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House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member from Barrie, who like me, represents a riding in Ontario where unemployment has been persistently high. How can he account for the fact that under the government, between 2007 and 2011, according to Statistics Canada, temporary foreign workers account for about 30% of all net new paid employment? This is before the changes that the government will bring in under the budget that will allow temporary foreign workers to be brought in on 10 days notice and be paid 15% less than the so-called going wage, which will drop as we get more and more temporary foreign workers. These workers, as we know, are not just working in agriculture or in northern Alberta, they are in workplaces across Ontario. How does he account for that?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Madam Speaker, there are things we can look at in our immigration system. The focus of my speech today is on the budget. However, in terms of job creation and foreign worker permits, there are some parts of the country where there are significant human resource shortages, which is an important tool of the immigration system.

Let me talk about the creation of jobs. I think that is what the member is interested in. One thing the budget does, this economic action plan, is it takes steps to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research, with over $1.1 billion in significant investments for research and development, $500 million for venture capital, support for increased public and private research collaboration and much more. These initiatives create jobs.

Supporting industrial research pays dividends. In my own riding of Barrie, there was a partnership with Wolf Steel to create a high efficiency furnace. It was mentioned on page 62 of the budget as an example of job creation through innovation. That is the type of job creation on which we need to focus.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Madam Speaker, I have two questions on the budget. I see two big hits. The first is in Cape Breton, where the Conservatives are cutting jobs in Parks Canada and Veterans Affairs.

The other is with CIDA. There are over $380 million in cuts. Many NGOs will be unable to help Canadians develop and deliver aid. Recently I heard about the Canadian Nurses Association that does great work around the world with CIDA, and the Conservatives have cut its funding.

Where is a good part for Cape Breton or international aid in the budget? I do not see it.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Madam Speaker, Canada, on a per capita level, has been one of the largest donors toward international aid. Canada still contributes huge amounts.

In February, I had a chance to go on an all party visit to Tanzania with the good member from Newfoundland. The Canadian contributions there made incredible differences. We can see in many areas of the world where CIDA has made huge differences, and continues to do so.

When it comes to this budget, every department looked at efficiencies and more effective ways of spending.

When the last significant recession hit in the 1990s, a Liberal government was in power. The decision was to slash particularly one area, health care. It also slashed the area of education. Those were areas that Canadians could not afford to have slashed. I am happy this budget has been balanced in the medium term. We have had a prudent approach with small efficiencies in a wide variety of departments, not focusing on one area like gutting the health care system. We still face the consequences of the Liberal gutting of the health care system in the mid-1990s today. We are facing doctor shortages and hospitals at capacity because of the short-sighted decisions made during that administration.

I am happy this budget took a much more responsible and prudent approach to ensure efficiencies were found across the board in a much more even manner.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to stand in support of Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, the key legislation to implement the economic action plan 2012.

Our Conservative government, as demonstrated through today's act, is focused on what matters to Canadians, which is keeping the economy on the right track. In that regard, the nearly 700,000 net new jobs Canada has created since July 2009, 90% of those being full-time jobs, is a positive sign we are on the right track for Canadian families.

Indeed, a recent Wall Street Journal editorial praised Canada's economic leadership focus on private economic growth and its sound policies as a model for others to follow. As CIBC World Markets chief economist Avery Shenfeld recently declared:

Canada’s federal government remains the very picture of health, standing head and shoulders above many developed countries in terms of fiscal sustainability.

Nevertheless, we recognize global economic turbulences remain today and too many Canadians are still looking for work. That is why the economic action plan 2012, legislated through Bill C-38, takes responsible, positive action to support the economy now and over the long term, while keeping taxes low and returning to balanced budgets.

This plan has been largely welcomed by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, save the ideological NDP opposition.

For instance, the Vancouver Board of Trade, representing thousands of businesses in the Lower Mainland, assigned an overall grade of A to the economic action plan 2012, noting:

The federal government's reasonable and prudent 'game plan' continues to be the right one for British Columbia and Vancouver, and it remains the right strategy for Canada within a challenging global economic environment

For the remainder of my time today, I want to focus on the aspects of the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act that deal with responsible resource development and how we have found the right balance between economic and environmental priorities.

Let me be clear. Our Conservative government is committed to being proactive in our stewardship of our national treasures, preserving them so we can pass them down to future generations. However, unlike the ideological NDP, we recognize that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Major economic projects create jobs and spur development across Canada.

In 2011 alone, the natural resource sector employed over 790,000 Canadians in communities throughout the country. It is predicted that in the next 10 years more than 500 major economic projects, representing $500 billion in new investments, are planned across Canada.

Increasing global demand for resources, particularly from emerging economies, will create new economic and job opportunities from which all Canadians will benefit. Canadians will only reap the benefits that come from our natural resources once investments are made by the private sector to bring the resources to market. Currently conditions are hardly ideal for any business that wants to do so.

Canadian businesses in the resource sector that wish to undertake major economic projects must navigate a complex maze of regulatory requirements and processes. Approval processes can be long and unpredictable. Delays and red tape often plague projects despite few environmental risks. In the federal government alone, accountability for assessments rests with dozens of departments and agencies, each with its own mandate, processes, information needs and timelines. This leads to duplication and the needless waste of time and resources.

The starting point of federal environment assessments can also be unpredictable, which can cause lengthy delays. This leads to delays in investment and job creation, and some plans are even abandoned because of them. Frankly, that is unacceptable.

As stated in a recent Vancouver Sun editorial:

Currently, worthwhile projects are needlessly bogged down in repetitive environmental and regulatory assessments that increase costs to industry without adding value for Canadian taxpayers.

That is why we have worked hard, since 2006, to streamline and improve regulatory processes. However, more work still needs to be done. A modern regulatory system should support progress on economically viable and significant projects and sustain Canada's reputation as an attractive place to invest, all the while contributing to better environmental outcomes.

That is why we are focusing on four major areas to streamline the review process for major economic projects in economic action plan 2012, specifically making the review process for major projects more predictable and timely, reducing duplication and regulatory burdens, strengthening environmental protection and enhancing consultations with aboriginal peoples. This modernized federal regulatory system will establish clear timelines, reduce duplication, regulatory burdens and focus resources more effectively to protect the environment.

We will achieve the goal of one project, one review, in clearly defined time periods, something long overdue, especially for my home province of British Columbia. In the words of British Columbia's finance minister Kevin Falcon:

The moving to a one-permit, one-process approach on environmental assessments is extraordinarily important for British Columbia...We have many major, major projects on the table today that are in the billions of dollars that could have important ramifications for jobs and employment. I’m really encouraged by that...

He went on to say that what they always said about the environment was that they should not measure the environmental process based on how long the process took, that it should be measured based on outcome and that was what they believed in.

Rest assured our Conservative government also understands that long-term economic prosperity and a high quality of life requires a healthy and sustainable environment. That is why protecting Canada's environment and the health of Canadians is a key priority of this government.

For instance, the safe navigation of oil tankers is very important to our government. Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada's west coast since the 1930s. For example, 82 oil tankers arrived at Port Metro Vancouver in 2011. Nearly 200 tankers visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat over the past five years. They all did this safely.

Canada's regulatory system had a lot to do with that. Oil tankers in Canada must comply with the safety and environmental protection requirements of international conventions, and while in Canadian waters, with Canada's marine safety regulatory regime.

These requirements include double hulling of ships, mandatory pilotage, regular inspections and aerial surveillance. In fact, in 2011 almost 1,100 inspections were carried out across Canada, 147 of them on oil tankers.

We have a strong system, but any responsible government must continually work to make it stronger. That is why economic action plan 2012 includes further measures to support responsible energy development, including: new regulations which will enhance existing tanker inspection regime by strengthening vessel inspection requirements; a review of handling processes for oil products by an independent international panel of tanker experts; improved navigational products, such as updated charts for shipping routes; research to improve our scientific knowledge and understanding of risks; and to manage the impacts on marine resources habitat and users in the even of a marine pollution incident, and much more.

As I indicated in my introduction, we must be vigilant in guarding our spectacular natural treasures, but unlike the NDP, we realize that Canada's economic prosperity cannot be sustained without a healthy environment, just as environmental progress cannot be achieved without a healthy economy.

That is why I urge all hon. members to join with me in supporting Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and supporting a stronger Canadian economy.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Madam Speaker, this is very alarming. I cannot believe that the members opposite are talking about the budget as though it is something good for the environment. Just this past Tuesday, the commissioner submitted his report, which painted a very grim picture.

Bill C-38 will dismantle several tools related to the environment, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which produces independent scientific studies on the environment. There are still 13,000 contaminated sites awaiting assessment and cleanup, and major oil development projects are on the way.

How can we trust a government that says one thing but does the complete opposite?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I assure my hon. colleague that the environment is a priority for this government and will be into the future.

At the same time, we must also look at our resource sector. We must find environmentally sustainable ways to get our products and resources to the marketplace in other parts of the world as Canada is a trading nation. Therefore, we are making the review process for major economic projects more timely and transparent while protecting the environment, and helping realize the objective of one project, one review in a clearly defined period.

This is extremely important because those companies that are interested in investing large sums of money, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars, need certainty with respect to finding out if their projects will be allowed to go forward within a specified time period.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, there are many topics that my hon. friend from North Vancouver touched upon in his speech, which I would love to probe further, but I want to focus on the tanker statements that he made.

This is a debate on Bill C-38 and nothing in Bill C-38 speaks to tankers, regulations for tankers or funding for tanker safety, so I will set that aside. That comes from other documents. There may be regulations in the future, but there is nothing in Bill C-38 on tanker safety.

I also would dispute the claim that the B.C. coast has had lots of oil tankers. There has been a moratorium against supertanker traffic on the B.C. coast, particularly the northern coastline, with the exception of Vancouver because it was grandfathered. Vancouver harbour was left out of the 1972 moratorium, which was respected by every level of federal and provincial governments since 1972. That is why there have not been tanker accidents.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I can say that from my home in North Vancouver I can see oil tankers go up Burrard Inlet on a regular basis. This has taken place since the 1930s without a single incident. It is responsible management. We have very strict regulations in place and it is because of those strict regulations that we have been able to keep our waters safe for almost 90 years.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, the fact is that eastern Canada has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, while western Canada has increased emissions. Despite the provinces' ongoing efforts, the situation is still not under control.

Why is at least one-third of Bill C-38 about environmental deregulation?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the environment is a priority for this government and we intend to continue to protect our environmental treasures for future generations. At the same time, we are looking for ways of expanding the marketplace for our resources, which will be done in a responsible manner.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-38, the first implementation bill of budget 2012, an omnibus bill that should never have been.

If we want to talk about the budget that is one thing, but when everything is thrown into this bill, it makes it impossible for Canadians to have a real handle on exactly what it is that is in this budget, which causes a problem not only for me as a member of Parliament representing the people of Random—Burin—St. George's, but, I would expect, for all MPs who take great exception to what the government has done here.

Canadians from coast to coast to coast anxiously awaited this budget as they continued to struggle to make ends meet. I know that from first-hand experience as there are difficult times in my own riding of Random—Burin—St. George's, particularly when we are talking about seasonable industries, which is another issue that we need to deal with.

With sporadic job growth in the last six months and thousands of full-time jobs being replaced with part-time jobs, Canadians expected the budget to focus on jobs. Unfortunately, the government let Canadians down once again. Rather than focusing on much-needed job creation, the government has chosen to focus on dividing Canadians.

Since 2006, the government has sought to divide Canadians. It is obvious that budget 2012 is no different. Given the damage that will be done by this budget, it is impossible for anyone concerned about the future of our country to support its implementation.

As the government irresponsibly pits generation against generation, and we see that with the OAS changes, region against region, economy against environment, and when we consider that over 120 pages of the budget deal with the environment, it is reckless. In its reckless quest to divide and conquer, the government has done all of these things.

Canadians stand united in opposition to the government's dangerous politics and policies. The Liberals have never shied away from ensuring that government is run efficiently.

As members debate the implementation of this austerity budget, it is important to remember how Canada's economy reached this stage. The last Liberal government left the Conservatives with a $13 billion surplus and the Conservatives promptly spent the Liberal surplus into a Conservative deficit well before the recession. In fact, the Conservatives have the distinction of being the highest spending, largest deficit creating government in Canadian history, and now they are trying to have Canadians take responsibility for that. The Conservatives are taking it out on the backs of Canadians.

Had the Conservatives not spent so much irresponsibly before the recession, Canada's deficit would be nowhere as high as it is today.

Bill C-38 is the first in a series that will attempt to implement the Conservative's slash-and-burn agenda and cause havoc in Atlantic Canada in particular as federal jobs and services are cut.

The Conservative government began its slash-and-burn agenda in the 2010 strategic review that saw $32 million in cuts over three years to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, with an additional $17.9 million in new permanent cuts. These new cuts in budget 2012 represent nearly 20% of ACOA's entire operating budget. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians rely on ACOA to create opportunities for economic growth in their region, just as the rest of Atlantic Canada does.

Now is hardly a time to cut programs that stimulate the economy, help create jobs and increase federal tax revenue in the process.

Adding to the $6.6 million in cuts over three years to Marine Atlantic, which occurred in the last budget, budget 2012 cuts an additional $10.9 million in new permanent cuts. These cuts are especially difficult for my constituents when we consider that the Marine Atlantic ferry service is our connection to the rest of the country.

These cuts also include the closing of vitally important washing stations in Channel-Port aux Basques and Argentia. Some vehicles need to be washed off because they have picked up contaminated soil that is prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador that carries the potato wart and the potato cyst nematode infected soil. Washing the vehicles ensures that the contaminated soil is not exported to other Canadian provinces where it could do irreparable harm, particularly in P.E.I. and New Brunswick, to the multi-billion dollar potato industry in this country.

History shows even a minor infestation in a potato-producing area can have serious consequences. In 2000, when a small area, a mere 24 hectares, of Prince Edward Island soil was found to have been contaminated by the potato wart fungus, the United States moved immediately to close its borders to P.E.I. potatoes for months. This resulted in a $22 billion loss to P.E.I. potato farmers.

For a province such as Prince Edward Island where the potato industry is a major contributor to its economy, the loss of this industry would be as devastating as the cod moratorium is to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I can only explain how devastating that was when today that cod moratorium is still in existence. The cod has not returned and I can only imagine how it would be in P.E.I. if the contaminated soil were to impact the potato industry there to the extent that the cod moratorium has impacted Newfoundland and Labrador.

Of particular concern to my constituents in Random—Burin—St. George's and to the many coastal communities in Canada is the dangerous approach the government has taken to the fishery.

Last year's budget cut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans by $84.8 million over three years, while this budget goes further, permanently cutting an additional $79.3 million from the DFO budget. Worse, the government is rolling the dice when it comes to fish management strategy by cutting the financial capacity for evidence-based fish monitoring and protection of fish habitats and removing the protection of many freshwater fish species.

Even the Conservatives are upset with this attack on the fishery. Former Conservative fisheries minister, Tom Siddon, said, “This is a covert attempt to gut the Fisheries Act, and it’s appalling that they should be attempting to do this under the radar”.

In addition to the Conservatives' cuts to the fishery, they are considering sweeping changes to the fleet separation and owner operated policies, which would directly affect 30,000 jobs and destroy small rural fishing communities. If DFO were to cancel the fleet separation policy, allowing large processors to engage in the inshore fishery, the traditional harvester would eventually be squeezed out of the industry. Clearly, the Conservatives have no interest in seeing the fishery survive.

As I mentioned earlier, I also have concerns with the proposed changes to employment insurance in Bill C-38. While not all changes are negative, we know already from budget 2012 that instead of working to help create more jobs, the government is increasing a direct tax on employment by hiking the employment insurance premiums by $600 million. EI recipients must apply for suitable employee vacancies to qualify for benefits. Bill C-38 would delete the provisions that deem employment opportunities to be unsuitable whether or not the opportunity is in the claimant's usual occupation and offers a lower rate of pay or working conditions that are less favourable than the claimant has a right to expect, only something that we would all expect.

This bill also would unduly grant the minister the power to make changes to the EI Act without legislation and parliamentary approval by giving the minister the power to change the definition of “suitable employment”. What is suitable employment? There was no consultation whatsoever with either employers or employees with respect to these proposed changes to the EI. The Conservatives have yet to announce details of what they will consider suitable employment and yet they expect Parliament to grant them unrestricted power to do so. People are nervous and naturally scared not knowing what to expect.

One has to wonder if the government's end game is to force Atlantic Canadians to relocate permanently to Alberta for work or to accept jobs outside of their skill area. There is no discussion about appropriate training for people and, of course, when they get to the age of 55 or 60, particularly if they have been working in a fish plant all of their life and, in a lot of cases, in the seasonal industry in the fish plant, what are they going to retrain for? What other skill will they retrain for at that age in their life? It is a time when they would like to retire and they would like to retire at 65, as has always been the case. However, the government has seen fit to move that age of eligibility from 65 to 67, making it even more difficult on people who work in demanding environments.

In contrast to the government's attempt to implement its austerity budget is the government's shockingly expensive advertising campaign to try to convince Canadians that the government is not failing Canada, not as badly as it seems anyway.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Madam Speaker, I respect the member for the passion that she brings to her speeches.

She began her speech by saying that our government was running deficits before the global recession. That is not true. It is misleading the House to say so. Our government had balanced budgets, and she should know this well. The global recession that took place was beyond Canada's control. She should also know that Canada is doing better than any other G7 country in handling the global recession. We have created 700,000 net new jobs, three-quarters of them are in the private sector and 90% of them are full-time jobs. We are doing incredibly well.

She said that our government has driven us into deficit, and then spent the last 90% of her time saying that we have a slash and burn agenda. She has completely contradicted herself. I do not know if she is aware of how contradictory she was and how badly she failed in messaging a position on this.

She should note that the Liberal Party, her party, voted for those budgets that she says were so devastating. She stood and voted for them but she thinks they were awful. If they were so awful, perhaps she should apologize to her constituents.

Later in her speech she said that “clearly the Conservatives have no interest in seeing the fisheries survive”. Does she--

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I must give the hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's the opportunity to respond.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, obviously my hon. colleague is being very defensive, and rightly so, but it is impossible to defend what the government has done. The Conservative government spent a $13 billion surplus. It ran the country into the highest deficit position ever and now it is trying to take it out on the backs of Canadians. Yes, slash and burn, because the decisions the government is making are hurting Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Why is the government increasing the number of seats in the House of Commons? I would like my colleague to explain that to Canadians. The government wants to increase the House of Commons by 30 additional seats. That is totally unacceptable.

Why is the government looking at spending billions on--

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Questions and comments. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, there is a quaint expression where I come from and it is “fair wages benefit the whole community”. It is based on the notion that a well-paid, consuming, middle class is good for the economy.

Why then, deep within the bowels of Bill C-38 do we find this little jewel that repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act for the construction industry? It used to be the prevailing wage was somewhere close to union scale for federally regulated construction projects, like pipelines for instance. Now, a construction contractor can offer any salary and any hours of work with no overtime. If no Canadians apply within 10 days, that contractor gets temporary foreign workers in there who will work for peanuts and sleep six to a hotel room and undermine the entire prevailing wage set by the industry.

Some people have worked 100 years toward setting fair wages for the construction industry and that was manifested in the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. This piece of legislation would repeal that and enable pipeline contractors to build the next pipeline with temporary foreign workers.

Does my colleague realize that 30% of all the jobs created since 2007 in this country have been filled by temporary foreign workers? These are not landed immigrants. They are now being paid any wage they want.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, what we are seeing is a reflection of the thinking behind the government and absolutely no respect for people who work in seasonal industries in particular. The government is suggesting that people will have to find suitable employment right away but they do not even get to decide what suitable employment is. The fact is, the minister will decide.

Absolutely no consideration is being given to Canadians who need and want work but for whatever reason are not able to avail themselves of work. They are being forced to take whatever is available. If this legislation is going to leave it up to the minister to define suitable work, then we have a problem in this country.

With respect to foreign workers, I too am concerned that we are going to end up driving down the wages of Canadians by going down this path.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to have the opportunity today to rise on behalf of the citizens of Winnipeg South Centre and to speak to my colleagues about the government's economic action plan 2012.

As a chartered accountant, I am proud to be part of a government that represents sound fiscal planning, job creation and economic growth. As a mother, I am grateful for the government's direction on long-term prosperity. We have to take care of future generations. We need to be responsible and make sure that our children do not start their lives with their futures mortgaged. It matters that we are good stewards. It matters to our children's futures and well-being. It matters to our country's future and well-being.

I would like to speak of our government's support in economic action plan 2012 for research and development and commercialization because it also matters for the future.

The Minister of Finance regularly consults private-sector economists to find out what they think about the future of Canada's economy. The economic forecasts in our 2012 economic action plan are based on a survey carried out in early March of this year and take into account the viewpoints of 14 independent private-sector economists. The average of these independent private-sector economic forecasts has been used as the basis for financial planning since 1994, which gives our economic forecasts an independent dimension. This practice is endorsed by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

In addition, since the 2012 economic action plan was tabled last month, Canada's leading economists have applauded its prudent outlook and Canada's solid economic performance.

For example, on March 29, economist Patricia Croft said of the budget's “ initiatives in the job front and addressing the demographic challenge.... In both regards I’d have to give the budget probably an ‘A’.... In a global context, I think Canada is in a fabulous position”.

Avery Shenfeld, Chief Economist, CIBC World Markets, said in the Toronto Star on March 30 that the budget “makes sense in a world economy that is still not what we would like it to be… Relative to what anybody else is doing, we still come out with flying colours”.

I mentioned that I am a chartered accountant. I would like to speak to comments made by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants regarding the government's budget. The CICA is a professional body representing CAs in business, government and public practice. It even represents a member of Parliament. In its budget brief 2012, it said that the budget “positions Canada well for the future while providing prudent fiscal management”. These are the fiscal managers of Canada. It continued, “Budget measures being introduced are designed to serve the short-term while maintaining a vision that embraces the long-term.”

Given those glowing remarks, I am going to share with the House today some of the initiatives being taken by our government to support innovation and create a reputation for Canada as a world leader in cutting-edge research, development and commercialization.

The global economy is changing. Competition for the brightest minds is intensifying. The pace of technological change is creating new opportunities while making older business practices obsolete.

Canada’s long-term economic competitiveness in this emerging knowledge economy demands globally competitive businesses that innovate and create high-quality jobs.

As the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages just said, we have created over 700,000 jobs since the global crisis in 2009 and 90% of those are full-time positions.

Since 2006, the government has provided nearly $8 billion in new funding for initiatives to support science, technology and the growth of innovative firms. Despite strong policy fundamentals to support innovation in Canada, Canadian businesses do not take full advantage.

Canada continues to lag behind peer countries in terms of overall innovation performance, including private sector investment in research and development and the commercialization of research into products and processes that create high-value jobs and economic growth.

Following a comprehensive review of federal support for research and development by an expert panel led by Thomas Jenkins, the government is committed to a new approach to supporting innovation in Canada by pursuing active business-led initiatives that focus resources on better meeting private sector needs.

In economic action plan 2012, our government announced $1.1 billion over five years to directly support research and development and $500 million for venture capital.

These investments and actions keep our economy strong, create high-quality jobs and ensure that Canada is a premier destination for the world's brightest minds.

Economic action plan 2012 implements important measures that will make it possible to meet the challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the global economy, while maintaining sustainable social programs and sound public finances for future generations.

I engaged in significant pre-budget consultations within my community and I continue to consult widely to best serve my constituents. I recently had the honour of speaking with Mr. Kevin Dancey, the national president of the CICA. We discussed the budget. Of course, Mr. Dancey is very interested in serving his community of chartered accountants, and there were three areas that Mr. Dancey singled out and praised.

First, the new tax incentives for innovation, which I have already referenced.

Second, the significant reduction of red tape being undertaken by the government to assist small businesses in particular to create jobs and assist with continued economic growth.

Economic growth is truly necessary.

Finally, critical to Canada's accounting professions and to many other professions in Canada are the measures being taken by the government's commitment to support improvements to foreign credential recognition.

Economic action plan 2012 was developed with current and future Canadians in mind. It creates new opportunities for the brightest Canadians to create jobs through innovation and fosters long-term financial growth. Its prime focus is on job creation. The economic action plan focuses on economic growth and long-term prosperity. I am very happy to say that it recognizes the importance of support to science, technology and commercialization.

As the global economy changes, I am proud to see Canada remain proactive in preparation for a future of economic prosperity that will benefit our children.

To that end, I am so proud to be associated with a government that not only cares about the right now but cares enough about our future generations to make things possible. We do not just care about giving pensions to pensioners now; we care about making sure that our children and their children will also have those privileges.

I am proud to be associated with a government that is focused on creating jobs for Canadians and on ensuring we have une croissance économique extraordinaire et, franchement, le meilleur du monde and is focused on long-term prosperity.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-38 amends the Employment Equity Act so that it no longer applies to federal contracts. Women's groups have been fighting for pay equity for several decades.

Would the member, who has a federal contract, agree to be paid less for her work rather than having equal pay for equal work?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I do not know if the member is aware, but all employees of the House are employees of the federal government and are working for Canadian citizens. We have taken a pay cut for three years. Members of Parliament have taken a pay cut.

Therefore, in answer to her question, I am very proud to do so because we are all doing our part.

We have a plan for economic growth, which is very important. The first part of our plan will create jobs, which is key. The second part of our plan will address economic growth and, as I mentioned in my speech, that is very important for long-term prosperity.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I have worked with my Conservative colleague and I know that she really believes what she is saying. By the way, I would like to congratulate her on the continued improvement of her French.

She spoke a great deal about job creation. I would like to know how she reconciles this with, for example, what the Parliamentary Budget Officer told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. He confirmed that the Conservatives' austerity budget will result in the loss of 43,000 jobs and slow the economic recovery, and that the budget and previous cuts together would result in a total loss of 103,000 jobs.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. I take pride in her comments about the improvement in my French. That is important to me.

As I mentioned, Canada's economic growth has been tremendous.

We truly are the envy of the world.

We have been recognized by the International Monetary Fund, and publications such as Forbes magazine, Fortune magazine and The Wall Street Journal have published articles on our economy.

I will learn how to say this en français very soon, but we are the envy of the world.

We have created more than 700,000 jobs since 2009, which is incredible in this fragile global economy. Some of our counterparts in Europe are grappling with economies that are still too fragile. I am pleased with our approach to job creation and economic growth, but most of all, I am pleased with our current prosperity and the outlook for generations to come.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2012 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking today on budget 2012, which is going to be keeping our taxes low and returning Canada to a balanced budget over the medium term, which is good news for Canadians.

Economic action plan 2012 focuses on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Budget 2012 also demonstrates the Conservative government's strong support for British Columbia through record federal transfer supports for hospitals, schools and other critical services. Transfers totalling over $5.6 billion in 2012-13, represent an increase of over $1 billion from the former Liberal government.

The average hard-working family is paying $3,100 less in taxes under our government. It is also keeping taxes low for small and medium-sized business, and it facilitates the responsible development of Canada's energy and natural resource sector. We will do this without raising taxes and without cutting transfers to the provinces for services that families rely on, like health care and education.

There is more that our government can and will do in the years to come to ensure Canada remains competitive in the world market and provides great opportunities for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

The natural resource sector employs more than 760,000 people in communities throughout the country. It is the engine that drives our great nation. Over the next 10 years, 500 major projects, representing $500 billion in new investment, are planned across Canada. In the rich oil sands developments, the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that in the next 25 years oil sands growth will support, on average, 480,000 jobs per year in Canada and will add $2.3 trillion to our GDP.

In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, Teck Resources, the world's second largest producer of metallurgical coal, is expanding to ensure that it is able to keep up with the world demand for steelmaking coal.

We must ensure that the natural resource sector can move forward with projects in a timely and transparent manner, while effectively protecting the environment. With that in mind, our government will focus on four major areas to streamline the review process for major economic projects. We will be making the review process more predictable and timely. We will reduce duplication. We will strengthen environmental protection. We will enhance consultation with aboriginal peoples. With that, we are going to consolidate responsibility for reviews and have fixed beginning-to-end timelines. Panel reviews will be 24 months. NEB hearings will be 18 months. Standard EAs will be 12 months. We will institute a one project, one review process.

There are countless examples of companies having to go through a dual process for a project only to be approved at one level and denied at another. At best, this is extremely frustrating, provides no surety to investors in the project and further bogs down the process.

What are we going to do? We propose to invest $54 million to renew the major projects management office to transform the approvals process for major natural resource projects by shortening the average review time from 4 years to 22 months and improve accountability by monitoring the performance of federal regulatory departments.

We propose to invest $13.6 million over the next two years to support consultation with aboriginal peoples. We want to ensure that their rights and interests are respected and also facilitate discussions on how they can benefit from economic development opportunities.

We propose investing $35.7 million over the next two years to support responsible energy development.

I have heard much about the concern of tanker traffic specific to our west coast. Oil tankers have been moving safely along Canada's west coast since the 1930s; 82 oil tankers arrived at Port Metro Vancouver last year, and over the past five years nearly 200 oil and chemical tankers have visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat. They all did so safely.

Tankers in Canada must comply with the safety and environmental protection requirements of international conventions, and they must also comply with Canada's marine safety regulatory regime. This includes double hulling of ships, mandatory pilotage, regular inspections and aerial surveillance.

We propose to invest $13.5 million over the next two years to strengthen pipeline safety. We will do this by increasing the number of inspections on oil and gas pipelines from 100 to 150, and we will double the number of annual comprehensive audits from three to six, to identify issues before incidents happen. Why? Because we value the importance of economic stewardship. We want our natural resource sector to continue to be the safest and most environmentally responsible in the world.

Our government also recognizes that in order for our business sector to flourish, we must open new markets for it. That is why we will continue to explore free trade agreements with countries around the world. It is the best way for Canada to grow its economy and create jobs.

Our Conservative government recognizes the importance of clean energy and the opportunities available to those who wish to explore this avenue. As such, under the capital cost allowance regime in the income tax system, class 43.2 of Schedule II of the Income Tax Regulations, we will provide an accelerated CCA rate for investment in specified clean energy generation and conservation equipment. Here are some examples: using a renewable energy source such as wind, solar and small hydro; using fuels from waste such as landfill gas, wood waste and manure; and making efficient use of fossil fuels such as in high-efficiency cogeneration systems, which simultaneously produce electricity and useful heat.

This is an exciting opportunity for communities across Canada to look at investing in cogeneration plants that can create electricity and heat from solid waste, as it is something that every community across Canada must deal with on a daily basis. It opens up opportunities for companies across Canada to expand in new technology, which will benefit Canadians for generations to come.

Finally, I am extremely pleased that our government will invest $150 million over the next two years to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities. This will be done under the community infrastructure improvement fund. As a former mayor, I can say that keeping community facilities updated is vitally important to ensure they can be used in a safe and efficient manner. Every community in Canada can benefit from this program, and in turn it will promote healthy and vibrant cities and towns from coast to coast to coast.

This touches on just a small portion of the economic action plan 2012. I am proud to be part of a government that continues to focus on jobs, growth and the economy. This is what Canadians want us to do: be responsible, forward-thinking and prudent.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my Conservative colleague, I would like to point out a glaring contradiction in his speech. He just said that the budget seeks to reduce conflicts between environmental assessments, but Bill C-38 does exactly the opposite by allowing cabinet to overrule the National Energy Board's assessments. The NEB approves or rejects projects, but cabinet could overrule those decisions. What is more, Bill C-38 limits the review timelines for the NEB and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. That is serious. Canadians need more safety, not less.