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House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak strongly against the government's omnibus budget bills and their repeated affronts to democracy, and, specifically, to the gutting of environment legislation in Bill C-45.

Previously, through economic action plan 2012 and Bill C-38, the government severely cut the budget to Environment Canada, gutted environmental legislation and cancelled the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. The Conservatives have also silenced dissent from environmental non-governmental organizations and have continued to muzzle government scientists. In so doing, they affect our economy and environment today and in the future.

Through Bill C-45, our world-renowned natural heritage is being further imperilled by a government that fails to understand that water is the foundation of life and that it is essential for socio-economic systems and healthy ecosystems.

The World Bank states that, “water is at the centre of economic and social development”, and is elemental across economic sectors including agriculture, energy and industry. Good management of water resources is fundamental to moving to a green economy.

In Canada, we depend on water for drinking, fishing, swimming. This precious resource further supports farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth.

Unfortunately, water management is becoming more challenging with climate change. Bob Sandford, lead author of Simon Fraser University's adaptation to climate change team, warned in 2011 that:

The days when Canadians take an endless abundance of fresh water for granted are numbered...Increasing average temperatures, climate change impacts on weather patterns and extensive changes in land use are seriously affecting the way water moves through the hydrological cycle in many parts of Canada, which is seriously impacting water quantity and quality.

As a result, the team called for a dramatic reform of Canada's water governance structures and made many recommendations: the recognition that water is a human right integral to the health and security of Canadians; the development of a new Canadian water ethic; the creation of a national water commission to advance policy reform; an improved understanding of the importance of water to Canadians' way of life; national water conservation guidelines and improved monitoring; and co-ordinated long-term national strategies for sustainably managing water in the face of climate change.

In stark contrast to those recommendations, the government would strip federal oversight from thousands of Canadian waterways through its latest anti-democratic and draconian omnibus legislation, Bill C-45. Specifically, the government would abolish the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which currently requires federal approval for development on the thousands of bodies of water across the country that are large enough to float a canoe.

The Navigable Waters Protection Act of 1882, considered Canada's first environmental law, would be changed to the navigation protection act. The focus of the law would no longer be to protect navigable waters but, rather, to protect navigation.

Canada has a huge number of lakes. The exact number is unknown. However, of the roughly 32,000 lakes previously protected under the old act, just 97 lakes would now be protected under the new act. Sixty-two rivers and three oceans would also be protected under the new act. Construction of bridges, dams and other projects would be permitted on most waterways without prior approval under the new act.

Needless to say, the original budget said nothing about restricting federal controls over lakes and rivers.

Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior counsel, West Coast Environmental Law, stated:

The Bill C-45...is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that will have major implications for the environment and human health. So much for the federal government’s promise that the bill would focus on budget implementation and contain no surprises.

The rewritten law would strip environmental protection once provided by the mandatory federal review. Ecojustice's executive director, Devon Page, said:

Simply put, lakes, rivers and streams often stand in the path of large industrial development, particularly pipelines. This bill, combined with last spring’s changes, hands oil, gas and other natural resource extraction industries a free pass to degrade Canada’s rich natural legacy.

Astoundingly, 90% of the lakes that would still be designated as protected are in Conservative ridings, 20% are in NDP ridings and only 6% are in Liberal ridings. Unbelievably, pipelines would be directly exempted from this law. Under the new act, pipeline impacts on Canada's waterways would no longer be considered in environmental assessments.

Instead of killing the old Navigable Waters Protection Act, the government should reverse the changes that would strip previous environmental protection of lakes, work to protect Canada's coastline, establish a network of marine protected areas in Canada's waters, encourage the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources, prioritize clean water, restore our freshwater ecosystems, clean up contaminated sediment and protect and restore essential habitat.

The government must stop repeatedly abusing Parliament by ramming through massive omnibus bills and turning the legislative process into a farce.

Two years ago, the government introduced an 880-page omnibus bill, representing half the entire workload of Parliament from the previous year. This past spring, the government introduced Bill C-38, a 425-page omnibus budget implementation bill that made sweeping changes to employment insurance, immigration and old age security. An astonishing 150 pages were devoted to destroying 50 years of environmental oversight. None of these changes were in the Conservative platform. This time, Bill C-45 is a 443-page omnibus bill that would alter some 60 pieces of legislation, including the Canada Labour Code, the Fisheries Act, the Indian Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Canadians are tiring of the government's omnibus bills. Last spring there were demonstrations across the country to protest the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38. Five hundred organizations joined the BlackOutSpeakOut campaign to stand up for democracy and the environment. Three thousand two hundred pages of complaints flooded the office of the finance minister and there was extensive international criticism.

In 1994, the MP for Calgary Southwest, our current Prime Minister, criticized omnibus legislation suggesting that the subject matter of such bills was so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles. He said, “Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent the views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.”

The Conservative government's action reek of hypocrisy. The Prime Minister is now using the very tactics he once denounced. Bill C-45 hides large changes to environmental laws, subverts democracy and weakens the protection of ecosystems.

The government's record on the environment is appalling, as recognized repeatedly by its bottom of the barrel environment performances. The 2008 Climate Change Performance Index ranked Canada 56th out of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th out of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance. In 2010, Simon Fraser University ranked Canada 24th out of 25 countries. This week we have been ranked 58th out of 61 countries on climate policy.

Under successive Conservative governments, the economy has been repeatedly pitted against the environment. Laws have been weakened and repealed to fast-track development with the environment and the health and safety of Canadians being put at risk. When did the debate change from protecting the environment in order to safeguard human health and well-being to gutting environmental protection in order to streamline expanding growth? Is it not time we made human health, particularly for our most vulnerable, our children, a consideration in the environmental debate?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and if you seek it I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, if the House has not disposed of the report stage of Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, the Speaker shall suspend the proceedings to allow members to make statements pursuant to Standing Order 31; followed by oral question period no later than 2:15 p.m.; and at 3 p.m. the House shall resume the proceedings on Bill C-45.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Does the hon. House leader have unanimous consent to move the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to ask my colleague a question.

The government is constantly telling us that everything in the budget implementation bill was mentioned in the budget that was tabled last March. However, we are well aware that a number of things that now appear in Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures—because there was also Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget—were not mentioned in the budget tabled in this House last March by the Minister of Finance.

The Conservatives are therefore tabling two 400-page bills proposing measures that were not even mentioned in their budget last March. Does my colleague have any comments to make about that?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is correct, and I mentioned the surprises in my speech.

Canada's leading environmental organizations, including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club, Canada West Coast Environmental Law, World Wildlife Federation Canada and others issued a joint statement decrying the fact that once again the federal government was making significant changes to environmental legislation without proper democratic debate.

When the government came to power, it inherited a legacy of balanced budgets but soon plunged the country into deficit before the recession every hit. It is absolutely negligent and shameful that the government would now continue to gut environmental safeguards in order to fast-track development and balance its books.

Because the government did not campaign in the last election on gutting environmental protection, Canadians should rise up, have their voices heard and stop the government's destruction of laws that protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians, our communities, our economy and our livelihood.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, to make it clear for the viewing public who are listening to this, the bill is 440 pages. Exactly half of that is in English and the other half is in French. The member knows that what is said in English is said exactly the same in French. I do not know whether they know that.

Of the 220 pages, which took me two and a half hours to read, is my colleague not happy with any of it or are there parts she is happy with and would vote for? Whether it is 5 pages or 220 pages, she would not be supporting us anyway.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, omnibus bills are anti-democratic and draconian.

I will detail where we have had cuts to the environment. We have had announced cuts of 700 positions to Environment Canada, cuts of another 200 positions to Environment Canada, the gutting of environmental legislation that has protected the health and safety of Canadians for the last 50 years, and the weakening of species at risk laws and water laws. We will go from protecting 32,000 lakes down to 97 lakes.

I will talk more about Bill C-45. West Coast Environmental Law said:

giving industry the option to request that their existing commitments to protect fish habitat be amended or cancelled, or that they be let off the hook for promised compensation for lost or damaged habitat;

eliminating the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission; and,

needlessly tinkering with the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012....

We heard from a former Conservative fisheries minister earlier on Bill C-38 who said, “They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act. They are making a Swiss cheese of it”. At the subcommittee, he said, “The bottom line is to take your time and do it right. To bundle all this into a budget bill, with all its other facets, is not becoming of a Conservative government, period”.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill C-45, jobs and growth act, 2012, because the measures in this bill are very important to my constituents in the riding of Kitchener—Conestoga.

Our economic action plan was built on a long-term plan called Advantage Canada. This plan has five major themes, and even through these difficult times we have advanced all five of these themes.

First is the tax advantage. Business taxes have been cut. This makes a huge difference for businesses in my riding who want to expand and provide opportunities for more jobs, which in turn makes a big difference for families in my riding. Since the Conservative government came to power in 2006, personal taxes are roughly $3,100 less for the average Canadian family of four. Tax freedom day, which in 2005 was June 26, has now been moved back to June 11. Again, these are crucial movements for families who are trying to raise young children.

Second is the fiscal advantage. We are on track to eliminate our deficit in the medium term.

Third is the entrepreneurial advantage. Canada's entrepreneurial advantage will reduce unnecessary regulation and red tape and lower taxes to unlock business investment. This idea of having one project and one review is so important. For too long, we have had all kinds of duplication on environmental assessments that has slowed down the process and added increased cost to businesses that are trying to expand. Also, the adoption of the one-for-one commitment, to reduce a regulation every time a new regulation is added, is an important aspect of cutting red tape for business.

Fourth is the knowledge advantage. Canada's knowledge advantage will create the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world. The knowledge infrastructure program, or KIP, has been amazingly important in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga. Conestoga College alone has benefited from investment from this program, which has allowed it to expand its engineering, health science and food processing faculties to increase its ability to add value-added products for our farming community.

Fifth, and finally, is the infrastructure advantage. Canada's infrastructure advantage will create modern world-class infrastructure to ensure the seamless flow of people, goods and services across our roads and bridges, through our ports and gateways and by way of our public transit. Investment in the rapid transit system in the Waterloo region and the Highway 8 bridge expansion and widening are increasing our ability to move goods and people through our region, which is also an amazing advantage for our businesses.

All five of these pillars have placed Canada in an enviable position relative to our global partners. However, the global scene is very uncertain. We are an exporting nation, so it is clear that our recovery cannot be complete until the rest of the world sorts out its fiscal and budgetary issues. Our manufacturers and farmers cannot sell their products until the rest of the world starts buying again. Therefore, while we are well positioned to take advantage of the eventual recovery, we cannot ourselves make the recovery happen.

While we are an island of stability in Canada, we do sit in a sea of uncertainty. Our role, as the government, is to ensure that the rising tides of global instability do not drown our relative prosperity. The global economic environment still poses great risks to governments, businesses, individuals and families.

I would now like to focus on a few of the issues in my region of Waterloo. My home in the Waterloo region is known for its entrepreneurial spirit. It is known for citizens who embrace risk, recognizing that risk is the door to opportunity. From the farmers whose livelihood depends on the whims of weather, to the high-tech entrepreneurs who risk their savings and sweat equity for the belief in their vision, Waterloo region's success in these troubled times is driven by the willingness of its citizens to believe in their ability to succeed and move ahead with confidence, even in the face of very great risk.

I would also like to summarize a few of Waterloo region's investments, by way of the economic action plan, in education and community and capacity building. First of all, on education, Conestoga College expanded its schools of engineering and health sciences and also instituted a brand new institute for food processing technology. The food processing technology faculty is the first of its kind to serve Ontario's second largest industry. We are known for our primary agricultural products, but I think it is important that we also recognize the importance of providing value-added products through the food processing industry. Also, there is the University of Waterloo and its Quantum-Nano Centre, new buildings with 21st century facilities for environmental studies and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

As it relates to economic action plan investments in our communities, we have invested in new or renovated recreational facilities in Wilmot, Wellesley, St. Agatha, Breslau, New Dundee, and Kitchener and the McLennan Park and Sportsworld arena.

We have invested in social housing units across the Waterloo region, many of them being renovated and upgraded. Our airport, a crucial engine of economic growth, has made numerous improvements to enhance safety and capacity, thanks to our government's emphasis on regional airports. Our airport is a stellar example of federal investments that improve safety, efficiency and capacity, and has led to increased trade, investment and employment. We have seen our worst bridges repaired, our worst roads resurfaced and our waste water systems renewed.

As it relates to capacity building in our economic action plan funding, Canada's economic action plan founded FedDev Ontario so that southern Ontario is no longer taken for granted as the only region in Canada without an economic development agency. FedDev Ontario has built programs designed to develop the capacity of southern Ontario's unique industries. These loans have allowed businesses across my riding, from high-tech companies like Miovision, to farm gate businesses like Conestoga Meat Packers, to build the capacity they need to capture new global markets.

This is incredibly important. Instead of seeing viable businesses fail, as other countries have, because of a temporary downturn, Waterloo region's businesses are prepared to capture the opportunities that will emerge when the rest of the world adopts this government's approach of stable banks, prudent budgeting and low taxation.

All of these investments have made our community a better place to live and to develop talent. We are a more prosperous community, a better builder of small and medium size businesses and a better place to raise a family. Going forward, the jobs and growth act promises to further enhance the lives of those I am privileged to represent. The bill's passage will conclude the implementation of Canada's economic action plan 2012 and contains measures that are essential to our continued prosperity.

I would like to now focus on some of the opportunities for business and families and individuals that Bill C-45 contains as it relates to my area. First of all, there is the bridge to Detroit. When I first ran for office, in 2005, Waterloo region's business leaders told me that increasing capacity at the border crossings at Detroit was a high priority. There is over $130 billion of trade that crosses between Windsor and Detroit. That is almost 30% of all Canada-U.S. trade.

Windsor-Detroit sees more than 8,000 trucks and 68,000 travellers cross that border every day. Over the next 30 years, all forecasts say that this traffic will increase. Truck traffic is expected to triple, while other vehicle traffic will double. The solution is found in Bill C-45. It will enable the government to fund the construction of the solution to these problems. The new Detroit River international crossing would reduce congestion on both sides of the border, support the creation of jobs along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, particularly in my riding of Kitchener—Conestoga, increase the competitiveness of the entire integrated North American manufacturing sector, and provide thousands of construction jobs in Windsor and Detroit, two communities that have been hardest hit by the uncertainty of global markets.

Another important initiative in Bill C-45 is the small business EI premium refund. I have referenced the needs of small businesses several times already. In high tech alone, our area enjoys one new high-tech startup business every day. Small and medium size businesses will provide the bulk of jobs created going forward. It makes sense to target hiring incentives to them. We need to provide incentives for them to hire now rather than later, when the economy has already improved.

The pooled registered pension plans are important for small and medium size enterprises because they have trouble attracting and retaining critical talent. One reason for this is that large firms are able to offer much more attractive pension plans, which smaller companies simply cannot afford to administer. These RPPPs will allow small business owners to provide pensions without the significant administrative burdens and responsibilities associated with traditional pension plans.

There are so many good initiatives in the bill, but I will have time to highlight them all. I would urge my colleagues, especially on the other side of the House, to support this bill. It will make a big difference for families in their ridings.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to ask my Conservative government colleague a question about the hiring tax credit for small business that he just mentioned. This measure applies to the 2012 tax year, the tax year that is ending in a few weeks, as we know.

We agree with this suggestion. It was even one of our main proposals during the election campaign.

Could he comment on the fact that this tax credit, granted by the Conservatives, will only apply to the 2012 tax year? In fact, hardly anyone will have a chance to take advantage of it because the tax year ends in just a few weeks.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, when it comes to taxes, it is this side of the House that has consistently reduced taxes for families and businesses through the past six years of being in government.

On the other side, all we hear, day after day, is to continue to increase taxes, even going so far as putting it right in their platform, on page 4, to include a $21 billion carbon tax, which we know would not only affect the cost of everything but would have a huge damaging effect on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga mentioned health sciences expansion and an expansion in educational facilities for students.

However, from talking to a number of people I know that one of the bottlenecks for getting people employed is the lack of clinical placements for people working in health sciences technology. Does the budget do anything for that?

On the subject of taxes, I would also ask my hon. colleague, who represents an area where a lot of innovation is happening, why his government is so willing to increase taxes on innovative companies by cutting the scientific research and experimental development tax credit?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I am going to start with the second question first.

This question has been raised many times throughout the day today. I think there is a lack of understanding of what Bill C-45 would do in totality. It is easy to focus on one little area and continue to ask questions about that area.

What my colleague does not understand is that our government has made some significant changes to how small businesses can operate their business. For example, we have removed many bureaucratic barriers for attracting foreign investment into small business. We are also adopting new programs, like the digital technology adoption projects. We are cutting red tape for small business.

Finally, on the last point of encouraging partnerships with colleges, what we see now is many of our colleges are partnering with industry. Industry brings an issue to them to help them solve it, so the engineers are working in partnership with industry. In this way, we have increased collaboration and we are actually addressing the problems that industry has instead of doing some theoretical studies about what a particular need might be.

These are all positive movements going forward.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, we see one of Canada's greatest challenges is innovation. It is also good to look at what other countries are doing in the world.

The number one innovative economy is Switzerland. It has set up these things called Swiss competence centres for energy research. I know the member for Kitchener—Conestoga has the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy at the University of Waterloo that looks into clean energy projects.

If we look down the partner list, it is true that private industry is there, but the federal government is nowhere to be seen in that partner list.

Switzerland knows the role of government can be as a facilitator between industry and academia in fostering innovation. Why does the Canadian government not see it the same way?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we believe business has a solution for many of these problems.

We cannot afford to have government involved in every little issue that business, families or communities represent. It is important that wherever we can we stay out of the way of business to allow them to solve their problems. By removing the red tape, like this budget would do, we will see a big expansion in those opportunities.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to add my remarks to those of my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga. I know he is doing an excellent job for the people in his riding. He represents them very well, and that is why he has been re-elected several times.

I would like to begin by giving some context for Bill C-45, because it requires an awareness of the economic situation in Canada and throughout the world. Despite worldwide economic upheaval, Canada has managed to create 820,000 new jobs since July 2009. This really is a huge success. The Government of Canada made decisions that ensure businesses will continue to hire employees. In addition, 90% of these jobs are permanent, full-time jobs and 75% of them are in the private sector.

Since 2008, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world—that is five years in a row. Moreover, Canada has a triple-A credit rating, while other countries' ratings are being downgraded. This is a great success, because it reduces the cost of borrowing and keeps our interest payments down. This instills confidence and shows that Canada really is a good country in which to invest.

The 2012 economic action plan builds on these successes in several ways. First, it intensifies Canada’s pursuit of new and deeper international trade and investment relationships, including updating the government’s global commerce strategy.

Second, it implements the action plan on perimeter security and economic competitiveness and the action plan on regulatory co-operation, which will facilitate trade and investment flows with the United States, our most important trading partner.

Finally, it provides support to Canadian businesses through tariff and tax measures, along with extended domestic financing by Export Development Canada. In other words, we are trying to broaden and diversify our international trade.

For the great trading city of Toronto, my home town, international trade agreements negotiated from a position of strength enhance job opportunities, whether to manufacturing, the arts or financial services.

I will highlight some important elements of Bill C-45, which follow through on the promises of economic action plan 2012 introduced in March of this year.

One key element is the responsible development of our natural resources. We are not exactly a mining centre in Toronto in the sense of taking something out of the ground. However, there are many jobs in the city of Toronto created by the mining sector. Of the world's mining companies, 70% are based in Canada, and 50% of the world's mining exploration and development capital is raised on Canadian stock exchanges. There are roughly 800,000 people in Canada working directly in natural resources and another 800,000 indirectly supporting the mining, minerals and energy sectors. This affects Ontario manufacturing and capital markets.

I would add about 10% of employment in places like the oil sands is filled by first nations people. Over 5% of employment in the Canadian mining sector is filled by first nations people. These are important job opportunities for first nations people across the country.

It also supports small business via measures such as the hiring credit for small business, which is important in the riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore. It allocates taxpayer money more efficiently, which means that our taxes can be reduced, whether income, corporate or consumption taxes, and it helps us return to a balanced budget in the medium term.

I will talk to the hiring credit for small business because it is so important for the business people in Etobicoke—Lakeshore, throughout Toronto and across the country. It is a successful measure that has benefited more than 534,000 employers in the last year. It reduces small business payments into the EI fund by about $205 million. Therefore, it is a significant measure and a shot in the arm for small businesses to hire people.

The measures in Bill C-45 protect us from global economic threats, such as the debt crisis in Europe and the fiscal cliff in the United States.

As for Europe, we are encouraged by the measures being taken by European leaders. Several European countries have taken the necessary austerity measures after years of excessive spending. We are also seeing the implementation of a legislative framework providing for a single supervisory mechanism for European banks with the support of the European Central Bank.

In the United States, we hope that the U.S. Congress will find a solution to the country's tax problems. The U.S. is still our biggest customer. It must absolutely purchase products from Canadian companies.

We hope the United States gets back on its feet financially and fiscally because it is very important to us.

Bill C-45 has one primary goal, and that is to create an economic environment that encourages investment and creates jobs. This means removing barriers to investment and growth, such as the useless, non value-added bureaucracy and red tape that we so often see in government. It also means keeping the government's finances in order by streamlining government spending so that eventually we can return to balanced budgets.

I mention that because it is important to highlight what we are not doing. We are not cutting transfers to provinces, unlike the previous Liberal government, where it balanced the budgets largely on the backs of the provinces by cutting transfers. In fact, we are increasing funding for the Canada health transfer, for example, raising it by $6 billion a year. We are looking at $29 billion this year and increasing it until it reaches $38 billion by 2017-18. I should mention that in Ontario, health care spending is only increasing by 3% a year, even though the transfer is increasing by 6% a year. Therefore, it appears the province of Ontario is pocketing the additional 3%.

The Canada social transfer will increase to $12 billion this year and the universal child care benefit will also increase to $13 billion this year. We are not cutting transfers.

I will mention one thing we are looking to do and that is to streamline public sector pensions. Contributors will pay 50% of the current service cost of the pension plan, which is fair to Canadian taxpayers because that is what those in the private sector are generally paying when it comes to their pension plans, whether it is a defined contribution pension plan or a defined benefit pension plan. For contributors who join the plan after January 1, 2013, the age of eligibility to receive a full pension will be raised from 60 to 65. Again, this aligns itself with what is out there in the real world and it ensures that these pension plans are sustainable for the long-term. We have taken similar measures on the MP pension plan, which had some imbalances that needed to be adjusted.

One of my colleagues mentioned R and D investments. That is very important for the city of Toronto, for the GTA, for the province of Ontario and across the country. A lot has been mentioned about the scientific research and experimental development, or SR&ED, tax incentive program. That is the single largest federal program when it comes to R and D. It provided about $3.6 billion in tax assistance in 2011.

However, we were recognizing in our government that spending in R and D that SR&ED was not the be all and end all. We needed to make improvements to our scientific research and development. Therefore, we chartered an expert panel, the Jenkins panel. It came with a series of recommendations. We have been following through on those recommendations in the budget and in the budget implementation act.

I want to highlight some of those changes. There has been some streamlining of SR&ED, removing some of the administration and complexity. In its place we are putting in some new measures. We are looking to expand the industrial research assistance program, or IRAP, by $200 million over two years. That is a very important measure that benefits a lot of innovative companies and it is not based on a tax credit; it is an actual injection of capital into their R and D efforts.

We are also enhancing some specific industry R and D programs with $470 million over four years to support innovation in automotive, aerospace, forestry and clean technology. It has been very important, looking at more direct investment, as opposed to just tax credits.

Another program I was very involved in, as part of my government operations committee, was when we reviewed the Canadian innovation commercialization program. It was a pilot program for two years, with $40 million over two years, that looked at helping companies get to their first level of production with new products. In budget 2012 and contained in Bill C-45, we are making that program permanent. It has been so successful. That will be a real shot in the arm.

The last thing I will mention when it comes to R and D is the creation of a venture capital fund for the BDC of about $400 million.

With all these measures in Bill C-45, I really encourage the opposition to join with us in voting this legislation forward. These are important measures for the Government of Canada and for the people of Canada. They will move us forward into the next several years.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to ask a question to my colleague, who speaks French very well. I am very happy to see someone from Etobicoke speak French so well. It is rather impressive, so I congratulate him for that. I think that is very important to mention.

I would like to talk about a recommendation made by the Toronto Board of Trade, of which the Etobicoke Chamber of Commerce is a member. In its 2012 Federal Pre-Budget Submission, the Toronto Board of Trade mentioned that it wanted to develop a national urban strategy.

In its submission for the prebudget consultations, it mentioned developing a national urban strategy that includes a national transportation strategy.

The organization made that demand in its pre-budget submission. Why did the government not implement this request by the Etobicoke Chamber of Commerce?

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Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Every year, the Minister of Finance receives about 3,000 submissions and requests regarding the budget from people across the country. This demand was not included in the budget.

As for investment in infrastructure, in Bill C-45, the budget implementation bill, there are huge investments in infrastructure. It is not a strategy or document left on a desk somewhere; these are specific responses to Canadian cities to ensure that they have the infrastructure needed to support their economy.

Those are the measures included in the budget implementation bill.

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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate all of the comments that the member has put on the record. I would ask him to reflect on something that was said back in 1994 by the present Prime Minister. He stated:

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

Today's Prime Minister was right, back then, in terms of the importance of keeping budget bills short, so that members would be afforded the opportunity to voice their views, give diligence and vote accordingly.

Does the member not believe that the budget bill would be a better bill if it were broken down into numerous other pieces of legislation, as has been the tradition in the past?

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Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is asking about this legislation being broken up. Previous budgets and previous budget implementation bills going back to 2009 were more complex. The world economic crisis happened, so we had to respond to that.

What we have in the budget is a comprehensive set of measures that form a comprehensive whole. We cannot look at things in isolation when it comes to reducing taxes, increasing investment in other areas or streamlining regulation. All of these things have to fit together, and that is why this bill has been presented this way. This is a comprehensive and integrated plan for putting Canada's economy back on its feet in the face of some very challenging times around the world.

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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member briefly tied ridings like my riding of Prince George—Peace River in northeastern B.C. to downtown Toronto and mentioned how those capital markets influence the bottom line in my part of the country.

The member spoke briefly about how important responsible resource development is for places in Canada. It is obvious in places like mine, but could he perhaps tell us how important it is to downtown Toronto?