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House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Railway Safety ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-627, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act (safety of persons and property).

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to table a bill that would improve rail safety, not only in my constituency of Winnipeg South Centre but in communities all across Canada.

The bill would help protect children, cyclists of all ages, and motorists from treacherous conditions at rail crossings that are in disrepair. The bill would also protect seniors and the disabled from the many risks associated with ill-maintained rail crossings. In fact, one of my constituents, a senior citizen in a motorized wheelchair, became stuck at a poorly maintained crossing. Fortunately, a good Samaritan came to her aid, averting a potentially disastrous situation.

Because of this, I have decided to take action to ensure that a similar circumstance does not take place again. My proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act give additional powers to the Minister of Transport and railway safety inspectors so they may intervene when required to better ensure the safety of Canadian citizens.

I invite all of my colleagues in the House of Commons to join me in making my bill a reality.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Shipping ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-628, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the National Energy Board Act (oil transportation and pipeline certificate).

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Victoria for seconding this most important bill, an act to defend the Pacific northwest.

This piece of legislation is borne out of a crisis that was imposed on the northwest of British Columbia in a proposal for an 1,100 kilometre bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the shores at Kitimat, and then the proposal of 11,000 supertankers to ply the north coast.

This crisis has borne within it an opportunity that is written in the bill to, for the first time in Canadian history, have a legislated ban of supertankers off of British Columbia's north coast. It has been debated for more than 40 years in this place. The bill would put it into law once and for all. It would also strengthen the voices of communities that engage with the federal government on any proposed pipeline across Canada, and ask the government to consider what type of product we are putting in these pipelines and its impact on the Canadian economy.

We look to receive the support of first nations who have stood against Enbridge northern gateway, the labour community, towns, municipalities, environment groups, and a broad coalition of British Columbians who have stood up in opposition to it.

I also seek support from my colleagues around this House: New Democrats, Liberals, Greens, and from my colleagues across the way, the Conservatives, particularly those from British Columbia. This is a rare opportunity for us to stand up and protect British Columbia's coast, to stand up and protect Canada's interests once and for all, to take this crisis, turn it into the opportunity that it is, and stand up for Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Sex SelectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first is from residents of Cambridge, Kitchener, and surrounding area, who point out that Canada is a nation that has long promoted the equal protection and benefit of the law for everyone. Preventing the birth of baby girls through sex selection abortion is an affront to the dignity and equality of women.

Therefore, they call upon the House of Commons to condemn discrimination against girls through sex selective abortion.

AbortionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is again from residents of the Kitchener-Cambridge area, pointing out that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion. They also point out that Canada's Supreme Court says it is Parliament's responsibility to deal with that and call upon Parliament to do so.

Rail TransportationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House to table petitions on behalf of residents from Sault Ste. Marie who want their voices heard here. The petition is with respect to the funding that was removed from the Algoma Central Railway and the impact this will have on the economy, their health and safety, and the accessibility of the area.

There has been some movement on this specific area. The government has reinstated a bit of funding, but only up to a year. There has been a request for interest put out by the working group, but this remains a point of contention. The constituents in Sault Ste. Marie would appreciate the government taking mind of the need to maintain the Algoma Central Railway passenger line.

Offshore Safety RegulatorPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition today on behalf of my constituents who are calling on the government to put in place an independent offshore safety regulator. This is a serious issue for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular relating to people who work in the offshore industry and the loss of life we have experienced.

Judge Robert Wells, in recommendation 29 of his report, called for the setting up an independent safety regulator, which was referred to as the most important recommendation that he made. That has not happened. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to create an independent offshore safety regulator to encompass the prevention of injury and loss of life, and the protection of the environment.

Navigable Waters Protection ActPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition that has been signed by people in my riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue and the riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming on the changes the government made to the navigable waters protection act.

The people in my riding and the neighbouring riding are worried about the protection of water and want to be sure they will be able to continue to fish, and to hunt, because the animals use that water. They also want to continue activities such as kayaking. They are worried, and that is why I am tabling this petition today.

AgriculturePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions, which all deal with the same matter. They are calling on Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Seeds Act or to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through Bill C-18. It is the petitioners' belief that the bill would restrict farmers' rights or add to farmers' costs.

The petitioners are also calling upon Parliament to enshrine in legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.

Canada PostPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting dozens of petitions from people in my riding who are upset about and speaking out against the cuts to Canada Post. They are also speaking out against the fact that door-to-door delivery will be eliminated. People are shocked by that. They came to meet with me at my office to sign and drop off petitions about it. They want Canada to be a decent country, one that is worthy of being in the G7. As we all know, we will be the only G7 country without door-to-door delivery.

That is why I am presenting these petitions from the people of Drummond.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

September 23rd, 2014 / 10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the Employment Insurance (EI) plan announced by the government on September 11, 2014, and which will begin on January 1, 2015, will not create jobs and growth but will instead provide a financial incentive for employers to lay off workers; and therefore, the House urges the government to re-direct those resources by providing employers an EI premium exemption on newly-created jobs in 2015 and 2016.

Mr. Speaker, today in my remarks I will speak to the problems concerning the Conservative government's small business job credit and the design flaws in that tax credit. I will also propose a better policy plan that will help create jobs and economic growth for Canadians.

In my remarks, I will examine how errors in the design of the Conservative tax credit will have a real and negative impact on the Canadian economy, namely how these changes will actually discourage the creation of new jobs and potentially slow down already abysmally slow economic growth. I will also propose a way to fix these problems by replacing the Conservatives' flawed tax credit with an EI premium exemption for the creation of new jobs. Finally, I will discuss why it is so important that the government focus on jobs and growth, fix this mistake, and replace the small business job credit.

Canadians deserve a government that has a plan for jobs and growth. The government’s EI rate reduction proposal provides neither.

The problems with the small business job credit indicate that the Minister of Finance was not thinking of jobs or growth when he introduced the proposal earlier this month. The scheme he introduced will lower EI premiums for qualifying firms in 2015-16, from $1.88 for every $100 of insurable income, to $1.60, which is a reduction of about 15%. However, and this is the key, the tax credit is only available to Canadian businesses that pay $15,000 or less in EI premiums in those years.

Because of how the tax credit is designed, it encourages small businesses to potentially slow their growth in order to stay below the $15,000 threshold. With this tax credit, the Conservatives have introduced a perverse incentive for businesses to potentially reduce the hours of their workers, or in some cases even fire workers, in order to get below the $15,000 threshold.

This perverse incentive has caught the attention of economists and public policy experts, who are lining up to slam the Conservatives' poorly designed scheme.

One economist and tax expert the Conservatives often quote is Jack Mintz. In fact, they have included him in their last three budgets. However, Jack Mintz will not endorse their small business job credit; instead, he calls it “a disincentive to growth”.

Mike Moffatt recently wrote about the tax credit in an article for Canadian Business, entitled “The Small Business Job Credit actually makes it weirdly profitable to fire people”. He wrote in the article that “the proposed ‘Small Business Job Credit’ has major structural flaws that, in many cases, give firms an incentive to fire workers and cut salaries”.

He also noted:

Although this is sold as a job credit, there is no requirement that companies hire new workers. A firm can have fewer workers and a lower payroll than they had the year before and still receive a tax credit.

Mr. Moffatt went further and said:

A larger problem with this proposal is the discontinuity that occurs when a firm reaches $15,000 in EI payments to the government.

The way this proposed system is designed is that the maximum benefit a company can receive from firing a worker and going under the $15,000 threshold far exceeds the maximum benefit a small business can receive from hiring an additional worker:

Specifically, Mr. Moffatt wrote:

The maximum benefit a firm can receive from firing a worker is $2234.04.

The maximum benefit a firm can receive from hiring a worker is $190.52.

He concluded with the following statement:

The challenge now is to get the details right, before this incredibly flawed plan becomes reality.

To understand this point, take the Minister of Finance's own example of a firm with 14 employees and payroll of $560,000. Under the federal government’s proposal, this business would be eligible for a refund of about $2,200.

However, if one new worker was hired, the Conservatives’ full EI credit would be lost. Even worse, take another company slightly over the arbitrary threshold. It would be incentivized to actually lay off a worker in order to receive that $2,200 benefit.

This is perverse, and that is why Jack Mintz and Mike Moffatt are not alone in their criticism of this plan.

In a piece entitled “Why the new EI tax credit could do more harm than good” in Maclean's magazine, Stephen Gordon, an economist at Laval University, has written:

For firms that are just under the $15,000 threshold, hiring a new worker would mean crossing the line and losing the tax credit entirely. For firms that are just over the threshold, the incentives are even more perverse: firms may choose to actually reduce employment in order to be eligible for the tax credit. To be sure, not all small businesses are in this position and many will be able to hire and take advantage of the tax credit. But it’s by no means clear at this point that the positive incentives to hire more workers will outweigh the negative ones.

Earlier this week Barrie McKenna wrote in The Globe and Mail about this tax credit and how it discourages small businesses from growing. He wrote:

Unfortunately, our love of the small isn’t doing the larger economy any good. It may even be causing harm by creating a perverse disincentive for small companies to grow.

Larger companies, and particularly fast-growing ones, are more competitive, invest more, offer better wages and benefits, and are more likely to become exporters. And when they do that, they become job-creation machines.

Put simply: Growing companies, not small ones, drive economic growth.

Governments should want more of them. But our policies are sending exactly the opposite signal: Stay small. Don’t grow.

It is clear that the Conservatives are putting Canadian jobs and economic growth at risk with this poorly designed small business job credit. They are prepared to spend $550 million on a scheme that would encourage firms to stay small and actually incentivize businesses to fire workers. There is a better way to use this money. We could reduce EI premiums, promote job creation and support economic growth all at the same time.

That is why the Liberals are calling on the government to replace its poorly designed small business job credit with an EI premium exemption for newly created jobs. For the same cost as the small business job credit, the government could provide employers with an EI holiday on new jobs created in 2015-2016.

Unlike the Conservative scheme, the EI holiday would not reward companies that reduce wages or staffing levels in order to make it under an arbitrary $15,000 threshold. Instead, it would reward all employers with up to $1,300 for every new job they create. This EI holiday would apply to any business regardless of size, but to qualify, employers would have to hire new workers and increase their EI payroll over the previous year. That way, the plan would only reward real job creation. This plan could help create over 175,000 net new jobs.

Rewarding job creators with lower EI premiums is a plan that works, and it has been done before, by a previous Liberal government. In budget 1997, the Liberal government of the day introduced a new hires program, which virtually eliminated EI premiums specifically on new hires by small businesses in 1997-1998. This is what was said in budget 1997:

The New Hires Program announced in November 1996 will provide employment insurance premium relief to small firms that create new jobs in 1997 and 1998. By reducing the cost of new workers, this program will encourage small firms to accelerate their job creation plans....

While the new hires program was targeted to small business, it did not create a disincentive against jobs and growth as those businesses grew. Instead, it benefited any business that had premiums of $60,000 or less in 1996 and then grew in 1997-1998.

In budget 1998, the Liberal government built on the new hires program and introduced an EI holiday for all employers, regardless of size, who helped create new jobs for young Canadians.

This is how the new program was outlined in budget 1998:

To encourage employers to hire young Canadians, this budget proposes to give employers an employment insurance (EI) premium holiday for additional young Canadians, between the ages of 18 and 24, hired in 1999 and 2000. As with the New Hires Program, ...employers will be allowed to stop paying premiums when they reach the 1998 level of payroll, or they can claim a rebate when filing their tax forms. Unlike New Hires, however, there will be no minimum threshold and all firms will be eligible without limitation on size.

There is an important difference between that plan, which worked, and the current Conservative plan, which not only will not work but will potentially render damage to the Canadian economy.

As Liberals, we know that government must help create the right conditions for jobs and growth. That is why Liberal governments introduced an EI premium holiday to reward job creation. It is why Liberal governments lowered taxes time and time again, both income taxes and EI payroll taxes. It is why Liberal governments introduced significant new investments to infrastructure. It is also important to recognize that Liberal governments turned deficits into surpluses, paid down debt, and left the Conservative government with the best fiscal situation of any incoming government in the history of Canada.

Liberal governments know that a pro-growth agenda requires both infrastructure investments and competitive tax rates. This is a significant area of disagreement between Liberals and Conservative governments. Currently, instead of supporting economic growth, the Conservatives are actually slashing the new Building Canada fund by nearly 90% over the next two years. The Conservatives are doing this at a time when unemployment remains well above pre-recession levels and Canada's economic recovery has stalled, a time when we have 230,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians than before the downturn in 2008.

Our economic growth has fallen behind that of the U.S. and the U.K. In the last 12 months, Canada has created a paltry 15,000 net new full-time jobs across the entire country and young Canadians are struggling with unemployment and under-employment.

Meanwhile, the EI tax rate under the Conservatives is significantly higher today than it was in 2008. Each year since 2011, the Conservatives have raised the EI tax rate during an economic downturn. First they increased it from 1.73% to 1.78%, then to 1.83% and finally, last year, to 1.88%. Raising payroll taxes during a time of stagnant economic growth and poor job numbers does not make sense.

The Conservatives have promised to set the EI tax rate at a seven-year break-even cycle. Now they actually want us to applaud them for freezing the tax rate at 1.88% until 2017, but if the Conservatives had actually kept their promise and allowed the EI tax rate to be set at a break-even rate, the EI rate would have fallen to 1.62% this January.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions released its 2015 actuarial report on the EI premium rate. According to OSFI and the government's own numbers, it is set to take in an additional $3.5 billion in EI taxes next year, above and beyond what is required to pay for the EI program. Even with the small business tax credit, the Conservatives will still collect over $3 billion in excess EI taxes next year.

The Conservatives are hurting the Canadian economy by cutting infrastructure investments and keeping EI taxes artificially high just to pad their books to try to achieve a political surplus on the eve of an election.

Canadians want their government to focus on jobs and growth, but the Conservatives are not listening. Instead, they are trotting out old job creation numbers from 2009 and 2010 and telling Canadian families who are struggling not to worry and to be happy that we are better off than Spain. Canadians deserve better than this. Young Canadians, and their parents and grandparents, deserve better than this.

Liberals understand that the government must create the right conditions for jobs and growth. Government can do this by identifying and removing barriers to growth, barriers including the Conservatives' small business job credit, which perversely punishes businesses for growing.

It is not too late for the Conservatives to fix their mistake. We have offered a counter-proposal, a real plan to create jobs and growth.

In fact, last week the NDP finance critic, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, spoke in favour of the principle behind this motion. He was speaking about the flawed small business job credit when he said in the House:

How about we offer tax breaks to businesses when they actually create new jobs, rather than this hope, wing and a prayer for long-term prosperity?

We agree with the NDP finance critic and appreciate his party's support for the principle behind our policy, which is, in his own words, that we offer tax breaks to businesses that actually create jobs.

We are here today to discuss ways to move the Canadian economy forward, to reduce impediments to growth, and to create the conditions whereby Canadian businesses of all sizes can move forward and create jobs, opportunities, and growth for the Canadian economy. That is why we are asking the government to replace its flawed small business job credit with an EI holiday for employers who, to again borrow a phrase from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, “actually create new jobs”.

I hope that members from all sides will listen to reason and support this motion, which supports an EI tax credit that rewards job creation instead of punishing it. It was a measure that was successful in the late 1990s under a previous Liberal government in creating jobs and growth for Canadians.

I would hope that we have a robust debate and discussion today on this issue, but that we put our partisan differences aside to agree on a policy that can offer real hope to Canadians and real opportunities for Canadian businesses to create good jobs across this country.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the comments of the member for Kings—Hants with respect to EI premiums. I could not follow his logic and I could not remember the same voting record either.

In 1997 and 1998, that member and I sat in the same party and voted against the Liberal budget that had those changes to the EI account, yet his memory has been very selective.

I would like to quote the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which dismissed the ridiculous claim that somehow employers would lay off employees. It stated:

Some have suggested companies will lay off staff or hold off hiring just to stay under the threshold to receive the credit. I’ve got news for them, a small business owner doesn’t have time to research the eligibility requirements and then carefully manage their payroll to receive a few hundred dollars over two years.

Any statement based on any kind of information that we have out there will tell us that employers have embraced the small business hiring credit. It will generate more jobs in Canada, not fewer, and I still do not understand the member's logic.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my friend, the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's, with whom I served as a Progressive Conservative. Ten years ago the word “progressive” was removed from the Conservative brand. It was a reflection not only of style but of substance in that party. I understand that the member, after distinguished service to the people of South Shore—St. Margaret's and Canada, is retiring from public life and I wish him well in his future.

The question here is whether this public policy will work to create jobs and encourage small businesses to grow. The reality is that—and this is according to Jack Mintz, a significant economist at the University of Calgary, or Mike Moffatt—the Conservative measure would, perversely, provide a disincentive to grow businesses. In fact, it would potentially pay a small business $2,200 to fire someone while only $190 to hire someone.

There is a flaw in the design of this policy and I would urge the hon. member to stick to the public policy on this. He is a smart fellow. He has been a small business person and he understands business. I think he would agree with me that it does not make sense to encourage businesses to fire people. We should encourage them to hire.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I represent a riding and a region where the unemployment rate is especially worrisome, so when a debate about employability measures gets under way in the House, you had better believe I will be here. However, there is something bothering me this morning about both the Conservatives' and the Liberals' approach, and that is the feeling I have of witnessing a swarm of bees that have just found a source of sugar.

Not only did these two parties hijack $57 billion in employment insurance contributions over the years, but now that there is a surplus in the employment insurance fund, they want to do exactly the same thing and steal another $550 million.

The real question is: why is there a surplus in the employment insurance fund? The answer is pretty simple: fewer than four in ten workers who contribute to the fund do not qualify when they need employment insurance. The surplus might actually be smaller if the money had been used for the purpose it was contributed for.

That does not stop us from taking a look at job creation measures. If the job creation measure my colleague proposed is really effective, should the money for it not come from the government's general revenue fund instead of the employment insurance fund, which should be able to continue providing the services it is supposed to provide?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague very much for his question.

It is always important to strike a balance with respect to the employment insurance fund. The Conservatives were foolish to increase employment taxes during a recession, a time when economic growth was very slow and the unemployment rate was higher.

Now we have to correct the design flaw in the Conservatives' policy and come up with another way to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

We have come up with a better approach that reflects the principle espoused by the NDP finance critic, who says we should support businesses that create jobs. I hope the NDP will support this motion.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his speech in this debate. The Conservative Minister of Finance proposed something that would allow businesses to apply for a credit worth up to $2,200 if they pay $15,000 in EI premiums. From what I understand, when the minister made the announcement, he said the goal was to support job creation in Canada.

However, if the amount paid in premiums is $15,001, businesses might try to get in under that threshold in order to take advantage of the $2,200 credit. In that case, no jobs will be created. In addition, are businesses that pay around $14,200, for example, likely to hire in order to get that $190 credit? It makes no sense. This measure will not boost job creation.

I would like to ask my colleague if he thinks that the Conservative minister only proposed this because he is panicking, given the many months of job losses in this country.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

Clearly, the government was wrong to propose this. It was ridiculous to create a program with such a flawed design. A program with bigger incentives can reduce the number of jobs, rather than create jobs.

We are trying to be constructive in this debate, which is why we proposed a more reasonable and more effective option—a Liberal program that reflects the principle espoused by the NDP finance critic. This program will help all businesses that create jobs. I do not understand why the government refuses to work with us to improve its approach and develop a stronger program that is more likely to create economic growth across the country.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, before beginning debate, I should let the House know that I intend to split my time with the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.

With this motion, my hon. colleagues are suggesting that somehow the government job credit for small businesses is nothing but an incentive to lay off employees. As I mentioned in my first question to the member for Kings—Hants, it is a little difficult for us to wrap our heads around the logic, and I suspect it is difficult even for the Liberals, that somehow any government, not just this government with a reputation of creating jobs, would take any action to reduce the number of jobs available. It is truly ludicrous.

What we are doing is exactly the opposite. The small business job credit will lower EI premiums for small businesses by 15%. Over the next two years, the premium reduction will save employers $550 million, money they can use to hire more Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates the credit will create 25,000 person-years of employment over the next two to three years. The Minister of Finance also confirmed that in 2017, EI premiums will go from the current $1.88 per $100 of earnings down to $1.47 per $100 of earnings. This means that employers will have more money to invest in things like training and increasing wages, and workers will have more money in their wallets at the end of the day.

Our government has a responsibility to create the right conditions for economic growth, and it is clearly one that we do not take lightly.

Since the economic downturn, we have had a steady increase in employment, low interest rates and the kind of economic growth that has made us the envy of other countries. We got here by implementing concrete measures to ensure Canadians have the skills they need for the jobs that are in demand. That is a big part of it. On the other side of the coin is how we are supporting employers to ensure they continue to grow their businesses and create jobs for Canadians. The small business job credit is simply the latest step in a broader plan to support job creation in our country.

Another element of our plan, as members know, is the Canada job grant, an employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. So far we have finalized agreements with all of the provinces and territories, and six of them are already accepting applications from employers with a plan to train people for jobs. Matching employers with employees across this country will continue to create jobs across Canada. What this means is that employers can be sure they will have an employee with the skills that the job requires. It means as well that there is a real job at the end of the training.

We are also partnering with several colleges and training institutions to get more businesses directly involved in ensuring there is a better matchup between skills taught and skills wanted. That is also why we invest so much in apprenticeships. However, support for apprentices will not accomplish much if it is difficult for people to hire them. To change this, the government has provided tax credits for employers who hire eligible apprentices.

Employers can also take advantage of provisions in the EI system for supplemental unemployment benefits or SUB plans. Employers with a registered SUB plan can provide supplemental payments to EI benefits for temporary periods of unemployment due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness or injury. So far close to 3,000 employers across Canada have approved SUB plans, and over 887,000 workers are benefiting from these payments. The SUB plan, among other things, solves a major challenge for employers who hire apprentices. It means that employers can pay up to 95% of their apprentice's regular salary, while the apprentice is completing his or her technical training at college.

Our priority is clear. Since the depths of the global recession we have implemented a range of measures to create jobs and prosperity for all Canadians, and we are seeing the results. Canada's economy is performing well in the context of the weakened global economic recovery. We have created over 1.1 million jobs since July 2009, and over 80% of these jobs have been in full-time positions. Nearly 80% are in the private sector and 65% of those are in high-wage industries.

As I said, this job credit for small business is the latest measure in a much broader plan, a plan that includes a commitment to a national EI program that is more reflective of, and responsive to, local labour market conditions and that stimulates job creation. The job credit we announced two weeks ago intends to do just that.

However, it is increasingly clear that the Liberal leader does not have a plan for the economy. He believes that budgets balance themselves, and now he is trying to make us believe that taxing small businesses would somehow create jobs. In fact, it is the opposite. The Liberals' plan for employment insurance would cost Canadians nearly $6 billion. This would lead to a massive increase in payroll taxes, with an increase in EI premiums of nearly 50¢, and would kill thousands of jobs.

If we take a look at just one part of this plan, the 45-day work year, its cost alone would be over $4 billion. Other parts of their plan are equally thoughtless, including $3 million to provide EI for prisoners. They would compensate perpetrators of crime.

It is abundantly clear that we do not need the measure that our Liberal colleagues are proposing today. Therefore, I urge all members not to support the motion. This applies particularly to the members of the NDP, who I am sure do not need to be reminded of their record of being the least democratic party in the House, without a single dissenting vote against the party line since becoming the official opposition.

In closing, I know my colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings has more to add to this speech. What we have here is flawed Liberal logic backed up by flawed NDP logic. Really, the facts speak for themselves. This is a good incentive. It would create jobs across this country. This is legislation we need. We do not need the naysayers.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, for the last 15 years, I have been a small-business owner in my municipality of Newmarket. The one thing that is always a disincentive to our small businesses hiring more people is the cost of payroll taxes. When I attend the events hosted by the chambers of commerce in my two municipalities of Newmarket and Aurora, over and over again I see small businesses that are trying to take that next step in employing new young people, but unfortunately, payroll taxes are hampering their ability to make that move.

I wonder if my colleague could talk about some of the conversations he has had with small businesses in his own riding and what they are telling him about this job credit.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that on this particular job credit, small businesses in my riding are ecstatic. This will include nearly 90% of the small businesses across Canada that pay remittances of less than $15,000 in EI payments. To a small business, $15,000 worth of EI payments is a lot of employees. Most of the time we think of small business as having 20 or 30 employees. We are talking about 300 or 400 employees, in many cases. It is a real incentive to continue to hire more.

What we have done as a government is get rid of the Liberal practice of taking the EI surplus and putting it into general revenue. We are making EI self-sustainable. This continues to allow EI to be self-sustainable, plus, it is an incentive for employers.

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the member opposite continues to perpetuate the myth about what happened around the EI fund originally. Originally it had a $42-billion deficit. As the economy got growing under good Liberal policy, then of course, that deficit had to be covered.

My question is on process. The member is rejecting out of hand this proposal that I believe is well thought out. Why would the member not allow this chamber to work as it should work? There is a proposal from, in this case, the third party. There will be other proposals from the official opposition that make good sense for Canadians and for the Canadian economy. Why would the government reject it out of hand, when this really is an incentive for firms to hire more employees? If they hire more employees, that incentive is there through the EI tax break. Why would we not do that in this chamber?

Opposition Motion—Employment InsuranceBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, it is not about one party working with another party. It is about whether something is correct or incorrect.

The hon. member sat there when the member for Kings—Hants talked about the support for the Liberal 1998 project. The hon. member was here at that time, as I was, and the member for Kings—Hants voted against that budget.

Speaking of selective memory, we have total selective memory on the Liberal side. The reality is that he is incorrect.

Our plan would allow for jobs to be created. The Liberal plan would be a disincentive. It would end up that they would be giving them a holiday. New hires would not affect the EI plan immediately, but eventually they would have to start paying into it.

The whole point of our Conservative strategy on EI is to make EI self-supporting. If we continue with that plan, we can continue to reduce the level of EI remittances across the country from $1.88 to $1.47 and at the same time continue to make EI self-supporting and encourage employers to hire more employees.