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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

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, yes, that was not very nice.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I feel this discussion of time allocation particularly keenly as the leader of the federal Green Party with a lot of background as a former environmental lawyer, having worked for much of my life on creating the bills that are now being destroyed. When I worked in the Mulroney government, I charted the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act through the machinery of government at the Privy Council Office to get permission to legislate. I have worked on this legislation for more than 25 years and I am watching it being destroyed, and I may never get a chance to speak in this House. With time allocation, it does not look like I will get to speak now and I certainly did not get to speak on the budget itself.

What does the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor do, as a parliamentarian, when items that were never part of a budget are in a budget implementation bill? The destruction of the federal Fisheries Act was not even hinted at in that budget. How does the Conservative Party get away with sticking it in an omnibus bill when it was not even mentioned in the budget itself?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I find her situation in the House very similar to the Conservative party, and this is the only comparison I draw between the Green party and the Conservative party in the House; they are both a party of one.

However, in this particular situation, she is right because so much of this material was not even brought up as a preliminary discussion in the beginning. Let us go back to the Fisheries Act. The Conservatives attempted to bring in a brand new Fisheries Act years ago, under Loyola Hearn. What is in there now was not even discussed then, when they had a chance to bring in a new act, let alone now.

It is ridiculous.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will take my time to talk about budget 2012 and the positive changes it will bring to Canada. I will also take a bit of my time to correct the record on some of the things that my hon. colleague across the way from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor had to say.

I will go back to the beginning of his speech when he talked a bit about the 2005 budget and the Atlantic accord. The changes that came forward under our government to the Atlantic accord ended up with Nova Scotia getting a better agreement. Unfortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador was no longer a have-not province and did not reap the benefits of Atlantic accord. Every province in Canada should have that problem. Good for it; I applaud it for that reason. Some of the environmental changes the hon. member talked about in this budget will actually improve the process for oil and gas operations on the east coast of Canada, including of course the very rich oil fields on offshore Newfoundland.

It is worth taking a look at what we are discussing. Budget 2012 is called coming back to balance. We are going to do that in a way that will bring budgetary balance and will also streamline some of the processes we have in this country, be they environmental, banking or employment insurance related, not to be negative but to assist our country to get back to a balanced budget.

It also important to note that nothing in this budget is going to bring in a new Fisheries Act. Since the hon. member is from Newfoundland, I hope he would understand the importance of some government in the House some day bringing in a new Fisheries Act. If he does not, then I am left shaking my head.

I come from a part of the world that is dependent on the fishery. In the southwestern end of Nova Scotia, there are 1,688 boats fishing in the most affluent fishery in Canada, without question. I can say that they are hobbled by a Fisheries Act that dates from 1867. They are absolutely handcuffed by archaic legislation and it is time we moved that 1867 act into the modern era. That does not mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater. It does not mean that all the changes that have come forth regarding the fishery get put into the act. I would hope that in this day and age, in 2012, we can look back at that act, say let us move it forward, modernize the fishery and keep all the good things that we have brought into the fishery along the way.

I would like to speak directly to the budget bill and how it affects my home province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has always been a trading province, from the days of the clipper ships to the days of the schooners. It was the part of Canada where Champlain first stepped ashore in 1604. We have consistently made a living off the land and off the sea and have traded our resources around the globe. That is the only way Canada can survive and excel today. We have tremendous resources and a great workforce, and we have to trade those resources around the world in a global economy. We are absolutely capable of doing that.

I am chagrined when the union membership across the country stands and says that we should put up protectionist walls and barriers. It would be the end of society as we know it. It cannot be done. We need to trade and we meed to trade on an equal footing. That means insisting that our trading partners have rules-based trading and that they respect our rules and we respect their rules. It is not complicated.

Both of the hon. members before me, as well as the member for Edmonton—Leduc, talked about the major projects initiative. The economic action plan 2012 proposes $54 million over 2 years to continue to support effective project approvals through the major projects management office initiative, which has helped to transform the approvals process from major natural resource projects by shortening the average review times from 4 years to 22 months.

I think just about everybody in this place would agree that if they had a large project ready to go forward, with investors on the hook for billions of dollars from all over the planet, they would expect to get that passed sooner than four years. Surely it needs a good environmental review and proper inspections nut surely that can occur in 22 months without duplication by the province and the feds. The average approval process, as I said before, is 4 years and, if we go to 22 months, I do not think there can be any disagreement from the opposition side of the House.

Consultation under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act would propose that $13.6 million over two years to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency to support consultations with aboriginal peoples related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to ensure that their rights and interests are respected and that they benefit from economic development opportunities. I think that is called consultation. There is nothing wrong with that. We need to bring the players to the table but it must be done in a timely fashion.

We will strengthen pipeline safety. Every Canadian would support strengthening pipeline safety. I have a colleague who has the sour gas pipeline that goes behind his house. It is safe. Nobody is in danger from that. However, we know it is safe because of a regular inspection system. Again, this is not rocket science. This is good, common sense stuff.

The reality will be that oil pipelines and gas pipelines inspections will increase from 100 to 150 inspections. I am sure that is something that everyone in this House would support.

This is extremely important to the offshore industry in Nova Scotia and the offshore oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. Offshore oil and gas developments create jobs and support economic growth in Canada's communities. Continued exploration activity is required to bring new projects to communities and sustain these economic benefits over the long term and depends on modern reliable seismic technology and data.

To advance exploration for new developments, economic action plan 2012 proposes to amend the Coasting Trade Act to facilitate access to Canadian waters for the global fleet of vessels that undertake seismic surveys. This would ensure that private sector companies have the information they require to identify potential resource development opportunities.

In Nova Scotia alone, this budget will mean a lot more dollars for Nova Scotia. It will be almost $2.5 billion when we look at the increase in transfer dollars, the increase in the health transfer, the increase in the social transfer and the increase in the training opportunities that will be made available. This is a good budget for Canada and a great budget for Nova Scotia.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague talk about how consultations about the environment are all well and good, but that they have to happen in a timely manner and not take too long.

How can he talk about beneficial consultation when the government is imposing a time limit on the study of its omnibus bill? Those of us who like parts of the bill are forced to support the whole thing.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, consultations are great if they lead somewhere but if consultations are only an opportunity to obstruct and delay and there is no intent from both sides when they sit down to actually seek a common goal, then the consultations do not work.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the bill would have a very profound impact on all Canadians. For example, increasing the age for OAS from 65 to 67. We in the Liberal Party believe people should have the choice to determine if they would like to retire at age 65. The government believes differently and the budget sets, at least in part, the framework to that.

The budget itself is an issue of priorities. The government has made the decision to cut over 15,000 civil servant jobs, which will have a significant impact on services being provided to Canadians. If we put that in the perspective of what the government did earlier this year when it decided to spend tens of millions of dollars on increasing the number of politicians, not to mention the staffing that will be required for those politicians, Canadians look at it and see a government that is cutting back on the civil servants in the same year in which it is proposing to increase the number of members of Parliament.

How does the member justify that sort of an approach when it comes to priorities for Canadians? It did not need to increase the size of the House of Commons and the government knows that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the question but I am not sure if the hon. member supports the increase in the number of members in the House of Commons or if he is actually against the increase.

The number of members in the House of Commons needs to be divided up as fairly as possible across the country. We know we have constitutional obligations. However, it is about democracy and about people having representation. There is a cost to that but it is a cost as a Canadian that I am willing to pay and I think all Canadians are willing to pay.

There are a number of other questions there. One of them was on old age security. The member is absolutely right. We do not need to change old age security today. Nothing will happen tomorrow, or next year, or the year after that. However, when we get into 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, the system will collapse in on itself and no one will have old age security. Therefore, we are moving now to put a program in place to ensure we preserve old age security for future generations.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I want to give the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's an opportunity to enlarge on an issue that obviously is not apparent to the opposition. We hear lots of complaints about what is going to be a very long budget debate, about the length of the debate, without any comments on the substance of the budget, this bill.

Could the member inform the House what the benefits for all parts of Canada are of having such an attractive jurisdiction for business and job creation in the country. Whether it is lower taxes or responsible resource development, whether it is affordable social programs or budget balance, these are all benefits that will bring jobs and investment to every part of the country.

Could the member describe some of the--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

A short answer, the hon. parliamentary secretary.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, a short answer will be very difficult. However, for me, the real success of the budget bill is the way it dovetails the budget in with our trade initiatives because our trade initiatives are leading to jobs and opportunities for Canadians and jobs and opportunities for workers in foreign lands to trade with Canada. This is a win-win situation for all on a planet that is not that stable and we need people to do well. First and foremost, we need Canadians to do well and we will do well because of the budget.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our people are growing older and living longer. What does that mean and what should we do about it? I will start with old age security.

In 1975, there were seven taxpayers for every senior. Right now, it is four. In 20 years, there will be two taxpayers for every senior. What is more, people now collect OAS for longer.

When Canada introduced old age security in 1951, the average life expectancy was 79 and eligibility was 70, meaning that the average person did not collect old age security at all. Today, eligibility is 65 and life expectancy is 82, meaning that the average person gets 17 years of OAS.

As we project forward, life expectancy is growing by 47 days per year. Put morbidly, the average dead person this year is 47 days older than the average dead person from last year. In 2031, people will die on average at about 84 years old, which means that under the current rules they will collect OAS for almost two decades. This is a benefit, I remind members, that was expected to be collected for only a very short period of time.

Put together, these facts mean that in two decades the number of people on OAS will double, the cost will triple and the number of taxpayers supporting each retiree will fall by half. By consequence, OAS will rise from 15¢ of each dollar the federal government spends to 25¢.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute calculated, “...by 2040 Canada would face a $67 billion deficit (in today’s dollars) based on current policies and demographic change”.

We need to think of OAS as a glass of water. Retirees can only drink out of the cup in benefits what workers pour into it in taxes. If Canadians are drinking out of the cup faster than what is poured in, then someone goes thirsty. We can look to Greece and Portugal where government debts are rated at junk status to see the consequences of drinking from the cup of profligacy.

We reject that failed model and choose the Canadian way instead. Our plan lowers the cost and therefore protects the integrity of the old age security system with a gradual increase to 67 years of age over the next decade and a half without impacting anyone currently over the age of 54.

The opposition parties oppose this move. In fact, they are already promising to increase the costs associated with this program. The NDP deputy leader moved and the Liberal leader seconded bills in this House that would allow people who have only lived in Canada for three years to collect old age security. The cost to taxpayers would be another $700 million. How would the opposition make up the $67 billion gap that I described earlier and how would it further fund billions of dollars in new promised entitlements?

The oppositions' election strategy is a cunning one. They would tell voters that they will give them a lot of free stuff and make someone else pay for it, and who better than big corporations. Who are these big corporations? Perhaps they mean Canadian Natural Resources Limited, the country's largest independent oil producer with over 100,000 barrels from the oil sands every day. It makes them a perfect target for the NDP.

The NDP promises to raise taxes on that company's profits but where do these profits go now? Well, they go to the shareholders. One of the biggest shareholders is the Quebec pension plan with $576 million invested. When the company profits it pays more money to the public pension.

Based upon today's dividend, this oil company pays the Quebec pension plan $6.3 million. That is enough to pay the pensions of 1,100 Quebeckers. There is only one problem. Canadian Natural Resources can only pay Quebec pensioners after it pays taxes to the government. Business taxes up, pension benefits down.

This is not an isolated example. Over half of the CPP's assets are invested in businesses, including the Canadian Oil Sands Trust, Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil and Athabasca Oil Sands Corporation. When these businesses profit, the CPP has more money to pay out to Canadian retirees. Raise taxes on those companies and they will pay a lower return to the CPP.

Take the Canada Post pension plan. It is no different. Its top five holdings are: the Toronto Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Suncor and Canadian Natural Resources. Banks and oil companies, the twin villains in every left-wing storyline, pay dividends to the pension fund of these unionized postal workers. These dividends come from after-tax profits. If the business tax rate rises, the after-tax profit remaining to the pension fund drops. In that sense, the opposition's proposed business tax hike is really a tax on the pensions of unionized blue-collar workers.

What happened to solidarity? The answer is that solidarity is incompatible with the opposition's overriding sentiment: envy.

If we do not have a job, the opposition tells us it is because someone else does. If we do not have enough to retire on, it tells us it is because businesses are too profitable. If a company fails, the oppositions tells it that it is because someone else is succeeding. If we are doing badly, it says it is because someone else is doing well. In sum, the opposition suggests that “them” has too much and “us” has too little. So it will take from the “them” and give to the “us”. Yet “us and them” does not work when our destinies are intertwined.

The retired Ottawa mailman relies for his pension cheque on the earnings of an Alberta oil sands company. In order to buy the machines and hire the workers in the first place, that oil sands company must seek investment from the mailman's pension fund. In that sense, the two are symbiotic and interdependent. Millions of voluntary transactions like these connect us all. Independently of government, through the free market, we truly are all in this together. Class distinctions start to fade. Billions of everyday Canadians now own shares in the largest corporations, through their pensions, RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts.

While some try to turn workers against business owners, free enterprise turns workers into business owners. That is the Canadian way: a low-cost government, a free people, a shared destiny and a bright future.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a wonder to behold when this Parliament gets an economics lesson from the government side, a government that has racked up the biggest deficit in Canadian history. This sort of nonsense is unbelievable.

The member likes to obfuscate in this House on a daily basis. In this instance, he is talking about the supposed inability of Canada to sustain its OAS. The government always compares us to the economic basket cases of Europe. The amount of GDP that Greece and Portugal spend on their public pensions is 12% and 11%, respectively. Canada spends 4%. How dare the member try to compare our expenditures on public pension with that of these members of the eurozone? It is this kind of prevarication which this side of the House rejects and which Canadians are increasingly rejecting and are angry about.

I wonder why this member insists upon bending and weaving through the real issues of the--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP's economic policy is not a matter of theory anymore. It is not a matter of promises. It is a matter of real-time existing case studies. NDP governments exist more or less in Greece, Portugal and across Europe. Nine euro currency countries follow NDP policies and they have now been downgraded. Greece and Portugal have now junk status government debt. Their government debts are 1.5 times the size of the entire economy. That is the result of NDP tax-and-spend policies.

The only criticism that the leader of the NDP has had for the eurozone debtor nations is that he believes they are not spending and borrowing enough. He said that a week ago today. We on this side of the House of Commons reject that failed model. We support the Canadian way, a low-cost government, a free people, a shared destiny and a brighter future.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the point raised by my hon. colleague about the fact that people are living longer, especially since OAS was first established.

The health-adjusted lifespan of the lowest 10% of income earners has not increased. That means that when they get to about 60 or 65 years of age, life will be very difficult for them because of health issues. If the government really wanted to trim the cost of OAS, why did it not protect this most vulnerable part of our society, the lowest income earners, the lowest decile of income earners, who really need OAS and GIS?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

We are protecting old age security, Mr. Speaker, by making it affordable for the long run. That is especially important to people most in need.

We do not protect pensioners and seniors by raising taxes on the companies that pay benefits into the pension funds, RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts that Canadians rely on for their retirements. As a result, we recognize the need for a low tax plan that would create jobs, wealth and long-term prosperity so that companies across this country can pay for the retirements of the people who need it most.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 29, the Minister of Finance tabled budget 2012 in Parliament. This budget includes reckless cuts to services that Canadians depend on, such as old age security, health care, provincial transfers and environmental assessments.

The Conservatives claim that their budget focuses on job creation. However, they themselves admit that their budget will result in the loss of 19,200 public sector jobs. The fact is that it will raise the unemployment rate. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this budget will actually result in the loss of 43,000 jobs in Canada. That, combined with this government's previous cuts, brings the total number of jobs lost to 102,000.

Bill C-38 is the 2012 budget implementation bill, but it is about much more than just the budget. This massive 421-page bill includes not only the measures described in the budget, but also many changes that were not previously announced.

This bill is not like other bills. It is over 400 pages long. This bill will have a major impact on Canadians. At least one-third of Bill C-38 is dedicated to weakening environmental protection and rules.

Furthermore, this bill introduces a series of measures that were not previously announced and that will result in reduced transparency and greater secrecy around the government. These measures include decreasing the Auditor General's powers.

Today I wish to draw your attention to one aspect that I find extremely worrisome. It has to do with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It is clear that several parts of the agency are about to be privatized. These cuts to food inspection represent a step backward. We know that the listeriosis crisis in 2008 came about because of a lack of inspectors. Would hon. members not agree that the government should take the safety of Canadians seriously and that it should be transparent when communicating with Canadians?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is one of a number of agencies that will be excluded from the Auditor General's supervision. Bill C-38 eliminates all references to the Auditor General in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act. For instance, the section of the act that was previously called “accounting and audit” will henceforth be called simply “audit”. Mandatory financial and performance audits by the Auditor General have also been eliminated.

Another important and troubling fact is that Bill C-38 eliminates mandatory financial audits by the Auditor General for 12 agencies.

Bill C-38 also amends the Seeds Act to give the president of the CFIA the power to issue licences to persons authorizing them to perform activities related to controlling or assuring the quality of seeds or seed crops. This amendment opens the door to having private companies do food inspection related work. This also sends worrisome signals about the growing likelihood of privatization of some parts of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

This bill will also significantly change how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors and enforces non-health and safety food labelling regulations. In other words, when a company states that its products do not contain any traces of peanuts, for example, the consumer will have no way of knowing whether that is true or not. This government believes that it is up to the consumer to judge the trustworthiness of labels. Parents with children who have peanut allergies will not know whether they can trust what the company is saying.

If they have any doubts, they will have to go online and address their concerns to the companies and associations involved.

In essence, the government is suggesting that we wait and see whether anyone has an allergic reaction. If so, then the consumer will have to go to the company's website to tell the company that it lied. The government is not getting involved.

The government is completely withdrawing from the process and is making individuals responsible for food labelling regulations. That makes no sense. Companies will say whatever they want, in order to sell their products to as many people as possible.

These changes scare me and I know I am not the only one who is scared. A woman in my riding wrote to me to tell me how much these changes would affect her family, as her son has a nut allergy. She is very worried about him and rightfully so.

I would also like to go over some of the comments made last week by my Conservative colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, when talking about budget 2012.

He asked the opposition to at least vote for increased investments in food safety.

I would now like to explain why I am voting against them. First, the government is not giving us the opportunity to vote for individual measures because it has decided to put together a gigantic budget bill that encompasses radical changes, such as the increase in the eligibility age for old age security benefits.

So no, I will not be voting against more investments in food safety; rather, I will be voting against an enormous bill that seeks to change environmental laws, the immigration system and employment insurance, among other things.

Second, what my colleague has not mentioned are the $56.1 million in cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Let us do the math. If we add $51 million to a program and then take away $56 million, what do we have left over? A negative figure, or cuts. It leaves us with a weaker inspection program.

That is why I will be voting against the budget implementation bill.

Canadians need transparency. It is not by sneakily passing measures that will have a major impact on Canadians that the government will earn the trust of the people.

Introducing such a wide-ranging bill and allowing so little time to debate it undermines what Parliament is here to do, because members will not have the opportunity to get all the information they need about the bill's content and impact.

It is sad that the government is continuing to ignore what really matters to Canadians: environmental protection, old age security, health care and job creation.

How can we properly do our job as elected representatives of the people when the government is not giving us the time we need to get all the information we need?

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said repeatedly that MPs are not getting the information they need for proper oversight. He also released a report clearly showing that the old age security program is completely sustainable as it stands now. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has even said that the program would be sustainable if benefits were increased.

Why is the government continuing to make Canadians pay? Why is it ignoring the various reports that clearly prove certain facts? Why is it so determined to fast-track a bill that includes so many cuts? Who will benefit from these measures?

Those are some of the questions I am asking myself as a mother and an MP. What sort of future do we want for future generations? For all these reasons, I will vote against Bill C-38.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member raises some valid points and I want to highlight and pose a question for the member in regard to what is encompassed in this legislation.

Normally we would talk to and have a good healthy debate and questions and answers strictly with regard to budget items. However, in this budget the government has made changes, some of which are exceptionally profound in terms of issues such as our environmental legislation. All of that has been bundled in through the back door of the budget debate. I would ultimately suggest that it should have been sectioned out. There are probably three years worth of legislation packed into the bill.

How does the member feel about the manner in which the government has limited debate on the huge legislative agenda behind the budget debate on which we are all expected to vote?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a huge bill. It is over 400 pages. It is full of information. As has been said before, the devil is in the details.

It would be a good idea if the government sent agriculture issues specifically to the agriculture committee and environmental issues to the environment committee. It is as if it is scared to have an open and informed debate on this because it knows that if it were divided, it probably would not pass. Canadians are not for this at all.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for her speech. I have a very simple question for her.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that the program is affordable as is, but all of the other government authorities that we have access to, as well as all of the authorities in other OECD countries, not to mention most experts and informed observers in Canada, disagree, so who is she going to trust? The lone holdout, or all of the other experts in the field, including government experts who unanimously say that the system must be reformed in order to preserve it for future generations?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his question.

We trust the Parliamentary Budget Officer. He says that the system is fully sustainable. This situation is not unexpected. Forty years ago, we knew that the baby boomers would be turning into seniors around this time. So we are ready, and the system is fully sustainable. We trust him.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague brought up a couple of really important points. One was as a parent thinking about the future and the increasingly large gap between the opportunities for young people and those for middle-aged and older workers.

Does the member have concern, and has she heard this concern from other parents in her riding, around the issue of generational inequity and the fact that the budget and the government seems to have no interest in rectifying this huge gap?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a mother, I want to look to the future and hope that it is brighter for our children. It seems the future will be a bit more dim for our kids under the Conservative government.

We hope that with amendments and maybe by sending correct parts of the bill to the right committees we might change things and could then look toward a more positive future, but that is very hard to do with the government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged and honoured to speak to the budget implementation bill to do with the budget presented by our government. It is ironic that following a federal election in May and then a provincial election in Manitoba shortly thereafter, we have two governments basically on the same track in the sense of process, but on exactly opposite ends with regard to what people want and expect from their governments. I plan to draw some of those comparisons to the recently released budget in the province of Manitoba and the budget that the Government of Canada has put forward.

In budget 2012 we talk about a road map to the future. In the last election, we made commitments to the people of Canada that we would keep taxes where they were or reduce them. We would create no new taxes and balance the budget in a period of time so we could move forward with some of the other needs and requirements of the people of Canada. Manitoba, on the other hand, made very similar promises in the last campaign. It would not raise taxes or establish new taxes and it, too, would move toward a balance budget.

However, when we look at the actual details of the two budgets, we see a completely different story. It is important that Canadians see for themselves what can happen when a government is run by Conservatives, who listen to the people of Canada, consult with them and make a plan that meets their needs, as opposed to a government in Manitoba that completely ignores the people of the province and continues to bear huge tax burdens on them and their children well into the future.

Our budget was about jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canada. We have done many things in the past several years in previous budgets. It is only right that I take a look back at what we have accomplished, make comparisons and see where we will go in the future.

The federal government is proposing no new taxes and a reduction in taxes in certain areas. We have extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing equipment, encouraging purchases. With a strong dollar, the manufacturing side is looking to renew a lot of its equipment and would do so with a capital cost allowance that would allow companies not only to write it off faster but would also allow them to update their equipment to make them more efficient, more effective and environmentally friendly. We have also increased the small business limit to $500 and reduced the small business tax rate to 11%, all things Canadians told us they wanted and required to move forward, and we have delivered on them.

We have also lowered the federal corporate income tax rate to 15%, making us one of the most, if not the most, competitive jurisdiction of the G8 countries. That speaks well to the investment that is going to flow into Canada. It has already started and will continue to flow because people with money to invest look at countries that are safe, reliable and predictable in their plans going forward. We have had a consistent track record since 2006 of reducing taxes, creating new jobs and wealth for Canadians and opportunity for investment.

We have also increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $750,000. Why is that important? We have had many discussions here on other issues, but, as we know, over time costs go up and returns have to go up to match them. Allowing businesses to take the $750,000 tax exemption creates better opportunities for the future.

As I said, I want to draw some comparisons, and I will do that now.

The NDP government in Manitoba is planning to overspend this year's budget by $500 million. That is $500 million more in spending than the core revenue it is bringing in. This is what an NDP government does to the country. It has foisted taxes and new charges on the people of Manitoba to the tune of $184 million. In a time of restraint when countries are collapsing under the burden of financial difficulties, we have a province that continues to tax its people to the nth degree. I suggest the people of Manitoba were fooled when they were told by their current government that there would be no new taxes foisted upon them.

The Manitoba government has expanded the provincial sales tax to include more services and insurance premiums, adding $95 million more tax burden on the working people of Manitoba. Not finally but one of a few measures, it has increased gas taxes by 2.5 cents per litre, taking another $44.5 million out of Manitobans' pockets.

I often think back to when we moved to the metric system. We all knew what the price of a gallon of gas was. When 2.5 cents is added to a litre it does not seem like much but it is over 10 cents a gallon for anybody who remembers what a gallon was worth. To add that to the people of Manitoba in one fell swoop, without any discussion, after promising it would not do it, shows what we get with a government that is not committed to making the hard decisions to move a country forward, to move a province forward.

In a short time in office, our government has cut taxes 140 times. That speaks to an investment community that knows it has a government that is on a path of lowering taxes, creating wealth, creating opportunities and creating jobs.

We have created nearly 700,000 new jobs in the last little while, which is unbelievable in a world where the economies of so many countries are struggling just to see the light of day. We only need to look back to yesterday's news to see how important that is in certain countries in the world.

Our government, with its low tax policies, has removed one million low-income families, individuals and seniors from the tax rolls. Why is that important? The opposition tells us that people are in a situation where they are unable to pay their taxes or are barely scraping by. Well, one million more of them have an opportunity to spend their money the way they choose as opposed to being taxed by the government and then having it given back to them in dribs and drabs as some are proposing.

What else have we done? We have increased the amount that Canadians can earn tax free, again a decision made by a government that wants people to become independent, to think for themselves and to make their own financial decisions, not have governments telling them where and when they should make payments. We do that by lowering taxes. It puts more money in their pockets and gives people the ability to make their own decisions that affect their life, their family life and their community life.

We provided income splitting for seniors, one of the greatest things that could have happened in the sense of allowing people to share incomes to lower their taxable rate. We lowered the GST from 7% to 5%. We introduced a children's fitness tax. We brought in the tax free savings account. I know many people of my generation were RRSP buyers. At the end of every year we would do that to reduce our taxable income. Now that money can actually be put into an account and taken out tax free as it grows in the future. If I were giving advice to anybody in Canada today, it would be to take a long, hard look at that tax free savings account as one of the many vehicles that we now have to prepare for our retirement plans, for the future and for our family's future. It is important for people to look at this.This is not a paid political announcement but people should check with their accountants to ensure they are getting all the benefits.

When we look at what we have done across the country, a typical Canadian family today is saving $3,100 in taxes. Imagine having that every year and being able to make a decision on how to spend it or what to do with it, whether to invest in our children's education or our retirement, or whether to buy that retirement home we have been looking for. All of those things are doable and possible when we have a government that is committed to low taxes.

I opened by making the comments that our plan is to keep taxes low, create new jobs and opportunity, create the environment for that to happen and, in doing so, we will create long-term prosperity for Canadians. It is what we told Canadians we would do in the last election and it is what we are doing today.

I urge all members to take a hard look at it and, instead of finding what they can vote against, they should look for the positives that they can vote for and support this budget.