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House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to add to the exchange that just took place. I think the point that was levelled at my colleague in the NDP was that the $56 million cut was just a little bit of flesh on the side, when in fact it is not, when we look at the total numbers.

For example, the parliamentary secretary accused him, and I assume he would accuse us of the same, of fearmongering. The Conservatives are closing a busier than average search and rescue centre. Fearmongering? Quite frankly, we have a right to be scared in the wake of that closure.

I would like to ask my colleague about the cuts at Fisheries and Oceans. Does he fear for certain programs? For instance, the Conservatives talked about small craft harbours and a lot of the infrastructure from coast to coast to coast. I would like him to comment on that, and the $56 million cut in expenditures, as cutting to the bone.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate my hon. colleague's concerns, which I share. I think the cuts are making an already tough situation tougher.

It is nice to think that we could simply make a 3% cut across the board and all would be well, but try to tell that to community members who are struggling, whether in regard to restoration of our Pacific salmon or in regard to the privatization of the halibut fishery, which is a real concern, or in regard to search and rescue decisions where lives depend on having adequate response, and where in some places in this country the response time is already not at a satisfactory level, which Canadians are extremely concerned about. These cuts will only exacerbate the situation.

I have talked to a number of people who are concerned with the infrastructure for their harbours. Investment in harbours will decrease with the budget as opposed to increasing. That is the kind of investment we can look to with this budget.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Richmond—Arthabaska. While I am on my feet, allow me as well to congratulate you on your position in the chair. It is well-deserved, I might add.

Let me also take an opportunity to thank the good people of Essex, my riding back home, for what is now my third re-election to this chamber. I was the first Conservative MP in Essex in almost 50 years to have been elected back in 2004, and now the only Conservative MP since Confederation to be successfully elected in four consecutive terms.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, to my colleagues.

Let me also thank and recognize that Canadians gave our Prime Minister and this government a very strong mandate. That includes a strong mandate from Essex as part of that.

I rise today in support of Bill C-3, our budget implementation bill, an act supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy. It is a budget that was in large measure originally tabled in March. The budget this time around is nearly identical to that one, with many benefits for the Windsor-Essex region back home and, of course, important benefits for Canada.

Bill C-3 and its measures build on our government's impressive record, a record where, for example, our economic action plan has created over 560,000 jobs in the last two years; where we have been on a low tax track for businesses, both small and large; where, during the downturn, stimulus was temporary, as we wanted it only to sustain us and to stimulate the economy at that time, not to create long-term structural deficits; a record where we paid down debt before we went into the great recession and one that will balance the budget or better by 2014; and a record that includes a 33% increase in funding to support public health care.

There are important new changes since the March budget. There is the beginning of the phasing out of the per-vote subsidy for political parties and also the beginning to set aside funds for the federal government's obligatory one-time transitional payment to Quebec for its impending decision to harmonize its retail sales tax with the goods and services tax. I am surprised, of course, that opposition MPs from Quebec voted against this measure when voting on the budget in principle. Such harmonization and the amount of the transitional payment, as I recall, were unanimously supported by the National Assembly in Quebec.

The measures in Bill C-3 that are important for Windsor-Essex and for our country are first of all the very specifically articulated increased support in our budget for the Windsor-Essex parkway. That is the extension of Highway 401, where it currently ends outside the city of Windsor, to what will be a new international border crossing, a bridge between Windsor and Detroit. Our commitment in 2007, of course, was to fund up to 50% of the eligible capital costs of that particular project, a project that will create 12,000 jobs for one of the highest unemployment areas in Canada.

If I could take a step back, budget 2006 established our borders and gateway crossings fund, about $2.1 billion. Budget 2007, which we termed “Advantage Canada”, laid out a five page vision statement on the border crossing at Windsor and Detroit and in that budget we made a $400 million down payment toward the Windsor-Essex parkway. As we see now in budget 2011, the current incarnation of our budget, we are promising up to $1 billion to be set aside from that fund. So, that is a very critical one.

As I talk about our government's support for this project, I am disappointed to see that New Democrat members are opposed, particularly the two New Democrat MPs from Windsor West and Windsor—Tecumseh. They profess verbally to support the DRIC, the new international crossing, and the Windsor-Essex parkway that connects Highway 401 to that important crossing.

I will remind members that this is no minor infrastructure project. We talked about 12,000 jobs from the parkway, up to 30,000 jobs to be created by the parkway and the bridge crossing. It is the top infrastructure priority in Canada, supporting a huge bilateral trade relationship with the United States. These New Democrat members should have been standing in their place and voting for it in 2006, 2007, and now on budget 2011, and actually supporting this project.

If they had the courage of their convictions, where they say they support it, they should actually be standing, even if it means breaking ranks with their party to support our budget.

Second, what is important about our budget implementation?

It is good for industry. The accelerated capital cost writeoff, for example, was begun in 2006 under our government and was extended again in a later budget to 2011. Now, Bill C-3 extends that, our budget extends that for a further two years. It is timely for the retooling for our industries, our manufacturers, increasing their productivity precisely at a time where the Canadian dollar is high. Couple that with previous budget measures where we created a tariff-free zone for machinery imports and we have a perfect nexus, the perfect opportunity for our industries, particularly the machine, tool, die, and mould sector back home which supports not only the auto industry but the aerospace and other sectors. It is a perfect time. It is a historic boost, allowing them to continue their retooling, increasing their productivity and their competitiveness.

The boost of funding for the industrial research assistance program, IRAP, is a huge one. Our economic action plan gave a historic boost during the stimulus period for our businesses. We are continuing that with increases to the IRAP this time around.

Bill C-3 is good for rural Canada. How about more rural doctors and nurses, a new firefighters' tax credit, and new funding for agriculture, especially to improve food safety? All are very critical for rural Canada.

Our budget is obviously very good for seniors with an immediate boost to the guaranteed income supplement. I understand we are working against a very critical deadline of July 1 to get that critical funding to our poor seniors. This GIS measure represents continued progress on retirement security begun by this government with improved rules around direct benefit, direct contribution pensions, RRSPs, RRIFs, our commitment with the provinces on a new pooled retirement pension plan and our continued ongoing talks with the provinces and territories over a modest enhancement to the CPP.

The opposition can join us in furthering retirement security by supporting our budget and this immediate boost to the guaranteed income supplement.

What else is in store from the government with respect to the budget?

How about an increase for Canada's summer jobs, an additional $10 million a year during the stimulus period. Guess what? Now it is permanent. It is ongoing. That is 3,600 student summer jobs. That is not insignificant when they are looking for valuable skills that they can later take into full-time employment and beyond.

These measures are built on our government's record. We have had a low-tax plan for jobs since 2006, especially in 2007, a $200 billion package over five years, not only for businesses but for consumers by lowering taxes, increasing disposable income for consumers to stimulate the economy and create jobs. We have our economic action plan, the stimulus that has created 560,000 jobs in the past two years. We are on a low-tax plan for our families saving $3,000 per year for the average family of four. Our move to balance the budget will create the room for us to implement a family tax cut. With regard to income splitting, we did it for seniors with respect to their pensions. We are now going to do it for families. That is an incredible thing.

Our record includes strong support for the auto industry. In 2008, we established a national automotive strategy and we backed it with money. The first investment went to the Essex engine plant down our way to increase and expand the footprint of the automotive industry. It includes our investments in health care.

I will be supporting this bill. It supports rural Canada, our manufacturers and farmers. It will allow the immediate and timely boost to the guaranteed income supplement for our poor seniors. It supports the single largest infrastructure project in Ontario, the DRIC crossing and the Windsor-Essex Parkway, specifically.

I call on opposition members to support Bill C-3 with their conscience and also with their votes.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of my Conservative colleagues mentioned that they did not want to use public moneys to fund political parties.

Can my colleague explain how tax credits for those who make a contribution to a political party—a minority of Canadians—are not funded by all Canadians? I know a number of people in my riding who are unhappy about their taxes funding the generous tax credit for wealthy contributors to the Conservative Party.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the tax credit, it drives those who actually support a political party to put their money down on the line. They get a benefit from doing that. However, the difference is that we are phasing out the per vote subsidy. I do not know if it is indexed to inflation but it increases over time. It is an automatic payout by taxpayers who supports parties automatically whether they agree with them or not.

For those who actually have the guts to put their dollars down, they get some benefit back. I think that is an incentive to encourage us, but it is also an incentive for the political parties to go out and hustle and create a platform, create something that appeals to people so they will want to give to that party. We have done that successfully, much better than the opposition.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is in regard to the home retrofit program, a program that is supposed to be assisting many thousands of Canadians, and no doubt this year it will. The qualifier there is that it is for this year.

Ultimately, many would argue that a multi-year program of this nature would have been far better in terms of job creation. He talked in his speech about the importance of the creation of jobs, particularly when we look at small business. By having a multi-year program that looks at retrofitting homes, there would have been more of a commitment to those long-term jobs with many of those small businesses.

Why would it not have been a multi-year program?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for a promotion I guess I did not know I had earned. Perhaps he could tell the Prime Minister and put in a good word for me.

All kidding aside, I wish the hon. member had been here much earlier in the 40th Parliament when previous budgets were presented. The eco-energy retrofit for homes was a multi-year program. Had the member been part of the Liberal Party at that time, he would have opposed it like the rest of his colleagues did.

This is just simply an additional year on what was a multi-year program, a very successful one I might add. Thank God it is back to provide some more jobs this year.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say how pleased I was to hear from the member for Essex. He has been a real champion, particularly for probably one of the largest infrastructure programs that this government has and any in recent memory will endeavour.

I want to warn him that, if his NDP neighbours are anything like the ones up in northwestern Ontario, they will vote against it but they will also take credit for it. I just want to let him know in advance that this is something that goes on all the time.

The member in his great speech alluded to the 12,000 jobs that the project itself will contribute to the economy. I just wondered if he could talk about the economic advantages beyond the 12,000 jobs that we will see just to set up this infrastructure and how disappointing it will be for the people from the ridings represented by members of the NDP when they vote against this.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, we just came through an election campaign where the NDP opponents were taking full credit in their literature for having secured 100% of the funding. What is funny is that one cannot secure the funding if one actually votes against the funding. That is a bit of a curious oddity.

It is a huge project, not just for the immediate jobs but, ultimately, end to end, from the 401 to the I-75 in Michigan. A multi-billion dollar project. Even if a fraction of that goes into the economy as additional stimulus over the next five to seven years of construction, it will be a huge boom to Windsor Essex county. Of course, by having a redundant crossing, it secures our bilateral trade relationship with the United States and, on our side of the border, puts us in a position to secure long-term business investments worth millions and millions of dollars. New companies will start up because they have predictability at the corridor.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I call upon the hon. member, I wish to inform him that I will be interrupting his speech at 6:30 p.m., for that is when the time allowed for this debate will expire.

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Essex for agreeing to share his time with me. I am pleased to rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011, introduced on June 14. The bill consists of 12 parts, one of which is very attractive for Quebec. I am talking about part 8, which directly concerns Quebec and its government, since it provides a payment of $368.9 million for equalization.

That is just one more reason for me and my Bloc Québécois colleagues to support this budget, especially since it already provides $2.2 billion in compensation for our sales tax harmonization. Of course, we could not pass that up. I have been a member in this House for seven years now, and this will probably be the third time I have voted in favour of a budget. Every time, the only reason I voted for it was because it was in the best interests of Quebeckers. The people of Quebec have sent us to the House of Commons to represent their interests, to stand up for them. When budget 2006 provided $3.3 billion in 2006 for the fiscal imbalance, voting against it was out of the question. For the same reason, we will support this budget here today.

With any budget, we must be careful. The government will always say that its budget is perfect, that all of the measures are wonderful and that there are no shortcomings, while the opposition will find everything that is wrong with it, criticize the measures and always say that it does not go far enough. In the House, we must take stock and weigh the pros and cons of a budget before voting. In this case, there are a number of shortcomings in the budget, and I will perhaps have time to list a few of them. However, in weighing the pros and cons, members from Quebec cannot, in good conscience, vote against a budget like this. Members will recall the long battle waged by the Bloc Québécois and the Government of Quebec regarding the $2.2 billion for tax harmonization.

The Government of Quebec harmonized its sales tax with that of the federal government in 1992. However, only Ontario, the Maritimes and British Columbia received several billion dollars in compensation, while Quebec was left waiting, supposedly for administrative reasons. I am wondering why the federal government did not act before now, particularly since this measure was in the budget before the election was called; the Bloc Québécois would have immediately supported the budget. The Conservative government, a minority government at that time, would then have been assured that it would keep its place. We likely would not have had an election, as we unfortunately did over these past few months. Everyone was saying that an election costs a lot of money and that it was the fault of the opposition. The Conservative government had the opportunity to prevent an election. We can look back and replay the past but it does not do much good.

As a result of pressure from the Bloc Québécois and the Government of Quebec, an announcement was made during the election campaign that $2.2 billion in compensation would be allocated in the budget. I am not the type to be content with the answer that the cheque is in the mail. We therefore waited to see whether that money would be in the budget, in black and white. It is, and we are very happy about it.

However, like the hon. member for Essex, I question the reaction of the NDP MPs from Quebec who have decided to ignore the measure giving Quebec $2.2 billion in compensation. This measure will help not only the Government of Quebec, but all Quebeckers. The NDP MPs have decided not to support the budget. They will have to answer for their actions and explain to their constituents why they disregarded this measure by voting against the budget.

The hon. member mentioned some examples from his own region, where the MPs also decided not to support the budget. It is an entirely democratic choice, but I was rather shocked to see that many of the NDP MPs from Quebec decided to reject this measure.

There are other interesting measures, including some for seniors, namely $300 million to help seniors living in poverty. The measure having to do with the guaranteed income supplement is a step in the right direction.

That is another lengthy battle we waged in the House. The Bloc Québécois moved a number of motions to improve the guaranteed income supplement. The math is not hard: another $110 a month is needed to lift the least fortunate out of poverty. It is not going to make them rich. Now there is talk of $50 a month; the necessary amount has not been reached, but I have to say that at least this is a step in the right direction for the least fortunate seniors.

As the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, this also makes me want to vote in favour of the budget. That is not to say that the battle is over, that we can sit back and finally say that the guaranteed income supplement issue has been resolved. It is not resolved, especially since there is a shortfall of $60 a month and we also want—

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. It being 6:30 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #7

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 6:59 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6:59 p.m.)