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House of Commons Hansard #118 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Because I am a young member, when I study a bill that is so impressive and so important in relation to the future and the environment, among other things, it moves me greatly. When you are young and you make decisions, you think a lot about the future and about the consequences that those decisions will have in 20, 30 or even 50 years.

When reading this bill, I got the impression that it does not point to a very positive future. The government appears to be putting the environment at the bottom of its list of priorities, especially since it has backed out of the Kyoto protocol. I have many concerns about the future and about what will happen to our planet if we continue to be governed by a government that has such a backwards ideology in terms of the environment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Sherbrooke for his very passionate words.

He is a young person who is coping with real challenges that will lead to climate change. We need to hear about these things in this debate. Climate change is a fundamental issue, and there is nothing in the budget or in the budget implementation act about it or about the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. I would therefore like to thank this young member, who has a worthy vision of the country and of the planet.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her comments

It is indeed a very important issue for my generation. In the years to come, we will see more and more climate change. We are seeing it already today. It is a major issue for our generation and for everyone, in fact. We must take it seriously.

Not all the members on the government side are young people, but that is no reason to ignore this issue, to not think about their grandchildren. We must think about future generations. It is the best way to draft a bill. When the bill being drafted is the budget, thought must be given to its future consequences. If that is not taken into consideration, the bill will miss the mark completely.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today about our government's priorities: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. It is very appropriate after the recent comments of the leader of the NDP, who seems to want to pit one region of Canada against another, one industrial sector over another.

Over the weekend, the NDP leader chose to attack the natural resources sector and laid blame upon it for the effects of the global economic crisis on our manufacturing sector. Although his comments were ostensibly related to the oil sands, I would assume he was talking about all of Canada's natural resources sectors. I happen to represent a natural resources constituency. In Manitoba, forestry and agriculture are major industries and I take his comments as a direct attack on my constituents and communities.

This is in very sharp contrast to our government, which is focused on long-term prosperity. This has made Canada the envy of the world and the G8.

We are well-positioned to balance our budget in the medium term and become more competitive as we invest in infrastructure, science, innovation and tax reduction, while reducing barriers to trade. We have undertaken the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history and will continue with that. This is a government that has continuously lowered taxes. Since forming government, we have cut taxes 140 times for families, businesses and individuals.

Budget 2012 spends taxpayer dollars responsibly. I would like to quote Craig Alexander, chief economist of TD Economics, who said:

When combined, the various measures included in...budget [2012] are aimed at improving productivity and boosting private sector growth...In addition to being fiscally prudent in the medium-term, the government is taking action to pursue fiscally sound policies for the long run.

In terms of creating and protecting jobs, we will extend by one year the hiring tax credit for small business, a measure we know works to encourage businesses to hire more employees. In western world Manitoba where I am from, there are many small businesses and manufacturers that export to the United States and around the world. I hope the NDP does not disregard the importance of these small business job creators, while their leader attacks the natural resources industry. What he and his party have to realize is that the natural resources industry supports many manufacturers that provide vital products for resource industries.

We are going to invest in upgrades to infrastructure such as maintaining safe rail service, renewing the Coast Guard fleet and improving facilities at our borders. We are increasing funding for skills training for students, older workers and Canadians with disabilities. Our government will also reform Canada's immigration system. It needs to be more efficient and better at meeting our country's labour market needs so the businesses that need workers can find them and new Canadians can succeed when they come to Canada.

I would like to take a minute to talk about our responsible natural resource development policies, which I very strongly support. Canada's natural resources sectors employed more than 760,000 across the country, many in my constituency. In fact, the mining and energy sectors alone represent 10% of the Canadian economy and 40% of exports, sectors that the leader of the NDP wants to see damaged and reduced. In the next 10 years, more than 500 new projects, representing over $500 billion in new investments, will be proposed for Canada. The potential for job growth is simply enormous.

Since 2006, our government has been working to streamline the review process for major environmental projects. Our efforts have made a difference without any negative impact on the environment. It is very important to make a distinction between the environmental process and environmental outcomes. They are two very different things.

Currently, companies undertaking major projects must navigate a complex maze of regulatory requirements and processes, many of which have little to do with the environment, and approval processes are long and unpredictable. That is why our government is acting, in Canada's economic action plan 2012, with our plan for responsible resource development. The responsible resource development policy will streamline the review process for major economic projects and prevent long delays that kill potential jobs and add nothing to environmental improvement, I might add, and stall economic growth by putting valuable investment at risk.

As a young biologist back in the 1970s, I had the pleasure of working on the first environmental assessment in the Mackenzie Valley. A very thorough environmental assessment of the Mackenzie Valley environmental resources was done prior to the potential development of that particular pipeline.

The pipeline did not happen. A similar review was undertaken again in the 1990s, doing exactly the same thing we did in the 1970s. Again, the pipeline did not happen. Had that pipeline been built in the late 1970s or early 1980s, gas would have been flowing from the Mackenzie Valley and thousands of much-needed jobs in impoverished rural communities would have been created. That is the problem with the environmental process. With the low prices for natural gas these days, one wonders whether that Mackenzie Valley pipeline will ever be built. More importantly, responsible resource development would create good, skilled, well-paying jobs in cities and communities across the country, especially in rural communities, the kind that I represent.

Going back to the Leader of the Opposition's comments over the weekend, when he said he wanted to internalize costs for the oil sands, it is that old thing, full-cost accounting, which has never been done. He also talked, in March, about a comprehensive cap and trade program. Interestingly, I wonder if he wants to internalize the costs for all natural resource industries across the country. Does this apply to forestry development? Does he want to see it for hydro development? Does it apply to hydro development in Quebec, for example? One does not know, but these are questions that need to be asked of the leader of the NDP.

Protecting our fisheries is very important. Our fish and fish-habitat protection rules would do just that. These changes would solidify our government's commitment to protect recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries and the habitat that supports them. We would adopt a sensible and practical approach to managing real and significant threats to fisheries and the habitat that supports them, while minimizing the restrictions on routine, everyday activities that have little or no impact on the productivity of Canada's fish stocks. Section 35 of the Fisheries Act, a definition of fish habitat, is extremely broad and almost all of Canada then becomes fish habitat. Then what do we do? We have a prime example right next door to us on Parliament Hill. There has been massive change in habitat in the Ottawa Valley with the city of Ottawa itself and the Rideau Canal, yet the Ottawa River is thriving. The fish community and the fish populations are very abundant. That is because of the inherent productivity of the ecosystem here in spite of all the changes that have occurred. Obviously those changes were within the bounds of ecosystem function. We have a thriving fish population in the Ottawa River and thriving human communities right beside it.

We have heard Canadians tell us about farmers being prevented from cleaning out their irrigation channels, and municipalities being delayed in repairing bridge supports, doing routine maintenance of drains and so on. That is because the existing rules lack common sense. The changes we are proposing would focus protection on recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries, the important ones, drawing a distinction between vital waterways that support Canada's fisheries and productive bodies of water like drainage ditches and irrigation canals. We would identify and manage real threats to fisheries. The minister would have new tools to establish new and clear accessible guidelines for Canadians to follow for projects in or near water. We would identify ecologically sensitive areas that require enhanced protection. Currently, all areas are treated indiscriminately under the law. As a fisheries biologist, I can tell members that we would be able to implement these new regulations and improve, enhance and conserve fish populations.

The changes would also allow the government to enforce the conditions associated with Fisheries Act authorizations. At present, DFO cannot enforce the conditions on authorizations. We would align infractions under the Fisheries Act with the Environmental Enforcement Act which provides higher maximum penalties.

In terms of protecting Canada's environment, our bottom line is that Canadian families deserve the cleanest air, water and environment possible, again delivering on environmental results. It is the physics, chemistry and biology of the environment that are important here, not process. When one looks at what we have done for the environment, delivering results and spending billions of dollars on environmental improvement, it shows that we work. The NDP demands an environmental process that only makes lawyers rich. We Conservatives demand results and we deliver.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech given by the hon. member, who sits with me on the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. His speech was a great disappointment to me, especially since he spoke about the Fisheries Act, which is going to be amended. We know that the amendment of this bill is an aberration and that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans will not even be able to study it.

This bill attacks fish habitat in such a ways that only fish that are valuable to humans will be protected. Nevertheless, all fish feed and live in an ecosystem. If we do not protect the fish that they eat or the ecosystem in which they live, how will we be able to protect any fish over the long term?

The change to this legislation is a total aberration. We are going back years—50 years even—in terms of environmental protection. And this is only one of many examples.

Abandoning the Kyoto protocol and doing nothing to fight against climate change is also an incredible aberration. We must not exceed more than 2% in global warming over the next few years.

I wonder what there is in this bill to protect the environment and fight against climate change.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, as I said in my remarks, what is important is the physics, chemistry and biology of the environment. The histrionics of my friend opposite and all my friends opposite where they throw everything up in the air, having had no experience in environmental management themselves, I find simply incredible.

By focusing on results, by eliminating extraneous and extensive processes, we would see a significant improvement in environmental outcomes in what counts: water quality, fish populations, air quality and so on. Actually, if one looked at environmental indicators from various reports, one would see that, over the life of this government, the environment is improving in terms of air quality and water quality. My colleagues have to look at the numbers as the numbers tell the true story, not --

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please.

Questions and comments.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague asked the rhetorical question whether we should internalize costs for all natural resource industries as if it were some scary socialist thing.

Let me read a quote from someone I will identify momentarily, “The legitimate role for government is in so far as it can to, to control and check negative externalities.” Who said that? Milton Friedman, the go-to guy for principled Conservatives in favour of less government and more private enterprise. Milton Friedman said that it is a legitimate role of government, something he always wanted to minimize, to control and check negative externalities.

What does my hon. colleague think about Milton Friedman and does he respect Milton Friedman's opinion?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Madam Speaker, yes, I respect him. Friedman and I agree. Government should be controlling negative externalities.

Let me give my hon. friend a specific example. In 1989, the then Mulroney government implemented the pulp and paper effluent regulations. In the mid-1990s, I became an environmental director at a paper mill. I joined the paper mill just as we were finishing constructing a $25 million waste water treatment plant. Those kinds of treatment plants had to be installed at all pulp and paper mills right across the country. That provided a significant improvement in the effluent for pulp and paper mills.

So, of course, we need to minimize and control negative externalities. Conservative governments have done that and will continue to do that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to talk about this bill today. It is also practically a miracle, given that the government has limited the time for debate. I want to point that out right away so that as many people as possible understand what non-Conservative members have to deal with every day. The government is constantly imposing time limits and gag orders, as my colleague mentioned earlier.

Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget, is the biggest bill that has come before the House this year. The country's finances will be managed and programs will be cut or saved based on what is in this bill. The Conservatives are eliminating many programs.

Not all members of my party or all opposition members will have a chance to talk about this bill, and that is utterly ridiculous.

The bill is over 400 pages long. It is a complex bill that should be studied much longer. Yet the opposition members are up against the time allocation imposed by the government, which is limiting debate. Basically, there is no way to address everything that is in this bill. This is an omnibus bill. As we have said repeatedly on our side of the House, there are many things pertaining to finances in this bill and many things that have nothing to do with finances. With this omnibus bill, the government tried to include all kinds of bills that it wants to pass quickly, without examination and without giving the appropriate committees a chance to study them.

I thank my colleague from Drummond, who pointed out that everything having to do with fish habitat will not be examined by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development or the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Instead, it is the Standing Committee on Finance and its subcommittee that will examine the future of fish habitat in our country, which is ridiculous.

There are several aspects that I wanted to address. I will try to do so as quickly as possible, since I do not have much time. Earlier, a colleague across the floor was talking about youth and how proud he is to see so many things for young people in this bill. I am part of Canada's younger generation and, I must say, if I were an ordinary citizen—I mean if I were not an elected official—and I still had student loans to pay back at age 27, I would find my future very depressing.

There has been a lot of talk about the retirement age. In fact, it is very easy for the government to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 in the next decade, and it is smart for the Conservatives to include this change in this bill. People will be a bit confused, and 10 years from now, when the change affects them, they will think that the government of the day is to blame. The current government is trying to confuse people so that they will forget what is happening.

What is happening is that the government has raised the age of eligibility for old age security benefits by two years. What impact will that have, aside from shifting the cost to the provinces? It will mean that the most vulnerable people in our society, often women, who receive provincial social assistance benefits, are going to have to wait another two years. Social assistance benefits do not pay as much as old age security benefits. These people are going to have to live two more years in dire straits. This is going to affect my generation, not people who are over 55 now. It is going to affect today's young people, tomorrow's seniors, who are going to have to work for two more years.

What has the government done for young people? It has done away with the Katimavik program, in which my sister, many of my friends and many people in my riding participated. It was a great program that taught young people the value of bilingualism in Canada, because it gave them an opportunity to learn both official languages. In addition, the program allowed young people to work in other provinces and discover Canada. It gave them the chance to gain leadership experience and become independent. It was a wonderful program that did not cost much compared to what the ministers in this government spend. Yet the government decided that for ideological and political reasons, it did not like this program, so it scrapped it.

The unemployment rate is highest among young people and there is nothing in the government's budget to address youth unemployment.

The government says that it is going to inject millions of dollars into helping the unemployed find jobs. In the meantime, it is cutting positions in the public service and in areas that interest young people, such as the environment. It is cutting funding for community groups that provided jobs. Young people from my generation that are graduating from university are ending up unemployed. The same is true for those finishing CEGEP or secondary school.

We are certainly grateful for the extra $50 million the Conservatives are going to invest in hiring under the youth employment strategy, but that is not enough. It is a far cry from a job creation strategy for unemployed youth.

A young person in my riding is worried about the skill link program. There is nothing in the budget for that program either. I find it worrisome and I do not understand how the member opposite can say that this budget is so great for youth.

Things with the environment are no better. We are living on a planet that is experiencing global warming. We have seen it over the past few weeks. A month ago it was 27oC out, and the following week it was -5oC. That is not normal. Young people are the ones who are going to suffer the long-term consequences of the Conservatives' current inaction.

As I said earlier, the most ridiculous aspect is that all the environmental measures in this budget will be studied by the Standing Committee on Finance. That is nonsense.

This bill has consequences for the future, for my generation and for everyone. Life expectancy is longer now. People who are 60 today, and who will live to be 80 or 90, will feel the effects.

Pollution is part of our lives today. I have asthma. I moved from Sherbrooke to Montreal and I felt the effects of living in a big city where there is more smog and more pollution. It is not inconsequential. This is happening right now and the Conservatives are doing nothing about it.

It is shocking that nothing is being done for aboriginal youth. We have talked about education for aboriginal youth. The government tries to boast about putting money into education. However, Cindy Blackstock, who is with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, took the government to court because it was shocking to see that nothing was being done for aboriginal peoples and to show the gap between funding for aboriginal children and all other children in Canada.

The government took the case to the Federal Court—we do not know if it will go to the appeal court—and it claimed that aboriginal children cannot be compared with children from another country because their situations are different. I am sorry, but a young Canadian is a young Canadian. Aboriginal children should have the same right to education and the same right to health care as other children.

At the same time that it was boasting about helping aboriginal peoples, the government cut funding to the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. These two groups can no longer continue with their health initiatives. The government is harming the health of Canadian aboriginal children, while boasting about giving money to aboriginal peoples.

Getting back to the environment, this budget puts the kibosh on Kyoto. There is one sentence somewhere in the budget that says the Kyoto protocol will no longer be in force.

I see that I have just a minute left. I do not have much time, but I want to quote Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice, who said that this budget is “a clear attempt to speed through new legislation and avoid parliamentary debate. And we think it’s wrong. Overhauling the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the communities we live in needs vigorous debate. That’s how democratic societies operate.”

That suggests to me that this executive director thinks our country is not democratic. Personally, that makes me worry about my future.

I have a few seconds left. I would have liked to talk about immigration, a little more about the environment, and transportation. There is nothing in this bill for public transit, even though we would like to see a national public transit strategy. I would have liked to talk a little more about the economy, but I cannot because there is a time allocation motion that denies us the right to speak.

I will answer questions to the best of my ability. The main thing is that we cannot support this bill. It is ridiculous.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some attention to the member's speech. I appreciate her enthusiasm as a youthful member of the House.

The member spoke about there being nothing in the budget for aboriginal people and nothing for cities. I just want to address those two items.

There is some $275 million in there for education on reserves for first nations people. There is some $330 million for water upgrades on reserves. That is in addition to the millions and millions that have been going into reserves over the last few years of our government.

In my own riding, we have a brand new school out in Ahousaht. That is where the national chief is from. We have another school in Hesquiaht. They are beautiful schools that drive these communities.

On the cities, there is just one little point: the gas tax fund is $2 billion available each and every year for municipal infrastructure. It is very much appreciated in my part of the world. I wonder why the member does not feel that is helping our communities and our cities.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, I would like to tell my colleague how lucky he is to have money in his riding. I do not have a Conservative riding; therefore, I do not have any money. What I did have in my riding was scrapped. There are going to be fewer jobs in my riding because it is not a Conservative riding.

Investing $265 million in education is a good thing, of course. However, as I said earlier, the money had to come from somewhere. It was taken away from the aboriginal nations—from groups involved in health care, and groups that did very important work for the aboriginals in our country—and put into education. That is what happened. Although more money was invested in aboriginal education, there was not more money for aboriginals overall. The funds were merely transferred: money was taken away from aboriginals in the area of health care and given back to them in the area of education, and the Conservatives think that that is just fine.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of Orwellianspeak in this House over the budget.

The budget contains the words “long-term sustainability”, yet it contains within its pages the provision that would remove the protection of fish habitat from the Fisheries Act and instead replace it with doing serious harm to fisheries.

Experts around the country are routinely panning such a shortsighted change to our fisheries, because for long-term sustainability of our fishery we obviously have to protect the habitat.

I did a bit of research and found that when the present government took office, the debt of Canada was $457 billion. It is $586 billion today. The current government has run up the highest deficit in the history of Canada.

I wonder if my friend can comment on whether or not she thinks it is fiscally prudent for a government to increase Canada's debt by $130 billion in six years and run the biggest deficit in Canada's history, second only to Michael Wilson, a previous Conservative finance minister?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives often boast that they are the best money managers. That is not true at all. In fact, our country's debt has increased from $475 billion to $600 billion. It is a pity for generations like mine, generations of young people.

I should point out that all economists agree that cutting the GST was not a good idea. I also want to point out that we are talking about job creation, which will help our government. What we are seeing are cutbacks. The government is telling us that more jobs are being created in the private sector. We know that the Conservatives want to encourage the private sector. Obviously, when 19,000 jobs are cut from the public sector, it is bound to have that effect. Getting rid of jobs is a very unhelpful thing for this government to do. I am quite concerned that this will again have repercussions on our deficit.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons to speak to budget 2012, which reflects the unique needs of all Canadians and the strengths of our country, rich in diversity, talent, innovation and resources.

This is a budget we should all be proud of and excited about as we excel into the future. There are several components of budget 2012 that I would like to speak to today, areas that are of particular interest to my constituents, who, over the last year, have shared with me their priorities and concerns and their vision for the future, a vision which can be captured by key measures introduced in economic action plan 2012.

An important part of this budget announces $150 million over two years for a new community infrastructure improvement fund to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities.

The city of Mississauga, located just outside Toronto, is easily accessible by highways and close to an international airport. This gives the city a strong competitive advantage in attracting business investment. However, to accommodate this growth, investments in infrastructure are imperative.

Through the economic action plan, over 30,000 projects were completed to build and enhance infrastructure across the country. These projects created jobs for Canadians and will facilitate growth and prosperity for many years to come.

Our investments have not taken a one-size-fits-all approach. They have been carefully focused to address the individual needs of communities across this country.

Since 2006 our government has made several important and impactful investments in Mississauga. To name a few, we have invested $15.6 million in Sheridan College and $35 million in the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus. Over the last year, thousands of residents have gathered in the new city square, where our government invested $13.3 million. Since being there to mark the completion of the project last year, I have visited several times for community celebrations. This project has really contributed to the spirit of community in downtown Mississauga. Furthermore, many residents have been impressed by investments in the redevelopment of the Burnhamthorpe branch library, where our government invested $5.5 million.

As Mississauga continues to grow, it has been important to recognize existing infrastructure that needs maintenance in order to keep up with the growing interest of individuals and families in settling here. Across the city, over $12.3 million dollars was invested in replacing old water mains, which will be necessary to accommodate the great future we have envisioned for the city.

As a result of our government's investments in critical infrastructure, many jobs were created and citizens in my riding experience a better quality of life. We have become aware of what can be accomplished when there is collaboration between all levels of government and a focus on the specific needs of a particular and unique community.

Our government's continued investments in infrastructure provided through budget 2012 will ensure that we will build on the improvements I have highlighted and that our cities can continue to prosper.

The budget also addresses the need for driving innovation and small business investment across Canada to secure our economic advantage. While Canada's GDP is well above pre-recession levels, we still lag behind the other G7 countries in driving innovation. That is why we are focusing resources in ways that the private sector needs them most, through direct investment. This will ensure that we are at the forefront of research and development and that jobs that result from these advancements are brought to Canada rather than lost to foreign firms.

Our government's investments in innovation and small business through budget 2012 will help these companies grow in their capacity to serve and employ residents of Mississauga, which is important to the long-term prosperity of our city.

Building on actions taken since 2006, budget 2012 provides direct investments for research and development to the tune of $1.1 billion over the course of five years, allowing for investments in the industrial research assistance program to be doubled.

Additionally, budget 2012 would help small businesses invest in growth opportunities by investing $500 million to help them in accessing early stage risk capital.

Because of our government's focus on driving economic growth and creating jobs, 700,000 more Canadians are working now than in July 2009, exemplary of Canada's position in having the strongest job growth among the G7 countries over the course of recovery.

However, our government understands that many Canadians are still unemployed or underemployed. Economic action plan 2012 shows our commitment to helping Canadians find meaningful employment.

Another part of our plan to support job creation, budget 2012 intends to reduce disincentives to work by investing $74 million over the course of two years to introduce a new national working while on claim EI pilot project. This pilot project would cut down the clawback rate in half and be applied to all earnings while an individual is receiving employment insurance. This would make it easier for Canadians as they search for permanent and meaningful full-time jobs.

The riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, which I am proud to represent, is an excellent example of the contributions immigrants have made to this great country, to building our economy and to Canada's strength of diversity in heritage. Canada is attracting some of the world's best and brightest immigrants who have the potential to address our labour needs, supporting the growth of innovative and knowledge based industries.

Budget 2012 expands on the accomplishments of budget 2009 where funding was given to support the recognition of foreign qualifications. Budget 2012 would add six additional occupations to the list by the end of 2012, ensuring that the provinces and territories can address labour shortages quickly and effectively. This proves our government's attention to the evolving needs of our economy.

Over the last year, I spent a great deal of time working with the settlement organizations in my riding that often speak to the difficulties foreign trained professionals have in becoming accredited in Canada and bringing their education and experience to the benefit of Canadian business. In February 2012, our government launched the foreign credential recognition loans pilot to provide funding to these community groups to help them grow in their capacity to provide financial assistance to those professionals who are on the road to bringing new business and innovative ideas to Canadians.

Today I have highlighted only a few of the ways that budget 2012 would impact my constituents and all Canadians in real and meaningful ways in their everyday lives, bringing to light many of the priorities of my constituents.

However, it is also important to note that the budget is not short-sighted. It takes into consideration a long-term view for the prosperity of Canada. Budget 2012 introduces measures that would lay the foundation for the prosperous future of our economy. It builds on the momentum and accomplishments we have realized over the last few years and demonstrates a strong vision for building the long-term future of Canada.

It is clear that budget 2012 builds on the accomplishments of our government to support the economy and job creation. Ellen McGregor, chair and co-owner of Fielding Chemical Technologies, Canada's leader in chemical and refrigerant recycling, a business located in my riding, has applauded our work to date and the measures taken in the budget by stating, “Our government is approaching the management of the country like the management of the best-run company, or for that matter, a best-managed household. This budget's measures focus on debt reduction balanced against the goals for increased growth and prosperity. I applaud [the Prime Minister] and his government for the courage it takes to reduce government spending while stimulating job creation and supporting key social programs, for which Canada is proud”.

Budget 2012 not only reflects our government's focus on job creation and economic growth, but also proves a sound understanding of the needs of Canadians, the challenges we face and the realities of a global economy. I am thrilled for the benefits it will bring to my riding and to all Canadians.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague.

I do not know if my colleague and I are looking at the same document, but Bill C-38 is supposed to be a budget implementation bill. The member seems very proud to say that it is not a short-sighted bill. Maybe not, but it will massacre nearly every system that exists in Canada for years to come.

What does he think of a budget implementation bill that has 753 clauses, of which only 51 have to do with taxes? The other 702 announce a new way of governing and have nothing to do with any budgetary matters.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the member would be confused with the document.

In my speech I focused on the process. This is not a two year, one year or half a year process. This has been going on since 2006 and it is a process that will be going on for many years to come.

It takes planning and a certain implementation to ensure that this country grows, businesses grow and that people find suitable employment to take care of their families and put food on the table. This is what we are implementing. It is not a process that will end today or after this bill. This will continue for many years to come.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Gatineau. I do not know what document the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville was speaking to but he did talk about debt reduction.

Yes, there is debt reduction in the bill, but it would certainly increase the gap between the rich and the poor. Bill C-38 is clearly a charter of rights for the corporate sector so that it can exploit and extract resources without any recourse from the people of Canada on our environment and industries. We know that corporations are not investing the billions of dollars they have invested.

Regardless of our differences, 70 pieces of legislation would be affected by this bill. Will the member at least stand in his place and agree to split the bill so that this place can have a debate and Canadians can see the real impact and the real damage that this bill would have on this country?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think that question was raised several times during today's question period.

The answer is simple and our Minister of Finance answered it. This is a large budget that affects a high number of implementation bills. That is what we are discussing here today. After we debate it here in the House, the bill will go to committee where everybody will have time to discuss it and look at the details.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is very passionate in relation to his belief in what the Conservative government is doing.

One of the first steps we took as a government was to cut $37 billion in debt when we first took office. Of course, that has brought us to the tremendous place of having the lowest debt ratio in 25 years. I wonder if the member would speak to that in relation to how his constituents feel about paying off the mortgage and getting to the lowest debt ratio in 25 years.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Conservative Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think my constituents are much different from the constituents of other members on both sides of the House. They are looking for stable employment, safe communities, safe streets and a good future for their children, and that is what this government is giving them and that is why we were re-elected a year ago. We are implementing responsible economic policies. This is the plan that has been working for the past five years and we will continue it for the future of our great country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with ever-increasing sadness that I rise in the House today, because every time I do so, I am left with the impression that the reasons my constituents elected me are being scorned. That said, I have 10 precious minutes to try to give an informed judgment on a document that is over 400 pages long, and this is only because I am one of the rare, lucky ones who is able to speak in this shortened debate. Understandably, then, I will not launch into a comprehensive study of the economic elements. Instead, I will try to point out what is wrong with this proposed legislation as clearly as I possibly can.

The first thing that struck me is the discrepancy that exists between the bill's short title and the objectives or intentions of the bill in question. I would add that I am often surprised by this. In this case, for instance, the short title of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, is this: the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. Ouch.

Before getting into all the contradictions and ambiguities of such a title, I want to say a few words about the bill itself. It is clearly stated that this bill concerns the budget, and that it also implements other measures. This bill therefore goes beyond implementing the budget. It introduces a series of measures that were never announced in the budget. These measures are very different in nature. I will name a few in passing: eligibility age for old age security benefits; the environmental protection and regulations system—we immediately see the link between old age security and the environment; the authority of the Auditor General—also closely linked; and then, why not throw in the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act? I will stop there because I do not have enough time.

Under the pretext of balancing the budget—in a forced march and for purely ideological reasons—the government is in fact imposing on Parliament and all Canadians a hidden agenda that will quickly change everyday life for the people in this country, and unfortunately, not for the better.

We feel that what the government is doing is contrary to parliamentary practice and procedures. A budget implementation bill should not be used as an opportunity to limit debate and push through detrimental measures designed to reduce government transparency and accountability. Let us be clear in case Canadians have not fully grasped what is happening here: Bill C-38 is actually an omnibus bill that goes far beyond the budget and unilaterally imposes the Conservatives' decisions without allowing for real debate.

I have envisioned many different political scenarios, but reality today is beyond anything I ever could have imagined. I get the feeling that within a year, there will probably be one catch-all bill a year, with seven days of debate, and the House will be on holidays for the rest of the year. I feel I am being very well paid for all the work I am not being allowed to do.

Why does Canada have a Parliament with two chambers if the government is going to use all its power and questionable tactics to limit debate, get around parliamentary rules and tune out the official opposition? Is that the Conservatives' idea of democracy? The Conservatives need to do more than just keep shouting all the time that they won a strong mandate if they want to have real legitimacy. They also need to respect this country's institutions as they govern.

Most of the major changes in Bill C-38 do not address Canadians' concerns. Canadians are telling us that they want more good-quality jobs, better environmental protection and a better health care system. Nothing in this bill reflects the real concerns of Canadians. As I was saying earlier, more careful analysis of this bill reveals the discrepancy between its short title and its real intentions.

The short title of Bill C-38 is the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act”. I will repeat these three components: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

In recent months, the government's decisions have led to job losses, jeopardized economic growth and put Canada on the list of slackers in both environmental protection and sustainable development.

With regard to this last point, we have reason to be especially worried about the bill's provisions. In this House, we all know that it is our responsibility to protect the environment, fight climate change and preserve the diversity of living things and our ecosystems. Our duty is to leave a healthy and viable natural environment to our children. The vast majority of developed countries are putting environmental strategies in place, making significant international commitments, and signing binding and necessary agreements to fight the destruction of our ecosystems. However, this government is once again swimming against the current.

For example, this bill changes the regulations that protect fish and govern the deposit of toxic and deleterious substances into fish habitats. More seriously still, this bill repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, which shows just how little the government cares about issues that affect and will continue to affect all Canadians. This means that the government will no longer have to report its GHG emissions. That is a major step backward for our country and all of our international partners.

Canadians want us to take action to fight climate change and protect our environment, but the Conservatives are determined to dismantle environmental protection rules and attack environmental protection groups. Many of the provisions in the bill point to the fact that environmental protection has completely disappeared from this government's agenda.

The government has gutted the federal environmental assessment regime to speed up major projects, such as oil pipelines. It has delegated the environmental assessment process to other authorities. It has made sure that projects in other countries are not subject to Canadian laws.

This budget is not good for jobs and labour, either. For a few weeks now, there has been announcement after announcement, and jobs are being lost across the country. Everywhere there is talk of cuts, job losses and, inevitably, cuts to services for Canadians. The Conservatives' ideological vision will have a direct impact on the health of Canada's economy. Their approach to the budget is an accounting approach, aimed solely at reducing the deficit. In the medium term, the Conservatives' budget policy will seriously hurt this country's economic development.

I will take a specific example. In my riding, the Forges du Saint-Maurice National Historic Site will be hard hit by the government's cuts, which will mean job losses and a shorter season for the site. These cuts are like a death sentence for this major historic site. Investments depend on the number of visitors to the site, but because the government is not investing in the site, fewer and fewer people are visiting it. Because the number of visitors is down, funding is being cut. It is like the Hygrade wiener slogan, only in reverse. It is a downward spiral.

The closing of this park will have an even more serious impact on the whole region. The money the government thinks it is saving with these budget cuts will be lost elsewhere.

One minute to condemn so many policies is simply not long enough. I am very sorry for my friends at the Vieilles Forges park. I will definitely come back to this issue during question period and I will not back down.

In closing, unfortunately, this bill represents a shift even further away from this wishful thinking. Transparency is not a strong point of the Conservatives. Bill C-38 contains many measures that will reduce transparency and limit accountability requirements.

Consider three quick examples. Section 1 of part 4 amends a number of laws to remove the Auditor General's requirement to conduct a financial audit of certain agencies and assess the performance reports of two public organizations. Section 15 of part 4 amends the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to abolish the position of inspector general. Section 25 of part 4 dissolves the Public Appointments Commission and its secretariat.

Once again, I could go on. I will stop here and simply say that nothing in this budget will serve the Canada of the future, which we should be building today.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his inspired and inspiring speech about a disappointing government bill.

I would like to focus more on the form of the bill than on its substance. This is the 18th time the government has imposed closure, this time in order to ram a 431-page brick down members' throats with just seven days of debate. Some Conservative members are saying that this is part of a long process that has been going on since 2006, but that is baloney. I am one of about 100 new parliamentarians, and we were not in the House prior to May 2, 2011. We have the right to do our job, which is to carefully study bills. A bill that amends 69 different pieces of legislation is an elephant, a mammoth.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the Conservative government's practice of introducing huge bills and imposing closure. It is completely antidemocratic.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the short answer would be to use the word “abject” to describe this bill.

I totally agree with my colleague. A lot changed in the last election and this government does not seem to want to take that into account. It is muzzling those who have not taken part in the debates. Canadians sent a very clear message: in the game of politics, this government ended up in power with 39% of the vote. That means that 61% of the population has to be able to express itself through the voices of the hon. members from the other parties. It would seem that the government wants to muzzle us. In fact, more than “it would seem”, it is indeed muzzling us. I think that 18 closure motions in one year is an all-time record in the history of this country's Parliament.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is right in respect of one thing. We should talk about the substance of the bill and we should talk about the content of it. It is a big bill, but we are in big times. We are in important times for the world, an economic global crisis. Of course we will respond to what Canadians need in a big bill because they need big changes.

Could the member speak about why his party, the NDP, voted against some of the things we did? For instance, we cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. We removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We increased the amount that Canadians could earn tax-free. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, which puts nearly $1,000 back in the pockets of every Canadian.

Those are things that Canadians said they wanted. Those were things that Canadians said they needed. We responded accordingly because of the time.

Why would the member and his party vote against those things about which Canadians have talked? We bring forward good measures and they vote against them. Why?