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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my new colleague for his excellent address on small businesses and their workings in Brant.

However, I would like to point out to him that I attended a breakfast here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in March. Its economist said quite clearly that lowering corporate taxes was not the incentive that businesses use worldwide for locating in particular places. That was said very clearly.

As well, the other point I would like to make is that most of the corporate taxes paid in Canada are paid by corporations that are exploiting resources traded in world markets. Therefore, those prices are not changed by the tax rate.

For a corporation producing oil in this country and selling it at a world market price, the corporate tax rate does not change the cost of that oil to the consumer. There is no change to that cost, because it is a world market price. In Canada, therefore, the largest sum of corporate tax breaks does not pass down to the consumer.

I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, basic economics and business 101 tells us that the final end cost of products and services is the fixed and variable costs that go into them, which can fluctuate. I disagree categorically with his analysis that the prices of oil and other raw materials and finished goods do not reflect those actual costs.

For some reason there is a thought in the ideology of the NDP and the socialist ideology that assumes that it is all about businesses and companies making bigger and bigger profits and putting those into the pockets of fat cat shareholders. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

If one thinks about the 80% of jobs created by small and medium size businesses, and if one thinks about all of the inputs of the farming community and small time contractors and other people in my community, nothing could be further from the truth. They have to remain competitive in the world marketplace, as all businesses do.

I would kindly ask the member to reconsider his thinking about how businesses operate.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the member's comments when he talked about the small businesses in his community. I truly appreciate that.

In fact, the Liberal Party of Canada supports small businesses in many different ways, more so obviously than the Conservative Party, in the sense that the Conservative Party has put its priorities in favour of corporations. It demonstrated that in the budget with the amount of tax money it is giving to large corporations, with a smaller percentage allocated in different ways to small business in the budget.

Would the government not have been better off giving more of those tax breaks to the businesses providing 80% of the jobs in the communities the member made reference to, thereby creating more opportunities for the constituency he represents, as opposed to these large corporate tax cuts?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but again it is somewhat misleading in its characterization of large companies benefiting all of a sudden. The feedback from my business peers in my community has been right across the board that small, medium and large scale businesses are benefiting from our plans.

Take a look at the employment numbers. If 80% of the small and medium size businesses are creating 560,000 jobs, then that ratio implies that a smaller number of jobs are being created by the large corporations. However, we want to ensure as well that those large corporations are kept in this country, because they could quickly evaporate into other jurisdictions or parts of the world if we did not have a competitive tax rate for them as well.

The majority of the jobs I just referred to were created by small and medium size business.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, Aerospace Industry; the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Employment; the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood, National Defence.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

First of all, I wish to congratulate you today on your election as Speaker of the House. It is important to note that you are the youngest Speaker in the history of Canadian politics.Thus, you are a fine representative of this new, younger Parliament.

I am honoured today to thank the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île for the trust they have placed in me. I will always listen to everyone, and I will tirelessly defend their interests each day. I promise in this House to do everything I can to help families, youth, workers and seniors, and to prove that the NDP is there for them and not for big business and the banks, as is the case with this government.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing member for my riding. She devoted 17 years to the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île, and I intend on doing the same.

We are all here for the same reasons: our passion for the people of our community and our devotion to serving the interests of our constituents. On May 2, some 4.5 million Canadians expressed their desire for change, to live in a Canada where families come first and where everyone has an equal chance, a Canada that Quebeckers can identify with and that reflects their social and progressive values.

I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to be part of this wave of change that millions of Quebeckers and Canadians were looking for. I accept the mandate that was given to me to represent the interests of families, young people, workers and seniors, to make them a priority, and to criticize the government, which continues to give tax credits to corporations and put the interests of the oil companies ahead of the interests of Canadians. I am committed to working with all the hon. members of the House in order to achieve tangible results because I truly care about the issues affecting the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île and they are the issues we focused on during the election campaign.

A big part of the population in my riding is aging and we must work on preventing seniors from living in poverty. We must offer them affordable housing and we must support them financially to give them a decent standard of living. The budget states that seniors living alone who get a maximum income supplement of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. How can the government claim that a person living below the poverty line can be lifted out of destitution with just $600 more? Again according to the budget, 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 bonus the government is proposing in its 2011-12 budget. It makes no sense. Seniors need and faster and more accessible health care, because they are among the most vulnerable in our society. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they can get the medicine they need.

The budget also includes a number of tax credits, but what good is a tax credit to a person who is not employed or who does not pay tax because of a very low income?

Let us speak about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, arts and cultural activities is a good government initiative but one that does not take into account the many people in my riding and throughout Quebec who do not appear to have the means to pay for their children to participate in such activities. How can these families benefit from a tax credit if they do not have the money to pay for their children to participate in such activities? These tax credits also do not take into account the 30% of the Montreal population who paid barely any taxes, if any at all, last year. These families will not benefit from the tax credits proposed by this government.

Families need to have access to family doctors if only to free up the system and waiting rooms. This government could help to improve the Quebec health care system by investing more money so that Quebeckers could then train more workers.

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 urgent 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 children or themselves. More and more families and seniors are using food banks, which is unacceptable. The government must act now. Why is this government continuing to decrease the taxes of big businesses, oil companies and banks? As a result, billions of dollars that could have been spent on Canadians are lost. Then, the government announces billions of dollars in cuts that directly affect Canadians. That is money that could easily come from the $100 billion in profit that the oil companies make each year.

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, the refinery and petrochemical industries in Quebec are in decline, which is resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs, among other things. This government prefers to export most of its crude oil to the United States. In my riding, the result is the closure of the Shell refinery. In addition to causing the loss of thousands of jobs, this is making us dependent on other countries for our energy, since we are forced to import gasoline from them.

When it comes to the environment, the Conservative government's budget continues to cut millions of dollars from the fight against climate change and from environmental protection. Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are still among the highest in the world. This government's attitude continues to separate it from the international community. In fact, in 2009, a coalition of scientists and politicians lobbied to have Canada kicked out of the Commonwealth because of its deficient environmental policies. The air quality in my riding is the worst on the island of Montreal. My constituents are worried about the environment and their health. The government must take action and must get its priorities in line with those of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has approved the shipping of nuclear waste, specifically waste from nuclear reactors, on the St. Lawrence River. Such shipments could directly affect the people of my riding. The government needs to intervene to prevent the shipping of this waste and instead invest in finding solutions for disposing of the waste near where it is produced.

The government must stop justifying its deficient and non-existent policies by the fact that it now has a majority. I would remind the House that only 40% of Canadians voted for this government. It must be accountable to Canadians and act in their interests, rather than in the interests of the multinationals and banks.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on her election and her fabulous first speech in the House of Commons. I have to share with the House that after meeting the member, her enthusiasm cannot help but brush off on one.

I welcome all of the young members to this House, particularly for their great verve and enthusiasm.

During the period when I was elected in 2008 and during my involvement in the election, I have heard a lot of concerns from youth in my riding, where I have three university campuses. The youth have expressed great concern about the record rate of youth and student unemployment in the last summer; the imbalance in federal investment and support for one side of the economy and not for the other, that being the massive subsidies to the oil and gas sector, benefiting the economy to a certain extent in my province but raising concerns about the long-term costs and liabilities; and they expressed a lot of interest in getting into the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.

I wonder if the member could share some of the input and thoughts she received from her constituents about youth and future employment, and about the economies of the future in terms of renewable energy and energy conservation.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for her question. I am very interested in the issues of education and youth unemployment. Post-secondary education rates in my riding are amongst the lowest on the island of Montreal. The problem is that the government continues to give loans and grants to students, who then find themselves with debt they cannot repay because they are not able to find work in their field. The NDP is not looking to hand out loans and grants. We want to reduce tuition fees to allow more people to study and find work in an area they love.

In terms of renewable energy, a balance needs to be struck. We need oil now, obviously, but the government is making Quebec and Canada dependent on other countries because we cannot benefit from the profits generated by our own production. We cannot reinvest that money because we must import oil from other countries. We cannot—

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2011 / 4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg North for questions or comments.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments with regard to the importance of social housing.

I, for one, do look at it in terms of what the national government has done over the last few years in that whole field of national housing programs and so forth. I have found it to be wanting.

There seems to be a need to have a national housing policy. The government needs to come forward and start telling Canadians what kind of housing plans it has going into the future.

Could the hon. member elaborate on what she believes would be important to national housing? In terms of the federal government's role versus just giving money to the provinces, what role does the member believe Ottawa plays in developing the programs?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I will answer in French. It is important for the federal government to develop rules for urban development. We do not want social housing to become a ghetto. The government should establish social housing policies, and there should be a balance between condos and social housing. The government should invest in a plan with stricter rules for urban development and, for example, the decontamination of certain sites where social housing could be built.

In my riding, refineries have closed down. The government should decontaminate these sites and then build social housing.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity, my first speech in the House, to first greet all my constituents in Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and to thank them for the trust they placed in me in the recent election.

The splendour of the river, the beauty of the cities and towns, the majestic space of the high plateaus, a rich history, and a long tradition of citizen engagement, technical innovation by our businesses and artistic creation—recognized nationally and sometimes internationally—make my part of the country, I am convinced, one of the best places to live in the entire country and one of the best places to raise a family in North America. I will work to ensure that this is the case for another 20, 50, 100 years. That is a promise.

I must also thank every voter who supported me in the recent election because, in my riding, it was an extremely tight race. As in any situation, even the most difficult, there was an upside: the clear and undeniable demonstration that, in a democracy, every vote counts. I was deeply moved by the young voters who, in most cases, were voting for the first time and who told me that they would vote every time they had the opportunity for the rest of their lives. These accounts strengthened my faith in the future of our democracy.

Finally, I wish to thank my wife. These long weeks of campaigning and the recount would have been extremely difficult without her. Thank you, Marie-Claude.

We are pleased to see that the $2.2 billion for harmonizing the sales tax was included in the latest budget. However, it is very disappointing that popular pressure in an election was required to make this government give Quebec what it was rightfully owed for years.

In more than 3,000 meetings and hundreds of exchanges via electronic media, my constituents shared with me their fear of a Conservative government that would, on the one hand, cut services—their services—and, on the other hand, continue to allow billions of dollars to flow from government coffers to tax havens and tax cuts for big business.

The budget just presented by this government confirms my constituents' worst fears. There is nothing, not even the hint of a plan, to stop the flow of money to tax havens. There are new tax cuts again that will mostly benefit big business. For example, the government gave $1.1 billion to big banks in the last four quarters alone, and this will continue. Our constituents will face billions of dollars in cuts and big business will receive billions of dollars in gifts.

The multinationals have no plans to open a big banking service centre that could create hundreds of jobs in Rivière-du-Loup, Montmagny or La Pocatière. Those billions of dollars are not going to result in significant investment in the regions. So the Conservatives' slogan about “our region in power” lacks credibility and it will certainly become devoid of all meaning in the coming years.

We need to start now to address the numerous challenges that climate change and new technologies are inevitably going to force on our society. In this kind of context, a government should be morally obligated to provide a long-term vision for the future.

In the absence of lasting solutions, and given the half measures this budget proposes, it is impossible to provide reassuring answers to youth or to parents of young children about these major challenges and thus the possibility of a prosperous future.

Let us look at some examples from my riding of Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup. A solid job-creation program that would truly allow entrepreneurs to take a chance at expanding—turning small businesses into medium-sized ones and creating employment—is something that must be done for the regions and for our entrepreneurs. This budget offers very little, only a fraction of what it would take to make a difference.

Back home, in the high plateaus, in the mountains, people are in desperate need of basic education. The only literacy support I found in the budget was a mention of a literacy program for seniors in Yellowknife. That is all. Do not get me wrong; I wish the people of Yellowknife a prosperous future. I wish them nothing but the best, but I have to wonder how a program like that will help the people of Tourville.

The $60 million in assistance over one year for the forestry industry—which I would consider a symbolic amount— completely disregards the huge potential for sustainable development in this industry, which is still struggling to get back on track after the crisis. A plan to set up broadband Internet in all towns, even those in the mountains, is a priority for the immediate future in these regions—not in 4, 8 or 20 years, but now. All this budget calls for is consultations. It is time to take action.

In Rivière-du-Loup, hundreds of workers are watching their pension plan disappear, since it is not protected by the federal government if their employer goes bankrupt or is operating at a loss. Here is what the government has to offer these honest workers, who have contributed to their pension plan for decades. It is very convoluted. I quote:

...accommodations under the pension tax rules for members and retirees [whose rights are not defined, though they have some] of underfunded pension plans that are being wound up due to an employer’s insolvency...

That is an indirect way of saying they will not be protecting Canadians' pensions at any time in the next four years. A tax accommodation to compensate for losing 30 years of contributions to a retirement fund is pretty weak and unacceptable. These are just a few examples of the Conservatives' lack of vision. The foundations of modern society seem to have been forgotten by the members opposite. There are two in particular I wish to underscore.

A tax credit is not a magic bullet. It does not apply to low-income people who pay little to no tax. They also have talented children who deserve to take piano lessons. Tax credits are not going to help develop those talents. Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars need to be spent on basic skills and on marketing renewable energies—not on more studies or trials—or invested in reliable rapid transit that would allow people to travel between Quebec City and Ottawa by train without it taking seven hours.

These things are not short-term losses for the treasury. They are long-term investments to make Canada a society that will still be modern in 10, 20 or 30 years. Because the members opposite are wearing blinders when it comes to these future challenges and because of the regressive way of seeing the world that is apparent throughout this budget, it is impossible for me to support it and contribute to delaying for yet another year the ideas supported by 60% of my fellow Canadians. We must make these ideas a reality to ensure a prosperous future for our children and the children of all Quebeckers and Canadians.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, if that is the quality of MPs we now have in the House of Commons, then the House of Commons has a very bright future.

My colleague is probably aware that a food bank report that came out last year showed that 904,000 Canadians in 2010 used a food bank. If the trend continues, within three years, one million Canadians will be using a food bank. In the city of Calgary there is a food bank designed specifically for veterans. In 2005, 58 veterans used that food bank. In 2010, 204 veterans used it.

The Prime Minister said at the Conservative convention that Canada is now becoming a conservative country. Almost one million people will be using a food bank in a few years. Is that what he means by a conservative Canada? The heroes of our country, our veterans, who fought and died for this country, have to use charity in order to get their sustenance. Is that the kind of Canada the Conservatives are bringing to us?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Once again, I am going to relate this issue to local endeavours in my riding. I must commend an organization with which I am very familiar, Moisson Kamouraska, for its efforts. Unfortunately, this organization has had to make do with a budget that has remained unchanged for years, despite the fact that more and more people are lining up to ask for food. Food and shelter are basic needs. I am not talking about extras. This situation is clearly unacceptable. It is the result of a lack of intelligent, comprehensive, worthwhile reforms, such as the indexing of pensions to a level that would ensure that seniors are able to buy a sandwich every day rather than just a coffee and an apple, which does not cut it. This lack of vision in many programs is causing more and more people to turn to food banks, which are receiving less funding. Unfortunately, the future is not bright for these people.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I do want to question the member on an issue he raised a while ago in talking about seniors and how it relates to poverty, as my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore pointed out, about the food banks.

The budget contains a $300 million increase for the guaranteed income supplement which becomes beneficial for so many, certainly for those in rural areas where I come from, when it comes to basic food and heating costs that are rising. These are major impediments to getting out of poverty. However, the studies say that we would probably need around $700 million or more to have a substantial impact on the seniors who are most vulnerable.

Perhaps my colleague could comment on that, particularly for the area that he represents.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the connection between poverty and seniors. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people age 55 and over in the regions are losing their jobs. They are facing significant technological changes and they need help acquiring certain skills so that they can remain in the job market. These people, who are having difficulty reintegrating into the job market, along with those whose pensions will not be indexed to a reasonable level, will find themselves in precarious situations and, yes, there will be even longer lines at the food banks. According to all the information I currently have about my riding, food banks' budgets will not be increased this year.

Allow me to digress for a moment. My predecessor, who was a colleague of the members opposite, was supposed to attend a meeting to confirm $40,000 in funding for Moisson Kamouraska. He forgot to attend the meeting, which was scheduled to take place six months ago. Moisson Kamouraska is still waiting for the $40,000. I hope that this is not representative of the consideration the members opposite give to the needs of food banks.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to speak to budget 2011. I will be sharing my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

I am very pleased with the excellent budget put forward by our finance minister . I want to note some of the accomplishments in the budget and how it will help Canadians significantly.

Prior to the budget that was presented, initially in March and more recently again, many members of Parliament embarked upon prebudget consultations in their own ridings. I had the pleasure of doing that in Barrie. In looking back on the comments we received in our community, it is interesting to see how this budget really reflects the aspirations and concerns of Canadians

At four different prebudget town hall meetings that I held, we managed to have consultations and submissions from a wide variety of people in the community of Barrie. We had submissions from city councillors, school board trustees, members of the Chamber of Commerce, doctors, nurses, emergency services personnel, seniors, students, business owners and the mayor of Barrie. We also had an active electronic survey and we received significant feedback through that.

Each of the participants provided insightful contributions from different aspects of our city. Many shared the same concerns as all Canadians: ensuring good jobs are available, keeping low taxes and investing in long-term growth. I heard about the need to better support small business and local industry. I heard about retirement savings, the rising cost of energy and the challenges facing our most vulnerable seniors. I heard pleas for more doctors in underserviced areas, concerns over the health of our citizens and the future of our growing city. I believe budget 2011 did an excellent job in meeting those concerns.

Initially I wanted to talk a little about infrastructure, for which this budget has a fair amount. The city of Barrie has had tremendous infrastructure needs. We have had a 6% growth rate over 10 years. The submissions made by members of the city of Barrie task force on my budget consultations were that stable infrastructure funding was important and that the gas tax revenues had been very helpful, but that it was the sense of stability, the sense of planning that was needed for municipalities.

John Brassard, a city councillor in Barrie, said how impressed he was with the funding toward municipalities and that the grant should continue. Councillor Brassard said that infrastructure was intimately linked to economic development and enables a city to compete for jobs.

Making the gas tax funding transfers to municipalities permanent is a welcome sign in budget 2011. I applaud the Minister of Finance for taking this critical initiative. Putting this into law, the permanent annual investment of $2 billion in gas tax funding for cities and towns will allow for long-term municipal infrastructure planning and budgeting.

When I was a city councillor in Barrie for five years prior to 2005, I remember how difficult it was for municipalities and how strained they were for resources. It is pretty significant that we now see municipalities with a stable partner with the federal government helping them with their infrastructure needs.

Prior to our government first being elected in 2006, Barrie was receiving just under $2 million a year. These transfers have steadily increased under our government and currently the transfer for Barrie is approaching $7 million annually. That is typical for cities across Canada. They have seen a steady and consistent increase.

The passing of budget 2011 means that Barrie can count on these funds year after year to assist in meeting our local commitments and will continue to help ease the burden on property taxpayers.

In terms of tax reductions, this budget also helps businesses and Canadians in many respects. I am pleased that our government did not follow the call from other parties in the House to roll back the series of graduated business tax reductions passed by a majority of parliamentarians in 2007. Some parties even wanted to roll back and increase the burden on business by saddling them with taxes surpassing the pre-2007 levels. These reductions were designed to keep Canada competitive with our trading partners and our government understood the strategy was working for Canadian business.

Sybil Goruk, the executive director of the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, put it best when she wrote to me to voice her concerns about this alarming call for increases to corporate taxes. After she read the Bank of Canada January report, which noted that 44% of Canadian firms expected to invest more in productivity-enhancing machinery and equipment in the years ahead, Sybil wrote:

Consistency and reliability in government policy are critical factors in business decision-making. Businesses across the country have invested with the understanding that taxes would decline. A sudden change of course would constitute a broken promise to thousands of businesses and the many people they have employed based on that promise.

Our government kept its promise and I am very glad the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce recognize the importance of keeping business taxes low.

In terms of creating jobs, this budget is a victory for Canadians in that sense. Creating jobs in a community is as important as anything else. Small business plays a significant economic role in cities such as Barrie. It is the lifeblood of our economy. Business owners told me that investment in their operations would promote growth and create more jobs in the community.

All too often my community of Barrie has seen small businesses come and go, particularly in the downtown core. Rod Jackson, a former city councillor and a human resources manager, stressed that it was important the government have incentive programs for small businesses that could be implemented at all levels of government. These programs should not only help start up business, but should also help existing companies stay open.

Budget 2011 addresses many of those requests. Two examples are: extending the accelerated capital cost allowance to help manufacturers make new investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment; and enhancing programs to help businesses keep workers, like work sharing programs, the wage earner protection program and the targeted initiative for older workers.

However, the aspect of budget 2011 that will be really helpful is the hiring credit for small businesses. It is a terrific yet cost effective way of encouraging small businesses to hire workers instead of putting it off to another year.

In terms of helping young people, budget 2011 is a victory for young Canadians. Another aspect of job creation comes from young students who are making the transition from school to the workforce. In Barrie we are lucky enough to have Georgian College, along with many university partnerships with Georgian, supplying the city with well-educated graduates. Joe Rockbrune, who is a small business owner and was on our prebudget consultations, made the point that it was critical to find that transition and that it was important for young people to have help finding the jobs that await them.

There are several things this budget does to stimulate the economy and invest in job growth. I am also happy to see the government investing $20 million in the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. By supporting the youth entrepreneurs of today, we are helping our young people succeed and become leaders of tomorrow.

One of my favourite aspects of budget 2011 is the $100 million set aside for brain disorders. I had the pleasure over the last year and a half of sitting on the neurological disorder subcommittee in Parliament that studied the black hole we have with brain and neurological disorders. The one thing we heard again and again was that government needed to focus on this. I will be honest when I say that there was very little hope that something would happen this soon. To see our Minister of Finance focus on that area, which rarely gets attention, is a tremendous thing.

I think of people in my riding, like Derek Walton, who, despite having ALS for eight years and being restricted to a wheelchair, skydives to raise funds for research. I think of Jeanette Elliott, who is a volunteer working non-stop for the MS Society, or Greg McGinnis, who is doing the same thing for the Parkinson Society. All of these efforts are to raise funds for research. To see the federal government invest in such a meaningful way is something very special about budget 2011 in terms of its focus on neurosciences.

I just want to add one other point that was helpful in budget 2011, and that is the comments I heard from seniors about needing more help. There are lots of low-income seniors across Canada and Barrie is no exception. I know the increase to the GIS will be welcomed. It is a very helpful part of budget 2011.

I commend my colleague, the Minister of Finance, on delivering a budget that is responsible and proactive on behalf of all Canadians. The low tax plan for jobs and growth meets many of the requests I heard from my constituents. On behalf of the people of Barrie, I thank him and his team for their hard work.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I hear my hon. colleague talking about a budget that really reflects the concerns of Canadians, and I have to wonder.

Hearing my colleague's comments, I could not help but think of a single mother I met during the election campaign who is living in poverty and who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Long before her diagnosis, this woman had to fight to have access to health care, proper treatment and affordable drugs. She still has to fight today, although one would think the opposite given her situation. One would think she should be getting the help she needs and that she deserves.

How can the member call this budget a complete success when it does not offer sufficient measures to work with the provinces to improve public health care?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have a question on health care because I believe that this budget was a tremendous investment in, and a tremendous victory for, health care.

We saw an increase of 6% to health care transfers. Let us look at the contrast with how it used to be. The last time there was a significant recession in the 1990s, the government of the day cut health care. To see a government invest in health care despite the fragile economic recovery and to invest in such a meaningful way shows that it is a government that cares profoundly about health care.

I would add to that. It is interesting to hear this question from the NDP members, because when they were in power provincially in Ontario during the recession their response was to actually cut medical enrolment. So the doctor shortages we face in Canada, especially in Ontario, are because of that ill thought-out decision. We cannot attack health care in the middle of a recession.

Our finance minister did the opposite. He invested in health care. I think that is a wonderful thing.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the member for his work on the subcommittee on neurological disorders. He certainly deserves praise for that from all members of the House.

The other issue, if I may go to the health care issue just to point out something, he talked about a commitment the government is making and investments in health care. I think we had better wait until 2014 before we decide to make a decision on that. The mechanisms we are using now to invest come from 2004. Stay tuned is probably the best advice I can give on that one.

The other issue I want to talk about is municipalities. The member talked about infrastructure. One of the biggest issues coming out of rural parts of the country is just how difficult it can be to come up with that one-third commitment.

Would the hon. member consider the formula to be very difficult for some of the smaller communities? Would he suggest that the Treasury Board should consider changing some of these formulas so that it is easier for the smallest of communities to receive funding on infrastructure?

For example, there is a new waste water regulation that is going to be particularly onerous to smaller communities because they will have to come within regulation of the environment. It is going to be a devastating situation because a lot of these smaller communities just cannot afford it.

Would the hon. member consider that as a way for the Treasury Board to reconsider some of its formulas?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember prior to the economic stimulus program that there were questions and comments saying that there would not be enough applications because municipalities could not afford the one-third.

In retrospect, one interesting thing is the fact that the challenge was not having enough applications from municipalities hoping to have an economic stimulus grant, it is that there were actually too many applications. Municipalities and towns of all sizes were excited to have a partner in the federal government. There were literally hundreds and hundreds, and thousands and thousands of applications that flowed in with regard to infrastructure.

With respect to which formula works best, whether it is one-third or different percentages, obviously all levels of government have to share the burden of infrastructure costs. I think every level of government is pressed.

I believe the federal government has been very generous in infrastructure. If we look at the period of the last few years, this is a period of record levels of infrastructure investment. The federal government is certainly doing its part.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for sharing his time with me this afternoon.

It is a great honour to return to Ottawa as the federal representative for Sarnia—Lambton. I wish to thank my constituents for expressing their faith in me to carry forward their perspectives on issues of importance across our riding. I pledge to do this with honour and integrity.

I would like to take a moment to thank several people who worked tirelessly during the election. First, my family, Bill, Will, Tina and Josh; my campaign manager, Mike Hanki, who has led me through three successful federal campaigns; my EDA members who performed various roles during the campaign: the official agent, the computer team, the sign team, all the volunteers who worked hard to make my success possible and a big thanks to my dedicated volunteers who worked so many hours on the “get out to vote” aspect of the campaign.

Also, I would like to thank the citizens of Canada, who have decided that seven years of unstable minority parliaments were not helping our country position itself on the right track to prosperity and success. I thank these Canadians for electing a stable Conservative majority government; the first majority government to lead our nation since the year 2000.

I would like to express my congratulations to all parliamentarians who have sought and gained election to Canada's House of Commons in the recent 41st election. We should never forget that our communities sent us here to represent their wishes. We have a special responsibility to the regions we represent. I look forward to serving the 41st Parliament with all the members in the House.

I am speaking today in support of the 2011 budget document which is the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. I have full confidence in the fiscal agenda laid out for Canada in the budget. It is regretful that we have had to go through an election first in order to table this important business for our nation and in order to pass the urgent measures contained within the 2011 budget document.

However, we are now fully able to reflect the wishes of Canadians to provide a stable and prosperous economic blueprint for our nation.

With certainty, the most pressing issue for Canadians is with the continued prosperity of our nation. Strong fiscal leadership has been the prerequisite for international leaders since the great recession of 2008 and none has shown greater leadership than our own Prime Minister and finance minister.

We know that there are still very serious issues that Canada continues to confront, including a sovereign debt crisis across the eurozone and threats of increased conflict abroad. Even Mother Nature seems intent on doing all she can to make the recovery efforts of nations across the globe as difficult as possible.

With these issues in mind, Canada requires strong leadership on matters of fiscal policy. I would argue we have just that with the current team in place to lead Canada forward.

Speaking to the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, I am pleased to see several specific measures that will enhance Canadian prosperity during these difficult times. I am very pleased to also see several broad measures that I consider to be of the utmost importance moving forward for our national economy. This low-tax plan for jobs and economic growth will preserve Canada's advantage in the international economy. It contains measures to strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors, families and students, and will grant our nation the stability needed to move strongly into the future.

In Sarnia—Lambton, businesses have been hard hit by the global economic downturn. Despite the difficulties that firms faced, I know that measures brought forward by this government in our previous budgetary responses to the economic downturn helped businesses survive as best they could in the past three years. This is why I support the initiatives taken by the government in the next phase of the economic action plan to support job creation. These measures include the provision of a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage additional hiring in this sector. Small business needs this kind of support. It is a major incubator in not just Ontario but every province and territory. Canadian entrepreneurs need this support put in place and this budget will help them.

The extension of the work-sharing program, in addition to supporting the manufacturing sector through the extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance, will have a significant impact on allowing businesses to expand during these difficult times and is supported by businesses in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton.

The same can be said for investments in the next phase of the economic action plan that will support innovation in Canada's farming, forestry, and mining communities.

As a member of Parliament with a strong municipal background from my years as both mayor and county warden of my community, I fully understand the importance of having long-term stable funding for infrastructure projects like road rehabilitation. This is why I strongly support the measure contained in the 2011 budget to legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion to the gas tax fund to provide stable funding for Canadian municipalities. I know with certainty that this is welcomed by municipalities across Canada and I ask my colleagues in the House to support this urgently needed measure.

Beyond the measures that target job creation in the next phase of the economic action plan, it is important to note the strong support we are prepared to give to families and communities. For example, we have provided financial support to increase the guaranteed income supplement for seniors who rely on the OAS payments to get by. We know there are Canadian seniors facing financial hardships and we want to help them out.

As a long-serving member of the Standing Committee on Health, I have a strong grasp on the issue of health human resources. I know it is difficult to get new doctors and nurses to go into rural communities to serve. In order to attract more doctors and nurses to these under-serviced regions, the Government of Canada has come up with a very practical solution. It will forgive up to $40,000 of the federal component of Canada's student loans for doctors and up to $20,000 for nurse practitioners and nurses. This is a very good first step toward addressing the shortage of health human resources in our rural areas.

Of course, there is more that can be done for families and communities. With this in mind, the Government of Canada is providing three new creative tax credits to assist families, including the new $2,000 family caregiver tax credit, the new children's art tax credit and a new $3,000 volunteer firefighter tax credit for volunteer firefighters who perform at least 200 hours of service in their communities. In addition, the Government of Canada has committed $870 million over two years to address climate and air quality issues, including the extension of the eco-energy retrofit homes program. Many people in my community called for the reintroduction of the eco-energy program.

Furthermore, I wish to speak in favour of this government's commitment to deficit reduction. The fiscal track record of this government is very strong, with billions being paid off our national debt up until the moment the global economic downturn struck our economy. During that recessionary period, the G20 world leaders determined that strong fiscal stimulus was required by member nations to ensure the global economy could bounce back. Canada tabled its own plan for stimulus, the original economic action plan that the 2011-12 budget is a continuation of.

During the first two years of our national response to the global economic challenges facing Canada, we did indeed utilize deficit financing in order to finance urgent infrastructure projects, to assist struggling industrial sectors and overall to help stabilize our economy in the face of the largest economic downturn since the end of World War II. I would be remiss if I were not to mention that although this government developed a very reasonable stimulus response, other parties in the House were calling for hundreds of billions of dollars in spending, a level that would have been irresponsible and negligent.

Canadians have spoken during the recent election and they support the Conservative Party of Canada's plan to get our economy back on track and to end the deficit spending currently taking place. Once we get back to a balanced budget, Canada will again be in a prime position to begin paying down our national debt or to take measures that may be necessary should a double-dip recession take hold due to outside pressures associated with the global economy.

The one last measure I would like to voice my support for is the call for the creation of the common securities regulator to act across Canada. With a single securities regulator, we will not only cut back on red tape at the provincial level, but we will move toward a more balanced and internationally recognizable system of monitoring our various financial sectors in Canada. I support the finance minister's actions on this file and I call on Parliament to stand behind the government and support us on this matter.

I appreciate the time today to share these important items with hon. members. I feel it is nothing less than urgent for all parties to support the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. Canadians have strongly registered their support for the new government and since we ran a platform based on this very document and won the most recent election to form a majority government, I feel it is incumbent on all MPs in the House of Commons to stand beside the Canadians they represent and support the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of talk about job creation from the government lately. But I must point out in this House that the government has announced huge job cuts within the Government of Canada. This seems to be a bit of a “not in my backyard” policy.

The government also seems to be allergic to a certain type of economic development. Take, for example, the co-operative model in Quebec. Desjardins has been a huge economic success and is a great economic model. This model has not lost its place in terms of economic development. Economic development can take different forms.

Canada seems to have become much richer as a country, but in reality, it is 20% of our richest citizens who have increased their revenues and, therefore, their wealth. I have a quote from the National Council of Welfare:

Canada has posted the strongest employment growth in the G7, but it is also one of the G7 countries in which there are the greatest income disparities among families. Poverty in a rich country is not inevitable; it is the result of bad policies.

Does the government plan on introducing a real program to eliminate poverty?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to this House and certainly look forward to working with her over the next four years.

We know that this new budget covers a wide aspect of issues. We also know, as the member across has stated, that Canada has done well in coming out of this recession, much better than other countries. We have done it because of the policies that have been put in place by this government and we will continue to do that.

The latest budget that the minister has put forward certainly covers many things that will bring great benefit to many people across a wide spectrum in this country. It involves job creation. It supports families, communities and municipalities. There is not just one thing in this budget. This is a budget that affects everyone in this country. It is a budget that has been widely supported and I would encourage the member opposite to support it as well.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member caught my ear when she made reference to this budget in that it is innovative for our farmers. The first thing that came across my mind was what the government is actually doing to the wheat farmers in the prairies of Manitoba.

The vast majority of the wheat farmers do not support the actions the government is taking regarding the Wheat Board. How is it that the government sees fit to give the impression that it is being supportive of the wheat farmer while at the same time the wheat farmer does not want to lose the Wheat Board?

Can the government not listen and at least allow for a plebiscite, so that we can hear and act firsthand on what the prairie wheat farmers actually want as opposed to the government of the day wiping the Wheat Board out without the support of the wheat farmer?