaking research by examining how climate change affects agriculture, human health and water quality in Canada. Some of its scientists shared part of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on climate change.

My concern is that the government wants as little as possible to do with climate change and wants to pass the buck to the provinces and the municipalities. The reality is that we need research governance arrangements on adaptation at all scales.

I will now turn to human costs and what failure to take preventive action would mean.

Governments worldwide are concerned with the rising tide of dementia. Some 500,000 Canadians have Alzheimer's disease or related dementia. Some 71,000 are under the age of 65 years and 72% are women. Today in Canada one person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias every five minutes. The human cost is huge. The economic cost is $15 billion. In 30 years it will be one person every two minutes and a cost of $153 billion.

It is my absolute hope that the health committee will reconstitute the Subcommittee of Neurological Disease which I founded in the last Parliament and will bring back the report which the subcommittee passed.

Moreover, will the government commit to a national brain strategy? Will it commit to a national brain health awareness month and a national year of the brain to raise awareness of brain health in Canada? Will it commit to a national Alzheimer's office within the Public Health Agency of Canada to reduce the rising tide of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, and provide a national plan with specific goals and an annual report to Parliament? Will it take necessary measures to accelerate the discovery and development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of dementia? Will it encourage greater investment in all areas of research?

If we could merely slow the onset of dementia by two years for each affected Canadian we would see a return on investment of 15,000% over a 30 year research effort.

I will finish by tackling another devastating neurological disease, that being multiple sclerosis. It affects 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians, of whom 400 die each year from the disease, and many take their own life. The suicide rate in MS patients is seven times that of the national population.

In May 2010, my colleague from St. Paul's and I brought the fight for clinical trials and a registry for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, CCSVI, to Parliament.

Almost a year later, in March 2011, the government announced a registry, although it will not actually start until July 2012.

In June 2011, at last the government announced clinical trials.

I want to be clear. All we have right now is announcements. What we need is action. Canadians with MS cannot afford to wait.

Instead of tracking patients who have had the CCSVI procedure and developing the most appropriate scales to measure any health impacts following treatment, MS patients were left with no follow up and important data was lost post procedure at one, three, six, twelve and twenty-four months.

Since when do scientists fail to collect data or, worse, choose not to gather evidence?

The CIHR is currently recommending phase I or phase II clinical trials for CCSVI.

I would argue that there is no need for a phase I trial, which is usually undertaken to assess safety. Angioplasty is an accepted standard of care practice in Canada.

I would, therefore, suggest that we need an adaptive phase II or phase III trial, for example, clinical trials for the CCSVI procedure in multiple centres across Canada.

I will finish by thanking the people in my riding, as well as the stakeholders in the environment, health and particularly neurological disease.

Finally, I would like all of the people who are living with MS to know that they inspire me every day.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that my colleague is sincere and dedicated to her riding. At the beginning of her speech she said that we are not back to where we were before the recession. We know that we lost 490,000 jobs during the recession.

We have created 600,000 new jobs with the economic action plan. These concrete results are due to lower taxes and the specific steps we have taken which have been acknowledged around the world. As well, our Minister of Finance has been acknowledged around the world.

Would my colleague from Etobicoke North comment on the number of jobs that have been created through the economic action plan? Will she be supporting its next phase?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that in my riding jobs are a priority.

I went to a graduation and heard in the speech given by a valedictorian a poem by Dylan Thomas paraphrased, “Rage, rage if people do not come from the right community or do not have the opportunity to get a job”. The government has missed out on opportunities for creating jobs for Canadians.

The government missed opportunities contained within the stimulus package regarding jobs, impacts on the environment, and greening the economy. According to HSBC, in 2009 the Government of Canada invested $3 billion in green stimulus spending. However, Germany invested $14 billion, the United States invested $112 billion and China invested $221 billion in green infrastructure and in the process created thousands of new green jobs and improved competitiveness.

In 2010 McAllister said that 84% of Canadian thought leaders give poor ratings to Canada's dependence on fossil fuels and carbon pricing. We need a national sustainable energy strategy and job strategy.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canada has been lacking in green infrastructure. I listened with interest to the member's statements on the green economy. I would ask her to elaborate on how many jobs we have missed out on due to the lack of a green economy in Canada, as well as the government's unwillingness to move toward a green economy.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada must absolutely move toward a green economy, develop a transition strategy and track the jobs that would create.

I stress that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also a human rights issue, a right to live, an international security issue and a justice issue. In other words, those suffering the most have the least responsibility. In any struggle it is important to listen to the front lines, for example, the aboriginal people and those living in the Canadian Arctic. If people are being impacted by climate change they should be meaningfully involved in Canada's processes and negotiations. As well, the government must be accountable to those people who are impacted.

The government is now cutting the climate impacts and adaptation research group in Environment Canada, which performs world-leading research in adaptation. Why would it cut these Nobel Prize winning scientists' research when the national round table has predicted that climate change could cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion per year by 2050?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with honour and a great sense of pride in representing the people of Sault Ste. Marie. It is a privilege to be here today to address the House of Commons in my maiden speech.

At this time I would like to congratulate our member of provincial Parliament, David Orazietti, on being re-elected last night. The red tie is not in honour of him, it is in honour of our troops.

I would like to begin by thanking the numerous volunteers who worked tirelessly and diligently on my campaign. It was the collective effort of all those involved that resulted in my electoral victory in my first-ever attempt at seeking to represent Sault Ste. Marie and Canada at the federal level. Few who try succeed, and I am truly humbled by this amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those whom I serve. I will not take it for granted.

As parliamentarians, we collectively give thanks to God in this place every day. I would like to thank God for allowing me the privilege of serving the people of Sault Ste. Marie and Him here in Parliament.

I would also like to pay special tribute to my wife, Aida, and our two sons, Brandyn and Kevin, who love and support me each and every day. If not for their encouragement, I would not be in this House today.

Having had the opportunity to be an MP for a few months now, I can appreciate the demands of this position and commend all members on both sides of the House for their efforts, especially those who are forced to be away from young families.

Finally, I thank all the people of Sault Ste. Marie for bestowing their faith in me. I promise to respectfully and truthfully represent their views and concerns here in Ottawa. I pledge to work hard with the same diligence that the majority of my constituents demonstrate daily as they go about their lives.

They elected me because of the values and policies of the Conservative government. It is on their behalf that I would like to discuss the positive implications Canada's economic action plan has had on the riding of Sault Ste. Marie specifically and Canada as a whole, but more importantly the positive impacts the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, will bring.

I think the Federation of Canadian Municipalities put it best when they said, “[Budget 2011] delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a long-term federal infrastructure plan”.

In my time on city council, I saw the effect that sound federal policy can have on infrastructure replacement with unprecedented road construction, thanks in part to the federal gas tax contribution. I am so pleased that our government, through the next phase of our economic action plan, will legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable long-term infrastructure for municipalities.

Not only does this funding assist in replacing aging infrastructure but it also contributes to keeping municipal taxes low as the tax burden for infrastructure investment previously rested squarely on the shoulders of municipal taxpayers. Infrastructure projects are also a key provider of jobs.

I am especially grateful to this government for lowering the corporate tax rate and committing to keeping it low which is making our country more attractive to investors, once again creating new jobs.

It was not that long ago, two major employers in Sault Ste. Marie were in great difficulty and may very well have closed their doors, which would have been a devastating blow to our local economy.

Our low corporate tax policy attracted foreign investment to resurrect these companies, and as a result Essar Steel Algoma is now owned by a family from India, and TenarisAlgomaTubes is owned by a company from Argentina. These two companies provide 4,000 well-paying jobs in the Soo, and contribute indirectly to many more.

Canada must stay competitive in order to attract the kind of investment that will assist businesses that rely on global markets for their product and lower corporate tax rates ensure that competitive advantage.

I can say with certainty that an increase in the corporate tax, as required by the NDP to deliver on its promises, would have a profound negative effect on jobs and investment in Sault Ste. Marie. The steel industry is extremely volatile and every advantage counts.

Both companies I spoke of earlier would like to expand in the near future, creating the potential for new jobs, jobs that will not materialize with a corporate tax increase.

These policies have worked for all of Canada, not just Sault Ste. Marie. Canada is a leader in global economic recovery. Our government is focused on what matters to Canadians, creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G7, with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009. The IMF predicts that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. This prediction is not accidental. It is based upon this government's policies on job creation and economic growth, including such things as providing a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage hiring additional staff, as well as extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for investments in new equipment and machinery.

These investments enable our manufacturing firms to become more efficient and therefore more competitive, with the end result of more jobs. Not to mention the positive economic impact to those companies which actually provide the new machinery and equipment.

While job creation and the economy remain the top priority of this government, we are also committed to helping those giants of Canadian success, our seniors. As the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry said:

When I hear stories of the hardships some of our seniors have endured I truly am in awe. Seniors deserve the respect and admiration of each and every Canadian for the contributions they have made and continue to make as mentors and leaders. They have raised families, built communities and created a standard of living in our country that is the envy of the world. It is virtually impossible to appropriately recognize or thank these brave generous men and women for their unselfish contribution.

Though it is impossible to adequately thank our senior citizens for the hard work and investment they have put into this great country, our nation has made them a priority, higher ever than before. In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan we are introducing new measures to improve the quality of life for these valuable contributors.

We are enhancing GIS for low-income seniors who will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. We are also eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees, so that those seniors who want to remain in the workforce have the freedom to do so.

Furthermore, while I campaigned, a common concern of seniors and many constituents was the lack of a family physician. I am proud of our government's position on forgiving loans for new doctors and nurses in underserviced rural and remote areas.

I would now like to talk about this government's plan to balance the budget. As the Right Hon. David Cameron said during his visit, “the western world is facing a debt crisis”. This government realizes we cannot put ourselves in a similar position. We are committed to a responsible, credible approach to balancing the budget by 2014-15 in a manner that will create greater efficiency and effectiveness within the operation of government and the various services it provides. We will do this without raising taxes, without slashing transfers to health, education and support to seniors.

The IMF recently declared that Canada has the best net debt to GDP ratio in the G7. However, the economy is still extremely fragile and we must be diligent in our efforts to balance the budget. As a new member of Parliament, there is still a lot I have to learn about how Parliament works and how it best serves Canadians. However, there are some things I am certain of, that cutting corporate taxes stimulates economic growth, that in order to survive in the globalized world we must embrace free trade, and that the Conservative Party of Canada is working hard to keep this country on the right course in the midst of economic turmoil around the world.

As we debate the implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, I would like to agree with the millions of Canadians who have praised this government for good fiscal management. We are on the right track and we will continue to fight for lower taxes, balanced budgets, and care for the most vulnerable.

Our country is the envy of the world, in no small part due to the hard work of the Prime Minister, my colleagues, and the Conservative Party of Canada.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate my dear colleague on his first election at the federal level and on his first speech.

Last summer, the IMF concluded that when revenues are allocated more fairly, the periods of economic growth are longer and more stable. So why is there so little in this budget to address the inequality?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, this morning Statistics Canada released a statement that in September, another 60,000 jobs were created in Canada, and our unemployment rate has dropped to 7.1%, which is the lowest level that it has been since 2008. Our stimulus package is obviously working. I do not think there is more that needs to be said and we need to continue along this path.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too congratulate the member for Sault Ste. Marie on his maiden speech. It was a good job. He referred to some major employers who plan to expand in the future. To expand on what he said, how would a corporate tax rate increase affect these plans?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Sault Ste. Marie, one of our major employers is Essar Algoma Steel. It currently employs 3,200 people. It intends on expanding with a deep seaport expansion, and in the event that happens, it will be able to double capacity in Sault Ste. Marie. That translates to between 500 and 700 jobs. It is not only Essar Algoma Steel that will be able to take advantage of this particular harbour.

A key point as well is that in the event corporate taxes go up, the reality is that these corporations also support our small businesses. There is a trickle down effect. If our corporate taxes go up, resulting in lay-offs, there will be an impact on our small business community as well. That is simply something Canadians cannot afford and we definitely should not be considering it at all.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the member for Sault Ste. Marie. The consequences of the budget that the government is proposing will have an impact on the level of debt for families. I would ask the member for Sault Ste. Marie, what will be the consequences on families in these ridings with regard to the level of debt?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree at all with what the hon. member is saying. The reality is that the tax measures that are in this plan will reduce the level of debt. Canadians will be paying on average $3,000 a year less in tax. Personal taxes for Canadians are at the lowest level they have ever been, I believe, in 50 years. Once again, our low tax policies and job creation policies are working.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague for his maiden speech in the House and on his election.

My colleague said cutting corporate taxes stimulates growth. I agree with what he is saying. The government is cutting taxes and giving away tax credits to large corporations, but what we have seen happen is that these corporations are sending jobs outside of our country.

How is this actually stimulating growth in our local communities, when the jobs are being shipped out of the country?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree that jobs are being shipped out of the country. I can only speak to what is happening in Sault Ste. Marie and quite frankly, jobs are coming into Sault Ste. Marie as a result of our low tax policies.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know we have discussed many pieces of legislation here in the House but I cannot think of one that is more aptly named than “keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act”, the second phase of our economic action plan.

The legislation includes key elements for the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. Our minister said:

Our Government is focused on what matters to Canadians—creating jobs and promoting economic growth

Canada has the strongest job record in the G7, having created more than 600,000 jobs and with a great new employment report out this morning. These jobs have been created since July of 2009. The International Monetary Fund projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 over the next two years. However, we are not immune from global economic turbulence, which is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

The minister is right, we do, and there are many ways that keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act would help Canada's economy recover.

As a small business owner myself, I am very excited about the many ways this budget would help small businesses. I recently visited an innovation centre for entrepreneurs that has been created in St. Thomas, Ontario, with a little help from our government. It is an incubator for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who want to open their first business go there and work together. I was there speaking to some of the entrepreneurs not that long ago and they were talking about how much they thought this government's budgets have been on the absolute right course from an entrepreneurial point of view. We all know that, from a small business point of view, most of the jobs created are by entrepreneurs and small businesses. That same innovation centre won three awards last week as an innovation centre in Canada. I am very pleased with it.

Part of what this legislation would do is promote jobs and economic growth. One of the ways is by putting in place a temporary hiring credit for small businesses. As I stated, as a small businessman myself, we start off each day fairly optimistic, and in speaking to entrepreneurs, that is exactly the case. Most small business people are very optimistic about what their companies will do that year and about their growth. What this would put in place is a credit to hire and receive a credit for each person hired to expand the business this year. As a small business person, that is always a great incentive to move forward with the decision. When it may have been do or do not, this would push it over the edge.

I would also like to mention another small businessman, a friend of mine in St. Thomas, Jeff Yurek. Last night, he became a member of the provincial parliament. He is a pharmacist. In speaking to him late last night, we talked about working together to create jobs. I even mentioned that I would be speaking this morning to the budget. He is pretty excited about what he will be able to do and with the two of us working together. I congratulate Jeff Yurek.

The budget also talks about expanding the tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments. We are simplifying customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and to lower the administrative burden for business. I will speak to that just a bit.

The government has, over the last short period of time, under the review of one of our ministers, looked at red tape. In the election that we had earlier this spring, one of the more common things I heard from small business people, and specifically from farmers, is that they could do okay if governments would just get out of their way. Therefore, the removal of red tape and regulations, and certainly the duplication of regulations at the federal, provincial, and municipal level, is what most people are looking for. Any time a budget can move to remove administrative burdens for business, it is a good budget. It is letting the people who are earning the money put it in their pockets and not have to use the time and effort to create reports and send them on.

We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing equipment. As was already mentioned by my colleague earlier, this not only allows those businesses to increase their productivity, which we need to do in Canada, keep working on the productivity side by putting new equipment in place, it also allows the manufacturers of those pieces of equipment to generate income and the people who sell to them to generate income. It has a very good cascade effect.

As I have already said, as a small businessman in a small community that has had some job losses, this type of thing would have a cascade effect. Even where my business is, it can generate business because someone further up the chain is allowing this capital cost allowance.

I want to mention Forbes magazine, the pre-eminent business magazine in the world. It called Canada the best place to do business. Part of the reason was things like the capital cost allowance, the lowering of the red tape and the low tax structure that Canada has put in place.

As a sports fan, I never hear anybody in the stands saying that we are number four. Canada can proudly stand up this week and say that we are number one. We are the best place in the world to do business. Our job strategy is recognized around the world. For those contemplating opening a new plant and wondering where it should be, well the best business magazine in the world is saying that it should be done in Canada because it is the best place to do it. That is the type of thing that this strategy is getting for us.

Is that all there is? No. This legislation would also support communities. We would legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion to the gas tax fund. This would be permanent and in place for our communities to be forward thinking in how they would do infrastructure.

We talk a lot about SCM, the big cities and big municipalities, and I respect them for what they do, but I represent places like Aylmer, Ontario, Malahide township and the municipality of Bayham. These are very small municipalities. When they need to do a piece of infrastructure spending to fix a bridge or a road, it is not a one-year project. The money has to be thought out over a bunch of years. The fact that we would make the gas tax money permanent to them by legislation would enable them to plan ahead so that over the next four years they maybe could afford to a fix a bridge using the gas tax money. The legislation would give predictability to small municipalities. However, I am sure the large municipalities would also be very pleased with that.

Also, we would enhance the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy and receivership.

As well, coming from a rural area in Canada, one of my favourites is the introduction of a volunteer firefighters tax credit for volunteer firefighters. Volunteers run our communities and are in every aspect of our communities. They are the hockey coaches and Boy Scout leaders. I spend a great deal of time on the United Way program in my riding and it is all run by volunteers. However, volunteer firefighters wake themselves up in the middle of the night when the bell goes off and go out and risk their lives. They spend their Saturdays training on how to be better firefighters. I am proud that the government will give them a tax credit toward part of what they do. Our thanks for what volunteers do in our communities needs to be part of it, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit would help.

The legislation would also help families by introducing a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers. We would remove the limit on eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit.

We would introduce a new children's art tax credit. In past budgets, government has been able to help families with kids in sports. However, our world is well-rounded and we need the cultural side, too, and, therefore, a tax credit for kids involved in the arts is a great way to go.

I will conclude by saying that I spent 35 days earlier this spring, as other members did, knocking on doors, walking up farm lanes and maybe having too many Tim Hortons coffees. I was talking to people about this budget and what we would be putting forward. We came back with an overwhelming mandate, certainly in my riding, and across the country because people liked what we were talking about over those 35 days and wanted us to go back and do it and create some jobs.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's speech and my question to him is a simple one. Does he believe that the tax credits he mentioned, the firefighters tax credit and the children's arts tax credit, should be refundable tax credits so that lower income Canadians can benefit as well?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to talk a little more about volunteers in rural ridings. I recognize that it is not exclusive to rural ridings but I know that the work that volunteer firefighters do in small communities stands out as a greater benefit than it may in some of the larger communities. No offence to the larger communities.

As I said, we spent 35 days on the campaign trail talking about what we were offering to rural Canadians and volunteers. One of the things was, as the member mentioned, the child tax credit. It was well accepted. Whether it was in coffee shops, schools or homes, people said that they liked the way we were headed and that we should carry on.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about corporate tax rates. He was talking about very low tax rates.

For example, the corporate tax rate for the federal government and the Ontario government combined was cut drastically, from 45% in 1999 to 30% in 2010. However, during the same period, investments in machinery and equipment dropped from 8.3% to 5.5%. This shows that lowering the corporate tax rate does not lead to more investments.

Could my colleague comment on that?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, members are making it very easy for me this morning by mentioning all the good things this government is doing.

The member is right. Lowering corporate tax rates does work. Lowering the corporate tax allowance on machinery does work. Having a small business hiring tax credit does work. As a small business person and someone who has spent my life in business, I recognize that every dollar that is allowed to stay in my pocket or the pockets of entrepreneurs in this country somehow gets spent, either by them, their families or gets reinvested back into their businesses.

All of the measures that we have mentioned and the measures that the member opposite congratulated us on will do all of that.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know that those in the NDP and Liberal Party who fight against a growing economy and creating jobs will not talk about this today because it is good news. This morning there was some remarkably good news on job creation, the economy and the unemployment rate. I would like the member to share that good news with us because it is worthy of repeating over and over again today.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member and good friend from British Columbia for helping set that up. I will see if I can hit this one out of the park.

Yes, the unemployment numbers are out this morning. Canada's unemployment rate is now a full two points less than the United States' unemployment rate. That has not happened in my generation. I do not remember it happening in my lifetime as a business person. There were 60,000 new jobs created in the last month right here in Canada.

I understand that the job of opposition parties is to try to find what they can, but I would ask them to please stop talking my country down. I live in the best country on the face of this earth. I live in a country that is working better than most around the world in creating jobs, dreams and opportunities. I am very thankful that we continue to move down that road. Pieces of legislation like this will help grease the rails to make it happen. We need to keep doing it and we need the opposition to help.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech, I would like to set the record straight about some things that the hon. member claims I said, which I did not. I said that, when the taxes of large corporations dropped from 45% to 30%, investments decreased. They therefore did not increase. This shows that the decrease in large corporations' taxes did not increase investments. Now, I would like to start my speech.

My priority is to stand up for the interests of families, youth, workers and seniors. That is the mandate that the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île gave me. These are the issues that made up the NDP's campaign platform. Meanwhile, the government continues to give tax credits to large corporations. We are talking about $2 billion this year alone, not to mention the mess involving the use of public money during the G8 or the use of helicopters and planes for personal reasons.

Meanwhile, look at the cold reality Canadians are facing. Let us think of the large and growing gap between the rich and the poor in Canada. From 1998 to 2007, one-third of the country's income growth was among 1% of the wealthiest Canadians, those with incomes of $400,000 a year or more.

The IMF published a study that found that the more equitable the distribution of income, the longer and more stable the periods of economic growth. However, this budget does not do anything to solve the problems that thousands of Canadians are experiencing every day. The government clearly has no idea what Canadians actually need. A big part of the population in my riding is aging. We must work to prevent seniors from falling into poverty. We must offer them affordable housing. We must provide them with financial support so that they have a decent standard of living. The bill does not include any plan for creating affordable housing. We want concrete measures, not just half measures, to fight poverty and allow the Canadian economy to truly recover from the recession. Eleven million Canadians do not have retirement pensions through their employers and, meanwhile, approximately 250,000 seniors are living in poverty.

The budget says that seniors living alone who have a maximum income of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. It does not make any sense to claim that a mere $600 extra a year will help a senior escape from poverty. That is approximately $2 a day. Can someone really escape poverty, feed themselves, pay for their prescriptions and pay their rent with approximately $2 extra a day? They cannot.

What is more, this credit will decrease as their income increases. When a senior living alone gets an annual income supplement of $4,400, they can no longer benefit from the tax credit the government is proposing in this budget. That is despicable. Seniors need our help. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they will have enough to eat and can get the medicine they need.

I would like to talk about tax credits because, for days now, the government has been saying that it has created tax credits that will help people. But what good is it to give a tax credit to someone who is not working or to someone who pays little or no income tax? These people cannot benefit from tax credits. These tax credits will have no impact on the people who really need them, the people who need help from this government. For example, the tax credit for caregivers is insufficient and will discriminate against countless low-income families.

I would like to give the government a crash course in tax credits. The problem with tax credits is that they are only given to the people who have enough income to actually claim the credits. Since 65% of households with a caregiver declare a combined income of less than $45,000 and 23% declare less than $20,000, the majority of caregivers will not be able to benefit from this tax credit. Why not create a tax benefit that all caregivers can qualify for? Now there is a concrete solution for this government.

I wish the government would stop saying that the NDP is refusing to negotiate. It is the government that is refusing to listen to the offers we are making. The Conservatives are using their majority to pass bills that have no impact on Canadian society, the unemployed, families or seniors.

We could also talk about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, artistic and cultural activities are a good idea, I agree. However, this initiative does not take into account the 30% of people living on the island of Montreal who did not pay taxes or the people in my riding who cannot afford to send their children to these kinds of activities. I think it is great to help families that can afford to send their children to such activities; I have no problem with that. But I also think we need to help the families that cannot afford to pay their rent, let alone enrol their children in such activities. Parents should not be forced to choose between feeding their children or paying the rent and enrolling them in physical, artistic and cultural activities.

Once again, a tax benefit would allow most families living in poverty to send their kids to such activities, yet another concrete measure the government should examine and consider. This government's budget does not invest in social housing and does not take into account the reality of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians. The government must understand that it is crucial to develop a plan to give families, seniors and everyone access to affordable housing so that they do not have to worry about choosing between paying their rent and feeding their families. This government is forcing families living in poverty to make that decision, and this is unacceptable in a society like ours here in Canada.

Why does this government keep cutting taxes for corporations, oil companies and the banks? This takes away billions of dollars that could otherwise be invested for Canadians. Then the government announces $4 billion in cuts that will have a direct impact on public services for Canadians. The government is making cuts at Environment Canada and Service Canada and we are already seeing their disastrous impact on Canadians. A number of people in my riding have been waiting for their employment insurance cheque for months. One constituent in particular came to see me at my office. After waiting for three months for her employment insurance benefits, she went into foreclosure because she could not pay her mortgage. She lost her home, she is homeless, she has no money left for food and she is worried about her children. I am sure she is not alone. This is unacceptable and it makes no sense.

This $4 billion in cuts is money that could easily have come out of the oil companies' $100 billion annual profits or the $10 billion on average in tax credits and gifts given to corporations every year. Glen Hodgson, from the Conference Board of Canada, told the Standing Committee on Finance a number of times this week that tax expenditures, including ineffective tax cuts given to corporations, should be included in the scrutiny of government spending. The Department of Finance itself recognizes that infrastructure investment has five times the economic impact of corporate tax cuts. This fact is published in the appendix to budget 2009.

The thing that is even more shocking about the government's position is that in addition to announcing billions of dollars in cuts, it is now asking Canadian taxpayers to foot the bill for its radical policies on crime and defence. Is asking Canadians to pay millions of dollars for prisons, jets and whatever else they can come up with part of an economic recovery plan? It is totally illogical. While the government muzzles us and uses its majority to pass legislation that is totally absurd and out of touch with reality, 1.4 million Canadians are still waiting for a real job creation action plan—2 million if we count those who have given up or are underemployed.

Furthermore, the government claims to have created 600,000 net new jobs. That is another sad distortion of the truth. Since the peak of job creation before the start of the recession in May 2008, barely 200,000 new jobs have been created. However, the labour force has increased by 450,000 since then. Thus, 250,000 more jobs are needed just to maintain employment at pre-recession levels. Between July 2008 and July 2011, only 260,000 jobs were created. Even based on July 2007 figures, only 495,900 jobs were created between 2007 and 2011, not 600,000 as the government claims.

The government is abandoning millions of unemployed workers and is not really investing in job creation. The budget does not include any plans for job creation. For example, energy processing consists primarily of petroleum refining. This sector of our economy is in decline in Quebec and Canada. What is the government's response? Use Canadian capabilities? No. Create jobs for Canadians. Of course not. It has chosen trade over jobs for Canadians. This government prefers to build pipelines such as the Keystone pipeline to export crude oil to the United States for refining. With what result? Members will be surprised—the loss of thousands of jobs. In my—

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am sorry, but I must interrupt the hon. member.

She will have five minutes for questions and comments after question period.

“MP for a Day” CompetitionStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that Benjamin Laliberté, from the Victoriaville CEGEP, is the winner of the fifth “MP for a Day” competition.

This non-partisan competition aims to help young people learn about the realities of public life and to teach them about the work of politicians—and politics in general—while encouraging them to maintain a critical eye. This competition is a concrete way for me to show them how our democracy works.

Benjamin, a player for the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was declared the winner by a panel. The contestants were asked to evaluate free trade agreements that Canada has signed or is in the progress of signing, and to explain whether they benefit Quebec.

I would like to thank Jean-François Léonard, the political science and geography teacher at the Victoriaville CEGEP, with whom I organized the competition. I would also like to thank the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Sévégny-Baril duo from La Capitale as well as the UPA Centre-du-Quebec for their contributions to the scholarships awarded to the top three contestants.