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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to say what I said to my friend yesterday, which is that the hearts and thoughts of everyone in the House are with him. We all owe him our respect for the tragedy that he is going through at the moment.

Given the fact that I am standing where I am, I have a pretty good sense of what happened in the last election. I may be slow but I am not that slow, and I can understand what has taken place.

I think it was the poet Kipling who said that triumph and disaster are both imposters. In my life, I have had to deal more with the second than the first, but I am certainly prepared to deal with it. Everyone will see us in good fighting trim in the Liberal caucus. We will continue to be noted for our good humour and our good ideas. I wish I heard more of either on the other side of the House.

Would I say that many of the initiatives that he has described are good ideas? I will mention two. He talked about work-sharing as a good idea. I have more days named after me in the province of Ontario than any other premier in the last 150 years because I pioneered the idea of work-sharing in the public sector at a time when it had to be done.

He also talked about tax credits for small business. Again, this is an idea that we championed on our side of the House. We campaigned very hard for it in the last election. The fact that it is in this budget is a good sign. We believe and want all these things. Our concern is that the budget does not go far enough. It does not take into account the precarious situation in which we find ourselves and it certainly does not take into account some of the deeper sources of poverty that continue to trouble the Canadian economy.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Toronto Centre on his re-election and his appointment as leader of the Liberal Party.

I have a question with regard to corporate tax cuts. For a number of years these tax cuts have been put in place and what is interesting is that the Liberal position on this has shifted in the last six months. I have been here since 2002 arguing for better responsibility for corporate tax cut reductions. In fact, Liberal after Liberal would literally light his or her hair on fire in this place and scream at us about the fact that corporate tax cuts actually create jobs. We never saw that result. We have seen a change of position in the Liberal Party. I would sincerely like to know when that change took place and why.

The Liberals continued to call for corporation tax cuts even when we were borrowing money to do so. The previous Liberal leader actually called for them to be deeper and broader than they are today. Why the change in the Liberal Party position? When did the Liberals actually realize that tax cuts do not actually create jobs? At what point in time and what specific thing changed their position, considering what was driving their ideology prior to that?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am really glad for the question because it is a classic case of ideology on that side of the aisle driving the discussion.

We are very practical people in this party, as is, by the way, the Premier of Manitoba, as was Mr. Romanow when he was premier of Saskatchewan, and Mr. Calvert, the former premier of Saskatchewan. Governments need to make decisions based on the circumstances they face. These circumstances change.

What were the circumstances we faced before? Our tax rates were at risk of becoming uncompetitive, both federally and provincially. We were at risk of losing investment because of that lack of competitiveness. We had surpluses both federally and provincially and significant surpluses federally in order to deal with the issue.

When my hon. friend asks what has changed, I would say that a couple of things have changed. First, the last time I looked we were not in surplus. In fact, we are now in significant deficit, as are most of the provinces. Second, the challenge we face is to ensure that our rates are competitive, but only as competitive, frankly, as they need to be in the circumstances, as competitive as they need to be in order to attract investment and in order to ensure that there is a viable federal capacity to respond to the needs of the people.

We made a decision some years before the last election that the time for cuts was over. We look at it and say that we have come to a number that actually provides us with a reasonable return. There was an entire debate one day when the members of the New Democratic Party were objecting to that feature of the government's policy and kept on reciting numbers, which failed—

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. I am sorry to cut the hon. member off but some of his colleagues would like to ask a question.

The hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I was so impressed by my colleague's speech that I wanted to nominate him for an Order of Canada medal but my colleague pointed out that he already has one. I will need to think of something else.

I want to touch on the first part of my colleague's speech concerning climate change. There is no doubt that the facts on climate change drive this debate. On the east coast of this country, specifically Newfoundland and Labrador, we experienced hurricane Igor which devastated hundreds of communities. In the aftermath of that, we realized that climate change is for real and the facts point that way.

The federal government is putting forward regulations for the smallest of communities to get in line with current environmental regulations. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities met over the weekend and discussed climate change. Eighty-four communities in Newfoundland and Labrador need to come up with millions of dollars to fix their systems when it comes to waste water management. Unfortunately, these smaller communities do not have the capacity to do that. Where is the federal government on this? Other than imposing regulations, it is nowhere to be found when it comes to the funding mechanism.

I wonder if my hon. colleague could point out how the current Conservative government has abandoned these smaller communities and how in the future it could help.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if anyone doubts the democratic nature of our party, they just need to listen to that question.

I spoke to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on the weekend, as did the Leader of the Opposition and the minister of infrastructure.

One of the main points in my speech was about how all governments need to be aware of the consequences of their actions and of how they can introduce regulatory change that can have a dramatic effect on costs for municipalities without thinking through how they will pay for it.

My view is that there should be a basic rule in Canadian politics that a government, which undertakes major change, whether it is on crime, on the environment or in any field of social or economic policy, should remember that the change will have a dramatic impact on the finances of other orders of government, whether it is an aboriginal order, a municipal order or provincial order of government. There is a direct responsibility on that government to pay up.

It is irresponsible for the federal government to be parading around and telling people to look at all the wonderful changes it has made to regulations on waste water and not be prepared to help the municipalities pay for the cost of these extraordinary changes, which are necessary changes but they need to be paid for.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my very good friend, the Minister of State for Science and Technology.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak about budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Before beginning, Mr. Speaker, congratulations to you on your recent appointment in the House of Commons as the Acting Speaker in the House. I look forward to our time together in the chamber and I trust that you will serve this Parliament with great distinction.

Since this is my very first speech here since the election and since the start of the new Parliament, let me take a moment to thank a few individuals.

First and foremost, I thank the Prime Minister for entrusting me with this role once again. It is a privilege to work with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State for Finance on things like the budget.

Second, I want to take a moment to thank my family. My family stood by me during the election and I thank them for their love, their support and their patience, as I am away about five days a week.

I also take a moment to thank the people who came out to my campaign during the election. They will never be forgotten. I owe them a tremendous thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Last, but certainly not least, I really want to take a moment to thank the people of Saint Boniface who, once again, have put their trust in me to represent them in Ottawa. I will work very hard to address their needs and I hope never to disappoint them.

During the election campaign, I had the chance to speak with literally thousands of people. One thing I heard again and again, at the doors, was that people wanted their government to remain focused on the economy and jobs.

Budget 2011, introduced yesterday, reflects that priority. Here are a few of its highlights to support job creation.

Our government will be extending the accelerated capital cost allowance to help manufacturers and processors make new investments in machinery and equipment.

We will enhancing or extending programs to help businesses keep workers, like the work-sharing program, the wage-earner protection program and the targeted initiative for older workers. We will be renewing programs to help unemployed workers. We will be providing a hiring credit for small business. We will be supporting youth entrepreneurs with an investment of $20 million. We will also be reducing red tape by upgrading the BizPaL service and further consulting Canadians through the Red Tape Reduction Commission.

We will be supporting economic sectors, through hundreds of millions of dollars, in support for innovation, investment and market diversification in the agriculture, energy, mining, manufacturing, tourism and forestry sectors.

We will also be investing in clean energy technology and innovation. We will be legislating permanent gas tax funding for municipalities to support infrastructure priorities.

The next phase of Canada's economic action plan will also keep taxes low and make additional targeted investments to support jobs and growth and control government spending to stay on track to eliminate the deficit, while protecting transfer payments for crucial services like health care and education.

Included in those many important measures are tax breaks for hard-working Canadian families, support for our country's most vulnerable seniors, support for family caregivers, help for Canadians looking to make their homes more energy efficient and improvements to our justice system to make our streets safe, among other things.

In short, this is truly a plan to help everyday Canadians.

This is what Doug Northrup of H&R Block told the Times & Transcript recently:

The federal budget...is seen as a “people budget”...As a tax professional, I get people coming to me every year asking if there's anything new that will bring them more money back, and now there is. The average family will see a few more dollars coming back to them and seniors will see it in their monthly cheque.

It is clear that the budget reflects a focus on the economy and maintaining and creating jobs. However, there are some important items I would like to mention that should not be missed.

First, I will talk about the helmets to hardhats program introduced in the budget.

As the granddaughter of three World War II Veterans and a huge supporter of our brave men and women in the armed forces, I am very happy to see this initiative in the budget. This program will connect releasing Canadian Forces members and veterans with opportunities and careers in the construction industry.

In fact, just last week I mentioned this program to my friend Wendy Hayward, who was here for my swearing-in ceremony. Wendy is the mother of Corporal James Arnal, who was the eighty-eighth Canadian soldier to lose his life while bravely serving in Afghanistan. I had the pleasure of serving in the Winnipeg Police Service with Corporal Arnal's father, Ray Arnal. Wendy and her family have committed to helping Canadian armed force soldiers through the pillows for soldiers charity, among others. She was very pleased to hear of our government's dedication to the helmets to hardhats program.

This is what the Canadian Building Trades had to say:

The Helmets to Hardhats Program has a track record of integrating military professionals into the best paid, most respected technical jobs in the construction industry....This program is a game changer for young veterans--we aim to place as many of the 5,200 transitioning professionals as possible each year. This is a cross promotional venture--good for the Military and good for our trades.

Another important measure of the next phase of Canada's economic plan includes new investments in the areas of public safety, security and justice, including: $30 million for the first nations policing program; $26 million to support the federal victims ombudsman to give victims a greater voice in the justice system; $1.6 million annually to the communities at risk security infrastructure pilot program to support security enhancements for communities victimized by hate-motivated crime; $20 million for youth crime prevention programs; and, finally, a commitment to scrap the wasteful and useless long gun registry that every elected police officer in the House of Commons voted to eliminate.

Here is what the Canadian Police Association had to say:

The inclusion by the Conservative government of a renewed investment in the Youth Gang Prevention Fund...will help provide police services across Canada with the tools and resources they need to target at-risk youth, and keep them away from the lure of organized crime.

With nearly 19 years of police experience, I have worked with countless victims and their families, and I am proud to be part of the government that is committed to putting the rights of victims before the rights of criminals.

To that end, and as promised in our platform, we will provide enhanced EI benefits to the parents of murdered or missing children and parents of gravely ill children. We will amend the Criminal Code to double the victim surcharge and make it mandatory in every case, without exception.

Our government will also reintroduce comprehensive legislation, including: to crack down on organized drug crime; to end house arrest for serious and violent criminals; to end house arrest for serious personal injury offences, such as sexual assault; to eliminate pardons for serious criminals; to establish tougher sentences and mandatory jail time for sexual offences against our children; to strengthen the handling of violent and repeat young offenders; to give police and courts the tools they need to investigate crimes and prevent acts of terrorism; to allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism in Canadian courts; and to streamline long and complex trials to ensure justice is delivered swiftly.

We will also tackle the drug trade and drug use in prisons by ensuring that every federal inmate will undergo drug testing at least once a year. Prisoners in possession of illicit substances will face appropriate additional charges. Parole applicants who fail drug tests will be denied parole.

As a Métis woman, I would also like to mention how important it is that we put measures in this budget to protect women. Several times women are referred to as the victims of crime. These measures will help us to protect not only the women of Canada, but those very vulnerable aboriginal women who so often are abused or forced into exploitation.

I look forward to a government that will continue to address the needs of those women, both on reserve and off reserve.

This is the platform I ran on and I intend to do my very best to ensure that these commitments come to fruition. I encourage all members of the House to actually read the budget, to see these wonderful measures for our most vulnerable, to actually adopt these measures in a timely fashion so our seniors can get that increase to the guaranteed income supplement, so we can better protect our Canadian people and ensure that we return to a balanced budget and reduce that deficit as quickly as possible.

I look forward to questions.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it give me great pleasure to rise in the House today and ask my first question.

I enjoyed the speech, but what does the budget specifically do for youth? There does not seem to be any mention at all about the skyrocketing youth unemployment rates in my constituency and right across Canada.

Would the government explain what the budget does specifically for youth and to reduce youth unemployment?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my colleague to the House of Commons and I congratulate him on his election.

I am so glad he asked about youth because I, as the mother of five children, am very concerned about their well-being and future, which is why I am proud to be part of the government that has put in the budget a number of measures to help educate our youth so they can obtain those jobs.

When I refer to the budget, I see student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses who would be working in rural and remote areas. There is an extension of tax relief for skills certification exams. There is support for Canadian students abroad. The in-study income exemption is doubled. There is a reduction in the in-study interest rate for part-time Canadian student loan recipients. There is investment in education in the north, which will help our aboriginal people.

In turn, $20 million have been invested in this budget for young entrepreneurs. Those are the people who will form the future of our country. They are the people who one day may be sitting in this very House of Commons, acting as our members of Parliament, as our leaders in our country.

I am proud to stand here and represent a budget and a government that is committed to helping our youth move forward.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member of Saint Boniface is fairly straightforward. Over the last number of months I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, as we all have, and there is a great deal of concern about crime.

To highlight the importance of the issue, I will make reference to one individual who lives on Pritchard Avenue. She indicated to me that she was afraid to go out in her own front yard because of the amount of crime in the street.

I hear the Conservatives time and again talk about getting tough on crime. My constituents want to see less crime in the streets.

The government had an opportunity, through gang initiatives, to try to put young people in better environments and steer them away from gangs. There was concern that the Conservatives were cutting back on those programs.

To what degree is the government committed to supporting programs that would put youth in an environment that would steer them away from gang activities?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my colleague back to the House.

I was a police officer for many years in the member's riding. It is a riding that, unfortunately, is fraught with crime. However, when he talks about people wanting us to reduce crime, it was his party that voted to make house arrest available to criminals so they could be back in his community. It was his party that ran on a platform that had zero allocated for youth crime prevention programs and had no intention of renewing the gang prevention programs that our government had put forth.

Our platform was very clear. We are renewing those programs. We believe in those programs and we are listening to the police officers, including the Canadian Police Association, who say very clearly that those programs are necessary. They endorse what our government has done. The money has been allocated in budget 2011.

The member should question his own party as to why it insists on putting criminals back on the streets on house arrest and ignore the need, and the budgetary need, of these programs and these children.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to say how honoured and humbled I am, and thankful to the voters of Cambridge and North Dumfries for choosing once again to have me come to this great place to represent them. I would like to thank my board and all my volunteers, and especially the Prime Minister, who has asked me to continue to serve this country as Minister of State for Science and Technology and Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

I would also like to congratulate the members opposite, the members for LaSalle—Émard and Kingston and the Islands for having been chosen by their leaders as their party's lead spokesperson on science and technology. I look forward to working with them constructively to move this nation forward.

I am proud to stand here today as the Minister of State for Science and Technology to outline new investments in our science and technology initiatives and innovations that will underscore the government's continued commitment to Canada as a world leader in research, innovation and technology adoption.

In order to succeed in the knowledge economy, Canada must attract and develop the talented people we need, as well as increase our capacity for world-leading research and development, improve the commercialization of that research, and promote education and skills development.

This government has a long-standing, very strong record of commitment to science and technology ever since the release of our national science and technology strategy in 2007. This strategy recognizes the critical and important link between knowledge and the capacity to innovate, and the success in the global economy.

More important than simply having a strategy and talking about it is the implementation of that strategy, that vision. Consequently, our government has made significant investments to attract and develop talented people, strengthen Canada's capacity for world-leading research and development, and improve the commercialization of research in previous budgets, including Canada's economic action plan.

Now, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan builds on these earlier investments and strategies. It provides significant resources to strengthen Canada's global research leadership, supports commercialization of research by fostering business innovation, and advances a digital economy strategy as well.

Science and technology investments included in budget 2011 build upon the more than $6.3 billion provided under years one and two of the economic action plan. Every single budget that this government has placed on the table, including this year's budget, has increased science and tech investments.

I am honoured now to take the House through some of budget 2011 moves to produce the next phase of our science and tech strategy. At a time, I might point out, when other countries are struggling just to maintain their existing commitments to research, science and innovation, Canada is setting the pace and we are moving forward.

We continue to demonstrate with the current budget our commitment to build a research advantage in science and tech. We seek to maintain our leadership, and it is a leadership position in the G7, in terms of research and development performed in the higher education sector as a percentage of our economy.

This budget this year, as others in the past, will see an increase to the federal granting councils' combined annual budgets of $37 million per year. We will also add $10 million per year to the indirect costs of research programs for costs such as those related to operating and maintaining facilities at Canada's universities and colleges that receive granting council funding.

Other budget 2011 initiatives aimed at strengthening our research advantage as a nation include $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada excellence research chairs. These are the pivotal research chairs on the planet and are highly sought after from around the world. As well, there is up to $100 million to help establish a Canada brain research fund to support Canada's neuroscience research and accelerate discoveries on some of the most profound neuropathic disorders facing Canadians and their families.

There is $65 million for Genome Canada to launch a brand new competition in the areas of human health, as well as sustain its operating costs and those of its centres until 2013-14.

Indeed, $50 million over five years, beginning in 2012-13, to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo to support its leading-edge research, its education, and its public outreach activities.

Beginning in 2011-12, $35 million over five years to support excellence in climate and atmospheric research at Canadian post-secondary institutions through our Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada or, as we call it, NSERC.

Over five years, $12 million for a tri-council competition to establish a Canada-India research centre of excellence. This is part of our government's wider India engagement strategy.

There is $4 million over three years, beginning in 2011, to support the construction of a cyclotron for production of the next generation medical isotopes. This will be located in Thunder Bay, as a regional research institute.

We have also set up an expert panel of six eminent Canadians announced in last year's budget, led by Mr. Tom Jenkins of Open Text Corporation. It will provide this government with recommendations on maximizing the federal programs that are set out to promote business innovation. In the meantime, budget 2011 includes targeted resources to improve commercialization and support demonstration of new technologies in the marketplace.

Some of these great initiatives include: $12 million over five years starting in 2011-12 for NSERC's Idea to Innovation program to support joint college and university research and development projects with promising commercialization potential; $3 million, also in 2011-12, and $5 million per year ongoing, starting in 2012-13, to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or NSERC, to support 30 new industrial research chairs at colleges. This is a great program.

There is $40 million over two years to support the development and demonstration of new clean technology projects through Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

Budget 2011 also includes initiatives to make Canada a leader in the development, adoption, and use of digital technologies and content, such as: $80 million over three years for a pilot initiative delivered through the industrial research assistance program or, as we call it, IRAP, to support collaborative projects between colleges and small and medium-size businesses that accelerate the adoption of information and communication technologies.

As well, $100 million per year in support of Canada media fund which invests in digital content across multiple platforms, including television, leading-edge applications for the Internet, wireless, and other emerging platforms.

Our government has a plan that we set out in 2007. The real test with anything is not just talking about ideas; it is in implementing them and seeing their success grow. We are not just talking, but we are acting and acting in the best interests of this nation. With this budget, yet again, we have demonstrated our willingness and ability to implement that plan. We will continue to make Canada a leader in research, science and innovation.

This budget sustains our commitment to improve the quality of life of Canadians, create high-wage and better-quality jobs, and enable Canadians to compete in the knowledge economy.

I look forward to working with my parliamentarian colleagues and all Canadians to building the economy of tomorrow in which Canada realizes its vast potential as a world leader in and through science, technology and innovation.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government talks about creating jobs in small businesses and says that it will encourage investments in this area. But we know very well that there have been some very clear cuts to jobs at border crossings. A border crossing in Franklin, in my riding, has been closed, which will hurt tourism. Tourism jobs have been cut. All this at a time when the United States is looking at increasing the number of border crossings.

How can the government justify these cuts, when it claims to want to invest to create new jobs?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the nation was facing one of the worst economic downturns since the great depression, this government's overall initiatives under Canada's economic action plan have produced some 540,000 net new jobs. Almost 300,000 of those jobs are in southern Ontario alone. This is a great announcement.

It is great proof of the effectiveness of Canada's economic action plan. The member well knows that it is not just me saying this. Canada is in the best shape of every industrialized nation on the planet. We entered this recession last because of Conservative policies. We suffered the least.

As the member has mentioned, there are still Canadians who need work. There are still Canadians who have work but want better jobs. That is exactly why I encourage the member to support this budget, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. It will produce more work for Canadians and turn this economy even further into the best in the world.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is related to Canada's venture capital industry.

A key to commercialization is access to early stage investment and venture capital. Some countries are creating the capacity through their tax system and direct government investment to attract venture capital investment. Israel in particular is focusing on the clean tech electric engine, electric cars, the jobs of the future, and the green economy of the future. In Canada the reality is that the venture capital industry is struggling. It faces a crisis. If we do not get this right there is going to be a dearth of discovery 10 years, 15 years out.

Why has the government not put in this budget some of the recommendations of the Canadian venture capital industry to attract more venture capital to Canada's technology entrepreneurs and to help create the jobs of tomorrow? Since they were not in the budget, does the minister have some ideas perhaps on tax reform policies to attract more venture capital? Perhaps one idea would be eliminating the capital gains tax on early stage investment.

I am disappointed that the government did not incorporate these ideas into the budget, but I would appreciate the minister's input directly for the House to consider his ideas.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, venture capital around the world has taken quite a hit. This is money used to help start up companies when the banks will not consider them for a loan.

In some ways the member could consider a number of this government's programs and policies as a bit of venture capital. There are a number of programs for new companies to get new technologies into the marketplace to help train the staff who are currently employed, so that they can use new technologies and so forth. The member will know that the government works with the Business Development Bank of Canada to provide that venture capital funding. We have done that.

As well, there is a new program that the member may not be aware of. Since the member is from Ontario, I am happy to share with him a program called the investing in business initiative. This is an opportunity for new businesses to seek out venture capital funding and to help them with angel investment. This is about a $200 million program. My--

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Kings--Hants is rising on a point of order?

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order respectfully to the hon. member. I would be remiss and would greatly disappoint my constituents in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia if I were not to correct the minister and remind him that while I have nothing against the good people of Ontario, I am very proud to have been born and raised in Nova Scotia and representing Nova Scotia.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, my apologies. What I meant was that I was hoping and wishing he was from Ontario, but I can certainly say that is not so. However, there is a program available in the venture capital market. I see some of the numbers in terms of venture capital in this country improving and increasing.

As I said earlier, we are not out of hot water yet. Our economy remains fragile, as the rest of the world's does, and that is exactly why we need to implement the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me say once again how very honoured I am to be back in the House and to represent the constituents of Parkdale—High Park, the people who voted for me and put me here. I am very proud to have earned their trust and honoured to be part of a record-breaking complement of women in the House.

I am also honoured to serve as finance critic in the first ever New Democrat shadow cabinet and look forward to a constructive, energetic and positive relationship with the finance minister.

I congratulate my friend on his re-election and on receiving a stronger mandate for his government. But I will commit to regularly reminding him that he must defend the interests of all Canadians.

The reason that the Minister of Finance had all the freedom of his majority government to table his budget yesterday is because there is something wrong with our voting process. A majority of voters—60%—opposed his party and his budget during the election.

Although I respect the government's majority in the House, I hope that he will agree to respect the majority of the citizens of Canada—the real majority.

Many of the people who voted for change are still looking to Ottawa for help. They are working harder than ever and their household debt is soaring, student debt is soaring, their retirement has never been less secure and they are tired of being pushed to the back of the line.

Four and a half million Canadians just voted for my party's plan to take practical first steps to make their lives better. They voted for better front line health care, stronger retirement security, a break on their family budget and full-time job creation, good quality jobs that will support them and their families. Those Canadians will clearly feel let down by this budget that once again puts well-connected insiders ahead of their families.

Canadians want us to use a constructive approach in the House of Commons. In that vein, I will take the time to acknowledge the positive aspects of the minister's speech.

We welcome the fact that Quebec is being compensated for harmonizing its sales tax with the GST. It is something our party often requested, and we feel that we have been heard on this issue.

We also welcome the reinstatement of the eco-energy retrofit program, even if it is just for one year. As we have said all spring, that program has created thousands of jobs and leads to billions of dollars in economic spinoffs. It also allows us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tonnes a year. Many families have been able to save hundreds of dollars. This program should never have been abolished. It is a very important program. We must now consider adopting a permanent program to retrofit various types of buildings in Canada in order to make them more energy efficient.

We also welcome in principle the government's commitment to strengthening Canada's fiscal bottom line. As the finance department itself confirms, New Democrats have the best fiscal record, bar none, across all orders of government. We are very proud of that record.

Provincially, by and large, these governments have built their record while investing in families and avoiding destructive program cuts that other parties here have engaged in.

Federally, we will have to wait four more years to try our hand, but Canadians can count on us to share our best practices and advice in the meantime. We look forward to that.

The $36 billion federal deficit is now $13 billion lower than the minister projected in the budget of 2010. It is $13 billion lower. That is quite a change. The deficit is declining largely because of economic growth and our economy has substantial capacity for more growth.

More than 1.4 million Canadians were unemployed on April 1. That is nearly 300,000 more than before the recession took hold. So when my hon. colleagues say that we have recovered all of the jobs lost since the recession, they stand corrected. We are 300,000 jobs behind where we were at the start of the recession.

Hundreds of thousands more find themselves struggling in involuntary part-time work. We all know people who are working two, sometimes three jobs to support themselves and their families. This is the tragedy lurking behind the government's job numbers.

We see a steady shift away from quality jobs to less secure work with uncertain hours, fewer benefits and no pensions, the so-called precarious jobs. Getting these Canadians back to work in family supporting jobs could inject another $75 billion into our economy in wages alone, before multipliers.

Here is how the official opposition would return Canada to fiscal balance. We would do it by investing in quality jobs, boosting household incomes and GDP, and therefore government revenues. We would create good quality jobs. That is a key priority for Canadians right across this country.

We have also proposed reducing the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. Why have we done that? This would give a boost to a sector that creates nearly half of all new Canadian jobs, small businesses right across the country. I think of my own riding of Parkdale—High Park where we have small businesses that are really the lifeblood of our local economy.

We have proposed direct job creation tax credits to reward every new hire in small, medium and large businesses. We have proposed investing in vital infrastructure to create jobs that make our cities more competitive hubs in the global economy.

However, this budget picks up on none of these practical suggestions to spark job creation.

The budget continues to bank on a job creation strategy that is not effective, namely the unconditional tax cuts for corporations.

After lowering corporate tax rate to 16.5%, they intend to lower it even more next year to 15%. It is not really necessary to lower taxes even more, and it will cost the public purse another $3 billion.

The combined tax rate of the federal and provincial governments is currently far below the tax rate in the United States. These cuts are therefore not necessary. The Department of Finance points out that investment in infrastructure creates seven times more economic spinoffs.

There is no evidence that corporations are using these tax cuts to create jobs. Instead, they prefer to use the money to pay off their debts, increase their profits, give their CEOs bigger bonuses, or even invest abroad and lay off workers here at home.

I look at Electrolux which eagerly accepted Ottawa's largesse before shipping 1,300 manufacturing jobs to Memphis. It took the money, put it in its back pocket and then laid off all the workers.

The six big banks just received an additional $1.1 billion bonus from Canadian taxpayers over the last four quarters. That money is not going toward creating jobs.

Why would the minister expect a job strategy that failed yesterday to succeed tomorrow? We have a job crisis in this country. Why would he plough ahead knowing that finishing his rate cutting experiment will leave an annual $15 billion hole in the treasury?

After giving big businesses $15 billion every year, the minister is trying to get that money back by shifting the burden to Canadian taxpayers. First of all, over the next five years, he plans to collect $17 billion more in EI premiums than he will pay out in benefits. That is completely unacceptable. It is a slap in the face to workers and employers. The Conservatives do not seem serious about their desire to help small businesses and to lead Canada back to recovery.

In addition, now the minister is threatening to cut federal spending by another $17 billion over the next five years. Focusing on cuts instead of on economic growth is not the right strategy for returning to a balanced budget.

Let me ask the question my leader asked earlier. Where will the minister find this largely unspecified $17 billion? Will he cut transfers to health care after a few years? If not now then later on perhaps. Is that why we see no first steps in this budget toward training more doctors and other health care professionals, nurses, midwives? If not health care transfers, will he cut funding to Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Environment Canada or any of the countless departments and agencies that contribute to a stronger, healthier population of Canadians, programs that Canadians count on?

Will the minister make the spectre of deep cuts his constant pretext to ignore calls to invest in Canadian families because the needs are huge? We need to strengthen front line health care. We need to make life more affordable for Canadians. Canadians are stretched. We need to improve pensions for people who are retired or about to retire. We need to invest proactively in job creation. We need to pull seniors not just some of the way but all the way out of poverty. It is unacceptable that we have any senior living in poverty in a country as wealthy as Canada.

These are the priorities that millions of Canadians voted on in the recent election.

The budget deficit is $13 billion lower than the minister projected in budget 2010. The year before he was off by $22 billion so I guess he is getting a bit closer. Accurate deficit projections have not been the forte of the Minister of Finance. Canadians are all too familiar with governments overstating deficits to justify spending cuts. This is no time for deep spending cuts.

We are also hearing credible warnings about the possibility of a double-dip recession. We are hearing it from U.S. economists and from the Governor of the Bank of Canada. This is no time to be pulling $34 billion out of this economy in combined spending cuts and over-collected EI premiums, not with Canada perched on the edge of a fragile recovery.

Even when things are going well, we know that workers and their families tend to be hit the hardest by budget cuts. These families are already worried about their retirement pensions and the bills they need to pay at the end of the month. These families need high-quality jobs to contribute to Canada's economic recovery. Instead of shifting the burden onto them, we should be making investments that benefit these families, taking affordable and effective action, and creating jobs to stimulate growth and increase income in order to achieve a balanced budget in the long term.

The government needs to remember that it governs for all Canadians, not just well-connected Conservative insiders, not even just for its own voters, but for all Canadians, and certainly they include the sweeping majority of Canadians who want to see parties work together in the House of Commons. The sweeping majority of Canadians want to see solutions that bring people together across party lines and across regional lines.

We are ready to do our part. However, if the government wants to meet the challenge with us, it is going to have to do much better than it has done in the budget.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to welcome my colleague.

I would like to speak about the employment insurance premiums and the SMEs that she mentioned in the same breath. She did not hesitate to criticize our small EI premium increases, but I wonder if she remembers that, in the last Parliament, it was her party that proposed a bill to increase premiums by 35%. Furthermore, SMEs have strongly criticized NDP election promises to double pension benefits.

Catherine Swift recently stated that adopting these measures would increase rates by 70% for all SMEs, which would kill them.

I would like to ask my colleague to explain why she is constantly changing her mind about these two issues.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. The government has abandoned people who are unemployed. At present, 58% of unemployed workers who have paid employment insurance premiums receive no benefits from this government. It is unacceptable that those who paid into the fund do not receive benefits.

We are the ones who want to invest in pension plans for these very employees so that, when they retire, they will have an income allowing them to live decently and will not fall under the poverty line. That is very important for us. We are proud to present this to the House, and we will continue to support it.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

Noon

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, prior to coming to the House of Commons, I served for a number of years inside the Manitoba legislature. It was just a year ago, in fact, that an NDP government budget gave significant corporate tax breaks.

I wonder if the member could explain to me or reconcile an apparent inconsistency, that the only New Democratic party in government is giving corporate tax breaks while, in the opposition, the NDP is opposing corporate tax breaks.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his re-election.

I will just correct the record. There is, of course, a New Democratic government elected in Nova Scotia, as well, which we are very proud of.

We have proposed small business tax cuts because we know that small businesses across the country are job creators, and that is something we are very proud of.

We have also proposed a tax credits for small, medium and large businesses that actually create jobs. However, I will insist that our party, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, has been absolutely consistent that across the board, no strings attached tax cuts have not created jobs, and I challenge the government, or the hon. member, to prove otherwise.

Financial Statement of the Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to speak on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta, who tell me each and every day that health care facilities are just not available. They are talking about doctors and nurses, as well as hospitals that are overcrowded.

Right now, there are thousands of doctors in my riding who are credentialed to be doctors in other countries, but in my riding they are driving taxis. That is a very honourable job. However, we are in need of doctors. I see there is recognition in the budget that we have to do something about credentials, but there is no money attached to that.

My question is, what are we going to do to address this dire shortage of doctors and nurses for all citizens in Canada?