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House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Freedom of the PressOral Questions

3 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam B.C.

Conservative

James Moore ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, these allegations are simply false.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the recipients of the 2012 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards: Earlaine Collins; Janina Fialkowska; Paul-André Fortier; Geddy Lee; Alex Lifeson; Neil Peart; Des McAnuff; and Deepa Mehta.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would remind hon. colleagues that there will be a reception in room 216 immediately following question period.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, hearing the announcement of the reception, I will try to keep this as brief as possible for myself and the government House leader.

We have some questions about what the government plans for the next number of days. First, we would like confirmation from the government on the NDP's next opposition day.

As well, on Bill C-38, the omnibus bill that the government has lumped in a whole suite of quite damaging and fundamental changes, not just to the way Parliament works and the government's procedure of shutting down debate, but also in Canadian life, such as pensions, pay equity and environmental protections, will the five days remaining for debate be in their full context or is the government planning to introduce other measures of disruption of Parliament's ability to hold the government to account?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, on the last point, I would say no.

Today we will continue debate on Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, which would implement our budget, economic action plan 2012. As the economy is our government's most important priority, we have ensured that this will be the longest budget debate in the past 20 years. It might have been y much longer than that but that is as far back as we went in our research. This debate will have been longer than every other debate at second reading on a budget implementation bill in the previous two decades. Why is it longer? We think all members of the House should be focused on the economy but we hear very little about it in question period. The economy is our priority. We have ensured that this will be the longest debate in the past 20 years so there will finally be a focus on the importance of the economy, job creation and economic growth.

The bill would implement many important measures from our budget. To recap, the Minister of Finance tabled the economic action plan 2012 on March 29. We then had four days of debate on the budget, three of which, I would remind the NDP House leader, were filled by one member, the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster who prevented most of his colleagues and all parties from getting a chance to debate the budget. On Wednesday, April 4, the House voted on and approved the budgetary measures put forward by the finance minister. It was then, on Thursday, April 26, that we introduced Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, to implement measures that the House approved. On that day, I indicated to the House that we would be having the second reading vote on May 14. We are on track to keep that commitment.

Today is the second of seven days this bill will be debated prior to the second reading vote on May 14. Tomorrow will be the third day. We will continue with the fourth day of debate on Monday, May 7; the fifth day on Tuesday, May 8; the sixth day on Wednesday, May 9; and the seventh day on Friday, May 11.

This ample debate will allow hon. members from all sides of this House an opportunity to put forward their views on this bill, especially since the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster will no longer be able to block other MPs from speaking, as he did during the Budget debate.

And finally, Thursday, May 10, will be the third allotted day, for the NDP.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to follow my colleague from Welland on this debate. He quite eloquently spoke to the flaws of this bill. I would like to also thank him for his work on the agriculture file and on behalf of farmers.

Just prior to the start of this debate, my colleague from Malpeque and I were discussing how what we are witnessing is a transformation of our country. We were discussing the state of our country, and this omnibus bill, which lumps in all these measures that are chipping away at what many Canadians believe in, is just an example of this. I would go so far as to say that although we speak the same language, we are dividing ourselves into two new solitudes. One is represented by the government side, which represents a minority of citizens in our country, and the other side is represented by this side here, which represents the majority of citizens, citizens who really do not want to see major changes to our social net or to our system.

What are we seeing? We are seeing a government saying that it is all about job creation. At the same time, we are seeing a tremendous loss of public service well-paying jobs. I would like to remind people in the House that especially in our small rural communities, well-paying jobs are the main economic driver. These are the folks who drive the economy. They are the ones who go to restaurants and buy the local cars. They are the ones who keep our communities alive. What we are seeing here is that a lot of these jobs are being cut, and, as I will explain later, it is for no real reason.

Just before I move on, I would like to talk about what I call “union bashing”. We have well-paying jobs in this country, both in the private and public sectors, because we have a labour movement that has worked hard to ensure a high standard. I was talking with some representatives of the Canadian Police Association the other day when they were in town. They told me the reason they have well-paying jobs as police officers is that police officers, with the exception of the RCMP, have unions or associations, and the reason the RCMP has a livable wage is that the bar has been set by people who are represented by unions. At the same time we see Bill C-377, the accountability of unions act, loading a whole bunch of red tape on police associations and other trade unions in the country, which is totally unacceptable.

What are the budgetary consequences of this 2012 budget?

First, there will be at least 19,200 jobs lost in the public service. Second, there will be a total of between 50,000 and 72,000 jobs lost in the economy, including 1,119 jobs lost at the Department of National Defence, 162 fewer trade officers in Canada, 840 layoffs at Health Canada, 650 layoffs at the CBC, at least 4,800 layoffs in the NCR, 252 layoffs in client service at Veterans Affairs Canada, 100 food inspectors laid off, and I could go on.

What are we seeing, then? We are seeing that for no reason, the public service, consisting of civil servants who are professionals and do their jobs, is being reduced for what I would submit are ideological reasons. Why are they ideological? I am not sure if people are aware of this, but by the year 2014, the current government, since 2006, will have given the corporate sector over $220 billion of corporate tax cuts. That is $220 billion. Let us juxtapose that with raising the age of qualification for pensions to 67 and the hardships that will cause to a lot of seniors on marginal income. Let us juxtapose that with other cuts to the public sector and to the environment.

I would like to also say that choices are made by government. It appears the choice has been to make these drastic cuts to not only the public sector but to our way of life. There is a choice in spending billions of dollars on F-35s or even $30 million to somehow glorify the War of 1812, which nobody really cares about. We can tell that to pensioners who are trying to make ends meet and see what they have to say about it.

We talk about economic recovery. We talk about the fact that Canada supposedly has led the world economic recovery, whereas research that has been done has shown that two countries have been stronger than Canada in recovering from the economic downturn. One is Sweden, the other Australia.

Let us talk about Sweden, a country where there are no strikes, where everything is done by collective agreement and where the law mandates that labour is represented on corporate boards so that there is a working relationship between government, corporations and labour. Let us talk about a country where there is free tuition, free care for seniors, free child care, over 400 days of paid parental leave per child and full benefits for part-time workers.

If my colleagues in the House are not sure of these statistics, I urge them to see the film Poor No More, narrated by Mary Walsh. In the film she takes us to Sweden and compares what is happening here. I know that the argument will be that we want to raise taxes; well, Sweden is a country that has high taxes and provides services, and it is a country where people are working and there is virtually no unemployment.

In a March 29 article entitled “A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits”, Marc Lee, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, stated:

This is a colonial vision of the economy as a quarry for foreign interests. Instead of ensuring development of resources in a manner consistent with real long-term needs like energy security, the [federal government] is open to any foreign investor who wants our resources, and Canadians will politely have to clean up the mess afterwards. While there will be some Canadian jobs in all of this, most of them will be of short duration in the construction phase, but the budget also increases the capacity to bring in temporary foreign workers.

Let us talk about the short-duration jobs.

We here are against the northern pipeline that will send raw bitumen through our territory and to the waters off the coast of British Columbia to Asia. One of the reasons we are against the pipeline is that the jobs that will be created are short term. We are shipping jobs outside of the country. It is interesting to have a government that says we need to create jobs and that at the same time, through its policies, will be shipping jobs outside of the country.

Mr. Lee goes on to say in his article:

Our penchant for planetary destruction just cannot happen fast enough. Under the mantra “one project, one review” environmental considerations will get lumped in with everything else, meaning that review processes for destructive mining and oil and gas projects will be fast-tracked.

Therefore, instead of having a review that looks at and ensures proper oversight of these projects, we will get this fast-tracking.

I am going to say a few words about the environment as well. At least a third of Bill C-38 is devoted to environmental deregulation. The government is doing everything it said it would do, and more.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent speech.

The weakening of the Auditor General’s oversight powers is one of the very important elements of this bill.

I would like my colleague to tell us what the consequences of reducing those powers will be.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question and I would like to thank my colleague.

Obviously, if the Auditor General does not have the authority or capacity to do his work, there will be less oversight of what the government is doing. There will not be as much oversight. Less oversight amounts to interfering in the democratic process, and that is what we have already seen, since 2006, with this government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech, which I appreciated enormously.

In this budget, everything possible is being done to exploit natural resources and send them out of the country as fast as possible.

Is the bottom line that this country is for sale? Why are we not doing any primary processing? Why are we not creating value-added jobs?

How would the member answer that question?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for her question.

The key is pressure from multinationals. This is the government’s policy in response to pressure from multinationals, which do not want us to do any processing in this country and do not want us to have a strong economy in Canada. It benefits them when we send our resources elsewhere, to other countries, where they will be processed at a lower cost because decent wages are not paid there.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent presentation.

If I recall correctly, the government party’s slogan in the last election was “power to the regions”.

I would like my colleague to go into more detail for us about the consequences this budget will have for the regions, rural communities and the north, because many of the measures being proposed in this budget at present will have a significant impact on those areas.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question and I thank my colleague for it.

What we are seeing here is an attempt to transfer powers to the regions without there being enough money to support what the regions want to do. That means that the responsibility will fall to the provinces, the regional districts. This puts a great deal of pressure on our small rural communities, including the ones I represent.

That is irresponsible, in my opinion.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak in support of Canada's economic action plan 2012. I am pleased to be sharing my time today with my hon. colleague, the member for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, who I know is a hard-working and effective representative for his constituents.

A year ago today, during a time of immense global economic challenge, Canadians from coast to coast to coast were asked to make a choice about who would lead them on a path toward jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. On May 2, 2011, they made that choice. They chose our Prime Minister and this government to lead and chart Canada's path.

Canada's economic action plan 2012 is a forward looking, dynamic and exciting plan to increase Canada's competitiveness in a swiftly changing global economy to create jobs for today and those as yet unimagined, to open doors to stable growth and long-term prosperity, all of this while keeping taxes low and returning Canada to balanced budgets over the medium term.

Budget 2012 takes significant steps to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research. Budget 2012 improves conditions for business investments and investments in training. Budget 2012 provides for needed infrastructure and vital social programs and services and is there for Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the residents of Vancouver South, to congratulate our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance on the careful and considerate measures in the budget. I am excited by what this budget means for Canada. My neighbours, friends and colleagues are also excited about what this budget provides for our province, our communities and our families.

British Columbia is a province of immense potential. We have abundant natural and energy resources. We are culturally diverse and blessed with the potential of an educated and innovative workforce. Through our ports, roads, rail lines and airports, we are the gateway to the Asia Pacific. B.C. is in many ways vital to Canada's future, and Canada's economic action plan makes that future even brighter.

For British Columbians, the budget would increase access to support for business innovation by creating the western innovation program, or WINN, a new program that would provide financial support to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises in western Canada. This is exciting news for entrepreneurs and the many new and inventive projects on which they are working. This new program will spur innovation and create jobs for the future.

The people of British Columbia are also excited to note the government's commitment to responsible resource development in the budget. The government is taking steps to modernize the regulatory system for project reviews. By streamlining the review process for major economic projects, projects can proceed in a timely fashion, while still protecting the environment. The realization of one project one review is welcome.

The government, through this budget, has renewed its commitment to the major projects management office initiative by proposing $54 million over two years to continue to support effective project approvals. Through this initiative, the approvals process for major natural resource projects will become more effective, as the average review will occur within two years instead of the archaic and project killing process currently in place taking 4, 7 or 14 years.

However, the budget is not just about moving projects; it is about effectiveness and balance. This means ensuring that the voices of people who may be affected by potential projects are heard and that the environment is protected. That is why our government is also taking important steps to ensure that the rights and interests of aboriginal peoples are respected and that they benefit from the economic development opportunities. Budget 2012 proposes $13.6 million over two years to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to support consultations with the aboriginal peoples related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Furthermore, our government has committed to responsible energy development and to that end will invest $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada's tanker safety regime and ensure that pipelines in Canada are carefully monitored, environmental consequences are understood and emergency response is improved.

Budget 2012 also proposes $13.5 million over two years to the National Energy Board to increase the number of inspections of oil and gas pipelines, from approximately 100 to 150 inspections per year, and double from 3 to 6 the number of annual comprehensive audits to identify issues before incidents even occur.

Members of the House should know that the natural resource sector is of vital significance to British Columbians. It is therefore crucial that we move projects forward in a timely, responsible manner. Undue delays cost money, time, lost opportunity and, most important, jobs. However, what is most important is that the projects can anticipate a consistent approvals process which is conducted in a timely manner, that the rights of our aboriginal ancestors are understood and respected and that our environment is protected and safety regimes strengthened.

Budget 2012 accomplishes all of this as it strives to update Canada's regulatory systems and processes, while balancing Canada's economic and environmental needs.

Canadians and British Columbians are also excited to see our government take direct action to create jobs. That is why, since 2006, the government has placed a strong emphasis on access to skills training, support for post-secondary education, building a fast and flexible economic immigration system and developing untapped potential in the labour market.

Budget 2012 builds on this foundational work with an enhanced labour market focus and a number of targeted investments that will help respond to current labour market needs and challenges and meets longer-term labour market needs as well. The government will introduce measures to streamline processes and increase funding to better integrate and enable access for certain under-represented groups in the labour force, including immigrants, persons with special needs, youth, aboriginal peoples and older Canadians.

As an example, for young Canadians our government has committed to enhancing the youth employment strategy by investing $50 million over two years to assist more young people to gain the skills and work experience that they need. In addition to enhanced skills, this funding will also help to connect these young people with jobs in areas with skills shortages.

In addition to measures for under-represented groups, our government has also made a commitment to create an advisory council to increase the participation of women on corporate boards. With leaders from the private and public sectors, this council will link organizations to a network of skilled and experienced women and empower them to step into leadership roles and participate at the highest levels of all Canadian sectors.

Furthermore, we are taking important action to create jobs by extending the hiring credit for small business for an additional year. Almost 650,000 Canadian businesses are eligible for this credit. In my province, this is important, as small and medium-sized enterprises in B.C. are thriving and account for over 38% of the total value of goods exported from B.C., a value of $29.3 billion in 2010.

I have consulted with small business owners in my constituency and they are unanimous in their support for this action. They know the difference it will make for their businesses and for those whom they will be able to hire. They know that for every job that is created, there is a positive ripple effect for businesses, families and for our communities.

It is clear that budget 2012 is excellent news for Canadians and British Columbians. As I have already outlined, the comprehensive measures it contains will grow our economy, create jobs and prosperity, but budget 2012 also provides a stable framework for federal and provincial programs.

Canadians and British Columbians have come to depend on provincially administered services like education and health care. During the last election, our Prime Minister committed to protecting these important programs by not cutting and, in fact, increasing federal transfer payments to the provinces. Unlike the former government, our government is balancing the need for economic growth with strong programs.

For British Columbia, major transfer will total over $5.6 billion in 2012-13. This long-term, stable and increased support helps ensure that British Columbia has the resources required to provide essential public services and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social programs. The federal government will contribute over $4 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of more than $1.2 billion since 2005-06, and almost $1.6 billion through the Canada social transfer, an increase of $393 million since 2005-06.

British Columbia will also benefit from continued direct targeted support in 2012-13, including $67 million for labour market training and $33 million for the wait times reduction fund. This is all significant support for British Columbians and the people of Vancouver South. I understand their enthusiasm and echo their appreciation of the commitment from our federal government to our province—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. I am sorry, but the member's time has expired.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Joliette.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her remarks.

There is one thing I would like to know regarding the environment. Why does a third of Bill C-38 focus on environmental deregulation?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the bill does not provide for deregulation. It provides for a modernization of existing regulations. The bill provides a process. People will know the consistent, ongoing process for getting through the system.

The bill also provides more environmental protections as well as more checks and balances.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talked about tax cuts and lower taxes. It seems to me that the Conservatives believe that almost every problem can be solved with lower taxes.

Canadian mining companies up north want to hire some local skilled labour and even train the local folks to take the skilled jobs, but they cannot do it because not enough people finish secondary school. No amount of tax cuts will allow young people to get the skills and education they need to get good jobs. There is a problem. This is an example of where we cannot simply lower taxes and fix a problem.

We need to help young people get the skills and education they need so they can get good jobs and good wages. They then can pay taxes and lower the tax burden for everybody else. I do not think the Conservatives ever think about future tax burdens.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the hon. member on the opposite side. This government has lowered taxes for the average Canadian to the tune of $1,000 per family. That will put more money in their pockets for the additional credits they can do in arts and other areas.

At the same time, we have also increased transfer payments to the provinces. This is a consistent formula that the provinces can depend on and it provides an excellent framework for educational institutions, health sectors, et cetera to plan on.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the theme of the budget is about creating jobs, wealth and opportunity for all Canadians. Could the member tell us why we need to implement these changes now, so that we can provide a future for our young people?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the fragile global economy, our country needs to look toward Asia-Pacific countries to expand our markets. In doing so, there will be some historic changes in how the world's economy will be restructured.

It is so important for us to invest in skills training, education, entrepreneurship and innovation, so we can then direct these areas of the different sectors in Canada to work toward expanding our trade for a stronger economy in the future.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend claims the bill would strengthen the environment. I would like her to find a single section in the bill that could be considered strengthening the environment. All I find is gutting.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Wai Young Conservative Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, I already noted in my speech that we are going to be increasing environmental protection by checking on pipelines not only 100 times but 150 times. We are also going to double the number of inspections from three to six. These are tangible, precise and specific safety features. We are also demanding the use of double-hulled oil tankers down the coast.

These are specific safety features in the bill that would strengthen environmental protection.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver South for splitting her time with me. It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in favour of our government's economic action plan. Allow me to start by quoting just one of the many positive assessments of our recent budget.

David Frum of the National Post wrote that under this Prime Minister, “...Canada can fairly claim to be the best-governed country among advanced democracies in the world” and that the recent “federal budget locks up Canada’s lead”. He explained that the world's major economies share a common economic problem. How do we nurture a fragile economic recovery while returning to a balanced budget?

In the United Kingdom we see the danger of moving too quickly: the economic recovery falters. In the United States we see the danger of moving too slowly: dangerous debt levels and the loss of the country's AAA credit rating. Canada has the pace just right. We are on track to balance the budget in the medium term. The Canadian economy continues to grow. In fact, Canada's economy has expanded in nine out of the last ten quarters. Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs, the strongest job growth record in the G7.

Contrary to the assertions by the members opposite, these employment gains have been in high quality jobs, with 90% in full-time positions, and over three-quarters in high-wage industries and in the private sector. For the first time in more than three decades Canada's unemployment rate is well below that of the United States.

Among major industrialized countries Canada has an enviable economic record. The world has taken notice. The World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes magazine ranked Canada number one in the world for business to grow and create jobs. Our economy outperforms our major trading partners. Canada is well ahead of other G7 countries in returning to balanced budgets. The International Monetary Fund projects that by 2016, Canada's total debt-to-GDP ratio will remain at about one-third of the G7 average and more than 20 percentage points below that of Germany, the G7 country with the next lowest ratio.

This afternoon I will speak to three reasons why I believe MPs should support our economic action plan.

First, the economic action plan continues our focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

Second, our action plan will ensure Canada's social programs are sustainable in the long term so that they will be there for future generations when we need them.

Third, we will return Canada to balanced budgets by achieving fair, balanced and moderate savings.

Our action plan proposes a number of measures to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians. I will focus on one measure, our responsible resource development initiative. Here are some important facts. In 2010, natural resource sectors employed over 760,000 workers. In the next 10 years, new investments of more than $500 billion are planned across Canada. The problem is that those who wish to invest in our country have been facing an increasingly complicated and cumbersome set of rules that add costs, delay projects and kill jobs.

In my home province of British Columbia, in the government's 2010 Speech from the Throne, it was noted that some $3 billion in provincially approved projects were “stranded in the mire of federal process and delay.” The B.C. Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon said, “We have many projects on the table today that are in the billions of dollars that could have important ramifications for jobs and employment and revenues.”

There are numerous examples of economic opportunities missed and jobs lost due to needless bureaucratic duplication and red tape. I will provide one such example. There is a proposal to develop a 396 megawatt offshore wind energy project in Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. The proponent estimates that the project would have a capital investment of $1.6 billion and would create up to 200 construction jobs. The federal decision to approve the process came 16 months after the provincial decision.

Our action plan 2012 proposes to remove these impediments that are unnecessarily delaying responsible resource development and costing Canadians jobs.

The Conservative government would focus on four major areas to streamline the review process for major economic projects. We would make the review process for major projects more predictable and timely, we would reduce duplication and regulatory burden, we would strengthen environmental protection, which is very important to note, and in British Columbia, as across the rest of the country, it is very important that we would enhance our consultation with first nations people.

As has already been established, Canada's financial situation, compared to other advanced democracies in the world, is enviable. Our government is not content to rest on our laurels and ignore the challenges that will face Canada in the coming decades. Our action plan is proposing necessary changes to our retirement system to ensure that it will be there for all Canadians.

Here is the challenge that we will be facing in the not too distant future. In the 1970s, there were seven workers for every one person over the age of 65 collecting old age security. Today, there are four workers for every senior collecting OAS, and in 20 years the number will be only two. In addition, in 1970 life expectancy was age 69 for men and 76 for women. Today it is 79 for men and 83 for women. At the same time, Canada's birth rate is falling. Given these demographic changes and realities, the cost of the old age security system will grow from $38 billion in 2011 to $108 billion in 2030. This program is funded out of general revenue every year and this increase is simply unsustainable.

Our action plan 2012 would put the OAS program on a sustainable path by proposing legislation to raise the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS benefits gradually. The phase-in period would begin in April 2023 and it would not be fully implemented until January 2029. Let me be very clear. These proposals would not impact those currently collecting benefits or those nearing retirement. An 11-year notification period followed by a six-year phase-in period would ensure that individuals have significant advance notification to plan their retirement and make necessary adjustments.

At least 34 other countries are increasing the age of eligibility for their programs. They all realize that they need to ensure the sustainability of those programs for future generations. Our actions would ensure that OAS remains strong and is there for future generations when they need it and is available for all seniors today who are currently receiving the benefits.

Finally, our action plan 2012 would keep Canada on track to a balanced budget over the medium term. We would not raise taxes. Doing so kills jobs. We would not cut transfers to individuals, nor would we cut transfers to other levels of government for health care, education and social services, as was done by previous governments. Our government would return to balanced budgets while continuing sustainable increases in transfers for health, education and social programs. Federal transfers to my home province of British Columbia would total over $5.6 billion in 2012-13. This represents a 23% increase, over $1 billion more, than the province received from the former Liberal government.

Canada is a very blessed country. Due to the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, our country has avoided the worst of the global economic storm and is on a sound financial footing. The measures I have discussed today—responsible resource development, long-term sustainability of our social programs and modest cost savings to return to a balanced budget—are part of our action plan that will create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.

I would ask all hon. members to join with our government and support economic action plan 2012.