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House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Question No. 315Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is committed to supporting a robust diplomatic role for Canada that focuses on key foreign policy priorities and services to Canadians.

We are constantly reviewing our network of missions, modernizing our practices, reallocating resources internally and seeking new ways of delivering on the government’s foreign policy objectives in an ever-changing world. Innovation, efficiency and effectiveness are the principles that guide the department as it serves Canadians in Canada and abroad.

The government continuously monitors its representation abroad and periodically shifts resources to meet Canada’s needs. We do this to fulfill our commitment to being responsible with taxpayer dollars while also doing our part to eliminate the federal deficit, as announced during the 2011 election campaign.

To this end and as part of the deficit reduction action plan, all departments, including DFAIT, are exploring options to find savings and deliver value for money, and working to reduce wasteful and ineffective spending. Many programs are under review. No decisions have yet been finalized.

Question No. 316Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

January 30th, 2012 / 3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

With regard to the Northern Resident Deduction: (a) what is the current criteria for a community to qualify for the deduction; (b) what was the criteria for a community to qualify for the deduction before Tax Regulation 7303 was amended, as printed in the Canada Gazette Part II, Income Tax Regulations, amendment SOR/93-440; (c) what was the rationale for any change in criteria; and (d) what was the rationale for excluding all previously included remote areas in Newfoundland from the Northern Resident Deduction in both Zone A and Zone B after the change in policy?

Question No. 316Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the northern residents deduction assists Canada’s northern and isolated regions draw skilled labour to their communities by providing recognition for the additional costs faced by residents of these areas.

The current zonal system of tax benefits for northern residents was established following an extensive review of the former community-based system by the 1988 Task Force on Tax Benefits for Northern and Isolated Areas.

Under the former system, eligibility was as follows: all communities north of 60ºN latitude were eligible. Communities having a population of less than 10,000 located between 55ºN latitude and 60ºN were eligible if they were over 80 kilometres by all-weather road from the city or town hall of the nearest urban centre, or they had no all-weather road. Communities having a population of less than 10,000 located south of 55ºN latitude and scoring at least 50 points for factors relating to population, access, vegetation type and climate were eligible if: they had no all-weather road and were over 80 kilometres in a straight line from the city hall or the nearest urban centre with a population of 50,000 or more; or they had an all-weather road and were more than 160 kilometres from the town or city hall of the nearest urban centre with a population of 10,000 or more, and were over 320 kilometres from the city hall of the nearest urban centre with a population of 50,000 or more.

Starting in 1988, the task force held extensive consultations across the country and concluded that determining eligibility for the tax deductions for residents of northern and isolated areas was arbitrary and divisive. Residents of neighbouring communities were being treated differently for tax purposes, even though they often shared common workplaces, services, and cultural and recreational facilities.

In October 1989, the task force recommended a zonal approach, where only communities within a “northern zone” would qualify for tax benefits. The boundaries of the northern zone were delineated with a view to ensuring that communities in the zone had similar characteristics. The task force used objective criteria to compare communities on the basis of isolation, nordicity, community characteristics and environmental factors. The task force also attempted to minimize border delineation problems by having as much separation as possible between qualifying and non-qualifying communities.

The task force recommended a northern zone and, following further consultations, an intermediate zone was added to bridge the gap between the northern zone and the less isolated areas of the country. The approach used by the task force to design the northern zone was also applied in developing the intermediate zone. The same ranking system was used and efforts were made to minimize border problems.

It was recognized that the intermediate zone, in relation to the northern zone, covers regions in which the communities are characterized as being more populated, in greater proximity and less homogeneous, thereby making the task of setting borders more challenging. Given this reality, regardless of where the borders were set, there would inevitably be communities across the country that would be disappointed with their exclusion. It was determined at the time that the final border design incorporated fair trade-offs in difficult circumstances that were deemed workable in a broad-based, national tax system.

The new system of northern benefits took effect starting in 1991.

Since the implementation of the zonal boundaries, the underlying factors used to establish them have remained constant, even in regions where populations (the most variable indicator) have changed in the following years.

Question No. 318Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

With regard to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, how many Temporary Residency Permit applications were submitted to the department by the current Member for Brampton—Springdale before May 2, 2011?

Question No. 318Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the department does not track temporary residence permit, TRP, applications this way; therefore CIC cannot answer the member’s question.

Question No. 321Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

With respect to Minister’s Regional Offices, what is the itemized list of expenses for hospitality, food, drink, hotels and transportation for each Minister’s Regional Office since 2006?

Question No. 321Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, ministers’ regional offices are subject to the “Policies for Ministers’ Offices--January 2011”. Information regarding hospitality, meals and incidentals, accommodation and transportation must be made available through proactive disclosure. This information can be found on individual departmental websites and is updated quarterly.

Question No. 322Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With respect to the fiscal framework in the year 2015-2016 and the $600 million surplus identified in the 2011 Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections, how will the budgetary balance be affected by government plans to (i) double the value of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit and make it refundable, (ii) introduce an Adult Fitness Tax Credit, (iii) allow spouses to share up to $50,000 of their household income for federal income tax purposes, (iv) double the Tax Free Savings Account limit?

Question No. 322Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government’s tax-related campaign commitments, as clearly stated in the 2011 election platform “Here for Canada”, will be implemented when the federal budget is balanced and reflected at that time.

Question No. 323Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

With regard to the 2006 Economic and Fiscal Update’s commitment to work towards the elimination of Canada’s total government net debt by 2021: (a) what progress has been made to date; and (b) what is the current target date to reduce Canada’s total government net debt to zero?

Question No. 323Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, net debt differs from the federal debt as it is defined as total liabilities less financial assets, while the federal debt is defined as total liabilities less total assets. Furthermore, the target that was established in 2006 is for total government net debt on a national accounts basis (excluding government employee unfunded pension liabilities to conform with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development measure of net debt), which includes not only the federal net debt, but also the net debt of provincial-territorial and local governments, as well as the assets of the Canada pension plan and Quebec pension plan.

Balanced budgets and low levels of public debt are critical to Canada’s long-term growth and prosperity.

That is why, since taking office in 2006, the government aggressively reduced the federal debt by nearly $40 billion from 2005-06 to 2007-08. However, in response to the deepest and most synchronized global recession since the Great Depression, the government made a difficult, but necessary, decision to run temporary deficits in order to make investments to protect Canadians under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, leading to a short-term increase in federal debt.

The Government of Canada is committed to returning to balanced budgets in the medium term. Budget 2010 announced a three-point plan to support a return to balanced budgets (for more information, please visit http://www.budget.gc.ca/2010/plan/chap4a-eng.html). Building on that plan, budget 2011 outlined further savings by delivering on the 2010 round of strategic reviews, as well as taking action to close tax loopholes (for more information, please visit http://www.budget.gc.ca/2011/plan/chap5-eng.html).

To maintain Canada’s solid fiscal position, in budget 2011, the government also announced its deficit reduction action plan, which will review direct program spending in order to achieve at least $4 billion in ongoing annual savings by 2014-15. This review will place particular emphasis on generating savings from operating expenses and improving productivity, while also examining the relevance and effectiveness of programs. Savings proposals are currently being assessed by a specially constituted committee of Treasury Board. The government will report on the results of this review in budget 2012. These savings will support a return to balanced budgets by 2015-16. The budgetary savings associated with the deficit reduction action plan will be reflected in the fiscal projections once these actions are determined and implemented in budget 2012.

Question No. 324Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

With respect to Environment Canada’s water-monitoring stations in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut: (a) when did Environment Canada begin considering shutting down 21 stations in the Northwest Territories and 10 stations in Nunavut; (b) what studies were undertaken to estimate the impact of the closures; (c) what consultations, if any, were conducted with the territorial governments about the closures; (d) when were the territorial governments alerted that a decision had been made to shut the stations down; and (e) when was the decision to shut the stations down reversed?

Question No. 324Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada did not shut down water quality monitoring in the north. During July 2011, some data collection had been temporarily suspended while the department was undertaking the development of a risk-based assessment, RBA, framework for water quality monitoring. The new framework is part of EC’s commitment to improve its operations in response to a recommendation in the 2010 fall report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

However, as directed by the Minister of Environment in August, the department resumed all normal monitoring in the north while the risk-based assessment framework is being developed.

The RBA framework is a science-based tool that will help ensure scientific validity and value for Environment Canada’s water quality monitoring investments. Under the framework, sites that are rated as being a high risk to water quality will be monitored more frequently, while sites judged to be a low risk will be monitored less frequently. This approach will ensure that the department’s science and monitoring resources, including those devoted to our work in the north, are focused on monitoring the greatest risks to water quality in Canada’s lakes and rivers.

As the development of the RBA framework is nearing completion, Environment Canada is consulting with its stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, to ensure we have their input and perspectives before any final decisions on the water monitoring program are made.

Question No. 325Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

With regard to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), how much has the department spent to install the portraits of Her Majesty the Queen, the Prime Minister and all DFAIT Ministers at all of Canada’s Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and Foreign Missions?

Question No. 325Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, virtually every other country in the world displays pictures of their head of state in their diplomatic missions. All Canadian missions abroad are expected to display pictures of Canada’s head of state, the Queen, along with pictures of the Governor General, the Prime Minister and relevant ministers.

In September 2011, Canadian missions were asked to update, download and/or print official portraits, at no cost, using the departmental catalogue. For the 20 missions that needed to update photos already at mission, digital photos were provided free of charge and printed in place. Missions were responsible for framing. The overall cost for that is estimated to be less than $1,000.

Question No. 326Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

With regard to the Department of Canadian Heritage and its plans to commemorate the War of 1812: (a) what is the complete list of planned events; (b) how much is the government spending on each event; and (c) where is each event located?

Question No. 326Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, the complete list of activities and events is yet to be finalized.

We invite you to visit the War of 1812 website at http://1812.gc.ca/eng/1305744041669/1305744100939 on a regular basis for the latest information regarding the commemoration, including the release of the calendar of events and federal department and agency initiatives and events, including those of Canadian Heritage.

Question No. 330Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and, more specifically, Small Craft Harbours (SCH), how many properties under the ownership of SCH have been diversified each year from 2006 to 2011 inclusively, (i) in what community and province were each of these properties located, (ii) what was the assessed value of each of these properties at the time of diversification, (iii) what financial transactions took place (i.e., amounts) as part of the diversification plan, (iv) who received financial compensation and who paid financial compensation for the diversified properties?

Question No. 330Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the small craft harbours program does not have a diversification strategy and does not manage its properties by diversifying them.

Question No. 341Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

With regard to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) under the Old Age Security program and changes in the government’s policies dealing with Registered Retirement Income Funds for the purposes of exercising a GIS, GIS Allowance and GIS Allowance for the Survivor option since May, 2010: (a) how many requests for an option were received between May 17 and December 31, 2010, and how many requests for an option were received in 2011; (b) how many requests were rejected in each quarter of the calendar year as a result of the revised policy circulated on May 17, 2010; (c) how many of those requests which had been rejected in each quarter were subsequently reviewed and overturned in the course of each calendar year; (d) how many requests for an option are currently being reviewed for consideration; and (e) what is the average processing time for each application?

Question No. 341Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), for the period May 17 to December 31, 2010, the department received approximately 68,800 requests for an option. In 2011, the department received approximately 126,800 option requests.

In response to (b), statistics are not compiled quarterly. However, of the 6,752 beneficiaries who withdrew additional amounts from a registered retirement income fund, RRIF, in 2008 and 2009, 171 were not granted an option as a result of the revised policy. Of the 1,221 beneficiaries who withdrew additional amounts from a RRIF in 2010, 7 were not granted an option.

In response to (c), all 178 of the accounts not granted an option were reviewed and subsequently granted an option. These clients received an adjusted payment based on the February 2004 policy.

In response to (d), currently, there are 36,484 requests for an option to be reviewed in the Service Canada work item inventory distribution system.

In response to (e), in 2010-11, the average processing time for option requests was 33 days. For the current year, the average processing time is 29 days.

Question No. 343Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

With regard to the operations and management of Marine Atlantic Incorporated (MAI) and consultants’ reports presented to MAI or Transport Canada by Fleetway Incorporated and by Oceanic Consulting Corporation since January 1, 2005, what are the details of these reports with respect to the consultants’ reviews, analysis, findings and recommendations on MAI’s ferry replacement options?

Question No. 343Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Conservative

Denis Lebel ConservativeMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Marine Atlantic Inc., MAI, reports which summarize the extensive work done by the consultants can be found on the corporation’s website: http://www.marine-atlantic.ca/eng/publications.asp.

Question No. 344Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the closing of the search and rescue centres in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Québec City, Quebec: (a) what is the cost of relocating people from St. John’s and Québec City to either Trenton or Halifax; (b) what is the cost of linking, with a secure telephone line, the Halifax and Trenton coordination centres to emergency centres in the provinces of Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador; (c) what are the bilingual capabilities of the centres in Halifax and Trenton and what is their capacity to answer two different emergency calls simultaneously in French for both centres; (d) what is the cost of adapting each centre in Halifax and Trenton to deal with the increase in the number of calls that they will have to handle; and (e) how will the territory be split between the centres in Halifax and Trenton?

Question No. 344Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield ConservativeMinister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), no employees from the St. John’s and Quebec Marine Rescue Sub-Centres elected to relocate to the Halifax or Trenton Joint Coordination Centres. Therefore, there are no relocation costs at this time.

In response to (b), annual total overhead costs for telecommunications services will not change. The costs of transferring lines to emergency centres from St. John’s and Quebec to Halifax and Trenton are still under review.

In response to (c), language requirements at Halifax and Quebec are currently set at the BBB level by the Coast Guard and deemed satisfactory by previous reviews conducted by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Following consolidation, both the Trenton and Halifax Joint Rescue Coordination Centres will have the capacity to provide services in both official languages and bilingual capacity at the CBC level, an increase above the levels that are now in place at both Halifax and Trenton. The level of bilingual service is regularly reviewed by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

In response to (d), one-time implementation costs for relocations, training, meetings with partners and project management are estimated at $700,000.

In response to (e), currently, the Quebec Marine Rescue Sub-Centre is responsible for a portion of both the Search and Rescue Region of Halifax and Trenton Joint Rescue Coordination Centres. The St. John’s Marine Rescue Sub-Centre is responsible for a portion of the Halifax Joint Rescue Coordination Centre search and rescue region. Following consolidation, Halifax and Trenton Joint Rescue Coordination Centres will be responsible for coordinating all incident responses within their own defined search and rescue regions.