House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.


Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are, as the member mentioned, some disagreements on some of the changes. There is the new health transfer, which was put in place without any negotiation with the provinces.

However, I want to raise an issue that rural and suburban students are facing. I would like to ask the member what he would say to the students in his riding about this. Why did the government eliminate the $5,000 vehicle exemption credit for students who are seeking student assistance, which is actually going to make life more difficult and make education less affordable for students in riding like his?

I just want to pass along a statistic. Students who live 40 kilometres to 80 kilometres from a post-secondary institution are 31% less likely to attend an institution. For students in ridings like his, with rural and suburban areas, what would the member say to them about that cut?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:25 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

First, Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his questions and for pointing out the amount of dollars committed to health care in the term of this government, and the future commitment to make sure that is there.

With regard to the lack of dollars spent on health care in this country, some might argue that it is never enough. However, the commitment to keeping it, increasing it by $10 billion over the next 10 years in the increase alone, is something we have to keep doing. There are always better ways of doing things, and we should always be open to that.

I come from an area where a lot of the young people go away to university. I know that with some of the programs and supports that government has given them, they are very appreciative, and we will keep doing that.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:30 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, apropos of the environmental theme of my friend from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound's speech, I want to thank him again for his private member's bill that banned bulk water exports, one of the best pieces of legislation since I have been elected. However, I have to disagree with him about Bill C-31.

This omnibus budget bill is not just large and complex because the economic problems are complex, as he suggests, but actually because it has become all too common. I think it is an affront to Parliament and an affront to democracy.

This administration has chosen to throw in things that have nothing to do with the budget, things such as adding additional judges to Alberta and Quebec. That is something I support, but it does not belong in a budget bill. There are changes to trademark law; changes to the Hazardous Products Act and to the workplace hazardous chemicals regime; and substantial and devastating and anti-constitutional provisions under the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, known as FATCA.

I would ask him if he would not be willing, within his own caucus on that side, to argue against the use of such monster bills in the future?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:30 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for her question, for her kind comments on my private member's bill that went through the House unanimously, and for her support on that.

We ran on a commitment to do a lot of things. If she were fair and would express honestly, she would agree with my next comment. At the end of the day, it would not matter what we had in our budget, the folks across the way would be more than likely to vote against it. That is what opposition does, which is unfortunate in this place, but it is the way it is.

The things we have in the bill are very important to Canadians and our economy, and I fully support them.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:30 p.m.


Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise this afternoon to speak in support of our government's economic action plan 2014.

I am very pleased that our government is on track to a balanced budget in 2015, as we committed to in 2011. We are doing so responsibly, unlike the previous Liberal government, which balanced the budget on the backs of the provinces and hard-working Canadians. Our government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, will balance the budget while continuing to grow provincial transfers to record levels. For my province of Manitoba, federal transfers will total almost $3.4 billion in 2014-15. That is an increase of 24% from what it was under the previous Liberal government.

Under this government, we have cut taxes nearly 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. That will save the average Canadian family nearly $3,400 on its tax bill this year. We have also invested in job creation and training, business, innovation, and trade and have provided support for families and communities from coast to coast to coast. This government is dedicated to jobs and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

I would like to highlight how economic action plan 2014 will continue with our government's strong performance in job creation. As we all know, Canada has led the G7 in job growth, with over one million net new jobs since the economic recession in 2007, with over 85% of those jobs being full time. Simply put, Canada has outperformed every other G7 country and has experienced the strongest real per capita growth in the G7. This is because our government is serious about creating jobs and long-term prosperity for Canadians. This is why economic action plan 2014 focuses on initiatives to support job creation, investments in innovation and trade, and support for families and communities.

I am pleased to highlight the creation of the Canada apprentice loan through the expansion of the Canada student loan program. Costs associated with completing an apprenticeship can be significant, from tools to educational fees to living expenses. The financial strain on Canadians in apprenticeship programs, especially those with young families, can be challenging. This program would provide apprentices in Red Seal trades access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year. Our government is making it easier for Canadians to acquire the skills and abilities needed for a career in high-skill and in-demand jobs.

Through economic action plan 2014, this government also proposes to renew the targeted initiative for older workers program, investing $75 million over three years to assist older workers in vulnerable communities who have been affected by significant downsizing, closures, or high unemployment to reintegrate into the workforce. This would provide employers with experienced and talented staff, would benefit the economy, and would provide support and security for older Canadians who have experienced job loss.

Not only has our government invested in connecting older workers with jobs but we are also enhancing the job matching service and are modernizing the national job bank. Our government is committed to helping unemployed Canadians get back to work, giving them the first chance at available jobs. That is why the enhanced job matching service would provide modern and reliable tools for job seekers that would match their skill sets to available jobs. It would provide employers with the tools needed to look for qualified Canadian workers through timely access to job postings and consolidated labour market information.

Additionally, these initiatives would provide information to inform young people about fields of study that are relevant to the existing and forecasted demand for labour in particular occupations. This would help students make better choices about their education. Ensuring that students have the tools needed to better plan their routes to future employment is critical for a strong Canada.

A disability does not mean an inability. Unfortunately, Canadians with disabilities are too often under-represented in the workforce. Our government recognizes that employers accommodating persons with disabilities in the workplace is good for business and empowering to individuals, and it stimulates the economy. However, education and training are often required to overcome barriers, dispel stigmas and/or myths, and put action to words.

I would like to specifically highlight our government's $15 million contribution over three years to the ready, willing and able initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living. Persons with intellectual disabilities and those with autism spectrum disorder face added and unique barriers to employment, yet we know that these individuals are not only eager to participate in the workforce but are capable of participation. This contribution to the Canadian Association for Community Living would expand existing activities to 20 community-based locations across Canada, which would support new jobs for Canadians with developmental disabilities.

In addition to connecting Canadians with jobs and training, our government has once again proven that support for business, innovation, and trade are top priorities. Canada has become an increasingly attractive place to invest and to grow a business. Recently, Canada moved to second place in Bloomberg's ranking of the most attractive countries for business investment. This is as a direct result of our government's sound economic policies under our Prime Minister.

In economic action plan 2014, we continue to strengthen the Canadian economy by cutting red tape for small and medium-sized businesses. This will save valuable time and money. For example, we have eliminated the requirement for 800,000 payroll remittances to CRA every year for 50,000 small and medium-sized businesses. These eliminations would help business expand and thrive.

In addition to cutting the regulatory burden on small and medium-sized businesses, we have made landmark investments in research and innovation by investing $1.5 billion in post-secondary research through the Canada first research excellence fund and by investing $46 million in new funding for the granting councils to support research and scientific advances in Canada.

Strong families and communities are the foundation of a prosperous and safe country. Our government recognizes this and in economic action plan 2014 continues our strong record of strengthening families and communities.

Families incur unique costs when they adopt a child, such as adoption agency fees and other legal costs. Our government recognizes these challenges. Therefore, we have enhanced tax relief by increasing the adoption expense tax credit to $15,000.

We are standing up for the victims of crime by giving victims a voice. We are giving hope by implementing the victims bill of rights and providing funding for a DNA-based missing persons data index. We have also renewed $25 million over five years to continue efforts to reduce violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Seniors do and will continue to have a very important role in communities across Canada. Through the enhancements to the new horizons for seniors program, the government will provide an additional $5 million in annual funding to organizations that raise awareness of elder abuse and that provide means for seniors to benefit from and contribute to the quality of life in their communities through social activities and active living.

Our government has also recognized that many Canadians make sacrifices to care for their family members. Therefore, we have launched the Canadian employers for caregivers action plan to engage with employers on cost-effective workplace solutions to help maximize caregivers' labour market participation.

Although Canada has experienced the highest economic growth in the G7 since the economic recession in 2007, the government recognizes that low-income families face constraints or have distinct housing needs that impede their participation in the housing market. Our government is committed to working with the provinces, territories, municipalities, and other stakeholders at the community level to ensure that low-income families and vulnerable Canadians have access to quality, affordable housing.

Additionally, this government has committed to ensuring that vulnerable Canadians who experience extended or repeated periods of homelessness have access to quality housing. Therefore, we have renewed the homelessness partnering strategy, as announced in last year's budget. We will continue to work with communities, provinces, territories, and the private and not-for-profit sectors to implement the housing first approach to homelessness.

I want to highlight how the budget and our government honours and respects the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. This budget introduces new measures to the existing measures in previous budgets to support the men and women who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces. We have expanded the funeral and burial program by providing over $800 million over three years to ensure that a veteran of modest means can have a dignified funeral and burial.

Finding meaningful work after leaving the Canadian Forces is a key factor in the successful transition back to civilian life. That is why this budget will make changes to the Public Service Employment Act and regulations to prioritize the hiring of veterans for federal public service employment opportunities.

To conclude, on this side of the House, our government is for all Canadians. From our youth to the elderly, business owners to apprentices, and young families to veterans, this government has invested in the prosperity, safety, and growth of all Canadians and their families. Through economic action plan 2014, we will continue to do so. I can only hope that the NDP and the Liberals will finally recognize this and support this budget.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

The NDP and I would like to know one thing. Bill C-31 does not renew the job creation tax credit for small business. The credit no longer exists. What answers does my colleague have for owners of small businesses in his riding or in his colleagues' ridings?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a former small-business owner myself, I am actually very pleased with all the work this government has done to support small businesses and to bring forward legislation that allows employers to not have to deal with so much red tape, especially our small and medium-sized enterprises. They have limited capacity at the management level to deal with some of these things, and there is an overabundance of burden placed on them by a lot of documents they have to bring forward.

As I mentioned in my speech, there are 800,000 pieces of documentation required by 50,000 small businesses across this country that need to be brought forward to CRA. We have eliminated that. We are taking a lot of the burden away from small and medium enterprises, allowing these entrepreneurs to focus on business development and job creation rather than on a mountain of paperwork.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will quickly respond to the comments on the infamous red tape. We cannot say often enough that the only thing on the table is “plus one minus one equals zero”. That is the only concrete initiative from the government and it has been talking about this for years. If we add one paper, we take away another: plus one minus one equals zero. There is no reduction in red tape. I will repeat that every time if need be. The people across the way need to understand that.

Another aspect of this budget was rather shocking. We have been saying for months that the transaction fees that credit card companies charge merchants are excessive. Finally, three small paragraphs in the budget acknowledge that this is a serious problem. However, absolutely no tangible solution was provided, something that was not well received by major merchant groups.

Can my colleague tell us whether his government will not be content just to realize that there is a problem, but in fact do what it takes and impose a regulatory framework to stop this abuse?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have worked very closely with business and have done a lot to support businesses so that they have been able to grow. We have seen, over the last number of years, as we have come out of this recession, that businesses have had the ability to grow and to progress. We have worked closely with them. We have done many things to support them. Again, as I say, I am a businessman myself. I have seen so many of the great programs we have brought forward supporting businesses and supporting their growth.

We will continue to work with businesses and with financial institutions to find solutions to problems and challenges. We will continue to always face challenges as a government and as an economy. We will continue to work through that process with our partners in a way that is conducive to job growth and to the growth of our economy.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by dealing with the budget implementation bill under three specific headings: general; what would happen to British Columbia, which is where I come from; and what it would do or not do for health.

The first thing I want to talk about is the budget in general.

I think this is the eighth budget tabled by a government that inherited a strong surplus of $15 billion. When it came into office in 2006, it inherited the 10 balanced budgets posted by the Liberal governments before it. However, we are now seeing the current Conservative government posting its seventh deficit budget. I want to show where we came from and where we are today to defuse the talk about how wonderful things are.

How wonderful things are is based on not going down in the 2008 global recession because we had some very strong economic pillars that had been left behind by the previous Liberal government. It was also because the strong regulatory measures that had been put on banks protected us from going the way of the international community. I might add that the Conservatives opposed these measures when they were put in place under the Liberal government, but they are now taking enormous credit for them.

We should be doing much better than we are now. We should not be talking about deficits or about how all of the strong indicators and the strong system that was left behind were frittered away by the current government with very poor fiscal management measures.

I remember when the Minister of Finance tabled the budget bill. Everyone said that it was such a boring budget, and he said that was a compliment. One might say that the budget's flaw was not that it was uninteresting but that it was unclear, uncaring, and unhelpful.

There were a lot of vague promises in the budget. There were a lot of self-congratulatory parts in which the Conservatives talked about how well they had done. As I said, they cannot really take credit for any of that.

There are some things I want to talk about specifically with reference to my province of British Columbia.

I suppose we must all feel very relieved that the government plans to fix the Trans-Canada Highway running through Glacier National Park. However, it is a small consolation for those who care about British Columbia's natural landscape, since the Conservatives are also responsible for cutting regulations that once guarded 30,000 lakes and rivers and for reducing the number of protected waterways nationwide to fewer than 200. So much for building a piece of the Trans-Canada Highway, when there has been an absolute reduction of all of the measures to protect the wonderful ecosystem in British Columbia.

On the Conservative government's idea of conservation, let us look at fisheries, which are a big deal for my province. The government plans to protect recreational fishing, which is a good thing, because about 80% of our commercial fishing is recreational in B.C. However, there is little in the way of safeguarding our province's ecosystems as a whole or putting in place measures that came through the Cohen commission to protect the B.C. salmon population. When people say we are having massive salmon runs in B.C. this year, it means that they do not understand this is something that happens occasionally. The overall protection of B.C. salmon is still a big question. I wonder why the government did not use this budget and the budget implementation bill to put in place some of the Cohen commission's recommendations.

We can talk about ensuring public safety, which is something the Conservative government loves to talk about.

We are thankful for all of the volunteers who have contributed to the safety and security of the people in this country and who help the vulnerable. In fact, people who offer a minimum of 200 hours of volunteer service for search and rescue will get a nice little tax credit, but the fact is that a lot of people who volunteer are semi-retired or not working full time, and that tax credit would do little to help them unless it is a refundable tax credit.

To continue on public safety, it is interesting that while we are thankful for the volunteers, there is a lack of concrete action to increase the number of Canadian Coast Guard professionals and improve safety measures for both workers and ordinary Canadian citizens following last year's abrupt closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.

The federal government is continuing its policy of soundly ignoring the professionals who work in maritime safety as well as the wishes of the Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver. It is also ignoring the petitions that I have tabled here almost every week from British Columbians who are asking for this search and rescue station in Kitsilano to be reopened at a cost of $70,000 a year. We are not talking about a lot of money here.

Those are the generic things I wanted to talk about.

I also want to talk about the fact that very little has been done in the budget to address the real challenges facing middle-class Canadians. It does not do very much to help Canadian youth find jobs at a time of consistently high youth unemployment and underemployment. Today there are still 264,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians than before the downturn.

I want to go back in time to 1993. When the Liberal government came in, there was 24% youth unemployment. In three years, the Liberal government took steps to improve that and to give young people a chance at their first job. None of this has been happening.

There is very little to help middle-class parents and grandparents make ends meet and to tackle Canadians' record high levels of personal debt, which is now at $1.66 for every dollar of disposable income.

The new Minister of Finance had an opportunity in the bill to chart a new democratic path that addressed some of these issues. Instead, what we see is another mammoth omnibus bill with everything but the kitchen sink in it, doing very little to deal with some of the issues we are talking about.

I want to congratulate the government on a couple of things it did do right in health care. It proposes to increase the support for service dogs to assist individuals with severe diabetes. That is very good. Also, there is the design of eligible individualized therapy plans. All of that is good.

However, what about post-traumatic stress disorder? Evidence now shows that persons with post-traumatic stress disorder benefit from having pets such as dogs. That has not been included. It was not included under veterans affairs, it was not included under defence, and it certainly was not included here among people who require dogs to help them work with their disabilities, mental or otherwise. I just wanted to point out some of the things the government had an opportunity to do and did not.

Also in relation to health, acupuncture and naturopathy would be exempt from GST-HST when practised by a qualified professional. That is very nice. There is the design of training plans for individuals with a disorder or disability. Some of these things are good, but they make one wonder about why there was this cherry-picking. Why is the government doing some things for some groups and not for others? We could look at issues like adding the GST-HST to parking that is provided by charities. I wonder why that happened? That was such a punitive little thing to do. It was not going to give the government a lot of money, but it did discriminate against the non-profit sector.

It is a puzzling budget, to say the least. The budget implementation bill does not deal with a lot of things that we think should have been there.

I also want to talk about something some of my constituents are complaining about a great deal, something that we very much oppose.

It is a fact that the government signed an agreement with the United States that will require U.S. citizens living in Canada to regularly file U.S. tax returns and report their property and income to the IRS. Also, Canadian banks must report to the IRS on accounts held by clients with U.S. citizenship. We are creating a problem here. As we heard from other people, this measure brings up concerns about privacy and sovereignty. Constitutional law experts have been saying that this agreement violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, yet no one was consulted.

It is interesting that the government goes ahead patting itself on the back but not having discussed it with anyone who should know and therefore making mistakes. I would be generous and kind and say it is with unintended consequences, although I wonder if the government even understands consequences.

There is a very important piece I want to wind up with. That is the transfer of payments. Transfer payments have now been changed on a unilateral formula that would impose a per capita payment on provinces. We need demographic data if we are going to look at helping provinces. Now we have provinces with higher levels of seniors than anywhere else getting less money under the new formula than they ever had. This is going to create a huge problem in the future for these provinces, and they are beginning to complain about it.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is very passionate on the issue of health care. This year, we are experiencing a government that has demonstrated no interest in a national health care program and did not renew the health care accord.

I know the member is very opinionated on the importance of the health care accord. I wonder if she would provide the House with some thoughts on why the government should have renewed a health care accord that was originally signed under former prime minister Paul Martin back in 2004 and that expired just a couple of weeks ago.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague says I am opinionated. I think that might be a compliment, because I like to think I base my opinions on evidence. It is not an ideological thing I do here.

The question the hon. member asked is an important one. It is not whether or not we renew the health accord in the manner in which it was written in 2004 that is important, but the idea that the current federal government, which is the glue that holds this country together, has abandoned its leadership role in health care and refuses to co-operate and collaborate on health care changes that must be made in the system in order to ensure that medicare is sustainable.

The premiers have been begging for a meeting with the Prime Minister on health, and the Prime Minister is refusing. For eight years the Prime Minister has not met with the premiers on issues of health care and in fact has been imposing new formulas for health transfers that will make it more difficult for provinces to provide health care, especially health care for seniors.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Vancouver Centre for her eloquent remarks.

I want to address the issue of search and rescue. There is a non-refundable search and rescue tax credit, which implies some commitment to this very important initiative on the part of the government, yet at the same time it has been acknowledged that almost $50 million has been wasted by a set of false alarms that have wasted search and rescue's time and efforts over the last number of years. That situation, which has not been corrected by the government, could pay for the Kitsilano Coast Guard search and rescue base for years.

I would like the member's comments on whether the budget appropriately addresses a search and rescue base for her community of Vancouver Centre.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1Government Orders

2 p.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is fully aware of this issue because she is on the same coast as I am and she is getting the same complaints from Vancouverites about search and rescue.

I think it is good that the government has acknowledged the role of volunteers in search and rescue, but volunteers do not take the place of a professional search and rescue team headed by search and rescue people in the Coast Guard and with a facility there to deal with the problems.

Many volunteers work part time, as I said in my speech, so they need a refundable tax credit if the credit is to actually go toward helping them.

As the member pointed out so well, the ability to deal with search and rescue in an appropriate manner, with professionals and with an appropriate search and rescue facility in the most important and dangerous waters along the coast of British Columbia, is something that defies imagination. I can only put it down to stubbornness and ideology.

Small BusinessStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Lois Brown Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, small business is the powerful engine that is driving the economy in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora.

This is plainly evident from the excitement and activity taking place this week as our community gears up for this weekend's spectacular Aurora Chamber of Commerce home show. Some 150 local businesses are getting ready to pack the Aurora Community Centre for this annual event that will attract tens of thousands of residents.

Once again, I will be hosting my MP booth, talking to constituents and providing residents and businesses information on federal programs and services.

I am proud of our government's actions for small business. Cuts to the small business tax rate and increases to the small business income limit are providing $2.2 billion in tax relief each year across Canada for this important sector.

I invite everyone to visit the Aurora home show this weekend, stop by to say hello, support small business. They will be glad if they do.

Blood SupplyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was not that long ago that tainted blood from a paid donor source infected 30,000 Canadians with HIV and hepatitis C. Thousands died and $5 billion was paid out in compensation. We spent tens of millions on the Krever commission to find out what went so wrong and how to make it right.

Justice Krever set out five basic principles for the governance of the blood supply in Canada, the first two of which were that blood is a public resource, and that donors of blood and plasma should not be paid for their donations. Yet in Ontario for-profit plasma clinics are on the verge of going into the business of buying and selling blood plasma.

The Minister of Health has the power to stop this before it starts. She is being urged to do so by many, including victims and survivors.

To Kat Lanteigne, Mike McCarthy, and so many others who have stuck around to finish this fight, to ensure that there shall be no more victims of tainted blood in Canada, I give my thanks and everlasting respect.

Renewable FuelsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to celebrate the work being done by Canada's renewable fuel producers.

In my riding of Leeds—Grenville, GreenField Specialty Alcohol's Johnstown facility produces over 260 million litres of fuel ethanol a year and returns over 154,000 tons of dried distillers grains to the feed industry.

Our Conservative government's renewable fuel strategy has provided the groundwork for the production of almost two billion litres of ethanol and 500 million litres of biodiesel in Canada. In doing so, the sector has reduced greenhouse gases by over four million megatonnes, the equivalent of removing one million cars from the road.

As a direct result of that strategy, we have seen companies in the renewable fuel sector grow to a $3.5 billion industry and, from that platform, they are developing other sustainable products, making them the anchor tenants of the emerging bio-economy.

Our government stands behind the farmers and industry leaders who have pioneered this growth.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this national victims of crime awareness week, wherein this year's theme is “taking action” to ensure that the needs of victims are made a priority within the justice system.

While the government's proposed victims bill of rights offers some useful additions to Canadian law, it does not yet sufficiently address the importance of prevention and remedy, and resource shortages.

This year, victims week coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. As Rwandans mourn their dead in painful silence and quiet dignity, the overarching message of Rwandan remembrance is not only the horror of the genocide, but also that the genocide was preventable, that it was the silence, the indifference, the inaction of the international community in the face of genocidal incitement and mass atrocity that made the Rwandan genocide possible.

Our focus on domestic victims must not ignore the victims of mass atrocity abroad, particularly given the mass carnage that is taking place in the Central African Republic today, with incendiary violence, mass atrocity, and the killing of 140,000 civilians in the last year alone.

Canada should take the lead in sounding the alarm, in acting on the responsibility to protect obligation, in responding to the United Nations' urgent call for more blue helmets, and thereby to honour the legacy of Rwanda and the victims of genocide.

Charity Hockey GameStatements By Members

April 8th, 2014 / 2:05 p.m.


Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night, Conservative members of Parliament laced up their skates along with the Canadian Police Association for the second annual MP police charity hockey game in support of the Robert Warner Memorial Fund.

This fantastic charity helps to distribute immediate financial assistance to the families of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Each year members of the Canadian Police Association travel to Ottawa to meet with elected representatives to talk about issues of concern to law enforcement and public safety, and this friendly game of hockey is a great opportunity to get to know each other.

I am proud to report that this year's game raised $4,000, with the participation of 17 police officers and 19 Conservative MPs. A special thanks goes out to our coaches and the five federal cabinet ministers who participated.

Police officers are continually faced with diverse challenges while ensuring the safety and security of their communities. I would like to thank members of the Canadian Police Association and all officers for their outstanding service. They are some of our finest citizens.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sudbury, Nickel Belt, and northern Ontario are in mourning today because of the death of another miner from our community.

Paul Rochette was killed on the job on Sunday, while working in the casting and crushing plant at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter. He was 36 years old. Paul leaves behind his partner, two young children, family, friends, and co-workers. We offer our condolences, and grieve with all of them here today.

It is a stark reminder of how dangerous mining and mineral processing is and how important workplace safety is. We will let the police, the company, and the union investigate.

This is the fourth death in three years in our region. I welcome the comments of the chair of the Ontario Ministry of Labour on an ongoing review of mining health and safety. He said:

The death of a 36-year-old industrial mechanic at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter Sunday reinforces the need for a comprehensive review of the health, safety and prevention issues related to the mining industry. We must work together to...ensure mine workers go home safe and sound at the end of every shift.

St. John AmbulanceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the second annual St. John Ambulance Day on the Hill . The Order of St. John is one of the world's oldest humanitarian organizations, and it continues its tradition of important work today by promoting the importance of first aid training. Representatives from St. John are meeting with members of Parliament and senators today. This spring they will be offering first aid and AED training to parliamentarians and their staff.

For their hard work in organizing this event, I would like to thank the hon. Minister of State for Science and Technology, and the members for St. John's East and Ottawa—Vanier, as well as Senator Mercer and Senator Meredith.

I encourage all members to attend the reception this evening, which will be hosted by both Speakers. We will recognize the important work of St. John Ambulance and present a life-saving award to a young Canadian who used first aid training to save a life.

St. John Ambulance plays a vital role in enabling Canadians to save the lives of their friends, neighbours, and family members. I hope that all members will join us in celebrating the lives that have been saved and will be saved, thanks to this important work by St. John Ambulance.

Robotics CompetitionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jay Aspin Conservative Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the past 14 years, high school youth in my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming have been competing in robot competitions through the Near North Student Robotics Initiative. The competition has become a true passion for youth and their families in our region.

Recently, North Bay hosted the first robotics competition in northern Ontario. Each team had six weeks to design and build a robot capable of completing challenges. Teams 1305 from North Bay and 5035 from Nipissing First Nation won two prestigious awards.

Youth with a passion in science, technology, and innovation have a bright future in our region. Canadore College has world-class aerospace and advanced manufacturing programs critical to establishing an aerospace centre of excellence. Our region is committed to creating jobs for these youth so they can continue their passion without leaving home.

I invite all colleagues to join me in a round of applause for these brilliant and exceptional technicians and engineers.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, if tax havens are enchanted islands where the world's thieves and mobsters hide their treasure, then why are hundreds of Canadian companies doing business there, and why do Canadian banks have 75 branches there?

Some experts say that tax havens cost Canada between $5 billion and $7 billion per year in uncollected tax. With that much money every year, we could build four mega-hospitals or 8,500 social housing units, or we could increase old age pensions by 20%.

Wage earners have no choice but to pay tax on every paycheque. However, the very rich and the big Canadian corporations benefit from treaties the government signs with countries of convenience, treaties that enable them to legally evade taxes.

That makes no sense and I cannot figure out why it is legal. It is starting to look more and more like social fraud. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General need to take a close look at this.

As Victor Hugo would say: “One feels the place reeks of secret histories”.

East Coast Music AwardsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canada's best and brightest artists were recognized and celebrated on Sunday at the 2014 East Coast Music Awards held in Charlottetown.

As a Maritimer, I am very proud of our exceptional musicians. From Dave Gunning to the Barra MacNeils and Jenn Grant, their amazing talent is not only recognized and renowned in our neck of the woods, but also from coast to coast to coast.

I would like to remind the House that in budget 2014, our government committed to ongoing funding for Canadian music through the $24.6 million Canada music fund. Each year, on average, the fund supports the production of more than 400 albums and 1,100 marketing, touring, and music showcase projects.

On behalf of the government, I would like to congratulate all of the nominees, winners, and the many industry professionals involved in bringing our amazing east coast music talent to the forefront of Canada's music industry.

IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the member for Hamilton Mountain and I questioned the Conservatives regarding the situation facing retirees and current steelworkers caused by the uncertainty surrounding U.S. Steel Canada in Hamilton. Following the court settlement between the government and U.S. Steel, the Conservatives promised Hamilton that there would be an investment creating the next generation of quality, decent-paying jobs in our community of Hamilton.

Last month, when invited to a special City of Hamilton Steel Committee meeting to discuss the situation, representatives of U.S. Steel did not attend and, as well, they said they were “mindful” of their promises. I cannot imagine how the Conservative government can be satisfied with that U.S. Steel response, but it appears to be.

In the House, we have called for the minister to hold U.S. Steel accountable, in clear, unequivocal terms, for the promises it made to the current government and to Hamilton. To date, the minister has failed to do so.