Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-38, the economic action plan for 2012.
I want to make a bit of a contrast between what our Conservative government is doing in our budget and what the Manitoba NDP is doing in its provincial budget.
One thing I am glad to see in the federal budget and economic action plan 2012 is the mention of further funding for Lake Winnipeg to support our initiatives for clean water, clean air and clean land.
Overall, we have been investing for the past four years, through the Lake Winnipeg Basin initiative, which included the Lake Winnipeg water stewardship fund and which really has helped community-based projects. It assisted with science and research that looked at reducing algae and nutrient loads in Lake Winnipeg, ensuring we would have less beach closures due to contamination as a result of municipal and agricultural runoff and natural nutrient loads in Lake Winnipeg and throughout the entire watershed.
This watershed carries on, not just immediately around Lake Winnipeg. It includes almost the entire province of Manitoba, almost all of North Dakota, half of Minnesota and a bit of South Dakota. All of the southern prairies, including Saskatchewan and Alberta as well as northwestern Ontario all flow into Lake Winnipeg. It was a $14 million project over four years that invested heavily through Environment Canada into the scientific community, working with academics at universities throughout the watershed.
Unfortunately the Manitoba NDP provincial budget is completely mute on any new initiatives to protect Lake Winnipeg, to reduce nutrient loads, to ensure we can move ahead for a healthy rural economy and have a good fishery in Lake Winnipeg.
One of the things we have been talking about throughout Bill C-38 is the changes to the Fisheries Act and how those focus on improving the approval of drainage projects through rural Canada, especially those around agricultural lands.
All too often municipalities and farmers, in dealing with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, had nothing but delay after delay to do things as simple as cleaning out a ditch, replacing a culvert, replacing a crossing on a provincial drain or ensuring a drain was expanded to handle the excess moisture that could be falling in agricultural areas from time to time. It was always classified as fish habitat.
We know it is not fish habitat. Most of the year those drains, ditches and culverts are dry. There is not a fish in them. The bill would remove that burden from the federal fisheries, allowing it to focus on actual fish habitat, being rivers, creeks and lakes. It would ensure that any project occurring in those natural habitats would done quicker and assessments would be done expediently, so those projects could be done in an environmentally sensitive manner and enhance and protect fish habitat. There will not be overly cumbersome processes on municipalities and farmers in conducting their drainage projects.
My area of Selkirk—Interlake has been hit extremely hard over the past five years by excess moisture. Therefore, we want to address this critical issue. We will do that through the federal budget.
In Manitoba, the province has enhanced permit processes happening through water stewardship and more delays happening for things like lagoons, grey water from farmyards and farmhouses, making it more difficult for people to live in rural Manitoba. That just does not fly very far. I represent a rural area and most people are getting quite perturbed by the attack on rural Manitoba, which the provincial NDP has done.
This all relates to flood protection. In economic action plan 2012 and Bill C-38, I am glad we are increasing funding for permanent flood mitigation efforts by $99 million over the next three years, which is available to the provinces and territories. We are particularly concentrating on ensuring we have flood mitigation in place to deal with the flooding we experienced in 2011.
Whether it was the flooding in the Richelieu Valley in Quebec, or the excess flooding in southern Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan or the excessive flooding we are still experiencing along Lake Manitoba in my riding, this will help the provinces and municipalities build those permanent dikes, put in place proper controls and infrastructure to protect farm land and property and to ensure cottage owners and people who live in those beautiful pristine areas along our lakes and rivers have the protection they deserve, the same type of protection they would get in urban centres, especially like the city of Winnipeg.
This is in addition to all the money that we are going to be pouring into Manitoba through disaster financial assistance arrangements. We are going to be paying eligible expenses based upon the size of the flooding and the cost of the flood. Over 90% of the funds will be coming from the federal treasury because the province of Manitoba has complained so much that it is being overburdened with the cost of the flooding. We provided a cash advance of $50 million to help it pay for upfront costs and to help homeowners, farmers, communities and municipalities deal with all the excess costs that they had in dealing with the flood last year.
Manitoba has essentially not given us any credit for doing that. It continues to complain, saying that its costs and its budget shortfall of $930 million is because of the flood. Its flooding costs have just been over $300 million to date, cash out of pocket.
The Manitoba budget this year was an admission of mismanagement. It had to hire more adjusters. It is a year after the fact and those adjusters have still not finalized claims. People are still waiting for their money. Municipalities have still not been paid for damage that was done, roads that were replaced and dikes that were built. It is just too little, too late from the Manitoba NDP government.
I am proud that over the years since we have been government we have been reducing the GST. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. That has been a huge help to taxpayers and consumers. It keeps the cost of everything lower, mitigating the increases that happen every time a tax is put in place. It just keeps snowballing out of control.
What did the provincial NDP do? Let us look at the example of gas. If gas is $1.25 a litre, reducing that gas by 2% creates a 2.5¢ per litre saving for Manitobans. But what did Stan Struthers do in the last provincial NDP government budget? He put in place a gas tax of 2.5¢ per litre. That is a tax grab. That takes away the savings that we had passed on to Manitobans and to all Canadians. That is highway robbery because everybody has to drive. In Manitoba, it is unfairly hurting seniors and those living on fixed incomes. It is a direct attack on rural Manitobans because they have to drive the farthest and the most often. They are carrying that burden.
The other thing I want to point out is the income tax difference. We have continued to introduce tax measures that reduce the amount of taxes Manitobans and Canadians are paying.
I want to look at an average income of $40,000. In 1999, the year that the provincial NDP came to power, the federal tax was 17% on the first $29,590 and 26% on the next $10,410. The total payable federal income tax at that time was $7,736. In Manitoba, the tax at that time was 48.5% of the federal tax. If the federal tax was $7,736, the provincial tax would have been $3,752. Premier Selinger, who was the minister of finance at the time, delinked the provincial tax from the federal tax.
In 2011, federal tax was reduced to 15% on personal income and the tax bracket was moved up, so it is 15% on the entire $40,000. An individual would owe $6,000 in federal income tax. The Manitoba tax, though, is 10.8% on the first $31,000 and 12.7% on the remaining $9,000 of the $40,000. That is a total provincial tax due of $4,495--