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House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

(The House resumed at 4 p.m.)

Sitting ResumedPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. It being 4 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Ways and Means Proceedings No. 1 concerning the budget presentation.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2011 / 4 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

moved:

That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying on March 22....

I rise today to table before this House budget 2011, a low tax plan for jobs and growth, a plan to ensure Canada will remain on the right track for economic growth and jobs.

As I said in this House less than three months ago, implementing the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan will preserve Canada’s advantage in the global economy, strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families, and provide the stability necessary to secure our recovery in an uncertain world.

It is my hope that the members of this House will now move quickly to implement this job-creating plan.

We are on the right track with nearly 540,000 jobs created since July 2009, the height of the global economic recession, and seven quarters of positive GDP growth.

Our job creation is the envy of other advanced countries, with job growth concentrated in full-time positions in relatively high wage industries. While that is positive news, too many Canadians are still looking for work and the global economic recovery remains fragile.

By supporting this plan, hon. members will echo the most essential endorsement of all: the backing of Canadians themselves.

Through their votes last month, their voices have been heard and they said yea to the economic plan that was put before them. Canadians gave this government their support for job creation and efforts that will help businesses and entrepreneurs succeed.

Canadians provided their backing for targeted measures that will help them find and hold onto good, high-paying, private-sector jobs, while improving the quality of life of Canadians in communities big and small.

Canadians endorsed an economic strategy that would help Canada’s seniors secure a dignified and hard-earned retirement, through an enhancement to the guaranteed income supplement, and new tax support for Canadians making selfless sacrifices to care for a loved one.

Canadians said yes to a disciplined and measured plan to control government spending and eliminate the deficit. We humbly thank Canadians for the trust they placed in us last month.

The next phase of Canada’s economic action plan is unwavering evidence that this government will honour the commitments we made to Canadians.

Today I am presenting, again, the important commitments our government made on March 22. The updated budget includes all the measures that were part of the previous budget. It also includes two additional commitments we made to Canadians since March 22.

We have made a provision in 2011-2012 for $2.2 billion in support of the conclusion of a satisfactory sales tax harmonization agreement between Canada and Quebec.

Also, at a time of fiscal restraint and as part of our goal to continue to strengthen government integrity and accountability, we will gradually phase out the quarterly allowances for political parties.

For the most part, however, parliamentarians who took the time to read the March budget will be familiar with what we are pledging to do today.

To support job creation, for example, this budget includes our intention to introduce a one-time hiring credit for small business. It will provide an EI break for some 525,000 small businesses, reduce payroll costs, encourage hiring and give companies and the employees who work for them the boost they need to fully contribute to the nation’s economic recovery.

This budget also includes a two-year extension of the temporary 50%, straight-line accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment, incenting our businesses to invest, improve productivity and stay competitive.

In the still-uncertain global climate, many businesses remain hesitant to hire and expand. In the Year of the Entrepreneur, we are creating the environment for the private sector to invest again and take its rightful place as the engine of the Canadian economy.

Creating the environment necessary for our businesses to thrive also requires assisting hard-working Canadians as they make the most of the opportunities ahead.

As was the case in March, the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan will support Canadian families across the country.

This support includes: providing additional support for a work-sharing program that has helped more than 277,000 workers; renewing two special EI measures to assist Canadians in their search for a job, support worth $420 million over 12 months; extending the targeted initiative for older workers program until 2013-14, ensuring older workers have access to training and employment programs that will prepare them for new careers; supporting the helmets to hardhats program to assist the brave veterans who offer up their lives to protect our country by helping them find work in the construction industry when they leave our armed services; supporting the courage of volunteer firefighters who risk their lives to protect ours by establishing a new volunteer firefighters tax credit; and easing the financial burden of young Canadians preparing to assume their rightful place in tomorrow’s economy by enhancing and expanding eligibility for Canada student loans and grants for both full and part-time post-secondary students.

Part of helping hard-working Canadians, of course, is keeping their taxes low as they try to make ends meet. This commitment explains why the average family of four now receives almost $3,100 in extra tax savings thanks to the numerous tax reduction measures introduced by this government. It also explains why the federal tax burden for all Canadians is now the lowest it has been in 50 years.

We are building on that low tax commitment even further through the measures being tabled today.

Today’s budget takes action to help our most vulnerable seniors, who have worked hard their entire lives building a better community and a better Canada.

To provide greater support to those seniors most in need, we will provide a top-up benefit to the guaranteed income supplement. This is an affordable new measure that will provide up to $600 extra per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for senior couples.

It will lead to greater financial security for more than 680,000 seniors across the country.

This of course is on top of actions this government has taken that are already providing $2.3 billion in additional tax relief to seniors and pensioners right now in this fiscal year, measures like pension income splitting, increases in the age credit amount and a doubling of the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income credit.

For those Canadians coping with the added responsibility of caring for infirm parents or other relatives, we are introducing a family caregiver tax credit in the amount of $2,000 that will benefit more than 500,000 Canadians.

On top of that, we are recognizing the often substantial costs incurred by caregivers by removing the $10,000 limit on eligible medical expenses that can be claimed under the tax system in respect of a financially-dependent relative.

Our government is also investing $400 million to extend the eco-energy retrofit homes program for this fiscal year, giving Canadian families more time to take advantage of grants of up to $5,000 to offset the cost of making their homes energy efficient.

We are also helping families lower the cost of nurturing the next budding Canadian artist by establishing a new children's arts tax credit covering up to $500 per child in qualifying expenses for eligible arts or cultural activities.

These measures that I have mentioned are as essential now as they were when they were first introduced in the House.

We introduced Canada’s economic action plan to meet the worst global recession since the 1930s head-on.

The plan worked, as evidenced by one of the strongest economic recoveries in the G7 and the strongest employment growth since the depths of the downturn.

Now, through the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan, we are rolling up our sleeves to take on our next challenge, as we complete the transition from providing temporary stimulus to winding it down, to eliminating the deficit and returning to balanced budgets.

The cornerstone of the updated budget tabled today, just like the one tabled on March 22, is strong fiscal management. That budget included the strategic and operating review designed to realize substantial savings through greater efficiency and effectiveness.

With the backing we have received from Canadians on May 2 to guide us, we will now launch that review so that once it is completed we will achieve $4 billion in annual savings and allow the government to return to a balanced budget by 2014-15, one year earlier than previously planned. These substantial savings will be reported on and recorded in budget 2012 when the review is completed.

This is a responsible, credible approach, one that is consistent with the careful fiscal management that has been the hallmark of this government's approach to public finances.

A month ago the people spoke. Through their democratic power they clearly signalled the need for principled, stable government at this challenging but promising moment in our nation’s history.

The Canadian voters guide us as we reintroduce the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan. We owe it to them to deliver the economic stewardship Canadians expect and deserve.

Our efforts to ensure strong and sustainable recovery are not yet finished. This budget is the next step to getting there.

It is now time to make this budget a reality, to complete our economic recovery, to set the stage for this country's future prosperity. It is time to get back to work.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian exports are slipping, corporate tax cuts clearly have not produced the new investment that was promised and consumers are tapped out.

With the government intent on cutting spending by billions, I ask the Minister of Finance: Where is the job creation going to come from? Who is going to take up the slack for our economy?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and I welcome her as the finance critic for the official opposition. I hope she will take the opportunity to review the data in the budget in great detail, see the 540,000 new jobs created in Canada since the recession and see how well our great country has done. Relatively speaking, certainly in the G7, we are leading the pack. This is all good news.

It does not mean we are out of the woods. The global economic recovery is fragile, but that is why we are encouraged when we see, for example, an increase of over 15% in the first quarter this year by Canadian industry, particularly in manufacturing and equipment processes.

It is very important for our country to increase productivity and create new jobs as we go forward. That is incented, of course, by provisions like we have in the budget today, such as the accelerated capital cost allowance provision.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, by making the family care tax credit and the volunteer firefighters tax credit non-refundable, low-income Canadian families would not qualify for any help. A taxpayer making $20,000 per year with a dependant would not qualify for any help whatsoever from these tax credits.

Why are the Conservatives leaving low-income Canadian families out in the cold? Will they reverse this regressive policy decision and make these tax credits refundable?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember the hon. member just a couple of months ago voting against those provisions in the budget when he was sitting on the other side and then campaigning against them.

These are the realities of May 2. Canadians endorsed those policies, they are in favour of the children's fitness tax credit and they are in favour of the children's arts tax credit.

We intend to keep our commitments to Canadians.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all members, let me congratulate the finance minister on tabling six and a half consecutive budgets. Even more, let us congratulate him on tabling his first budget for a majority government in the House.

This past May Canadians endorsed the next phase of Canada's economic action plan as the right plan for economic growth and the right plan for jobs. They also endorsed support for Canada's most vulnerable seniors, especially the new guaranteed income supplement top-up of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.

Could the finance minister inform Parliament why swift passage of budget 2011 and the subsequent budget legislation is crucial to ensure seniors benefit from this top-up on January 1, as we promised?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc for his question and for his reference to six and a half, if only that were my height, six and a half budgets.

The member raises, of course, a very important question with respect to the increase in the guaranteed income supplement, the top-up. We have mentioned that today. It will be presented to the House, seeking the approval of hon. members, in this month of June. It is quite important because this top-up will not be available and the cheques cannot go out until, I hope with Parliament's approval, there is royal assent through the Houses of Parliament.

The question raised is very important. We are looking at helping the poorest of the poor in terms of seniors. These are seniors who have worked hard their whole lives for their families and communities, and have no pension incomes. I look forward to the support of hon. members on this matter.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, after hearing Mr. Flaherty's budget, we feel it is fair to question—

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I missed that. It is important to remember that we must not use names but, rather, ridings or titles.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, after hearing the Minister of Finance's budget, we feel it is fair to question the Conservative government's priorities. It is a government that is continuing to go in the wrong direction by giving billions of dollars in handouts to big businesses, big companies. We all know that, after five years of Conservative government, we are in an extremely difficult fiscal situation. Yet this government's position—its attitude—is like that of someone trying to get out of a hole by digging deeper.

On the other hand, while the government is granting tax breaks to large corporations that do not need them and is not creating any jobs here at home, it intends to cut $11 billion in public services that provide direct assistance to our constituents.

How does the minister justify giving handouts to banks and oil companies when thousands of workers who provide public services will pay the price of his poor choices?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. On May 2, we presented clear programs to the voters of Canada. We have to take into consideration the results of the May election in Canada. Growth and the economy are Canadians' priorities.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the budget talks about strategic review savings, which is just a nice way of saying “cuts”. One of the key areas that has been cut in this budget is regional development agency programming in all regions of Canada.

I have to ask the minister, why is he cutting the very programs without telling us definitively where they have been cut? Why is he cutting the very programs that the regions need in order to develop economic prosperity and move ahead in the future?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third party in this place now is an expert in cutting. This was the party that in the mid-1990s cut transfers to the provinces. What were those transfers for? They were for health care, education and social services. Liberals did it without notice. They did it without negotiation. It resulted in the closing of schools. It resulted in the closing of hospitals, in the laying off of nurses. These are the experts who well deserve to be sitting where they are in this chamber today.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 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, it is well known throughout the industrialized world that Canada is the envy of the world. I would like the minister to answer a very simple question. How does our debt and deficit compare to other countries in the G8 and G20?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Much better, Mr. Speaker. Our debt to GDP ratio is about 2.4%. Compare that with the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries which are up 10% and more. This is not a matter with which any of us certainly on this side of the House can be complacent. There are difficulties in the world economy. We are pleased that our country is recovering better than some other places. We also wish them well, of course, because this is an integrated economy, a global economy, and Canada is not an island.

We will maintain our course, in response to the hon. member, to ensure that on the deficit and debt we get back to a balanced budget, and then get back to the position where we can pay down public debt. We paid down almost $40 billion of public debt before the great recession happened, and it happened from outside Canada and came into this country, but it put Canada in a position where we could take the kind of action we did in the economic action plan.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Toronto—Danforth Ontario

NDP

Jack Layton NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

(Motion agreed to)

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), the motion is deemed to have been adopted and the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 4:33 p.m.)