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House of Commons Hansard #13 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the role that small business plays not only in providing neighbourhood goods and services but also in supporting and servicing larger businesses, in particular, is very important to our Canadian economy.

What is completely unacceptable is how the government has turned a blind eye to the massive de-industrialization of our manufacturing sector, which has not only destroyed innovation and jobs in that sector but has also had a devastating effect on the many thousands of small businesses and related jobs in the service sector, which has seen large manufacturers ship jobs out of this country.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the whole idea of urban revitalization that the member referred to, particularly the community commercial strips and the important role small businesses play in their revitalization.

In my own area, I look at areas like Selkirk Avenue and the role private businesses have to play there. Providing tax incentives and reducing taxes gives more opportunity for many of those small businesses to participate in revitalization.

I would look to the member to comment on that area.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do believe that the economic development provided by small businesses does lead to urban revitalization.

Where there are thriving businesses, there are thriving communities. When the small business sector creates jobs and opens up avenues for employment, they beautify the streets and create economic activity. It gives people a chance to gain employment and it can lead to the revitalization of an entire neighbourhood.

That is why I believe that business improvement associations are so important in marshaling the resources of businesses to improve their neighbourhoods.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, several times today we have heard questioners from other parties claiming that the NDP does not really understand business, does not have a history of business and is not fiscally responsible. I have heard quite a few comments and jokes about dubious assumptions.

In 2009, the federal Department of Finance published a report, which is available, analyzing provincial governments across Canada from 1986 to 2009. It showed that NDP provincial governments were the best across Canada. In 51% of the years, they had balanced budgets. The Conservatives were number two. Liberals were worst of all at 30%.

I would ask the member for Parkdale—High Park why are there these myths about fiscally irresponsible NDPers, which get thrashed about repeatedly here?

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for pointing out the myth, because it is well documented that the New Democratic Party has the best record for prudent fiscal management, as published by the finance department of the Government of Canada.

We welcome that reputation and important record.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, the great parliamentary secretary who works with us.

It is with great pleasure that I rise to support a call for tax cuts from the socialist NDP, as unbelievable as that may be. Unlike the tax-and-spend NDP opposition, we truly believe Canadian families and businesses should not pay higher taxes.

Our Conservative government has been a strong supporter of lower taxes and has clearly demonstrated this since taking office in 2006.

We understand that lower taxes make our economy stronger and create good, long-term jobs for today and tomorrow. That is why we are delivering historic tax relief and cutting taxes in every way that government collects them, from personal taxes to consumption taxes, to business and excise taxes, and others.

Since 2006, in fact, we have had an outstanding record of cutting over 120 taxes. We reduced the GST. We increased the amount Canadians earn tax free. We introduced pension income splitting. We introduced important tax credits like the Canada employment credit, the working income tax benefit, the child tax credit and much more. We have reduced the overall tax burden to its lowest level in more than 50 years, including by removing over one million low-income Canadians from the tax roll. We have built on our legacy of tax relief by reducing taxes on savings via our the landmark tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP.

Overall, the total savings for a typical family are over $3,000, leaving more money in Canadian families' pockets, where it is most needed and where it belongs.

Tax freedom day, the day Canadians start working for themselves after paying off all their taxes to all levels of government, has come earlier and earlier under this government. In 2005, under the tax-and-spend Liberals, tax freedom day was on June 26. However, after more than 120 tax reductions by our government, including the reduction in the GST from 7% to 5% and the introduction of the tax-free savings account and pension income splitting, the savings for a typical family are over $3,000 a year. As a result, tax freedom day now comes on June 6 this year, more than two weeks or some 20 days earlier.

Our Conservative government's clear and positive record of allowing Canadians to keep much more of their own hard-earned money is great news and one of our proudest achievements.

Our record also includes giving Canadian job-creating businesses more freedom to create jobs and make further investments by improving their tax competitiveness. That includes by reducing business taxes, eliminating the federal capital tax, providing tax relief to our manufacturing sectors, and more and more and more.

We also recognize the vital role that small business plays in the economy and job creation. That is why, since 2006, we have also lowered their tax bill to help them succeed, such as by reducing the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, increasing the amount of income eligible for the lower small business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000, and increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption for small businesses from $500,000 to $750,000.

Building on our record, we are doing more to help small businesses. For instance, in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a plan that every person in this Parliament should support, we announced the new hiring credit that will encourage some 525,000 small Canadian businesses to hire new employees with a one-year EI break.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has welcomed it:

CFIB is extremely pleased to see its top budget priority--an EI Hiring Credit for Small Business--announced in the 2011 budget....this credit will be a major help to small firms in growing their workforce.

While our Conservative government has a strong and proven record of lowering taxes for Canadian families, seniors and businesses, especially small businesses, the NDP's record is dramatically different.

The socialist NDP and the NDP members of Parliament have a proven record of pushing a high-tax agenda by voting no again and again in the House of Commons to our Conservative government's initiatives to lower the tax burden. The NDP voted against reducing the GST. The NDP voted against pension income splitting. The NDP voted against reducing the small business tax rate. The NDP voted against the small business hiring credit. The NDP voted against our tax relief for families and businesses each and every time.

Even more troubling, the socialist NDP has repeatedly protested and mocked our efforts to leave more money with everyday Canadian families and businesses.

What is more, public statements by the socialist NDP leader and members of Parliament clearly underline their fundamental belief that Canadian families and businesses should be forced to send more of their hard-earned money to government.

Here are just a few examples:

The NDP leader has declared, “Tax cuts that have no basis in terms of moving the economy forward, such as the GST proposal...are not the wise choice now”.

The NDP member for Hamilton Mountain bemoaned, “The Prime Minister is picking up the [tax fighter] mantle...The Conservatives are intent on taking us in the wrong direction”. Imagine, tax cuts in the wrong direction. Who would figure?

The NDP MP for Victoria complained, “The Conservatives have a single-minded obsession with tax cuts that is not shared by the majority of Canadians...all they’ve delivered are tax cuts”.

The election on May 2 actually proved something totally different from that thought. It makes one wonder.

Even worse, while our government is promoting positive economic policies that would give businesses more freedom to grow and create even more Canadian jobs, the NDP has been promoting negative job-killing economic policies.

In a telling moment, even the NDP member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, the sponsor of today's motion, sheepishly and stunningly admitted publicly, “There are elements in our party that have not been adequately concerned about the health and growth of businesses”.

Specifically, they are targeting job-creating businesses with massive business tax hikes along with massive EI and CPP premium increases.

First, as businesses try to rebuild and recover from the recession, the NDP wants to slap a huge $10 billion a year tax hike on them, something that would hit small businesses very hard. A $10 billion a year NDP tax hike would mean losing good Canadian jobs and jeopardizing the financial security of hard-working Canadians.

Small businesses know that Canadians cannot afford that. They know they cannot afford higher taxes and cannot afford the job-killing policies of the NDP.

Despite what the NDP says, small businesses strongly stated their objections with the NDP's tax hike plan during the recent election campaign. Here is what Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said, “--an awful lot of medium-sized companies that will also be affected by the tax hike”. She added that cutting corporate tax rates will help small-business, small firms and that they are very supportive of continuing the reduction in corporate income tax.

Second, small businesses are extremely concerned with the NDP plan to hike EI and CPP premiums. As we all know, the NDP is a strong supporter of a 45-day work year, something that would drastically increase EI premiums by a whopping 35%, and other legislation to dramatically expand EI as demonstrated last fall.

Here is what the CFIB said at the time:

To have Liberal, NDP and Bloc MPs all support a private members' bill to dramatically increase the generosity of EI benefits is troubling to say the least. This bill would drastically increase EI rates as people would qualify for incredibly generous benefits after only nine weeks of full-time work. [This would] make it harder for businesses to hire skilled workers...It's totally irresponsible--

Even worse, the NDP wants to dramatically increase CPP premiums by doubling them. Again listen to what the CFIB had to say about that, “NDP talk of doubling CPP benefits would mean increased premiums and a heavy hit on small business payroll costs”.

While our Conservative government is focused on keeping taxes low and helping create jobs, the socialist NDP wants to raise taxes and kill jobs despite today's platitudes.

People in my constituency have seen NDP policies at work. We have seen our kids move away. We have seen jobs go to Alberta. It is amazing that after four years the province of Saskatchewan, with a population of one million people, all of a sudden announced today that the population is at 1,054,000 just because the proper polices were in place for taxation, just for allowing businesses to grow, just for allowing businesses to expand, and just by saying it is open for business. Saskatchewan has seen what the NDP can do. It has also seen what can happen when proper polices are put in place, and the population growth has definitely proven that.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely surprised today. I must admit, I did not take economics 101, but if I were to take it, I would want someone from this side of the House to teach it. I was listening to the minister's brilliant presentation earlier and he was talking about countries where businesses have more freedom and pay less taxes. I wonder whether he was talking about Ireland, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, or the United States, which might default on its payments and see its credit rating fall if the two houses cannot agree on increasing the debt ceiling. Do they have any examples of what they are talking about? They seem to be strong in economics across the way.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, we do not have to look too far, we just need to look in the mirror here in Canada to see what happens when we bring about responsible spending and responsible tax cuts.

Look at the jobs that have been created in the last couple of years just by having good, progressive tax cuts, again, still maintaining a goal to balancing our budget, still maintaining the fact that we want to be a prudent spender of taxpayers' money, but again, we are allowing business to grow. Businesses hire people. People spend money. It is great for the economy. It is great for families. That is how we end up with a strong family.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have dealt extensively with the CFIB. It says:

While Canada may have weathered the recent economic downturn better than most, we did not escape without our fair share of scrapes and bruises.

It goes on to say:

In the rush to stimulate the economy, our government sank further and further into debt. While a few did manage to spend within their means, the majority accelerated a pattern of overspending that predated the economic downturn.

I quoted that because the hon. member quoted extensively from the CFIB. I would not want to give the impression to Canadians watching this that it is working for the Conservative government.

I do want to talk to the hon. member about the 45-day work week. He mentioned in his speech about how people are moving to Alberta. I am not sure if he mentioned that as a negative impact toward his community, but if we diminish this 45-day work week initiative when it comes to seasonal work, then these people will be moving even more.

Seasonal work has a cyclical pattern throughout much of rural Canada, and with that kind of attitude, it could get worse for seasonal workers.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must have misheard me. They are actually moving back from Alberta.

Under the NDP government and its policies kids from Saskatchewan could not find a job there, so they went to Alberta to work. Now, under a good Conservative-style government with good tax policy, the kids are coming back from Alberta and they are growing the economy. The Saskatchewan unemployment rate is less than 5%. It is one of the best in the country. That is reality when we have good, proper taxing and spending.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Prince Albert mentioned that he had a provincial NDP government he had to deal with. We had one in Ontario in the early 1990s, led by the current leader of the Liberal Party. We used to have a saying in Ontario: “How does an individual start a small business in Ontario? One buys a medium-sized one and wait”.

I am just wondering if Saskatchewan had the same experience when it had a provincial NDP government.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

That is very interesting, Mr. Speaker, and yes, I would have to say we did have that experience. We did not even see the medium-sized companies form in Saskatchewan. They just decided to boycott us altogether.

The companies in Calgary sure love Saskatchewan because all our bright and wonderful kids under the NDP government went to Calgary and made their fortune. Those are the ones who are coming back and spending money in Saskatchewan.

There is no comparison between the city of Saskatoon under the NDP government and the city today. The small towns in Saskatchewan today are actually growing, whereas under the NDP government, people were trying to figure out how to get out of them as quickly as possible.

It is clear the policies of the NDP are outdated and did serious damage to the economy of Saskatchewan. We should not go down that road. We cannot afford it here in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly glad to have the opportunity to stand here today and speak to the motion regarding small business taxation and our Conservative government's strong economic record, especially in this area.

Since forming government in 2006, we have focused on lowering taxes for families; seniors; businesses, especially small businesses; and everyday Canadians. However, before I continue, let me be clear. Our record of aggressive tax relief for Canadians did not come easily.

As we all know, we had a minority government. We had to fight the socialist NDP every step of the way. The NDP has opposed and voted against every one of our budgets from 2006 to 2011. It has proudly voted against all 120 of our tax cuts and it has repeatedly criticized our tax cutting measures.

My colleagues quoted this earlier, but I think it does bear repeating because it was very important and it speaks to the perspective, when the NDP MP for Windsor—Tecumseh said:

--it is important for us to look at the policies the government has implemented since it has been in power, and in particular the Conservatives' absolute obsession with their ideology around the importance of tax cuts to move economic development forward in this country.

Our record speaks for itself as the best recovery from the global economic recession. We are standing in a great position. We have 560,000 new jobs created in this country. It is a fantastic record showing that our tax cuts and our economic action plan are working.

When it comes to taxes, the NDP record is clear. It will vote for high taxes time and again. From voting against cuts to the GST, not once but twice, to voting against tax cuts for small businesses, the NDP high tax agenda is in sharp contrast to our Conservative government's record, a record that I would like to share with the House, especially for the new members who may be unaware of some of the really important measures and again some of the measures that their party actually voted against.

However, before I highlight the examples of our strong action to lower taxes since 2006, I would like to inform the House that we are supporting the motion for one simple reason: we do support lower taxes for Canadians.

In terms of our record, we have shown a great tax track record. We have cut taxes in every way government collects them: personal, consumption, business, excise, and more. We have cut over 120 taxes since 2006 all total, leaving $3,000 more in the pockets of families where it belongs. We have removed one million low-income Canadians completely from the tax rolls. We have lowered the GST not once, but twice, 7% to 6% to 5%. We have introduced tax credits like the child's art tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit, family caregiver tax credit, volunteer firefighter tax credit, Canada employment tax credit, the working income tax benefit, and the child tax credit and many more.

We have not only lowered taxes in every way the government collects them, we have also introduced the tax free savings account to encourage Canadians to save more. Overall, we have reduced the tax burden on Canadians to the lowest level in nearly 50 years.

While we have been leaving more of Canadians' hard-earned money in their pockets, we have also given business more freedom to grow, especially small business. As we all know, small business is the backbone of our economy. Their entrepreneurialism fosters the growth in jobs that so many Canadians depend on for their livelihood. We all recognize the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice that each small business owner has made each and every single day. That is why our government declared 2011 the year of the entrepreneur.

The Conservative government's commitment and dedication to small businesses is demonstrated through the tax relief we have provided them since 2006 to encourage their growth, success and prosperity. The record is as impressive as it is long.

Among the highlights, we have reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%. We have also increased the amount of income eligible for the lower small business tax rate, from $300,000 to $400,000 to $500,000. That has been a hugely important measure for those small businesses who would have jumped into that 16%, 17%, 18% bracket. They can use it to grow their businesses even better. We have increased the lifetime capital gains for small businesses from $500,000 to $750,000, the first increase since 1988.

However, our Conservative government recognizes there is always more to do to assist small businesses and encourage growth. That is why in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan we announced a number of new measures that support small business, such as the temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage more growth in the sector. This will encourage some 525,000 Canadian small businesses to hire new employees with a one-year EI break and one that has been welcomed by small business and others in Canada.

In the words of the Toronto Board of Trade:

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

We are also making it easier for small business to work with the tax system which can be overwhelming and extremely frustrating.

Specifically, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan includes important steps to improve the provision of information, enhance service, reduce administrative burden and increase taxpayer fairness for businesses dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency. One example, and I am really pleased as the parliamentary secretary for national revenue, is we have now ensured that businesses get written electronic answers to their written queries. This was warmly welcomed by small business in Canada.

In the words of Catherine Swift of Canada Federation of Independent Business:

Requiring CRA to provide written interpretation on tax inquiries when requested through CRA's online window will bring a significant improvement in transparency and accountability....In this Year of the Entrepreneur, the government took several important steps to help small businesses spend less time focusing on red tape and spend more time creating jobs and growing their firms.

As a member of the red tape commission, I have seen many positive steps there.

We have announced $3 million in annual ongoing support to make BizPaL permanent.

Just yesterday we voted on Bill C-3 in which we committed $20 million to support the Canadian Youth Business Foundation's activities to ensure that young entrepreneurs had the support and resources to make their dreams of becoming a business owner possible through mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing. Again, I want to point out that this important measure was actually voted against by the opposition.

There is really so much to say in terms of the many things that we have done to support small business. I will leave it here and look forward to some questions.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I clearly heard the member opposite from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor twice use profane language during the former speech by the member from our side of the House, which I believe to be unparliamentary language. I think he should apologize.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There is no doubt that profane language is certainly a contravention of the Standing Orders. I did not hear what was said. I do recall hearing some chatter from that end of the House. We can certainly take a look at the record and see if anything shows up there, unless the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor has something to add.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I did say something and to say it was slightly off-colour is probably an understatement. I want to apologize to her. I want to apologize to all members of the House and to anybody who picked it up on the television broadcast. I sincerely apologize.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague's comments in reference to my party and some of the things we had done.

I am not sure what she has against lowering the small business tax from 11% to 9%. She talked eloquently about the reduction from 12% to 11%, which is 1% for small and medium-sized business and which we all agree is the engine of this economy. Yet the government is willing to give 5%, 6% and 7% to large business that by all accounts do not create any jobs.

In fact, in my municipality, large businesses take the jobs elsewhere. John Deere is a prime example. It received the tax cut from this level of government and it went to Mexico. Henniges is going to Mexico. I am glad the government gave that corporation a break. I just wish it had created jobs in my community.

Then again, there was the collusion between the current government and the last government. When it came to the $57 billion in the EI account that the last government pilfered, it took the last remaining $2 billion. Then we asked that it be put it back, it was just simply washed off the board.

What is the intent of the government? It is to raise EI. So for those workers who get the one-year holiday, they have the rest of their life to continue to pay higher EI, courtesy of the Conservative government, to get less benefit.

I can see the economic action plan is not working for workers, Canadians or families. Indeed, what we are seeing is somebody is getting the money and somebody is getting the shaft.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear a question in all of that, but I will take the opportunity to perhaps respond to some of the comments.

First, our government absolutely supports the motion for lower taxes. We believe it is important for large businesses to be competitive as well as small businesses. I will contrast that with the plan for CPP and the 45-day work week and how that would impact our small businesses in such a negative way.

Small businesses know they can count on our government to move them forward.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the government has made the decision to support this motion, and I applaud its support. However, it has adopted a policy wherein the home revitalization tax credit is only available for one year. Does the government not see the merit for small businesses by making a more genuine commitment, let us say five years, to that program to assist small businesses?

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are really happy to have announced in the budget the extension of the home eco-energy grant. It is a very popular and I think many people look forward to it. People have called my office asking many questions about it. It is a very warmly-received move by the government. In terms of the budget, we look forward to implementing it.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member's speech, which I thought was outstanding. I also listened to the rhetoric of the NDP member who spoke a few minutes ago. It was a complete mischaracterization of tax policy.

We know the NDP is simply not being open and transparent about this. It would propose to reduce the marginal tax rate, while increasing taxes that employers pay, whether they are profitable or not.

I am going to give my hon. colleague an opportunity to respond to this because she knows employers pay more to EI than employees do, in fact 140%, and they pay CPP. NDP members stand regularly calling for higher CPP premiums. Do they understand that small businesses pay that whether they are making money or not and how punitive that is on families?

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for raising that really important issue. I know he has been a small business owner and truly understands not only the impact of the small business tax rate but looks at the whole picture. He knows the government needs to look at the whole picture, whether it be CPP, EI or the tax rate.

Again, I welcome the NDP to this new-found desire to help business and I look forward to it continuing.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for choosing me as their federal member of Parliament on May 2. It is a great honour. Since my constituents want change, both in the riding and in Ottawa, they will not regret voting for the NDP, the party of workers and families.

The motion we are proposing today is more than necessary. Not only are small businesses key to the Canadian economy, they are also a pillar of the local and regional economy; more specifically, they are the future of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean's economy. Year after year, we have been losing more and more people from my region, particularly young people who leave the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region to go and make a life elsewhere, in large centres like Quebec City and Montreal. For example, our last regional migration report indicated that 396 people had left the area. All these people decided to move because they were unable to find work in their field in the region or because wages are higher in big cities.

I cannot blame them for wanting to improve their living conditions and earn more money. However, it is unacceptable that, in 2011, young people cannot establish a career in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region, have a family and live there happily until they retire. That is why, from the first day of my election campaign, I chose the economic diversification of the region as one of my top three priorities. This is achieved through the creation and expansion of small and medium-sized businesses.

In my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, many SMEs are locally based and contribute to the economic development of the region. Take, for example, Cycles Devinci, a company that manufactures high-end bicycles using various aluminum products. Among other things, this company manufactures the famous BIXI bikes that allow city dwellers all over the world to benefit from an excellent self-service bicycle rental system.

There is also Coderr-02, a social economy enterprise in Alma that works in various sectors: waste material management, development and, soon, tourism. They also offer placements for people not participating in the workforce. There is also the Fromagerie Boivin, a family-run business in La Baie, which has been making Canadian cheddar since 1939 and recently won a contract with Kraft to produce Amooza cheese. According to Fromagerie Boivin, this new partnership will create 25 to 30 new jobs in the area. That is something to be proud of as a regional SME.

All of these businesses are invaluable and the government should provide them with the means to ensure their growth. Businesses must be created, and this is important because they not only create jobs but they also renew the national and regional industrial structure. Entrepreneurship also curbs poverty and provides social opportunities. According to the Quebec entrepreneurship strategy, funding is often a deciding factor when it comes to starting up and developing a new business. Without these resources, SMEs such as Trimoz, a business in Alma that is implementing a recruitment concept that is unique to Canada; Eckinox Média, which specializes in graphics and media solutions; and Coopérative de solidarité V.E.R.T.E., a new SME in Saguenay that runs two inns, and offers outdoor adventure packages and adventure tourism in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, would not be able to develop and become competitive.

There must be tax cuts for small businesses to encourage the creation of long-term jobs. To have strong SMEs creating wealth and jobs in our regions, it is of the utmost importance to support SMEs in the start-up and development phases. The first five years are the toughest for these small businesses and entrepreneurs who have the courage to start a business in order to improve the economic prosperity of their communities.

If the government is serious about wanting to encourage entrepreneurs to create wealth and jobs, it has to fully support the assistance measures offered to new businesses. That includes technical assistance, venture capital, micro-credit, etc. It is imperative to offer fertile ground, here, in the regions, to allow our SMEs to be born, to grow and to prosper. This implies collective sharing of the risk involved in innovation. We all know the expression “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Let us not forget that, in a context of market globalization, Canadian small businesses are facing major challenges. They have to remain competitive in a market where they frequently have to compete with much larger players throughout the world.

Although small businesses are the biggest job creators in the Canadian market—we cannot say that enough—they are the victims of fiscal injustice and unfair competition. Small and medium sized enterprises support the so-called mass market. That is why we must support them in order to ensure stability within the Canadian economy.

Given that 72% of the exporting businesses in Canada have less than 50 employees and produce a third of all exports, it is more than necessary to take immediate action to support these businesses. For once, could we simply give them resources without trying to take them back with the other hand?

The Conservatives are prepared to cut corporate taxes yet again. The Conservatives feel sorry for the major oil companies and think they deserve to be subsidized to the tune of $2 billion a year. But when the NDP calls on the government to give small and medium-sized businesses room to manoeuvre by cutting their taxes by a measly 2%, the government says no. Again, SMEs create half the new jobs in Canada.

This same government that claims to want to stimulate economic growth and job creation is suddenly no longer able to provide tax support to these companies that could hire a new employee at the end of the year because of their lower tax rate.

Why is the government abandoning the SMEs that are fighting to save every dollar to make small businesses profitable, increase their sales and hire more people from their community?

SMEs in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean need help. We know that, unlike large corporations, small businesses reinvest their profits in the local economy. Does the Conservative government not agree that this reinvestment in the local economy is what will enable us to strengthen Canada's fragile economic recovery?

Small- and medium-sized businesses are also known for creating lasting jobs because, during an economic slowdown, they are more likely to hold onto their employees. SME owners have humane values and principles. They are not obsessed by profit at any cost. They know that if they fire an employee, that family will go without an income and its financial situation will worsen. That family might even live in their neighbourhood. These entrepreneurs make sacrifices for the well-being of their community, and the least the government could do is support them.

When I look at the economic measures in the Conservative budget, I am disappointed. As a citizen, I am disappointed that the government does not have its priorities straight. I am disappointed because I can picture myself as a business owner who must be wondering why his own government refuses to give him the help he needs to support his business. As a parliamentarian, I am disappointed that the Conservative budget left out an excellent proposal put forth by the NDP to reduce taxes for SMEs by 2%.

From an environmental standpoint, the Conservatives are widely considered a complete disappointment, but never would I have expected them to be so out of touch with reality when it comes to economic diversification and support for SMEs. When is this government going to support small businesses? When will it really support the businesses that create jobs?

The problem we have now is with the redistribution of tax revenues. All too often, they are lining the pockets of the largest corporations, which, we can all agree, do not need them as much in order to prosper. That is why it is so crucial to lower taxes for small businesses in order to spur growth and job creation in the business sector. The government absolutely must recognize the role of small businesses in the Canadian economy, and it needs to act now.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Hillyer Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I feel that any talk from a socialist party about supporting business is just not believable. Saying that we love small businesses but hate large corporations is a little bit like saying that we love eggs but we do not like chickens.

Where will we get all this funding for small businesses if we are hostile to the large businesses? They will leave the country with their huge tax base, along with all the jobs that will surely be lost if they leave. Someone has to pay the piper. All the tax breaks in the world will not help a small business if the economy is a disaster.

Opposition Motion—Small BusinessesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the Conservative member that the NDP supports wealth creation. However, unlike our Conservative colleagues, we support the redistribution of this wealth in society.

Thus, we would provide more assistance to small businesses than to big businesses, because SMEs create more than half of all the new jobs in Canada. In addition, these same small businesses reinvest more in their local economy and hire local people, no matter where they are located in Canada.

For that reason, we do not necessarily want to tax big businesses more. We want to make small businesses the priority, because big businesses and the major oil companies receive enough tax cuts and subsidies these days.