This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to rise to support Bill C-13.

This is a wonderful opportunity for me to speak to Bill C-13, the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act. I was happy to support the bill when it was referred to the finance committee for study earlier this month and I am pleased to speak to it once again.

Our government has introduced the next phase of our economic action plan, which keeps us on track to return to balanced budgets in the medium term.

This legislation builds on the success of our stimulus plan by creating the right conditions for business to create jobs and grow our economy through low taxes and a clear plan for sustainable economic prosperity.

As we know, these are troubled financial times. Mark Carney, the Bank of Canada governor and newly appointed chairman of the Financial Stability Board, warns us that Europe is headed for a second recession. Sovereign debt and the undercapitalization of European banks threaten economic stability.

While Canada's strong regulation and prudent fiscal policy keep us strong in the face of crisis, we are not an island. We are not immune. Global events demand sound decision-making to be certain that we do not succumb to the mistakes of others.

The best way to ensure that our economy remains productive is with a fair, efficient and competitive tax system.

Lower taxes support Canadian business by providing entrepreneurs with the freedom to grow. Reductions in corporate taxes increase incentives for firms to invest in new equipment, undertake innovative research and create high-quality jobs. That is why I am pleased to support Bill C-13, because it gives employers the advantage they need to keep our economy strong.

I am proud that this legislation continues to build on the success of Canada's economic action plan, especially through the support it provides for small business.

Local enterprise is the engine of our economy, creating opportunity not just for owners, but for those that they employ.

The government agrees with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business when it says that small businesses are indispensable in their role as job creators and innovators all across Canada.

To hedge against resurgence and global economic uncertainty, it is important that small businesses are able to hire new workers so they can take advantage of emerging opportunities.

That is just one reason Bill C-13 includes a temporary, one-time hiring credit for small business which provides up to $1,000 against an employer's increase in its 2011 employment insurance premiums over those paid in 2010. This temporary credit will be available to approximately 525,000 employers, reducing their 2011 payroll costs by about $165 million.

Again, I would like to quote the Canadian Federation of Independent Business which told us:

This credit will be a major help to small firms in growing their workforce.... This credit will exempt some small employers from having to pay premiums on an increase in their payroll in 2011 over 2010 levels. As an example, this credit will allow a [new] firm with less than $413,000 in payroll to create one new $40,000 per year job without paying any EI on that new position.

These businesses may be small but their impact on the Canadian economy is anything but. They represent almost half of Canada's economic output, and we are grateful for their resilience in supporting our economic recovery.

Our government's support for the job-creating power of business extends beyond main street to a growing number of international markets.

Canadian business owners need the ability to compete not just next door, but with partners all around the world. We are opening these markets through an ambitious trade agenda, including mutually beneficial deals with the European Union and India.

To maximize the benefits of these agreements, we are improving our trade policies and regulations.

By simplifying and streamlining the Customs Tariff Act, we are lowering the administrative burden for business and government. Less red tape will result in lower customs processing costs for Canadian businesses, ensuring that they are more competitive both at home and in the global marketplace. Our government understands that Canada is a trading nation. This measure recognizes the importance of remaining globally competitive in order to sustain a fragile economic recovery.

While we have made great strides in improving our open and efficient trading system, we know that global competitiveness demands highly skilled workers. That is why the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act invests in education and training by making occupational, trade and professional examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credits. It is estimated that more than 30,000 individuals will benefit each year from this measure. This includes foreign trained workers who are often required to complete additional examinations in order to obtain their professional status here in Canada.

This tax relief builds on the support provided to apprentices through the apprenticeship incentive grant provided in budget 2006, and the apprenticeship completion grant, which was introduced in budget 2009.

Furthermore, this legislation makes important enhancements to the Canada student loans program to ensure that large numbers of full- and part-time students have access to financial assistance. We are expanding eligibility for Canada student loans and grants by allowing students to earn more money without impacting their loans, allowing part-time students to have higher family income without affecting their eligibility for support, and reducing the in-study interest rate for part-time students to 0%. These measures will save part-time students approximately $5.6 million per year, making part-time study more affordable for more Canadians. Not only that, they will ensure that Canada's workforce remains highly skilled and internationally competitive, helping to lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth.

In keeping with our investments to strengthen our global competitiveness in uncertain economic times, this legislation offers targeted tax reductions to further encourage business to drive our economy forward. We are expanding tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments. We know that clean energy technology and innovation are essential to realizing economic opportunities, creating employment and enhancing the Canadian economic advantage.

We are extending the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector. We understand the importance of promoting the exploration and development of Canada's rich mineral resources.

We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing equipment for two years. We realize that our manufacturing sector needs our support, now more than ever, in adapting to the demands of the recovery.

As recent world events demonstrate, there remains considerable risk and uncertainty in the global economy and too many Canadians remain out of work. For these reasons, the government is building on the achievements of Canada's economic action plan with Bill C-13, designed to secure the recovery, create jobs and preserve Canada's fiscal advantage.

The government knows that this is the right action to take. I urge members of the House, and all Canadians, to remember that the alternative, which is the NDP's massive tax hikes, would kill jobs, stall our recovery and set Canadian families back.

I will take a moment to address something that my colleague said earlier, something that was misleading to Canadians. When it comes to this Conservative government, we have made a promise to make sure that jobs are protected. We have made a promise to protect Canadians and we have said that, to protect Canadians, an office for a securities regulator is important to prevent things like the Earl Jones tragedy in Quebec. I would implore the Quebec MPs on that side of the House, who were elected by Quebeckers who want this to happen, to support that decision, if that in fact is the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, to allow the jurisdiction to be recognized by the Government of Canada.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, earlier, my colleague pointed out one contradiction in the Conservative budget, and I would like to point out a second. Lately, we have talked a lot about public safety. Just last week, in my riding office, I met with RCMP officers who are involved in a border pilot project. My riding borders the United States.

We are talking about creating jobs that, among other things, enhance public safety. My riding has been concerned about the closure of the Franklin border crossing for several months, if not years, now. The RCMP officer said that the closure of the border crossing is having a negative impact on the RCMP's police operations. There is also a portion of the riding that is not covered at all by the RCMP. As a result, contraband is on the rise and organized crime has moved into the area. Not only have jobs been lost, but violence is increasing and there is a lack of security in this area.

What can the members opposite say to defend themselves? They talk about how good the budget is but they are doing nothing at all for the people in my riding.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question. She is new here in the House of Commons. Those of us on the government side of the House recognize that police across the country truly trust our Conservative government. How do we know this? Because we have introduced a number of bills. For years, we have been introducing bills that aim to give police officers new tools and that also aim to help them do their work of protecting Canadians. Each time we have introduced a bill to protect Canadians and help the police, the NDP has voted against our measures.

I recognize—and I invite Canadians to recognize this as well—that there are Conservative members here, in the House of Commons, who are police officers. Eleven members of the Conservative caucus are police officers. They are here to provide information so that we can introduce bills that will help the police. The NDP has no police officers in its ranks. We will not be taking lessons from the NDP. We will listen to the police officers across Canada and those in our caucus.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for a quick question.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, it is clear, once again, that the hon. member for Saint Boniface is living in la-la land. She does not understand the Canadian economy. She is essentially talking to us about things that do not exist. She is talking about job creation, but since 2008, fewer than 200,000 jobs have been created in Canada. We are no longer creating 650,000 jobs. From the moment the recession began, we can say that not even 200,000 jobs have been created and many of those are part time. When we talk about unemployment and underemployment, we are talking about 1.8 million Canadians. When we talk about employment, at some point, someone has to “deliver the goods”.

You are not “delivering the goods”. You and your budgets are causing unemployment.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would remind hon. members that they have to address their comments through the Chair.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I am a bit shocked by the reaction of the hon. member opposite. I can assure you he does not react that way in committee. I hope this was a momentary lapse. I hope it will not happen again in this House of Commons.

When we talk about the economy and the jobs that have been created, we have to look at the facts: since July 2009, 600,000 net new jobs have been created in our economy. Why? Because our government has created an environment that supports businesses and employers in Canada.

What does the NDP want to do? It wants to increase taxes on businesses across the board, which represents $10 billion. It wants to double Canadian pensions, which will again affect our businesses with taxes that will be much higher, perhaps 70%, as the CFIB, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has said.

Let us talk about what the hon. member said. He said we did not have full-time jobs, but 90% of the jobs are full time.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to Bill C-13, the budget implementation bill.

Traditionally, in this House, budget implementation bills are introduced to legislatively implement budget initiatives and, at times, include some of the failures of past budgets. Usually they are only technical failures, nothing major, but that is why we end up with these 600-page documents that contain everything but the kitchen sink. However, I think that is normal.

Usually there are two budget implementations a year and after seven budgets that would be about 14 budget implementation bills. However, the government, to date, is not willing to concede that amendments are an acceptable way in which Parliament can do business. The finance minister, even before appearing at committee, made statements saying that there would be no changes, no amendments, the budget bill would go ahead with what is in it.

The finance committee, usually responsible for reviewing the bill, hears from witnesses both good and bad things, and members decide whether a budget bill requires an amendment. They weigh the positives and negatives. Often there are discussions between government and opposition members and there would be some agreement that changes need to be made. However, once we come into the House and the proposed amendments are put forward, we see that government members no longer want to make any amendments. I think that is very sad because we just saw one particular amendment which I think is very positive.

With this bill, once again, the Conservatives are deliberately excluding low-income Canadians. Ever since the budget was tabled in May, the Liberal Party has been asking for certain amendments. The Conservatives are proposing measures like the family caregiver tax credit, the volunteer firefighters tax credit and the children's arts tax credit. How can low-income families and individuals benefit from a non-refundable tax credit when, quite often, they do not have enough income to be taxed? Why did the Conservatives decide to exclude the most vulnerable among us, at a time when the economy is so precarious?

The current economic situation is not the same as it was a few years ago or even a few months ago. I do not understand why this government will not be a little more flexible and make these tax credits refundable. For instance, if someone leaves their job to care for a loved one at home, how can they benefit from a tax credit when they no longer have an income? If they have left their job, it means they no longer have an income. That is just one example, among many others, of how these proposed measures will not benefit those who need them most. If someone is not working full time and does not earn enough money to be taxed, how can they benefit from these tax credits?

Some members from western and eastern Canada have many volunteer firefighters in their ridings, especially in rural areas where most firefighters are volunteers. Some of them are retired.

While I was on the finance committee, many volunteer firefighters came before it. They said that they became volunteer firefighters to contribute to their community. It was not for pay because they were not getting paid. They spent time in training and ensuring that everything was functional in case there would be a fire. All they wanted was a credit to put back in their pockets a little bit of the money that they spent getting to the fire station and on these inspections.

Here we have a great initiative that the government introduced. Some of these volunteer firemen have given up their time, they may be retired or low income, but we cannot even get money back in their pockets to pay them for some of the gas expenses they incurred in getting to do their volunteer work. It would be appropriate for the government to reconsider and make these credits refundable instead of non-refundable. However, again, the Conservatives are playing politics.

They have decided to play petty politics by not making these tax credits refundable, which would enable low-income Canadians to benefit as well, as we have suggested a number of times. This shows once again that the Conservative government is ignoring Canadians in need.

The Liberal Party would like to work with the government to improve this bill. However, it realizes that the Conservatives never listen to the advice of this House or the Canadian public in general. This government must start tackling the problems faced by Canadians rather than trying to pit the people against one another. A responsible government would not choose the winners and the losers, as it is currently doing. It would not choose to ignore a large part of the population. It would not choose ideology over facts and reason.

There are some good measures in the budget such as the mining and exploration tax credit. However, it has only been extended for one year and it is temporary. Therefore, mining companies that need to make decisions over a five to ten year period are not sure how long they can rely on this tax credit.

There is the extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance. It is a great initiative and something that has been done for the last couple of years. However, the government has extended it for only two years. The productivity of companies in Canada is one of the lowest in the world because they cannot plan for the future. As a member of the finance committee for many years, we kept hearing that companies not only need the accelerated capital cost allowance but also need to know how long it will be effective for because if they are to invest in capital equipment, the investment into this heavy equipment would take a period of five to ten years to pay off. Therefore, it is a good initiative but not good on the follow through.

We talked about the amendment from the NDP. It no longer wants to authorize or provide the government with the $30-odd million for a transitionary office for the national securities regulator. All members in the House agreed to wait for the Supreme Court ruling. Instead, the government decided to give $33-odd million to a transitory office rather than wait for the ruling from the Supreme Court on whether the national securities regulator will be accepted or not. We are throwing away money, which we could use for other purposes, on friends of the Prime Minister, when all these professionals are sitting there waiting for a ruling from the Supreme Court.

There is the hiring credit for small businesses. On the one hand, the government is increasing EI premiums. If we add that up over the next year, it will be bringing over $1 billion into the government coffers and over the next couple of years it will be in the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, it is providing credits worth $135 million to small businesses if they hire an extra person. However, to get this credit they can only hire an extra person if they have less than 10 people whereas the majority of small and medium-size businesses have more than 10 employees. Therefore, this credit will only be made available to a small portion of employers.

Another problem is that the credit is only worth $1,000 and businesses can only apply for the credit at the end of the year, after they have paid the increased EI premiums on a monthly basis. I find that unacceptable.

Again, we are looking to see if the government is willing to accept some amendments and increase the hiring tax credit for small businesses to include some medium-size businesses that have between 20 to 50 employees.

I will end here with the gas tax which was introduced by the previous Liberal government. It was based on a percentage of the GST. Again, the government is capping it instead of putting a minimum. If the amount of the GST collected increases, why would the municipalities not be entitled to receive their fair share? We do not understand why there should be a ceiling instead of it continuing to be a percentage of the gas tax collected.

I look forward to any questions.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Conservative Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, first I will take this opportunity to thank my constituents in Pickering—Scarborough East for the trust bestowed on me to represent them here in the House.

The particularity of this riding is that it encompasses two cities united by diversity and the 416 and 905 phone codes. One is the largest in Canada, Toronto, and the other, the city of Pickering, is much smaller.

Dividing and at the same time uniting the communities in my riding is the magnificent Rouge River, with its unique park containing unique biodiversity, such as the remnants of the Carolinian boreal forest. The Rouge Park will soon become the first urban national park in North America with 20% of the Canadian population in its immediate proximity.

My riding also has the Pickering nuclear power plant and several strongly research-oriented establishments such as the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Centennial College and companies such as Purdue Pharmaceuticals and others on the high technology end.

Certainly we need more in the future. In this context, I am delighted on behalf of my constituents to speak in support of Bill C-13. The bill provides the means to continue the recovery and the stability phase of our economy in these complicated world circumstances. It is very important for my constituents in Pickering—Scarborough East. Availability of jobs, economic stability and growth are important for the families in my riding.

Our responsible Conservative government continues to be focused on what matters to Canadians: creating jobs and promoting economic stability and growth. Canada is recognized to have the strongest job growth record in the G7, with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009, and 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 to global economic turbulence. That is why we need to stay the course and implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Bill C-13 supports Canada's economic recovery and outlines a vision for the future by proposing action on the following pillars of good governance and stability: promoting job creation and economic growth, supporting communities, helping families, investing in education and training and respecting taxpayers.

To promote job creation and economic growth, the bill would provide a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage additional hiring, expand tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments, extend the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector, simplify customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and lower the administrative burden for businesses, extend the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment for two years to support the manufacturing and processing sector and eliminate the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees in order to give older workers wishing to work the option of remaining in the workforce.

Being an engineer with extensive Canadian and international experience in both public and private service, I know well that the creation of a safe, secure and inviting environment for business is paramount for economic development.

To support communities, the bill would legislate permanent gas tax funding for municipalities, putting into law the permanent annual investment of $2 billion in gas tax funding for cities and towns to support infrastructure priorities.

This provision is of utmost importance for our infrastructure. It provides for payments to be made to provinces, territories, municipalities, first nations and other entities for municipal infrastructure improvements on a continuous basis, and it is predictable.

The bill would enhance the wage earner protection program to cover more workers affected by employer bankruptcy or receivership.

It would increase the ability of Canadians to give more confidently to legitimate charities by introducing a package of integrity measures designed to help combat fraud and other forms of abuse.

To help families, the bill introduces a new family caregiver tax credit to assist caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives. It would remove the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit in respect of financially dependent relatives. It introduces a new children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

It introduces a volunteer firefighters tax credit to allow eligible volunteer firefighters to claim 15% of non-refundable tax credits based on an amount of $3,000.

To invest in education and training, the bill would forgive loans for new doctors and nurses in underserved rural and remote areas. It would help apprentices in the skilled trades and workers in regulated professions by making operational, trade and professional examination fees eligible for the tuition tax credit. As a member of the regulated profession of engineering myself, I know the cost of annual fees and certification examinations.

I take this opportunity to cite some of the remarks from my professional bodies.

Engineers Canada states:

Making professional examination fees eligible for the Tuition Tax Credit...demonstrates a real commitment to fostering the highly-skilled and qualified talent the country needs to compete....

It further states:

It will help in the pursuit of a strong, diverse, and modern economy.

Polytechnics Canada says that it:

...welcomes the 2011 federal budget for its recognition of the role our members play in advancing innovation through applied research and commercialization activities.

It further states:

These budget measures demonstrate ways to use existing programs with modest new investment to encourage Canadian SMEs to generate smart, long-lasting jobs.

The bill would improve federal financial assistance for students. It would make it easier to allocate registered education savings plan assets among siblings without incurring tax penalties or forfeiting Canada education savings grants.

Finally, the bill respects taxpayers. It would phase out the direct subsidy of political parties. It would close numerous tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of tax. My constituents especially like this provision.

In conclusion, I encourage my colleagues from the opposition to support this bill. It is good for our country in our common quest to keep Canada as the best place in the world to live.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, this fall I met with other mayors in my riding, including the mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, who spoke to me about a problem in his municipality: the lack of federal investment in infrastructure for small municipalities. The needs of this municipality are great.

This mayor talked about the problem of his municipality's waste water which, at present, is dumped into the fjord—into the Saguenay marine park. The marine park is a federal organization that protects these waters. The mayor asked me to voice his concerns in Ottawa and to ask the federal government to invest in infrastructure for his municipality. I was disappointed to find that this bill does not provide for infrastructure investments. We know that the government's borrowing costs are at a historic low. This is an opportune time to invest in small municipalities that have major infrastructure needs.

Will the government finally invest in infrastructure for small municipalities?

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Conservative Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an excellent question.

We would make the tax credit for the gas fund permanent so that municipalities can plan for their priorities. The provinces are also involved. Basically, the federal government would provide the funding but would not manage the projects. It is up to the municipalities to ask for the projects and to see what their priorities are.

I understand that the infrastructure problem is a great problem. However, this $2 billion has been allocated; before, it was nothing, so it is still great progress.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. To begin, I heard a comment earlier that I did not think was very fair. I am also new in the House and I was fortunate enough not to be caught up in corruption. I think that is something that works in our favour.

In the Haute-Côte-Nord region, in my riding, the unemployment rate is over 10%. Measures were cut, but there was nothing to make up for the cuts. What is being done for the silviculture, forestry and fishery industries? What is being done to take into account the realities in the regions? Not much.

If the government wants to give power to the regions, it will have to work with them, because right now, that is not one of its strengths. There is also talk of the oil pipeline right now. There were refinery closures in Quebec. It would be nice to keep jobs here. I have to wonder where the Conservative Party's interests are. I get the impression that they are in the pockets of their party supporters.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Conservative Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I will answer in English.

This is a complicated issue and I cannot resolve it for the member today.

However, our government is providing more of the tools for resolving the issues of the country. As for the member's situation, I do not know many details, but I think our government is on its way to caring for all Canadians, not only those in Conservative ridings. We are here to govern and to govern in a responsible way.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, my first comment about Bill C-13 pertains to its omnibus nature.

Parts of this bill would have been worth examining separately and in more depth. The creation of a Canadian securities commission is one of them. The creation of such an institution deserved a higher level of debate, a more heartfelt, thorough and better documented debate. The government killed debate on this issue by introducing a resolution on the funding of this institution as part of an omnibus bill that contained so many elements and so many chapters that it was impossible to figure out. This issue was addressed in just one of over 150 chapters. That is unacceptable. This is important legislation that will play a key role in Canada's economic future and constitution, and the government excluded it from debate by quietly slipping it into an omnibus bill. This is clearly yet another democratic deficit.

We could say the same about the reform of financing for political parties. Was it truly the Standing Committee on Finance that should have considered this key element of the bill? There are committees that deal exclusively with the Canada Elections Act. The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics could have identified this as an essential element of the bill and discussed only this reform. However, such was not the case.

Once again, the Conservative government is misusing omnibus bills. We find ourselves with elements buried in a mountain of tax measures that are detailed and difficult to understand. Yet, that particular element would have been worth debating on its own, because it concerns the future of democracy in this country, the future of political party funding and the possibility of creating new political parties. There is no talk of that; it is all about money, not democracy. Is there anything more fundamental to democracy than a country's election legislation?

That is the whole problem with this government that does not want debate, that does not want to discuss key issues and that keeps on introducing omnibus bills to deny Canadians their right to discuss things that are essential to their everyday lives.

There is another difficult element in this bill. The Conservatives are once again making use of non-refundable tax credits. That is a problem for people who do not have enough income, who do not pay income tax because they are very poor or because they are retired. For a variety of reasons, these people will never be able to access these tax credits. That is a major tax inequity. These people are unable to access existing credits that could be refundable. But the government is not taking that step and it is indicating that these tax credits will be non-refundable.

Since the Conservatives came to power, we have noticed a growing gap between the rich and the poor in Canada. This is one of the things that is exacerbating this poverty. They are not considering the people who earn less than $15,000 a year, and there are many such people. These people are entitled to a great number of things as well.

We could also talk about the people with ailing children or spouses. Illness in the family has a major impact on the family income. We see tax credits for family caregivers that do not do enough to support those who take leave to care for their loved ones. It is not adequate income. It is not enough. The government has come up with a fine and noble measure with no income and no impact.

We do not see what this measure will achieve. You do things for media attention only. They look good, but they lack substance. They only look good on paper. The best example is the non-refundable tax credits. You are not giving enough. You are not proposing a structured and organized national policy to allow people to stay at home to take care of their ailing loved ones. You are only making a speech and throwing a bit of money around, saying how wonderful it is that you are helping family caregivers. That is not what it means to help people.

There is absolutely nothing to help people in one of the first clauses of Part 1, which deals with family caregivers. First of all, caregivers will receive a credit provided they earn income. Second, it is not enough and does not meet their needs. You say that you will give them something for looking after their family members, but it is not enough money to allow them to live with dignity and not in poverty. Clearly, you accept that some Canadians are poor. You accept the unacceptable. That is the major difference between the Conservative Party and the NDP. That shows that we will govern on behalf of Canadians and that you will govern on behalf of your big business friends.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. I would ask the hon. member to direct his comments to the Chair.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, of course. Thank you for the reminder.

As for the 85,000 volunteer firefighters, the government announced that the budget envelope to support them was about $15 million. The conditions are that they must work more than 200 hours as volunteer firefighters and they cannot be on the municipality's payroll. This reduces the number of firefighters eligible for the credit by 35% to 65%. The $15 million shared by 50,000 volunteer firefighters amounts to $300 each.

Does anyone here actually think that volunteer firefighters work for $300? Their motivation is not that $300. Their motivation is supporting and serving the public. They want to help and be recognized. The fire chiefs said that it was a step in the right direction, but this is just classic Conservative speak. The Conservatives say that they are in favour of volunteer firefighters and will support them, they sing their praises, but then they give them $300. Wonderful. What big spenders. What a great recovery plan. The government did not look into whether these people have the equipment, training and support they need. It says, “hurray for volunteer firefighters”, and then expects them to fend for themselves. It expects the municipalities that do not have the means to operate a permanent firefighting service to just keep going. Municipal services that do not have the necessary equipment will not get any. Yet more empty rhetoric from the Conservatives. Behind this paper there is no coherent policy.

We could also talk about children's access to culture. A $500 tax credit is attractive, but, once again, it is not a refundable tax credit. The second important point is that the culture deficit is greatest among people who have the most financial problems. Unfortunately, as long as we do not address that deficit, those who need it most will not be able to access this tax credit. This is nothing new with the Conservative Party. It makes a big speech to say that it supports culture, but the people who need it still do not have access to it. This is the proof that the Conservative Party is all talk when it comes to Bill C-13.

We could talk about what this bill is missing. Canada is in an economic slump and that is not addressed. All of the economic stakeholders have mentioned that. We have $500 billion tied up and only 200,000 jobs have been created since the economic recession.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It is often somewhat hard for people to really understand what refundable and non-refundable tax credits are, because they do not necessarily complete their own tax returns. As a result, they do not really understand the difference. I wonder if my colleague could explain the difference, perhaps with an example. Say, for example, I earn $25,000 a year and I want to enrol my daughter in a dance class in January that costs $250 and I do not have the money to pay for it now. Is there anything in the budget that would allow me to enrol my daughter in the dance class now?

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. This gives me a chance to explain the difference between a refundable and a non-refundable tax credit. People who file their tax returns often owe the government money. They have to pay taxes to the government and the tax credit reduces the amount they have to pay.

Instead of paying $2,000 in taxes, you would pay $1,500 and you would get back $500 for the $500 you spent on your daughter's dance class. There it is.

Let us suppose that the tax credit is refundable. You enrol your daughter in the dance class right away and, even if you do not pay any taxes, you receive a cheque for $500 for the expense. That is the main advantage of a refundable tax credit: you are reimbursed for the expense right away.

However, at present, you would have to wait until you file your tax return to receive the refund, and you can only hope that you have to pay enough taxes to get the refund.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I am at a loss in trying to follow the philosophy of the NDP. Yesterday in question period I heard one of the members on the front bench of the NDP ask about what they called a deficit that was too big. We actually agree with that, which is why we are taking measures to make sure we bring our books into balance. Today, in speaking about the budget a member said at every line item that it was not enough.

On the weekend, I spoke with firefighters who are very happy to get a tax credit which they have never had before. Parents have talked to me about a tax credit for the arts which they have never had before. Yet, the NDP members say it is not enough. However, when it comes to the needs of their own political party, those members say they want to keep the nest egg that they already have which is costing taxpayers $30 million. They do not want to reduce that.

I am trying to figure out the philosophy of the NDP. Are those members just out for themselves, or do they want Canadians to benefit from a thriving economy?

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, that is a good question and I have a very simple answer. The NDP cares about the finances of Canadians, not the finances of people who do not pay any taxes despite the fact that they have $500 billion in liquid assets in their bank accounts. That is an important factor. We are talking about the economy. We want a major action plan to revitalize employment. There are 1.7 million unemployed and underemployed workers. These are people who could pay taxes and help us.

Some 350,000 jobs have been lost in the industrial sector and the government acts as if it is no big deal. I am sorry, but we are going to fight for the people. We do not want any more charades. We want more than just a speech about supporting volunteer firefighters because, when we really look at what this tax credit gives them, it is actually nothing.

You are merely giving a speech. There must be an action plan, funding, structure and a goal to back up that speech. There is nothing but an election speech that sings your own praises and says that the government supports volunteer firefighters. The government must not only say these things, it must do them. That is the difference.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario

Conservative

Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-13, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures, better known as the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

Canada has come out of the global economic downturn with the strongest growth record in the G7. Our government has created nearly 600,000 net new jobs since July 2009.

Our government is standing up for Canadians and fulfilling the strong mandate they gave us to focus on the economy and to create jobs. That is certainly what I heard at the door. Everyone wanted us to focus on the economy and create jobs for our communities and our neighbours.

One such job creation measure present in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan is the hiring credit for small businesses. This one-time credit of up to $1,000 is aimed at encouraging hiring by Canadian small and medium-sized businesses. It is a wonderful measure to help stimulate the Canadian economy and it is mutually beneficial to both our strong small business sector as well as hard-working Canadians who are seeking a job.

Do not just take my word for it, let us hear from Dan Kelly, senior vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. This is what he had to say about the small business tax credit. “Since the 2011 budget announcement, many members have called about the credit and reported it will make it easier for them to hire”. I think that is what everybody across the country wants. He went on to stress that this was a particularly important initiative as the government had declared 2011 as the year of the entrepreneur.

It is not just the CFIB that is pleased with our hiring credit. It is also the Toronto Board of Trade, which had this to say:

[We] welcomed new initiatives to spur small-business productivity and hiring, such as the Hiring Credit for Small Business.

SMEs are the engines of job growth...Spurring productivity and employment growth among SMEs, as this Budget does, should help Canada's economic recovery.

The hiring credit for small business is getting high praise from such respected institutions as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and from the Toronto Board of Trade. It is no surprise to me since I have been getting excellent feedback from small businesses in my community of Mississauga—Brampton South.

I am honoured to be speaking today on the great initiatives for small business and job creation that will be implemented as part of the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act.

I also want to highlight that the next phase of Canada's economic action plan has a strong focus on helping Canadian families as well.

As a mom to a wonderful six-year-old boy named Jeffrey, there is nothing that is more important to me than my family. I am proud to be a part of a government that stands up for hard-working Canadian families, like those that are the bedrock of my community in Mississauga—Brampton South.

Any mom who has ever signed up their child for music, sport or dance lessons knows how quickly those fees add up. That is why our government already has provided for the very popular fitness tax credit for children that has helped with the cost of sports and has helped to keep our kids fit. I am proud to stand and vote in favour of a budget that will provide tax relief for moms and dads who would like to sign their children up for music or art lessons.

One way our government is standing for families is through the new children's arts tax credit for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and development activities, as I have just mentioned. This would allow Canadian families to claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit on up to $500 in fees for eligible programs. The tax credit would not only help both our children, who would benefit from some of the best programming available, but it would also help encourage Canadians from a very young age to make the best use of the world-class artistic community available to all Canadians.

Another measure introduced as part of budget 2011, aimed at helping Canadian families, is the new family caregiver tax credit. This 15% non-refundable tax credit, on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm, dependent relatives, including for the first time spouses, common-law partners and minor children, would help Canadian families receive all of the support they may require. This initiative has been welcomed as a huge step by important groups like the Canadian Caregiver Coalition that has the following comments:

—the Canadian Caregiver Coalition...applauds the Federal Budget. The measures announced in the budget are an important acknowledgement of the vital role of family caregivers. The announcement of a Family Caregiver Tax Credit demonstrates the federal government's commitment to families and the caregiving responsibilities that they assume.

Financial support for those who must take time off work is a critical component of effective policy for family caregivers...We are pleased to see the federal government recognizing and furthering the support for family caregivers by mitigating their financial burden through this program.

The final initiative from the next phase of Canada's economic action plan that I would like to speak about today is legislating a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund.

I have already had the pleasure to speak about how implementing the bill would help our small businesses, our children, our families, but all of these things need a strong community in order to thrive and reach their full potential.

Our government has made, and will continue to make, significant commitments to cities and communities through the gas tax fund. In fact, we recently tabled legislation to make the gas tax fund permanent, at $2 billion per year, so municipalities would now be able to count on this stable funding for their infrastructure needs well into the future.

Our government also recognizes the need for future infrastructure support beyond 2014. That is why budget 2011 included a commitment that our government would work with provinces, territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other stakeholders to develop a long-term plan for public infrastructure that extended well beyond the expiry of the building Canada plan.

I am very proud of the unprecedented investments in public infrastructure that our Conservative government has made since taking office in 2006. We will continue to build on this momentum by working with provinces, territories and municipalities to address Canada's infrastructure priorities and challenges.

As a former city councillor, the gas tax investment that was provided by this federal government to municipalities across the country provided for massive investment in transit. For instance, in Mississauga the gas tax funding allowed for us to have our largest expansion in Mississauga transit history. That meant more routes, more buses, more often. It also allowed for us to have the first wheelchair accessible buses throughout our community.

I have risen in the House today and spoken about how the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act will help our economy, our families and our communities. I would like to thank all members who have taken the time to listen today and hope they will join with me and support this vital legislation and help to implement the key elements of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. I would implore the opposition parties to support our budget and help all Canadians.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a daughter named Pera who is seven years old, like the member across who has a boy similar in age. Our salaries are quite large and therefore enrolling our children in activities is not a problem for us, although lacking the time might be.

What would the member say to a single mother who is earning perhaps $20,000 a year who cannot afford to enrol her child in these activities? How would this bill help that mother enrol her child in activities?

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, there are many hard-working families across our communities. I can certainly speak to Mississauga—Brampton South. I am sure the good people in Vaudreuil-Soulanges would also concur that when they start signing their children up for hockey or music lessons, whether they have one, two or three kids, it does add up terribly quickly. Hockey is about $1,000 for children. Those parents can now avail themselves of this tax credit. This is an important step.

I would be very surprised if the member opposite voted against this type of support for families in his riding. I certainly would be embarrassed to vote against something like this.

I am proud to stand in support of this budget. I am proud to stand in support of Canadian families. It is our duty to help all Canadian families.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Madam Speaker, with regard to registering youth in organized sport, I will share some statistics with my colleague across the way, and I know the government has an aversion to actual facts and statistics. However, if we look at participation rates in our country over the last 12 years, there was absolutely no discernible increase in participation rates after the tax credit came forward for registering our sons and daughters in sport programs. After 2008-09, the increases were pretty much the same. The one year in the last 12 years that we had an increase in participation rates was in 2003 and that was because our men and women's hockey teams won gold medals at Salt Lake City. The increase in female participation in sport spiked because of that.

We on the opposition benches are trying to say that if we look at targeted investments in our athletes, our facilities, coaching and create some heroes and role models for young people, then we would get increased participation numbers and more people involved.

When I sat down with my wife and we decided to put our boys in hockey, we did not say that we would do this but there was no tax credit, so to heck with it. It does not enter into the whole thought process, but targeted investments work and that is where the government misses when it comes to encouraging more youth to get involved in sport.

Motions in AmendmentKeeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Eve Adams Conservative Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Madam Speaker, while I certainly concur that role models are important, our government has made unprecedented investments in sports across the country. Two weeks ago I was at the Skate Canada event in Mississauga and announced some funding for it and provided gold medals. It was the first time a gold medal had been won by a Canadian. Up until now it had always been won by Russians or others. The gold and the silver medals went to Canadians and then the bronze went to the Italians. I am all in favour of wonderful sports.

The member is correct when he says that Canadian families will enrol their children in sports or fitness classes or arts classes. Every mom and dad will sacrifice to ensure that their children can avail themselves of music or hockey lessons. What the budget does is recognize the high cost for families. We believe in providing more money into the pockets of hard-working moms and dads. It is simple. I would hope the Liberal and NDP opposition members would want to join us in helping young moms and dads.