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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

Canada Post CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am submitting this petition on behalf of 163 of my constituents of Jenner, Alberta who want Canada Post to reopen their post office.

I bring their concerns to the House and to the Government of Canada. I am pleased to present this petition on their behalf.

The residents of Jenner have expressed their concerns that the closure of the post office is like removing the heart from the community.

Aboriginal AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many residents of Canada who wish to draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the following.

For the past five years, the Native Women's Association of Canada, NWAC, Sisters in Spirit initiative has worked to identify root causes, trends and circumstances of violence that have led to the disappearance and death of too many aboriginal women and girls.

In March of this year, NWAC released a report entitled "What Their Stories Tell Us", which provided evidence that 582 aboriginal women and girls had gone missing or had been murdered in Canada and that many mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and grandmothers had been lost to violence in our country. This makes it a pervasive human rights crisis.

The petitioners want the Government of Canada to renew the funding for the Sisters in Spirit initiative phase two, "Evidence to Action", and to invest in an action plan for aboriginal women that NWAC has developed to stop the devastating number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

We owe it to our sense of justice to make this happen.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of literally thousands of Canadians from all across Canada who call upon Parliament to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. In fact, they point out that more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial and occupational causes combined and yet they say that Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. Not only that, they say that Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry, which these signatories refer to as corporate welfare for corporate serial killers, and it blocks international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to ban asbestos in all its forms and to institute a just transition program for any asbestos workers laid off. They also call upon the government to end all government subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad.

Finally, the petitioners call upon the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Visitor VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I bring forward a petition of individuals who would like the government to deal with the issue of visitor visas and, ultimately, how family members are denied the ability to visit Canada from countries like the Philippines, India and so many countries around the world. They question why it has become so difficult to visit Canada.

It is with pleasure that I table this petition.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

moved that Bill C-3, An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to begin debate at second reading on the Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act. This act would implement key measures from budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.

Without a doubt, our government is on the right track for job creation, economic growth and keeping Canada among the best economic positions in the industrialized world. Let us simply look at the facts.

In the first quarter of 2011, Canada's economy grew by 3.9%. This is the largest level of quarterly economic growth in the past year. What is more, Canada has now seen seven consecutive quarters of steady economic growth. Additionally, in May, we once again saw positive job numbers, with over 20,000 net new jobs created. Overall, since July 2009, Canada has created over 560,000 net new jobs, the strongest record of job growth among all the G7 countries. Even better, over 80% of those 560,000-plus net new jobs have been full-time positions.

Similarly, recent findings published in the CIBC Canadian employment quality index have demonstrated:

Not only is the Canadian economy continuing to generate jobs at a healthy pace, but those jobs are gradually getting better....As of April 2011, this measure is roughly back to the pre-recession levels....The improvement in our measure of employment quality reflects a much stronger pace of full-time jobs...

However, there is more. For the third straight year, the World Economic Forum rated our banking system the best and the safest in the world. Also, both the OECD and the IMF have recently forecast Canada's economic growth will be among the strongest in the G7 for both 2011 and 2012.

In the words of the independent Conference Board of Canada:

Canada’s economic fundamentals – fiscal policies, tax policy, monetary policy and management of the exchange rate – are arguably in the best shape in the developed world.

Listen to the words of a recent Toronto Star editorial, which reluctantly admitted that:

Canada came through the Great Recession comparatively unscathed. As many of our competitors wilted, we rose in stature and relative prosperity.

While all of this is positive news, we must remain cautious and focused on the economy, for we all recognize that too many Canadians are still looking for work and the global economic recovery still remains fragile. Now is the time to stay focused on the economy and on supporting job growth.

That is why we need to stay the course with the Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act.

The bill before us today is an important aspect of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, as it implements key measures in the recent federal budget. As hon. members know, budget 2011 addresses the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a plan that seeks to keep taxes low to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. We must ensure that this plan is not derailed.

Under the plan, we will ensure that taxes are kept low. We will make other targeted investments in order to support economic growth and create jobs. We will improve quality of life for seniors, families and children. We will control government spending and we will stay the course in order to eliminate the deficit.

Implementing the next phase of Canada's economic action plan will preserve Canada's advantage in the global economy, strengthen the financial security of workers, seniors and families in Canada and garner the necessary stability to secure our economic recovery in an uncertain world.

The supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy act contributes to the successful and swift implementation of the next phase of Canada's economic action plan by proposing to legislate into law several of its key measures.

Prominent among such measures include the following: help for vulnerable seniors by enhancing the guaranteed income supplement, also known as the GIS, for seniors who may be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties; support for provincial front line delivery of health care and social programs by extending the temporary total transfer protection to 2011-12, representing nearly $1 billion in support to affected provinces; encouragement for Canada's young entrepreneurs by providing $20 million to help the Canadian Youth Business Foundation; enhanced federal assistance for part-time students by reducing the in-study interest rate to zero, bringing them in line with full-time students; improvements to the registered disability savings plan, also known as the RDSP, by increasing flexibility to access RDSP assets for beneficiaries with shortened life expectancies, and ensuring that individuals can appeal in every single case a determination concerning their eligibility for the disability tax credit; support for Canada's veterans by providing tax relief for Legion purchases of Remembrance Day poppies and wreaths; support for Canada's leadership in genomics research by providing $65 million to Genome Canada to launch a new competition in the area of human health, and sustain the operating costs of Genome Canada and genome centres; strengthened oversight of Canada's mortgage insurance industry to ensure the continued stability of Canada's housing finance system; and much more.

Before continuing, let me inform Canadians and this Parliament that the supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy act includes the most pressing time-sensitive measures from budget 2011 that require legislative approval. Rest assured, as is standard, we will introduce additional legislation this coming fall to pass into law outstanding budget 2011 measures before the end of the calendar year.

I would like to take the time to provide a few details on some of the key measures, especially those concerning Canadian families, workers and businesses.

I will begin by underscoring the improvements we are making to the guaranteed income supplement. Although Canada's retirement income system has helped reduce the incidence of poverty among seniors in Canada, some are still living in poverty. For example, seniors who rely almost exclusively on old age security and the guaranteed income supplement may be having financial difficulties.

What is more, women who contributed significantly to supporting their family, their community and society as a whole by working hard at home may find themselves in a precarious situation and might not have other sources of income. The Conservative government recognizes the contributions of seniors and is determined to ensure that they maintain a good quality of life.

In the Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act, we are proposing a new top-up benefit to the guaranteed income supplement for our most vulnerable seniors. Beginning on July 1, 2011, seniors with little or no income other than old age security and the guaranteed income supplement will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for a single person and $840 for couples. This measure represents an investment of more than $300 million per year. It will improve the financial security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors in Canada. These improvements have been well received by Canada's seniors since they were announced in the 2011 budget.

The C.D. Howe Institute has said that the new guaranteed income supplement top-up for low-income seniors is a significant increase in benefits.

The Service Employees International Union was very enthusiastic about the measure, saying that the increase in the guaranteed income supplement is a victory for all Canadian seniors who are living in poverty.

Even the Canadian Labour Congress, which is also excited about the measure, stated that the CLC had been calling for an increase in the guaranteed income supplement. It said, “Minister Flaherty has made a modest improvement to the GIS in this budget. This is a win for every senior living in poverty in Canada.”

The FADOQ network said the following:

This budget represents significant progress for seniors in Canada, but there is still plenty left to do.

For the FADOQ network, which has been fighting for improvements to the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) for years, the government's proposed increase is a step in the right direction.

Without a doubt, Canada's most vulnerable seniors have welcomed and are now really counting on the GIS top up to come into effect on July 1 as promised in budget 2011.

However, let me be very clear, the only way that this can happen is with swift passage of the supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy act before Parliament rises in the next few days.

For all they have done to build this great country, that is the very least we can do for those Canadian seniors most in need of our support. I implore all parliamentarians to act quickly to pass this act and to not let our seniors down.

Another key measure from today's act that I would like to highlight is the support we are providing Canada's veterans through tax relief for Legion purchases of Remembrance Day poppies and wreaths. The Legion's poppies and wreaths hold a special place in the hearts and minds of all Canadians as symbols of the contribution, courage, and sacrifices of those who served in the Canadian Forces, the brave men and women to whom we owe the freedom and opportunity that we enjoy today.

Each fall the Royal Canadian Legion begins its poppy campaign, which is the foundation of its remembrance program and a main source of financial support for the great work the Legion does in communities across Canada. I know how hard the Belgian Club and the Norwood Legion in my riding work to ensure that their poppy campaign is a success.

We all know how important the Legion is, not only in serving our veterans but also promoting remembrance of their sacrifices along with the countless other contributions they make to communities across Canada.

That is why our Conservative government is taking a small but important step to assist the work of the Legion and its poppy campaign through a 100% rebate for any sales taxes paid on their purchases of Remembrance Day poppies and wreaths. This is the right thing to do, and the least that we can do for our veterans and their families.

As Dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Patricia Varga, recently declared:

[This measure] will mean that the funds raised by the branches for their Poppy Trust Funds will not have to go to the governments involved but will go to help veterans across Canada. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be saved by this move and those are funds that will go to help our veterans.

A third key measure from the supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy act that I would like to highlight is the crucial financial support it provides to several provinces through the temporary extension of the total transfer protection program.

As members know, our Conservative government restored fiscal balance in Canada through long-term and fair transfer support to the provinces and territories, while the previous Liberal government radically and, frankly, shamefully slashed transfer payments to provinces and territories. The next phase of the plan reinforces our Conservative government's long-standing rejection of the old Liberal government's legacy of balancing the federal budget on the backs of provinces and territories through deep transfer cuts to health care and education.

Indeed, total federal support is now at historic levels, approximately $57 billion, and will continue to grow in the years ahead. What is more, federal support for health, education, and social services has increased nearly 40% since we formed government in 2006.

In today's act, we are building on that record of strong transfer support by providing extraordinary protection to ensure several provinces have the stable support they need during the fragile global economic recovery by extending the temporary total transfer protection program to 2011-12.

This temporary program recognizes the short-term economic challenges several provinces and territories face as they emerge from the global recession by ensuring none receive less in 2011-12 than in 2010-11 from the major federal transfer programs, specifically from the combined equalization, Canada health transfer, and Canada's social transfer programs.

As such, this act authorizes nearly $1 billion in payments to the affected provinces. That is $368 million to Quebec, $275 million to my home province of Manitoba, $157 million to Nova Scotia, and $157 million to New Brunswick.

This will ensure those affected provinces have the support they need to budget for the health care, educational, and other services that Canadian families depend on. In the words of New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, expressing his appreciation for the temporary extension:

I'm pleased that our transfer payments will continue as they did last year, so that helps us with our budget planning purposes for 2011 to 2012

A fourth key measure that I would like to highlight is the financial support that the act proposes providing to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to encourage Canada's young entrepreneurs.

The Canadian Youth Business Foundation is a national non-profit organization that was founded in 1996 to help grow our economy by encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs with mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing. Since 2002, the foundation has helped young Canadians start more than 4,000 businesses, creating close to 18,000 new jobs.

Today's act would allow the foundation to continue its excellent work with an additional $20 million in support. According to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, this proposed investment alone will enable young Canadians to launch more than 1,000 new businesses. Even better, these businesses are expected to generate more than 6,700 new Canadian jobs. In the words of the foundation, that means:

—we will be able to continue growing the next generation of entrepreneurs, talented young people who create jobs for themselves and for others, strengthen our economy and nourish the entrepreneurial spirit of our communities.

This new contribution will support many more of the brilliant business ideas that young Canadians generate every year

A fifth and final measure in the act that I would like to highlight today is an important improvement to the RDSP program. Essentially, it came to the finance minister's attention last fall that the Tax Court of Canada had recently held that existing income tax law would not allow an individual to appeal a ruling concerning an individual's eligibility for the disability tax credit unless that affected the individual's tax payable. What that meant was that individuals with incomes too low to pay tax were effectively barred from establishing an RDSP, or their eligibility for the disability tax credit had not been accepted by the Canada Revenue Agency.

To promote the fair and equitable treatment of Canadians, our finance minister took swift action to allow individuals in every case to appeal a determination concerning their eligibility for the disability tax credit.

A CIBC tax professional, Jamie Colombes, observes:

This is very welcome news. Many people with a disability have very low income, and therefore have no tax owing. So, without this change, they might never have been able to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan if the CRA disagrees with their claim for disability.

Little wonder this proposal and the minister's swift action have been rightly applauded. In fact, the Toronto Star heralded that:

[The] Finance Minister...has come to the rescue of the poor and disabled.

These are just some of the key measures in the Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act.

I believe that this important bill deserves the support of the House of Commons. Moving forward is the right thing to do—the only thing, in fact—for Canadians and our economy.

To conclude, I encourage all members to continue supporting the implementation of the next phase of the economic action plan and to back the Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, we know that roughly $400 million more was needed for pensions to bring all older Canadians to just the average of what they needed.

How could this $400 million have been a threat to Canada's economic action plan? Why can we not manage and budget in a way to ensure that we can bring all of those people out of poverty and have a decent phase 2 of the economic action plan? How can we not afford both?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very concerned as well about the state of our seniors.

The budget implementation act will top up the guaranteed income supplement swiftly so that the seniors who are actually going to benefit from this new support will be able to get it by July 1. The budget implementation act is focused on these pressing issues because we are concerned that seniors will not otherwise get this money that should be available to them.

Yes, there is more to do, but I ask the member why on earth he is a member of a party that actually voted against a number of measures put forward by this Conservative government to help seniors, things like pension income splitting and reducing the GST, which actually help keep more money in the pockets of seniors. There were 120 tax measures to reduce taxes and help families keep $3,000 more in their pockets every year, and yet the NDP voted against every single measure.

I would encourage the member to take to heart what he has said here today in his question. I would ask him to please vote with us to help our seniors get out of poverty and move forward so they can live their lives with dignity.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Madam Speaker, the title of the bill refers to supporting vulnerable seniors, an issue that was raised in the 40th Parliament in December of 2010. It was the decision of the Government of Canada to eliminate the optioning provision for senior citizens who withdrew their registered retirement income funds. The government eliminated the optioning of that income, thereby preventing many seniors from receiving guaranteed income supplement benefits, or risk having their benefits dramatically reduced.

When the government's action in this regard was brought to the full attention of the House, the government rescinded its decision, or at least said that it had rescinded its decision. It noted that it was wrong to take away the benefits of the guaranteed income supplement from seniors who withdrew funds from their registered retirement income funds, and pledged that it would correct the problem.

The issue came on the back of a tax court decision called the Ward decision. The tax court ruled on when an individual was denied GIS benefits because he or she had withdrawn funds from their RRIF and the Government of Canada had withdrawn its support. Madam Ward had to take the matter to court. Regrettably, she lost. The tax court ruled that the current provisions of the Old Age Security Act as written offered the government proper recourse and authority to deny those benefits. The government said that it would change the act.

Does this budget implementation bill actually amend the Old Age Security Act to allow the withdrawal of funds from a registered retirement income fund and allow the optioning provision for the GIS and do so in accordance with the law? Yes or no?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to welcome back my colleague. It will be an interesting session for the next four and a half years.

As I said during my speech, this first budget implementation act has put together measures for some very pressing and emerging issues, measures that need to be passed before we leave, possibly on June 23 if not later. These measures are imperative because if we do not pass this bill, seniors will not get their GIS, the legions will not be able to get rebates for their poppies and wreaths. There are a number of measures that are absolutely imperative to pass before the summer break.

We are going to continue to move forward on a number of other measures in a budget implementation act in the fall. We are going to continue to push forward on our platform, and the member across the way is just going to have to wait until we get to that point.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I have been reading through the budget and paying careful attention, but I have some questions about the base statistics on which your work is done.

Most specifically, I am interested in what is commonly reported in the U.S. as the natural rate of unemployment. The U.S. Federal Reserve says that the current natural rate of unemployment in the U.S. is about 6%. Former finance ministers here have said it is about 8%.

What natural rate of unemployment are you basing the budget projections on, and can you tell me whether that natural rate is increasing or decreasing?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would ask all hon. members to direct their questions through the Speaker.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for the question as it allows me another opportunity to reflect on what just happened in May. Twenty thousand new jobs were created here in Canada. That brings our total to 560,000-plus net new jobs since we took office.

The budget implementation act, which is what we are debating here today, is actually a small version of what is in the budget. The budget implementation act was designed to push the most pressing issues forward. Unemployment is a pressing issue. However, we have to get some of these measures through by June 23, or maybe a couple of days later.

Other things that we are going to be doing on unemployment will come out in the fall. The member is just going to have to wait until we get there.

However, know this: If we proceeded, as the NDP has suggested, with raising corporate taxes, that would kill jobs, that would leave more unemployed people in Canada, that would affect families and seniors' ability to pay their bills. That is something this government will not do.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

Unfortunately, in life, we do not always get what we want. In this budget, Quebec will receive $2.2 billion as compensation for its sales tax harmonization. There is also $50 a month for our seniors as a guaranteed income supplement top-up. The Bloc Québécois would rather that amount be $110, but $50 is a first step.

The government is renewing the eco-energy program and there are tax credits for family caregivers. I do not understand how members from Quebec can vote against $2.2 billion for Quebec. I am hoping that my colleague can explain that, because I do not understand.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. We worked together during the last Parliament, and I am looking forward to working with her in the future.

There are five members from Quebec on the government side of the House of Commons who are working very hard to implement measures that will improve things in Quebec. In the bill we are debating today, there are measures to ensure that Quebec will receive money through transfers. All members from Quebec must vote for this bill to ensure that it passes quickly. Otherwise, Quebec will suffer, since it will not receive the funds allocated for the transfers in this bill.

With respect to the other measures that have to do with Quebec, we have put forward an initiative to resolve the tax harmonization issue, and it will happen in the fall. We have five members from Quebec on this side who are working on implementing measures for forestry companies, manufacturers and so on. We will continue to move forward, but the members from Quebec on the other side are not the ones who will be putting these measures in place.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I am asking for unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Welland.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

This being the opening round, the hon. member has asked for unanimous consent to share her time.

Does she have the unanimous consent of the House to do so?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill C-3, but since this is the first time I am rising to speak and give a speech here, I would like to send out special thanks to the constituents of Nanaimo--Cowichan who once again sent me back to the House. This is my fourth election and I am very appreciative of that support from my riding.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

And so are we.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

I want to thank the member for Hamilton Centre for that.

Bill C-3 is an important piece of legislation. New Democrats have indicated that they will support the bill at second reading and get it to committee and then we will determine whether we will continue to support it.

I want to spend my time today focusing on what is not in the bill.

An article from the Star in a report today by Stats Canada says that:

The recession stopped progress on poverty in its tracks, according to new data from Statistics Canada that indicates almost one in 10 Canadians is considered poor...the agency says the poverty rate edged up in 2009 to 9.6 per cent--the second straight year that poverty has grown after more than a decade of steady declines. About 3.2 million people now live in low income, including 634,000 children.

Today in question period we heard from the minister who agreed that poverty had edged up.

There are no significant measures in the budget to address poverty in this country, whether it is families living in poverty, whether it is children living in poverty or whether it is seniors living in poverty.

People would argue that there is an increase in the GIS, but that increase does not go nearly as far as what New Democrats had asked for prior to the election. We recognize that doubling the GIS for seniors would have some impact on the poverty they face.

New Democrats have done some significant work on suggesting what we can do to address poverty. I want to mention Bill C-545 from the previous sitting of the House, which was introduced by Tony Martin, the former member for Sault Ste. Marie. Anybody who knows Tony knows it has been his life's work to raise the consciousness in Canada around poverty and the impact that it has on our communities and our families. He worked with a number of organizations to introduce his bill called an act to eliminate poverty in Canada. We have a template here for the government. It does not have to go out and reinvent it.

I will not read the whole bill of course into the record, but I am going to talk about a couple of things.

What is poverty? As described in this act:

--poverty is the condition of a human being who does not have the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain economic self-reliance and to facilitate their integration into and participation in society--

It also says:

--the federal government, through constitutional and legislative amendments has direct involvement in the reduction of poverty and plays a central role in programs providing social protection and income security, including pensions, the Canada Social Transfer, the Old Age Security Program, child benefits and employment insurance benefits--

It also talks about the fact that there are many provincial governments and municipalities that either have poverty reduction strategies in place or are working toward implementing them.

The purpose of this act is to impose on the federal government the obligation to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy for poverty elimination and consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and aboriginal governments and civil society organizations. It was specific.

Then it outlined what this poverty and promotional social inclusion strategy would include. I am not going to read them all but there are a couple of key points. It includes the measures necessary to prevent people from falling into poverty, reduce the incidence, depth and duration of poverty and improve the situation of all people currently living in poverty, including those living in deep poverty or poverty of long duration and those who have multiple needs.

It says it includes measures to provide income security and access to housing, includes measures to promote the involvement of Canadians in determining and implementing the solutions to poverty, determine an acceptable measurement of poverty for Canada and sets out targets to eliminate poverty in Canada in the short term of 1 to 3 years, the medium term of 4 to 7 years and in the long term of 8 years or more. There are many more points under this.

It is distressing when we hear members talking about the fact that the 634,000 children in Canada are living in poverty. I have to remind us all that when we are talking about children, we are talking about children and their families. It is not just children. They do not live in isolation. They live with mothers, or fathers, or brothers, or sisters. So it is important.

In 1989, we had Ed Broadbent's motion in this House to eliminate child and family poverty by the year 2000, and many of us of course have worked with campaign 2000 around the fact that we have missed that target consistently since 2000.

Once again, this budget implementation act and the budget that was introduced by the government was an opportunity to take some steps, some measurable steps, toward eliminating child and family poverty in this country and the government has failed to do that.

Just in case people think that there has not been substantial work done on this, I want to refer to the “Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership Towards Reducing Poverty in Canada”, produced by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. I only wish I had the time to read in all of the good works that are in this report. The report is the accumulation of numerous committee meetings, numerous testimonies by organizations that worked with people living in poverty, by people in poverty themselves, by aboriginal organizations. Many organizations came forward to talk about what the reality is for Canadians who simply do not have enough resources to pay their rent, to feed their children, to clothe their children, to even dream of being able to save money so that their children could have a university or a college education. Many of those stories were heartbreaking.

In my former role as aboriginal affairs critic, I am very familiar with the poverty that is facing first nations, Métis and Inuit in this country.

Sadly, I cannot read all of the recommendations in the report, but I will mention two. Recommendation 3.1.1 says:

...the federal government immediately commit to a federal action plan to reduce poverty in Canada that would see, during its first phase, the implementation of the recommendations in this report.

This action plan should incorporate a human rights framework and provide for consultations with the provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal governments and organizations, the public and private sector, and people living in poverty, as needed, to ensure an improvement in the lives of impoverished people.

I specifically want to cite Recommendation 6.2.5, which could have been included in the budget and in the Budget Implementation Act, which states:

The Committee recommends that the federal government increase the budget for social economy initiatives and that this increased funding be used to promote job creation among low-income individuals, especially those who face serious barriers finding and securing a job.

The work has been done. The studies have been done. In fact, the legislation has been written under the old Bill C-545 . It is troubling when we see a lack of response to the serious poverty issues in this country.

I want to turn to a report by the Citizens for Public Justice because this puts some numbers to it. I know sometimes numbers put people to sleep, but I think these are important numbers.

In this report, called “Bearing the Brunt: How the 2008-2009 Recession Created Poverty for Canadian Families”. It says, under the heading “Poverty and child poverty rate”: “After the last recession, it took 14 years for the poverty rate to return to its pre-recession level”.

We are not only dealing with the current poverty in this country, but we are looking toward many years of this playing out.

It also states: “Without a poverty elimination strategy, the poverty rate in Canada will continue to rise and fall with the economic cycle. It will take a concerted effort to eradicate poverty in Canada”.

I know many on the New Democrat side come from social justice backgrounds and we think it is important, that Canada has the resources and it should have the political will to develop a poverty reduction strategy.

Let me just touch on the heading “Unemployment and Employment Insurance” for a moment. Under the subheading “Unemployment”, it states: “Job losses during the recession disproportionately affected those most economically vulnerable, as 1 in 4 workers making $10 an hour or less lost their job”.

It went on to talk about the erosion of the social safety net, how:

The recession revealed the inadequacy of EI as a social safety net.

Despite a rise in EI coverage, almost half of the unemployed did not receive benefits.

Canadians who did receive EI benefits were living in poverty unless they had another household source of income.

As many as 500,000 Canadians have exhausted their EI benefits without finding new work.

Of course we hear the job creation numbers touted in this House. What people fail to talk about is many of those jobs created were part-time, seasonal contract jobs.

Although we will be supporting this to go to second reading, it is a sad comment that we did not take this opportunity to address the poverty issues and develop a national poverty reduction strategy in this country.

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite if she plans to vote for this Budget Implementation Act?

I believe and I know that the seniors who live in Mississauga South have told me that they are anxious to receive the increase on the guaranteed income supplement. Without passing this budget, that will not happen by July 1.

I would like to ask the member opposite if her poverty strategies and her concern for poverty include the seniors in Mississauga South as well as the seniors all across Canada who want and need that increase to the guaranteed income supplement, which we will be providing if we pass this budget implementation bill?