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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was affordable.

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The House resumed from May 3 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

10:05 a.m.

Mississauga—Erindale Ontario

Conservative

Bob Dechert ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of our government's bold and responsible economic action plan 2012 and, in particular, Bill C-38, also known as the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act.

Budget 2012 sets out a prudent and long-term plan to ensure the future prosperity, health and retirement security of all Canadians. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the many provisions of budget 2012 which are particularly important to the people I represent in the city of Mississauga.

While budget 2012 includes dozens of important new measures to create jobs and growth and ensure long-term prosperity, the budget is also remarkable for what it does not do. What it does not do is raise taxes. Unlike the budgets of many of our largest trading partners, such as the United Kingdom, our government is not raising taxes on hard-working Canadian families, seniors and job creators. We are, in fact, keeping taxes on individuals and job creators to the lowest levels in over 50 years.

Not many years ago, Canada had the unenviable reputation of having some of the highest personal income tax and business tax rates in the industrialized world. Those punishing rates of taxation had the effect of driving business investment and jobs out of Canada and penalizing workers and families.

Since 2006, our government has reduced taxes through measures such as the GST by 2%, targeted tax relief for families, workers and small business people, and introduced income splitting for seniors. By reducing the federal corporate tax rate to 15%, we have made Canada a very attractive place to invest and create jobs. This rate compare favourably to business tax rates in the United States and Europe.

Through these measures, we have reduced the federal tax burden on the average family by $3,100 each and every year. The money saved through these tax reductions is providing Canadians with more choice, enabling them to save more for their children's education and their own retirement, and to care for their families and pursue their dreams.

Our government is committed to keeping taxes low. We know that the world is an increasingly competitive place in which to create jobs and conduct business. In addition to keeping taxes low and ensuring that our workers have the best education and skills, our government understands that in order to succeed, Canadian businesses need to innovate.

Mississauga is home to some of the most technologically advanced and innovative companies in the world. Our government has made significant investments in the University of Toronto, Mississauga campus, and the new Mississauga campus of Sheridan College, through the infrastructure stimulus fund. These investments will ensure that our young people and older workers have the knowledge and skills to create the world-leading technologies, services and innovations of the future.

I am pleased to see that, through budget 2012, the government is taking further action to support innovation in Canada. For example, we are providing $400 million to increase private sector investments in early-stage risk capital and to support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.

We are providing an additional $100 million to the Business Development Bank of Canada to support its venture capital activities; an additional $110 million to the National Research Council to double support to companies through the industrial research assistance program; $95 million over three years and $40 million per year thereafter to make the Canadian innovation commercialization program permanent; $37 million to the granting councils to enhance their support for industry and academic research partnerships; and $500 million over five years to the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support advanced research infrastructure. These measures will help to foster scientific research, innovation and commercialization.

Our government also understands that most Canadian jobs are created by small and medium-sized enterprises. These businesses are nimble and efficient. They employ millions of young and new Canadians in places like Mississauga.

In addition to reducing small business tax rates to the lowest levels in decades, our government is continuing to support small business in budget 2012, by investing $205 million to extend the hiring credit for small business to help small businesses defray the costs of hiring new workers.

The budget also provides an additional $50 million over two years to the youth employment strategy to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience. Last year alone, this investment helped 70,000 Canadian youth gain valuable work experience and skills training.

One of the most intractable issues for new Canadians is the struggle to have their foreign credentials and work experience recognized in Canada. Our government tackled this issue in 2009 by providing funding to develop the pan-Canadian framework for the assessment and recognition of foreign qualifications. Budget 2012 identifies six more occupations including physicians, dentists, engineering technicians, licensed practical nurses, medical radiation technologists and teachers for inclusion in this process. This process would allow many more foreign-trained doctors to qualify to practise medicine and begin to care for the tens of thousands of Canadians who are searching for a family doctor. I am proud that our government is making real progress on this issue.

Our government has made historic and unprecedented investments in Canadian infrastructure under the building Canada fund, the permanent municipal gas tax fund and the infrastructure stimulus fund. Mississauga has received substantial funding of important infrastructure projects under these funds. Budget 2012 would additionally provide $150 million over two years for a new community infrastructure improvement fund to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities and $105 million to support VIA Rail Canada's operations and capital projects. People in Mississauga will benefit greatly from the creation of Canada's first national near-urban park in the Rouge Valley in the GTA.

We are all aware of the global concerns regarding the size of sovereign national debts and relative national fiscal capacity. We have witnessed the turmoil in Greece and draconian measures required in many European countries to put their fiscal houses in order. Canadians know that our economic and fiscal fundamentals are relatively strong. They also understand that governments, like households and businesses, must balance the books. That is why our government is committed to returning to balanced budgets at an appropriate rate as the economy continues to recover from the global economic crisis. Our government is not reducing transfers to persons, including those to seniors, children and the unemployed or transfers to other levels of government in support of health care and social services. In my view, the modest reductions in operating expenses set out in the budget are necessary, reasonable and responsible.

As members know, politicians and governments are continually criticized for short-term, myopic thinking. Canadians want us as legislators to foresee future problems and devise plans to protect our prosperity against the negative impact of those long-term liabilities. In budget 2012, our government is looking more than 10 years down the road and putting in place today pragmatic measures to protect the retirement benefits of future generations. These are not easy decisions to make but they are prudent and, in my view, they are the right decisions for Canada. Budget 2012 charts a bold, visionary and safe course for our nation's future. It is the right plan for the people of Mississauga and it is the right plan for Canada.

For all of these reasons, I urge all of my hon. colleagues in this chamber to support Bill C-38.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's speech.

Obviously I understand that he chose, among the innumerable pages of this bill, the passages that seemed most appropriate to him. However, unfortunately, I am going to have to ask him a question about some of the elements that he did not cover, including the appointment of a unilingual anglophone Auditor General, something we have been disagreeing about for weeks.

What is more, under this new bill, the Auditor General's authority will be diminished considerably. In fact, this bill does away with the obligation to audit the books of at least 12 agencies.

This budget contains what the Conservative members are saying it contains, but there are also many other things hidden throughout this bill that the Conservatives never mention.

I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say about the role of the Auditor General and about the duties that he will be relieved of under this bill.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned official languages. Of course he will know that our government has very strongly supported official languages in Canada. I find it somewhat strange that he would mention that, given that it was his party that elected many unilingual members from the province of Quebec in ridings where the amount of French spoken in many of those ridings was over 98%. Yet there were people elected without having knocked on one door or talked to any voters, and were unable to speak to them in their own language.

However, the member mentions the Auditor General. The Auditor General is important. We are putting extra funding into the Auditor General's role to enhance his ability to audit the operations of government. We take all of his reports very seriously.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to make a comment and ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs a question.

My comment is that quite often in this debate on Bill C-38 government representatives talk about budget 2012 and confuse it with the bill before us now, which is implementing parts of budget 2012 and a great many other measures that were not part of the budget.

In relation to foreign affairs, I would like to ask the hon. member about the retreat from federal activities under the Kyoto protocol and the repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. Was it considered that it might have been preferable to amend the act to allow reporting requirements to continue, as some reporting will be still be required under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Madam Speaker, the member will know that Canada's participation in the Kyoto accord was very strongly debated in the last federal election. Our government and my party made our position very clear. Bill C-38 is following through on that promise, as it is on many of the other promises that were made in our platform last year.

There are many mechanisms for reporting Canada's improving record in the reduction of greenhouse gases, one that was woefully inadequate under the previous Liberal government, as she well knows. She will know of recent reports which show that Canada is doing very well in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. There are many ways in which that will be reported to the UN and other agencies.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, why was funding not renewed for the eco-energy retrofit program for homes in the budget? The program helped people make their homes more energy efficient, save the environment, create jobs, support local businesses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Why did the government not continue that very successful program?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Dechert Conservative Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member points out, the eco-energy retrofit program was very successful. It was 100% taken up. Significant taxpayer funds were put into that program. Also, many Canadians made use of the home renovation tax credit a few years ago to do similar kinds of environmental renovations to their homes to reduce energy consumption. They were very successful. We now feel it is time to get back on track and balance budgets. The economy is improving and we are letting the private sector take care of those matters.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak today to Bill C-38.

I will begin by noting that the bill, according to journalist Don Martin, has everything but the kitchen sink in it, and, believe me, we looked and we found the kitchen sink in Bill C-38.

Frankly, the bill is an end run around accountability and transparency, and an end run around accountability and transparency from the very Conservative government that made commitments to govern better than the Liberals and to be accountable to Canadians.

Rather than the proper scrutiny of so many changes by the proper parliamentary committees, we see in Bill C-38 a budget bill that avoids consultation and review by both MPs and Canadians.

I understand why the Conservative government might want to do this. It finds itself on the defensive, plagued by scandal, secrecy and mismanagement. Instead of focusing on jobs, as promised, the Prime Minister is attacking pensions, cutting health care and gutting environmental protection.

Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, was introduced in the House last week. The bill would implement certain budget provisions, it is true—for example, the controversial changes to old age security—but the reference to “and other measures” has to be one of the all-time parliamentary understatements.

The bill has more than 420 pages, some 60 acts are amended, another six are repealed and three more are added. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is completely rewritten. This is far more than a budget bill that deals with taxes and spending.

There are sweeping changes here to policy across a number of fields, from immigration where, among other changes, it erases with the stroke of a pen the entire backlog of applications under the skilled workers program, to telecommunications, opening the door to foreign ownership, to land codes on native reservations and more.

I have just completed an assignment as natural resources critic for my party and remain on the natural resources committee. It is obvious to me, from the studies we have done there on pipelines, refineries and northern resources, that the changes the government wants on reviews are the most extraordinary chapters in the bill.

The new bill gives cabinet broader powers to override decisions of the National Energy Board, shortens the list of protected species and abolishes the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, among other measures.

We must remember that we have just tabled in this House the 2011 National Energy Board annual report citing more problems related to accidents and an increased volume of projects that it must review. The government should decide to resource the National Energy Board to do its job better. Instead, it wants to have a veto to manage an end run around those proper and comprehensive reviews that not only should look at bigger and longer-term consequences from these natural resources projects but also assess impacts on future generations.

Our natural resources committee needs to call witnesses and look closely at this proposal. This does not belong to the finance committee, hiding in a budget bill. Frankly, this is an insult to Parliament and to the committee system that we have. How can one committee, in this case finance, properly examine all of these diverse measures, especially in the time allotted to them?

It is clear why the government is doing this. While it claims to be fine managers of the economy, the evidence says otherwise. First, there was the lavish night at the Savoy and the $16 orange juice, and now we learn about $600,000 just in overtime for the Conservatives' chauffeur-driven limos. The Conservatives are slashing vital services like food inspection and border services while blowing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on their outrageous sense of entitlement.

How can the Conservatives tell Canadians to sacrifice food safety and border inspections while they continue to live the high life? The government has lost all credibility when it comes to accountability.

The Conservatives have claimed that their budget is about job creation. However, even they admit that it will lead to 19,200 lost jobs in the public service. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, the same one appointed by the Conservative government, has estimated that the budget will cost 43,000 Canadians their jobs. When combined with previous rounds of cuts, this number is 102,000 lost jobs.

I could be on my feet all day and night to say what is wrong with these proposed changes to the law. The very worst change is raising the age of eligibility for OAS-GIS from 65 to 67, when many experts, including the Parliamentary Budget Officer, have confirmed that the OAS program is sustainable. Yet the Conservatives want to balance the budget on the backs of seniors.

There are some additional measures that will once again reduce the government's transparency and responsibility in the area of health. Bill C-38 weakens the reporting requirements of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research by eliminating all of the requirements regarding the publication of annual reports and analyses by the Auditor General.

Under the pretense of a change designed to reduce the administrative burden and make the approval process more efficient, Bill C-38 amends the Food and Drugs Act in such as way as to give the Minister of Health the authority to establish a list of products that are exempt from the regulatory process. The bill also gives the minister the authority to issue marketing authorizations to exempt a product or the advertising of a product from certain provisions of the law. These measures will give the minster more authority and will reduce regulatory oversight.

With regard to jobs, Bill C-38 repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, which was created in the 1930s to set wage standards and a minimum number of hours of work for construction workers hired for projects funded by the federal government. In practice, the elimination of these minimum standards will allow employers to get around the rates set by unions.

Bill C-38 also amends the Employment Equity Act so that it no longer applies to federal contracts. This is a direct attack on women, aboriginal people and visible minorities. In fact, it was recommended 10 years ago that the employment equity provisions for the federal contractors program be strengthened. Instead, this government is weakening these provisions.

We need to be real on the loss of jobs. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives stated, “In total, federal spending cuts could lead to the elimination of over 70,000 full-time equivalent positions”. These are not only public sector losses; about half of these jobs will be lost in the private sector.

Canadians want real action on the economy. In the fall, the New Democrats tabled a motion that called on the government to take immediate action to grow our economy and create jobs. The Conservatives supported the motion, but the budget does not fit the bill. Instead, it focuses on slashing vital services and gutting environmental regulations.

The New Democrats are focused on addressing the real priorities of Canadian families: jobs, health care, pensions and protecting our environment. The New Democrats have a plan that will improve health services for all Canadians, reward the real job creators, strengthen benefits for seniors and take actions to fight climate change.

I will close by saying that this bill is a massive omnibus bill that goes far beyond the budget. Bill C-38 would enact numerous changes that will limit the ability of Canadians and MPs to hold the government accountable. The Conservatives are trying to ram previously unannounced measures through Parliament without allowing Canadians and their MPs to thoroughly examine it. This is not democracy in action.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nickelback for his speech, but I would like him to explain the NDP math that he is using. He quoted in his speech that we are cutting health care.

Being the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, I understand that the health care system is important to Canadians. We have consistently increased the transfers to the provinces and territories by 6%. This year is no exception, and we are transferring 6% to the provinces and territories.

In my province, which is also his province, the premier has said that he will be holding health care to a 3% increase. Therefore, he will have an extra 3% of federal transfers to utilize, supposedly, on health care.

How does the member come up with calling a 6% increase a cut? Could explain that math? Also, what will his premier be doing with the extra 3% that we will be allotting him this year for health care?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, first, I will correct two things. I would like to be a member of Nickelback but I prefer to be a member for Nickel Belt. Second, the Premier of Ontario is not my premier. I want nothing to do with him. I want to make that very clear.

What concerns me with the budget bill, Bill C-38, is the raising of the age for OAS from 65 to 67. This will cause many seniors to have to work two years longer. It will cause them to live in poverty. According to the Conservatives' own Parliamentary Budget Officer, OAS is sustainable.

The member talked about health care. I can assure him that the health care in Ontario is not the best and that we need more services. For example, in our hospital in Sudbury, the waiting time for emergency services is 19 hours. Therefore, the Conservatives are not doing enough in cutting health care.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, regarding the raising of the qualifying age for old age security, if we look at the lowest tenth, the lowest decile of income earners, and the health adjusted life expectancy for low-income people, we find that it has not really increased very much. It is around 60 years of age to 65 years of age, depending on whether one is male or female.

I have heard on the other side that people are living longer and that they are healthier. However, if we look at the people who really need old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, the lowest decile of income earners, when they get to around 60 years old or 65 years old, life sucks. They have reached the typical health adjusted life expectancy and their life becomes very difficult around that age. I would like to know my colleague's thoughts on that.

I think it is very important to focus on the people who need old age security, to look at what their life expectancy is and what their health and quality of life is when they get to around 65 years of age.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague is right. The only seniors who receive OAS are the poorest of the poor. The ones who do not make enough money on CPP are lifted out of poverty through the OAS system.

Of course, the members on the Conservative front bench do not really care about that. As they would not qualify for OAS because of their massive federal pensions, it is of no concern to them. However, it certainly is a concern to those of us who care about the seniors across the country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak in the House today in support of Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, which speaks to economic action plan 2012, Canada's blueprint for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Economic action plan 2012 is a positive plan that grows our economy today and into the future. It provides support for innovation in research, invests in training and opportunity, families and communities and improves conditions for business investment, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of major social programs.

This is why residents in my riding of Richmond Hill, Ontario, are pleased that the focus of this budget is on creating jobs, not only for today but for the future, within a growing knowledge-based economy. The budget maintains our consistent, responsible approach to managing the economy and building confidence in our future. Indeed, our solid, pragmatic and predictable approach is building certitude and confidence among Canadian business leaders.

I was pleased to read a news release from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce last month. It stated:

Today’s budget presents a plan for economic growth that builds on Canada’s economic and fiscal advantages. The measures announced will help Canadian businesses prosper and compete.

Budget 2012 supports jobs and growth in many facets. It ensures predictability and stability in the employment insurance rate. The extended hiring credit for small business is a great boost for job creators. This initiative will save up to $205 million in payroll costs for small businesses across the country. Employers can receive a credit of up to $1,000 against an increase in their 2012 EI premiums over those paid in 2011.

Firms in my riding like Auto Technique that just opened its doors last fall and Sure Print & Design that hired new employees earlier this year are already benefiting from this initiative. Companies planning to expand into Richmond Hill, like Sabouhi Academy of Art & Design, will all benefit from the one-year extension of the hiring credit for small business. Other Richmond Hill businesses, like Cosmo Music, tell me that initiatives like the hiring tax credit for small business and the children's arts tax credit that we brought in last year help their business to expand, creating new jobs and economic activity.

Economic action plan 2012 charts the course for the future by supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world-class research. We will do this by increasing funding for research and development by small and medium-sized business, promoting collaboration between the private sector and federal government, refocusing the National Research Council to better help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services, increasing access to venture capital financing by high growth companies, streamlining the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program and increasing funding for research and training through partnerships with universities, granting councils and leading research institutions.

We are supporting economic growth by investing $110 million per year into the National Research Council. This will include the doubling of support to small and medium-sized companies through the industrial research assistance program, or as it is commonly known, IRAP. IRAP is a very important program in my riding. It supports innovative companies by helping them to develop technologies and successfully commercialize them in the global marketplace. Many Richmond Hill companies have benefited from IRAP, and I look forward to seeing many more benefits from this added support.

Budget 2012 announces new investments in training to better utilize Canada's workforce and to remove disincentives that may be discouraging workforce participation. This will be done by investing in young people to help them gain tangible skills and experience, connecting older workers to potential employers and enabling more Canadians with disabilities to obtain work experience by introducing changes to the employment insurance program.

Deepening Canada's trade and investment relationships in large and fast-growing export markets around the world is key to creating jobs and growth. Under the leadership of the right hon. Prime Minister, Canada has shown leadership on the world stage by opposing protectionism and trade restrictive measures.

Since 2007, Canada has concluded trade agreements with 10 countries and is in active negotiations with 10 others. Economic action plan 2012 proposes to intensify Canada's pursuit of new investment opportunities, particularly with large, dynamic and fast-growing economies. I look forward to the benefits these new trade agreements will bring to my riding of Richmond Hill and indeed across our beautiful nation of Canada.

Canadians know that our government is delivering more than $60 billion of tax relief to job creating businesses over five fiscal years. Key actions that we have taken to help businesses invest and create much-needed jobs for Canadians include reducing the general corporate tax rate from 22% to 15%, reducing the small business tax rate to 11% and increasing the eligibility for this rate, increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption, eliminating the federal capital tax and better aligning capital cost allowance rates.

As a result of our actions, overall business investment in non-residential construction and machinery and equipment in 2011 exceeded the pre-downturn peak of 2008, and 2012 business investment intentions point to even stronger results.

I know small businesses are looking forward to our continued focus to reduce red tape. Red tape hampers economic activity, and our government remains committed to removing bureaucratic obstacles to the efforts of businesses to create jobs and growth for Canadians.

Budget 2012 proposes additional measures to reduce the tax compliance burden for small businesses and announces a number of administrative improvements by the CRA.

Investing in public infrastructure is another high priority in Richmond Hill.

Economic action plan 2012 proposes a $150 million investment over two years for a community infrastructure improvement fund to support repairs and improvements to existing small public infrastructure facilities on a cost-shared basis. This is good news for our municipal partners.

Let us not forget that it was this government that doubled gas tax funding to municipalities, from $1 billion to $2 billion, and made it permanent so municipalities now would have stable, predictable funding on which they could count. In my riding of Richmond Hill this means $5 million is automatically added to its budget each and every year.

This is great news for all Canadians, as was noted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which said:

Canada's municipal leaders welcome today's commitment by the federal government to continue working with cities and communities to rebuild the local roads, water systems, community centres and public transit that our families, businesses, and economy depend on.

During my pre-budget consultations, improving the efficiency of government spending was the number one recommendation I heard from my residents in Richmond Hill. My constituents and all Canadians know the importance of living within their means, and they expect their government to do the same. That is why our government is committed to managing public finances in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Budget 2012 continues the course toward moving to a balanced budget in the medium term at an appropriate pace as the economy continues to recover from the fragile global economic situation. We are doing this by finding operational efficiencies and achieving greater relevance and effectiveness in government programs and services to better align with the spending priorities of Canadians. We are doing this without cutting transfers to other levels of government. On the contrary, major transfers will grow for the provision of health care, education and social services and to individuals for old age security and children's benefits.

As we have heard, federal support to provinces and territories will reach an all-time high of $59 billion, which is $3 billion more than last year. For Ontario, major transfers in the fiscal year ending 2013 will total $19.3 billion. This is $1.8 billion more than last year and $8.3 billion more than when we took office in 2006.

We remain focused on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. I encourage all members of the House to support the implementation bill, Bill C-38, and Canada's budget 2012.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech, which I listened to closely. I heard him talk about jobs, but he did not talk about health, safety or food, all of which are in the massive budget before us today.

What does he have to say about what is going on? We know that 308 Canadian Food Inspection Agency workers will be laid off because of budget cuts. We also know that veterinarians responsible for inspecting and certifying animals, as well as analysts and agricultural officers, will lose their jobs. What does he have to say about that? And what does he have to say about jobs and keeping Canadians safe?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, it is the responsibility of any government to ensure it is very mindful of how it spends taxpayer dollars and at the same time ensure essential services are not compromised in any way. Streamlining operations to better serve the Canadian public does not of necessity mean a lack of interest in providing support for those essential services.

I would urge the hon. member to really read what is in the budget. It actually provides for a faster, quicker, more effective way of providing the very services to which she is referring.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague spoke about the scientific research and experimental development tax credit, and I have a question about something in the streamlining of that tax credit that appeared in the budget document.

The eligibility for capital expenditures, for example, if an individual wanted to buy a big piece of equipment to start to do some work for the company, would be eliminated from the tax credit.

Why did the government choose to completely eliminate the eligibility of capital expenditures for the scientific research and experimental development tax credit? It seems very strange that one would completely eliminate it when it is so important for many companies in my riding and in the riding of my hon. colleague.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Madam Speaker, we can pick and choose any segment of the budget we like or do not like, what is in there and what is not in there. The fact is that our government has clearly displayed, since it took office in 2006, a definitive focus on reducing taxes for the large corporations so they can have enough money to invest in their businesses to create jobs and growth and to invest in the infrastructure they need within their operations.

We are also very mindful of what is happening around the world in other economies and in other nations, and it is very important for us to work toward balancing our budget.

There are measures in the budget that are focused on ensuring that we balance Canada's budget in the mid-term. We are projected to do that by the year 2015, possibly 2016. That is our focus. That is the focus of the budget.

I think the hon. member would agree that reducing the corporate tax rate from 22% to 15% goes a long way in providing the very necessary funds companies need to invest in the infrastructure of their businesses in his riding, in my riding and the ridings across this nation.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, it is with pleasure that I am afforded the opportunity to speak today on this important piece of legislation.

Allow me to start off by talking about how the government has made the determination to incorporate within the budget debate massive amounts of legislation that should be stand-alone legislation. I say that because Canadians need to be aware that the government is using the back door of budget debate to bring into effect legislative changes that will have a profound impact on issues like our environment. This is, indeed, unprecedented and we need to hold the government accountable for a wide variety of issues.

Today, we are talking about the budget bill. We should actually be talking about budget expenditures. There are many things we could be talking about with regard to the budget, but the government brought in other issues and incorporated them into this budget debate, which I would argue is ultimately undemocratic. This majority mentality of the Conservative government has absolutely no respect for the proper procedures that must be followed to ensure there is some sense of due diligence with regard to legislation.

If the government wants to do Canadians a service, one thing it should do today is send a very clear message that it did make a mistake and it is going to take out the substantial pieces of legislation that it was going to try to sneak through by putting them in this budget debate.

Let me put it in perspective. In this budget debate, we are going to be talking about passing legislation that should have been brought in as separate pieces of legislation, bills that will have profound impacts on the environment, as I say. Also, the government has said that not only is it going to bring in all the other legislation through the budget debate but it is also putting limitations on how many days members are going to be able to speak on the bill. It is sneaking legislation in through the back door of the budget and then putting a limit on how long individual members of Parliament are going to be able to contribute to that debate.

I suggest that if Canadians only knew how the majority government has been behaving since it was awarded the majority, there is no way Canadians would ever give the government another majority. Time will go by relatively quickly, there will be another election and Canadians will be reminded of the attitude and arrogance of the government in dealing with legislation and changing the laws of Canada. Members need to highlight that.

As I say, there are other things. We are supposed to be debating a budget bill and yet there is a great deal of frustration in terms of the impact that this legislation is going to have on the environment, for which there should have been separate bills that would then have been debated in the House and sent to committee, where witnesses from across Canada would participate on the environmental changes, for example, that this bill would put into place. I say shame on the government for not doing the right thing and introducing separate legislation.

Let me talk about the budget. Canadians from coast to coast were upset when the Prime Minister, from overseas, made his decision that he wants to change our seniors pension programs. There were tens of thousands of seniors and others across this land who signed petitions, emailed, telephoned, made presentations to individual members of Parliament and, I suspect, wrote to the government, who all said what the government was doing was wrong with regard to the whole pension issue.

Canadians appreciate and feel passionate about the OAS, our CPP and our guaranteed income supplement. Those are the foundations of our pension programs, and I must say these are foundations that were set many years ago from Liberal administrations. However, that aside, I can tell members there are many Canadians who are very suspicious of the current government when it comes to those fundamental social programs that help identify us as Canadians, that help provide support for our seniors in their retirement years. The backlash was significant.

I believe that ultimately because of that backlash the government did back down on a number of initiatives it was going to take against our senior population here, to the degree that the Conservatives are ultimately pushing one, and there is no backing down on that one. That is, they are going to increase the retirement age from 65 to 67.

We within the Liberal Party have come out against that policy announcement. In fact, the Liberal Party is committed to reversing that position, because we believe Canadians should have the ability to determine whether or not they want to retire at age 65, and postponing it to age 67 is just wrong. It is not an issue of a crisis situation as the government tries to imply. We know that the Government of Canada, not only today but well into the future, can afford to provide those types of pension programs for our seniors and as people approach the age of 65.

Those are the types of issues that are important to Canadians. Those are the types of issues we need to be talking about during the budget debate.

Another important issue for people, not only of Winnipeg North but I would ultimately argue for all Canadians, is the issue of health care. The government has turned a deaf ear to the needs of health care across this country. We have waiting lists for emergency services. When I say waiting lists, I mean we have people who are still in hallways, waiting to be admitted into emergency services.

A couple of years ago, we had someone who was sitting in emergency in a tertiary health care facility, that is, the number one hospital facility in the province of Manitoba. That person sat in a chair for more than 30 hours, and for a good part of that 30 hours the individual had already passed away. Unfortunately, had that individual been given the attention he needed, he would have been alive today. I am not saying it is because of the current government that the individual passed away; there is a lot of shared responsibility there.

However, I will suggest that health care is a critically important issue that Canadians want their federal government to address. They expect the federal government to play a leadership role in providing adequate health care and ensuring there is going to be a healthy health care system for the generations to come.

Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien established the health care accord, which guaranteed a base funding level of health and that the base funding of health care would increase. That is important. Let us take the issue of health care dollars flowing to the provinces and look at the Canada Health Act, which was put into place by a Liberal administration but receives all-party support from what I understand. I believe all political parties today inside the House support the Canada Health Act.

However, let us take a look at the Canada Health Act and the money Ottawa transfers over to the provinces. Between those two, Ottawa does have a role to ensure we have health care standards from coast to coast, to ensure we have adequate health care services provided to all Canadians. I believe that the Conservative government has dropped the ball on the issue. It has turned a blind eye. This health care accord is expiring. The Conservatives have not had discussions or health care meetings to look at ways in which we can improve upon the need to renew the health care accord. There is a sunset to that health care accord.

Where is the leadership coming from Ottawa? There has been none. We need leadership. We need all political parties to get onside.

One of the New Democratic Party leadership candidates in Quebec talked about how the Province of Quebec should have the ability to administer health care and Ottawa should just hand over the money. I would suggest we need to have that debate, and the budget debate is a good place to have it.

Ottawa has the sole responsibility to ensure that there is a national standard, that there is a national program—

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please.

The hon. member will have five minutes of questions and comments when we return to the bill.

TibetStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Tibetan community in Don Valley East, I rise to highlight the persecution of the Tibetan people.

The Dali Lama was in Ottawa last week and once again spread his great message of peace, calling for a productive and respectful dialogue to address the legitimate grievances of the peaceful people of Tibet.

Since 2009, numbers of Tibetans have sacrificed themselves as a call for the return of peace to their country and for freedom from persecution inside Tibet.

I encourage all members of the House to support the call for leadership regarding the Tibetan issue and to support a multilateral forum in response to Tibet's desire for freedom and justice.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

May 4th, 2012 / 11 a.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, the Conservative budget will be very hard on the unemployed, particularly those who work in seasonal industries. Pilot projects involving best weeks, maximum earnings exemptions and five additional weeks of benefits will be cut back or eliminated entirely to reduce payments to unemployed workers.

I am especially worried about the government's plan to withhold employment insurance from unemployed workers who turn down jobs that do not match their qualifications or their region of residence.

Instead of focusing on job creation, the Conservatives have decided to attack unemployed workers. According to a Segma poll in my riding, half of the people feel that the employment insurance system does not meet the needs of unemployed workers.

The people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles have clearly expressed their opinion: employment insurance must meet workers' needs, just like it used to.

Cystic FibrosisStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. Today approximately 4,000 Canadians are living with the disease, and people are living longer than ever with cystic fibrosis.

I am pleased to celebrate the extraordinary work of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, a national health charity with 51 volunteer chapters. The organization has its sights set squarely on finding a cure and on helping people and families affected by cystic fibrosis cope with their daily fight and realize their full potential in Canadian life.

In spite of advances in cystic fibrosis research and care, there is no treatment. Every week in Canada, another two children are diagnosed with the disease.

I ask my colleagues in this House to join me and the thousands of Canadians fighting this devastating disease by learning more about cystic fibrosis and by raising awareness at the grassroots level, in our communities and online. I invite members to visit cysticfibrosis.ca.

Heart and Stroke FundraisingStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Madam Speaker, it is $58,109 and counting. I am proud to say that the residents of Moose Jaw are taking part in a 36-hour fundraising mission to “Give in a Heartbeat”.

I am talking about the sixth annual CHAB Family First Radiothon, which aims to raise more than $200,000 to purchase life-saving equipment for heart and stroke patients at the Moose Jaw Union Hospital. This equipment will not only be more portable but will also provide more data and better emergent care. Better care for cardiac and stroke patients is welcome, as heart disease costs the Canadian economy more than $20 billion every year.

I am proud to be part of a community that unites behind a common goal to give in a heartbeat for friends, family or neighbours who may need heart or stroke care.

Calgary ZooStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Madam Speaker, for more than 75 years the Calgary Zoo has offered visitors from around the world the opportunity to experience and interact with wildlife right in the heart of our city.

Recently I had the pleasure to meet with Clement Lanthier, Rick Harland and Dr. Malu Celli and visit the newest exhibit at the Calgary Zoo, the penguin plunge. This wonderful exhibit allows visitors to experience multiple penguin species up close and in their natural habitats, which include massive diving pools and natural rock formations.

The Calgary Zoo has created an environmentally sustainable ecosystem, continually recycling fresh water, removing deposits and ensuring the penguins have the safest of homes.

The penguin plunge will be a main attraction for the zoo's 1.2 million annual visitors and will raise awareness of polar regions and this magnificent and really cute species.

I encourage all Canadians to visit this world-class exhibit and take the penguin plunge.