House of Commons Hansard #203 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ukraine.


National Anthem ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, vote early and vote often. I intend my vote to be a no.

National Anthem ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, you have people on the other side voting twice. Normally, it would be their first vote that counts. The second vote is dismissed.

National Anthem ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I believe the opposition House leader is incorrect. As long as I have been in the House and as long as I have been Speaker, when members have found themselves in circumstances of standing both for the yeas and nays, the House calls on members to clarify, and once they do, the record is amended accordingly.

We will hear the results from the clerk in a moment and then we will move on.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #385

National Anthem ActPrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

It being 6:45, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.


Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC


That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the unemployment rate in Canada has remained high since the 2008 recession; (b) the quality of the Canadian job market has reached a 25-year low; (c) the government should redesign its economic policy to support the middle class and help small-business owners and the manufacturing sector to create new jobs by (i) immediately lowering the small- and medium-sized business tax rate by 1% and by another percentage point when finances permit, (ii) establishing an innovation tax credit, (iii) extending the accelerated capital cost allowance in order to create good middle-class jobs, (iv) working with the provinces, territories and First Nations to train Canadians to occupy well-paid jobs.

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to speak today to open the debate on Motion No. 585, which I am moving today to boost job creation in Canada.

In the 10 years the Conservatives have been in power, they have massacred the middle class, its jobs and its prospects. After 10 years under the Conservatives, the future of the middle class is in the past. In 10 years, the Conservatives' great economic achievement is that Mr. Parent, a technician at Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil, and Ms. Johns, an automated manufacturing engineer at GM in Windsor, now have jobs working the cash at Burger King and Tim Hortons.

Every week, middle-class people in my riding tell me they are worried about the future. I can only share in their anxiety. Recently in Quebec, 275 jobs were lost at Resolute Forest Products in Shawinigan, another 737 jobs were lost at Mabe in Montreal, 300 were lost at Bell Helicopter in Mirabel, and more than 1,300 were lost at Electrolux in L'Assomption. Across the country we have seen the closing of Mexx, Jacob, Sears, Target and now Future Shop.

Although Quebeckers and Canadians are working harder than ever, they are having more and more difficulty making ends meet. In 10 years, precarious jobs have become the norm, and the quality of jobs has not been this low in 25 years, according to the CIBC index released on March 5. After 10 years, 400,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector, there are 200,000 more unemployed workers than there were before the recession, and the youth unemployment rate is 13.4%. Under these conditions, how can we expect middle-class families to make a living and pay for schooling for their children?

Small and medium-sized businesses, which make up the economic fabric of our country, are also suffering. Even the most dynamic of them are having a hard time coping. I recently met with the owners of Quintus Marketing, a small business in my riding that works in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. They agree with us: the government has abandoned them.

Instead of offering an economic development vision for our country and giving our businesses and workers a development horizon, this government cannot see beyond its outdated tax mantra. The Conservatives have based their entire economic policy on the idea that tax cuts for big businesses are good for growth because they give companies the flexibility they need in order to invest and hire people. That same economic notion led them to cut taxes for the rich in the 2015 budget in the hope that the rich would invest in real activity.

That concept is outdated, as shown by reality. When the tax rate was lowered from 22% to 15%, did big companies hire people? No. Did they invest in better means of production? No. Did they invest in research and development to innovate? Not at all. Did they channel the money back to their shareholders? Not even a little bit. What are they doing with the money? Nothing at all.

A report released on January 27, 2015, by the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques entitled “Portrait de la surépargne des entreprises au Québec et au Canada” shows that corporations have accumulated savings and are just sitting on them. Some $575 billion is being kept out of the real economy. That represents 32% of the GDP. With that money, we could build 164 new Champlain Bridges.

For all of these reasons, the NDP, led by the member for Outremont, is fighting for the middle class, fighting to defend the interests of most Canadians, fighting to spur economic activity and fighting so that all Canadians can give their children a better future. That is our priority.

To achieve that objective, the NDP has developed an economic recovery plan after consulting with workers and the middle class in recent years. The NDP economic plan announced by our leader on January 28 and my motion here today were the result of that consultation. Our goal is to support the warp and weft of our economic fabric, the sectors that will define our economy of the future.

First, we have the manufacturing sector, with a workforce of 1.4 million that generates 11% of our GDP. Then we have SMEs, which provide 7.7 million jobs and produce 40% of our GDP. From 2002 to 2012, they created 78% of new jobs in the private sector.

These two sectors have serious problems created by the Conservatives' economic policies. Owners of SMEs in my riding whom I meet with every week are all telling me the same thing. They are finding it increasingly difficult to compete against large corporations and they blame the Conservatives. Because corporate taxes have been lowered to 15%, compared to 11% for small business, the tax advantage for SMEs is only 4%. I would remind members that it was 17% in 2000.

That is why the NDP is asking the government to lower the small business tax rate to 10% and not to wait until January 1, 2017, as outlined in the 2015 budget tabled by the Conservatives. The small business tax rate should be reduced to 9% as soon as possible. This would represent $1.2 billion in assistance to SMEs and would stimulate activity at a time when growth is stagnating.

They are suffering from a lack of support for innovation. In 2014, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce established that this problem was one of the 10 main obstacles to the competitiveness of our economy.

That is why we are asking the government to introduce an innovation tax credit for the manufacturing sector for companies that invest in machinery, equipment and goods and in research and development, which spurs innovation.

This measure will allow Canadian manufacturers who make these critical investments in research and development to reinvest $40 million per year into this activity. This measure will also make it possible to repair the damage caused by the Conservative cuts to tax credits for scientific research and experimental development and will encourage innovation in Canada.

With regard to the manufacturing industry, we are calling on the government to immediately extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment. This $600 million measure will allow manufacturers to update their equipment and machinery.

Finally, labour is the other major concern of SMEs and the manufacturing sector. When they do manage to fill their order books, they are having difficulty finding skilled workers to hire.

This shows that the Conservatives have failed with regard to training. It also explains why the NDP makes skills development a priority in its economic action plan.

In order to boost our economy, make the transition to the greener economy we desire, develop new sources of energy, and in short, build the economy of tomorrow, we need to make sure that young people and unemployed workers receive training and develop their skills.

Here is an example: before long, increasingly available 3D printers will revolutionize production methods for small and medium-sized manufacturers. We need to train people to use them right now. Nevertheless, companies are spending less and less on training precisely when they should be spending more.

In its October 2013 report entitled “Upskilling the Workforce”, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce showed that even though companies say skills development is important, they have cut their spending in this area.

Worse still, according to the report, we are falling farther behind our closest competitor, the United States. For every 64¢ Canadian companies spend on training, American companies spend $1.

Our companies will not be capable of preparing for the next generation of jobs. That is why the NDP has made skills training a priority in its economic action plan.

The Conservatives have once again chosen shortcuts and short-sightedness, to disastrous effect. Whereas we need to plan, develop and invest, the Conservatives have only three watchwords: cut, cut, cut. They chose a $300 million cut to the budget for skills training and a year of bitter battling with the provinces over labour market agreement renewals. The result? A Canada job grant that does not meet the needs.

That is why we are asking the government to increase the number of Canadians participating in skills training by immediately facilitating access to skills training programs funded by labour market development agreements.

This is what the NDP is proposing to Canadians: to boost our economy in a balanced manner that provides immediate support to our main job creators and innovators, which are SMEs and the manufacturing sector. This economic recovery requires a voluntary skills training policy that allows businesses to find skilled workers and allows everyone to find their place in our economy and our society.

Despite its self-congratulatory speeches, when faced with our proposals to boost the economy, the Conservative government sees how badly it has failed. It is no accident that the budget it presented on Tuesday, April 21, includes most of the proposals the NDP made in January. On February 16, the Conservatives voted against the measures proposed by the NDP, but they are now proposing those same measures. They changed their minds and now they like our plan to boost the economy. That is a good thing.

Simply implementing these measures and improving the situation of middle-class families counts. However, we have to be careful. Most of the measures announced by the Conservatives will not take effect until 2017, while this motion calls on the government to implement these measures immediately. Canadians are suffering as a result of our faltering economy. They need the government to provide immediate support for the real job creators.

That is why I am asking the Conservative members to show that they are serious about their intentions. They have the opportunity to immediately take practical measures to boost the economy by supporting this motion. All they have to do is vote in favour of it and thereby support the middle class.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.


Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that interesting speech.

The New Democrats talk about debt, but their high-tax and high-spending schemes would hurt all Canadians. We know that. It would burden them with even more debt for our children and grandchildren who would have to pay. Moreover, they would hurt jobs and small business with their payroll taxes.

The Liberal member thinks that budgets balance themselves.

Why does the member opposite opposite the plan for middle-class Canadians that is written in black ink for the first time in a number of years? Is it because the New Democrats are too busy writing the NDP plan in red ink? Could the member please explain that for us?

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is very disappointing to hear my colleague begin his question like that, especially since, as I said, we should give credit where credit is due.

In order to truly boost our economy, we need SMEs and the manufacturing sector. We presented this economic recovery plan in January 2015, so we certainly will not take any lessons from this government.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

April 29th, 2015 / 7 p.m.


Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for moving this wonderful motion, which reiterates our priorities and once again calls on this uninspired government to take action. Fortunately, the government's lack of inspiration led it to use NDP measures in the recent budget. Unfortunately, though, the Conservatives' measures are not even half-measures.

My colleague talked about the problem of underemployment. In fact, the latest Bank of Canada report clearly indicated that the most active category of workers, those aged 25 to 55, had a very low participation rate. It was comparable to what it was nearly six years ago, as we were coming out of the last crisis.

I wonder if she could talk about the government's poor record, which, I think, is the result of its failure to act.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

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

It is important to remember that it is because of this government that jobs today are precarious and part-time, for the most part. If the government really wanted to help economic recovery, it would create real jobs. To boost job creation requires a dynamic that only the NDP has; for one thing, it would allow wages to be assessed properly.

We have put forward our proposal for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. To help the middle class and stimulate the economy and job creation, it is crucial to be able to go ahead with bold principles and action that will allow SMEs to create good jobs and the manufacturing sector to stimulate the economy.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her presentation. I certainly agree with her. Modernizing equipment in the manufacturing sector, equipment for manufacturing certain products, increases a company's productivity. That is something Canada should do in order to be innovative and more productive.

As far as job creation is concerned, some people say that modernizing our plants and manufacturing sector comes with the risk of eliminating jobs because people will be replaced by machines. I do not necessarily agree, but I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say about that.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

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

There is no doubt that the manufacturing sector must be modernized. It is about being competitive internationally, with everything that is available on the market right now. The manufacturing sector needs to have the means to innovate and create jobs that will ensure that our industry is competitive both today and in the future. That cannot happen without modernizing.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.


Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Saint-Lambert for giving me this opportunity to once again highlight the extraordinary success we have enjoyed, thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister.

I stand here somewhat perplexed by the hon. member's insistence that we need to improve our economic record and that we take action with measures we have already taken. To paraphrase the motion, it says that the government has not done enough to create jobs, so we should reduce small business taxes. We just committed to lower taxes by two percentage points, which is about 18%, for small businesses, from 11% to 9%. This is on top of our government's cut from 12% to 11% previously.

The motion goes on to say that we need to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers. This just in: we have extended it for 10 years and have continually extended it since we formed government. That is good news for small business. That is the same NDP that has repeatedly voted against this exact measure.

There is more. The NDP continues to ask for some completely undefined innovation tax credit. It must have had some eureka moment when it decided it liked the words “innovation” and “tax”, so it put them together and sold it as a plan. However, our government has introduced something called the SR and ED credit , which helps companies invest in innovation across Canada.

There is also the capital cost allowance if one wants to invest in innovation-enhancing machinery. We have also given more than $1.33 billion, just in budget 2015, to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Again, the NDP must be confused, because it is asking for things that already exist.

It then asks us to invest in labour market training, something we have done to a record degree.

Ultimately, this is perhaps the most bizarre motion I have ever been asked to debate in the House. Perhaps this is simply another case of the opposition not even taking the time to read the budget.

Allow me to explain to the member opposite just how well our plan has worked. I thought it would be helpful, therefore, to list a few of these truths for the benefit of the entire House. The facts are clear. Canada's economic action plan is working. Consider the following.

Canada has demonstrated one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries since the recovery. The International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expect Canada's growth, already ahead of its peers during the recovery, to continue to be strong.

Canada has posted one of the strongest job performances in the G7. Over 1.2 million more Canadians are working now than at the end of the recession. The majority of these net new jobs have been full-time positions in high-wage, private sector industries. Perhaps more importantly, we have achieved this while balancing the budget and keeping taxes low for all Canadians.

Allow me to go into a bit more detail. The task of creating jobs is not a solitary duty. That is why our government works regularly with the provinces and territories on programming to enhance training and education and to improve labour market participation. It is also important to remember that Canada ranks well internationally in developing and educating its workforce at a time when the labour market is shifting toward high-skilled employment.

Canadians are among the most highly educated in the world, placing at the top of all the members of the OECD countries in terms of post-secondary educational attainment. Canada's labour force participation rate also compares very favourably with that of the other OECD member countries.

Through our labour market development agreements, $1.95 billion per year in funding is made available to the provinces and territories to design, deliver, and manage skills and employment programs. We have been actively working to retool the labour market development agreements with provinces and territories so that we can continue to ensure that the skills of Canadians respond to the needs of the labour force. Our government also provides provinces and territories with additional funding in support of labour market programming, including $500 million in 2014-15 through the Canada job fund agreements, which include the Canada job grant.

Collaborating with provinces and territories makes good sense, particularly in areas where interprovincial harmonization can improve job prospects for hard-working Canadian tradespeople. That is why economic action plan 2015 extends further support to the provinces and territories to facilitate the harmonization of apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades. For example, jurisdictions will work towards adopting common sequencing for technical training curriculum content and similar total hours of training, both in class and on the job.

Overall Canada saw a 20% increase in registrations in apprenticeship programs between 2006 and 2012, and the demand for skilled trade workers continues to grow. Job vacancy rates in the skilled trades have surpassed pre-recession levels and are currently above all occupations. In fact, Canadian employers are experiencing increasing difficulty hiring skilled trades workers.

To support entrepreneurial tradespeople, budget 2015 will provide $1 million over five years to Employment and Social Development Canada's Red Seal Secretariat to promote the adoption of the Blue Seal certification program across Canada. Blue Seal certification recognizes business training among certified tradespeople. Currently offered in a few provincial jurisdictions, the certification can help increase the chance of business success for entrepreneurial tradespeople.

We are also providing funding for aboriginal labour market programming, including the skills and partnership fund. We will provide $215 million over five years, starting this year, and $50 million a year thereafter to this fund to help equip aboriginal peoples for jobs in high-demand sectors of the economy, including high-skilled occupations.

I hope I have made plain that our actions to date, focused on helping Canadians find new and better jobs, are by no means insignificant.

Let me quickly touch on our record for small business.

Our government very early on recognized that small businesses make up over 90% of all Canadian businesses and employ two-thirds of all Canadians, which is why we have reduced the small business tax load by almost 50% since we formed government. The NDP has resisted us every step of the way, which makes today's motion all that much more strange.

Economic action plan 2015 improves access to financing for small businesses and reduces red tape for small business owners. This is on top of years of support, such as the small business job credit, which the NDP voted against, increasing the small business limit, which they voted against, and launching the venture capital action plan to help companies grow and create jobs, which again, they voted against.

My time is limited today, but I could speak all day about how absurd this motion is from the NDP, who have zero record of supporting actual job-creating measures, like the ones we have already introduced. We know that all they want to do is raise taxes on Canadians, especially the middle class. That includes small businesses, families, manufacturers, and seniors, and the list goes on. On this side of the House, we know that this is definitely not the way to create jobs.

I hope the hon. member will continue to give us the opportunity to recite even more of the good things we have done to help create jobs. It is truly music to all of our ears.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to speak to Motion No. 585. First I would like to thank the member for Saint-Lambert for introducing this motion. I share many of her concerns about the weak state of the Canadian economy.

Too many Canadians are being left out of the economy altogether. There are now more Canadians who have been unemployed for a year or longer. Young Canadians face a very weak job market. There are 160,000 fewer jobs for Canadian youth than there were in 2008, for example.

CIBC economists recently issued a report showing that the quality of jobs in Canada is at a 25-year low. Growth prospects are weak, and the Conservative government lacks a plan for stimulating jobs and growth.

Policies such as income splitting and a massive increase to the TFSA limit do nothing for jobs and growth. It shows that the current Conservative government has abandoned the middle class in favour of the wealthy and has absolutely no plan to create jobs and growth for Canadians.

The Liberals, however, are committed to supporting the middle class and those who are struggling to be part of the middle class.

The motion before us attempts to address these economic concerns. I support some of these measures, however, I have some concerns with others. On balance, we support the motion.

I want to address four main components of the motion, first, the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing. The Liberal Party has been calling for this measure as an incentive for manufacturers to invest in productivity-enhancing machinery. For years, in fact, we have been calling upon the government to extend the tax credit for a significantly longer period of time because we recognize that businesses need more certainty to be able to plan ahead and make the smart investments they ought to, to create jobs and growth.

Second, I want to address the innovation tax credit. The Conservatives have diluted and pulled back and weakened the SR&ED tax credit. Smaller companies that are involved in R and D and commercialization have told us, as have larger manufacturers, that the government's cuts to the SR&ED program have hurt their capacity to create new technologies and grow. We have been critical of the government's actions to dilute and weaken the SR&ED program. While the proposed innovation tax credit is a small measure, it could potentially undo some of the damage rendered by the cuts to the SR&ED tax credit.

I would like to discuss the small business tax cut proposed by the motion, calling for the tax rate for small businesses to be lowered by one point immediately and another point in the future.

Every Liberal, and I would suggest everyone in this House, understands the importance of small business and the importance of supporting the small business sector. Liberals recognize the importance of small business and helping small businesses grow and we favour policies that encourage small businesses to grow and to hire more Canadians.

We proposed, in fact, an EI premium holiday that was targeted to companies that actually hired new employees. Our proposed policy, an EI premium holiday for two years, was endorsed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and Restaurants Canada. It was a way to correct some of the flaws in the Conservatives' so-called small jobs credit.

The government's tax credit actually created a disincentive to growth for small business and provided, perversely, an incentive for employers to fire workers instead of crossing the $15,000 EI premium threshold.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer calculated that the Conservative gimmick would actually cost $700,000 for every job it created. We recognize the importance of a targeted approach to tax measures based upon evidence. That is what the Auditor General's report actually indicates that the Conservatives have not done their homework to actually identify what measures are working, what could work better, and what types of tax measures have the capacity to create jobs and growth.

This why we have some reservations about an across-the-board cut to the small business rate. We absolutely support cutting taxes on small business, but we believe that it is important that we target tax cuts in areas where we are doing one of two things, or preferably both. One is creating jobs and growth and the other is, of course, to help support middle class families.

Some of this benefit would not flow to actual operating small businesses, but could in fact flow to wealthy professionals who incorporate their small businesses but actually do not have any additional employees. It could support, for instance, small holding companies that simply invest in publicly traded securities and are not active in terms of having employees and the kinds of businesses that we associate with small businesses in our neighbourhoods and communities.

They may actually be operating a business as a tax shelter, for instance. Targeting measures at actual operating small businesses to provide incentives for those small businesses to grow and hire more people is what I would believe that the NDP, Conservatives and Liberals would all agree on. I raise that concern.

Jack Mintz, a tax policy expert at the University of Calgary's school of public policy believes that this tax measure proposed by the NDP and endorsed by the Conservatives, most recently, could be a significant tax benefit to wealthy Canadians. He wrote that, “It's something to make the rich richer”.

There are other economists, including Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who actually agreed with Mr. Mintz. She said, “It's a little bit weird to say that we are looking at a way of benefiting small businesses when small businesses can also be tax shelters”.

I want to be clear. We support the move to cut the taxes on small businesses, but we think that government and, in fact, all parliamentarians ought to consider ways to target these cuts to operating small businesses that actually will grow and invest more as a result of this and hire more Canadians.

That is something that I am certain my NDP colleagues would agree with, that we ought to define the application of this tax cut in a way that would generate the most growth, the most jobs and the most hiring. That is something that we can look at in the details of implementing the public policy.

We are clearly supportive of cutting taxes on small business, but we believe it is better public policy to target those cuts toward operating small businesses that would grow and hire more Canadians.

Finally, the motion before us calls on the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, and first nations and aboriginal Canadians to ensure that first nations and aboriginal Canadians get the skills they need to enter the workforce and get good jobs. I wholeheartedly endorse this recommendation.

There are 400,000 young aboriginal and first nations Canadians entering the workforce over the next 10 years. If they had the skills required to get a job and to support themselves, that would be a really good news story for the Canadian economy because a young, skilled workforce is a source of economic growth for any economy. The fact is they do not. That reflects a failure of government to invest in young aboriginal first nations Canadians.

We have to close the gap, as an example, between the funding of aboriginal and first nations schools and non-aboriginal, non-first nations schools in the same provinces. We need to ensure that we invest in young aboriginal and first nations Canadians as early as possible to ensure we build an educational foundation for them to develop and then to get the skills they need for work.

A Liberal plan for jobs and growth would prioritize investing in learning and in people, so that they get the skills they need. We feel that nowhere is that need more acute than with aboriginal and first nations Canadians.

We would invest in infrastructure, innovation and in trade relationships. Investing in people and skills, infrastructure, innovation and trade reflect a Liberal plan for jobs and growth. We would also provide support for middle class families and those Canadians who are working so hard to join them.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Motion No. 585 moved by my colleague, the member for Saint-Lambert. I would like to thank her for moving this motion. The reason I am thanking her, and what members need to understand, is that the motion was tabled well before the budget, which was tabled last week.

Interestingly, the wording of this motion is very similar to the wording of the motion the NDP moved in February on an opposition day. That motion referred to an economic recovery plan that included a reduction of the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. We proposed, as does this motion, immediately lowering the tax rate by 1%, from 11% to 10%, and then lowering it to 9% when finances permit. This part of today's motion was also in the motion moved on our opposition day in February.

These two motions share another element: extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for the purchase of goods, such as machinery, in the manufacturing and processing sector. I am comparing the two motions because, in his speech, my colleague from North Vancouver seemed quite amazed and surprised that we were moving a motion like this one. In fact, the Conservatives voted against the motion we moved on our opposition day. They voted against a reduction in the small business tax rate and against extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for the purchase of machinery, for example. What a surprise we had when the budget was tabled last week and we learned that it included these two measures.

The third element that was also in that motion is the innovation tax credit, and it is an important element. The hon. member for Kings—Hants correctly pointed out that the changes that were made in the SR&ED, the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program, have been negative. I recall testimony by a representative of Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec who told us how bad this measure was, because this tax credit would no longer apply to the capital expenses of businesses that did research and development. However, it was crucial to development, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The Conservatives ended this tax credit. It was one element in the motion we moved on our opposition day, and it is in Motion No. 585 moved by the hon. member for Saint-Lambert.

Both motions reintroduce these elements that are found in the budget—at least the first two—but which the Conservatives voted against. We often hear the Conservatives say that the opposition parties voted against one measure or another. Often, of course, that happens in budget votes when we can only vote one time on 600 pages of budget. In the case at hand, the most difficult thing, and perhaps the most ironic, or even cynical, is that the Conservatives voted against this measure two months before they put it into their budget. That is the height of cynicism.

Finally, I come to the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Lambert. She points out that the unemployment rate in Canada has remained high since the 2008 recession. Indeed, it is high. We have over 150,000 more people unemployed now than before the recession. That is a huge problem. Job quality in Canada is at a 25-year low. We had a debate in the House on this issue, on a question raised by the NDP. Perhaps hon. members will recall the CIBC report that indicated that job quality, as measured by comparing the number of full-time and part-time jobs and long-term and less stable employment, was at a record low level and that the trend was toward increasing weakness. The government has not really responded to these concerns and appears to be completely ignoring the conclusions of this report, even in its budget, which we were debating earlier today.

I am especially curious about what it is that pushes the Conservatives to act the way they do.

Our motivation in proposing such measures and ideas is, of course, to help the middle class and to help stimulate the economy. The Conservatives seem to be living in a world where the opposition parties are insisting on a carbon tax, which we cannot see anywhere. I remember very clearly that in 2011 we proposed a carbon market, not a carbon tax.

We are living in a world where the Conservatives think we want to get rid of the TFSA, which is not true, of course. We want to reverse the increase in the TFSA contribution limit, which is one of the proposals in the budget. The TFSA is a popular vehicle that helps all Canadian investors save, depending on how much money they have available to them. However, increasing the contribution limit to $10,000 will benefit the wealthiest investors more than others.

In the Conservatives' world, they believe we are going to raise taxes. I am the deputy critic for finance. If we wanted to increase taxes, I would be the first to know. The hon. member for Outremont, the leader of the official opposition, has clearly stated that we will not touch personal income tax and we will not touch sales taxes. I do not know what world the Conservatives are living in, when they introduce highly controversial budgets apparently favouring the rich. Our concern, here on this side of the House, is for the middle class, workers and small business.

As for lowering the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, our proposal is different from the one in the budget. The Conservatives—the government—would have this decrease begin in four years, like many other measures in their budget that will not actually take effect until 2017, 2018 or 2019. The small business tax reduction would only be fully implemented in four years. The hon. member for Saint-Lambert proposes, as did our opposition motion in February, that this measure come into force more quickly. We could even do it in two years, with an immediate reduction of 1% and another 1% next year, if finances permit.

This motion makes good sense. I know there are some concerns. I heard the hon. member for Kings—Hants ask who would benefit from this measure. We are talking about two different things here. We are proposing that the tax rate on small business be lowered from 11% to 9%. This tax rate has only dropped by one percentage point since 2000, while corporate taxes in general have dropped from 28% to 15%, a 13-point reduction. There is a gap of only 4%.

Some economists have criticized this measure on the basis that the tax might potentially be abused. For instance, some people who might not otherwise have done so might incorporate and benefit from it. Their concern is justified and can be addressed to eliminate tax avoidance. It is one of the measures that we could in fact adopt, but the measure itself to reduce the business tax is totally justifiable, particularly at the present time, when small and medium-sized businesses are the ones that are creating the most jobs. However, they are having difficulties that are due to the current economic climate.

These elements are found in the motion and are totally necessary. They are a good step forward for Canada’s economic growth. These are suggestions that the NDP has made and is still making, and we are continuing to insist that they be wholly integrated in the government’s plans. Otherwise, we are going to keep on reminding the government that the measures that it opposed in the past and that it has now included in the budget are NDP measures that we have been promoting for a long time now.

I would like to thank my colleague from Saint-Lambert for this excellent initiative, which I would like to point out was put forward before the budget was tabled. Therefore, if there are any questions from Conservative members about why we are now dealing with proposals that appear, at least timidly, to be in the budget, this is the reason why.

I can consider this motion a prelude to other motions and especially to other presentations that we on the official opposition side are going to make, in order to set out our economic program, which, I am sure, will be advantageous to the middle class, workers and small and medium-sized companies and will receive the approval of all Canadians in the next election campaign.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to address my colleague's motion acknowledging the government's actions to create jobs, a record of jobs, economic growth and putting more money back in the pockets of families and businesses. Or did I read this motion wrong?

In all seriousness, Canada has demonstrated one of the best economic performances among G7 countries over the recovery. Canada has recovered both more than all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession. However, far more than that, we have created over 1.2 million net new jobs since the depths of the downturn. In fact, more Canadians are working today than at any other time in our history.

The hon. member may not recognize this, but as a result of our government's efforts, Canadians have maintained a high level of labour market participation despite global economic difficulties, and Canadians are wealthier for their work. In fact, the Canadian middle class is among the richest in the developed world.

Canadians are not just wealthier, they are benefiting across the board from economic improvements introduced by our government that allow them to make the most of their wealth and support further jobs and growth going forward. Canadians can be confident that the foundations we have laid over the past seven years have set us on the right course. Economic action plan 2015 is no exception.

Economic action plan 2015 renews our government's promise to Canadians that we will continue to do everything we must to ensure Canada's future is secure and prosperous.

First, our government has fostered an environment in which businesses can grow and contribute to Canada's long-term prosperity.

To help small businesses grow and create jobs, the government has delivered substantial ongoing tax relief to small businesses and their owners. On September 11, 2014, the government announced further action to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity with the introduction of the small business job credit. This credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over 2015 and 2016. This measure builds on previous measures, such as lowering the small business tax rate to 11 % from 12% and continuing to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption.

Economic action plan 2015 goes even further than that, and introduces the largest tax cut for small business in 25 years. We will be lowering the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019. Almost 700,000 small businesses will benefit annually from this lower rate. It is estimated that this one measure will reduce taxes for small businesses and their owners by $2.7 billion over the 2015-16 to 2019-20 period.

To help illustrate for the hon. member how much small businesses are benefiting from the actions of this government, consider the example of a business with $500,000 of taxable income. As a result of the actions taken prior to this recent announcement to reduce the small business tax rate and increase the amount of income eligible for that rate, the amount of federal corporate income tax paid by this small business would be 34% lower in 2015 than in 2006.

When the proposed reduction in the small business tax rate takes full effect in 2019, the amount of federal corporate income tax paid by this small business would be 46% lower than in 2006. In other words, for this small business with $500,000 in taxable income, our government's measures provide an annual tax reduction of up to $38,600 that can be reinvested in that business to fuel its growth.

The second opposition concern I would like to address is helping Canadian manufacturers create new jobs. Canada has not been immune to external developments, with weak external demand growth weighing on Canadian exports. Fortunately, Canadian manufacturers have taken the necessary steps to secure long-term success, and our government is there to help them every step of the way.

Since its creation in 2008, we have allocated $1 billion to the automotive innovation fund to support major new research and development projects and long-term investments.

Building on that success, economic action plan 2015 will provide $100 million over five years, starting this year, for the creation of an automotive supplier innovation program to help Canadian automotive suppliers gain a competitive edge through new innovative products and processes. This program will help reduce the risks involved in bringing research and development projects to commercial viability by supporting product development and technology advancement on a cost-shared basis with participating firms.

At the same time, we must give manufacturers the tools they need to invest in the products and the jobs of the future. This is why our government introduced substantial support for this sector in economic action plan 2015 in the form of an accelerated capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment used in manufacturing and processing.

This new I0-year tax incentive will result in a deferral that is expected to reduce federal taxes for manufacturers by $1.1 billion for the period from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Providing this new incentive for a 10-year period gives businesses greater planning certainty for larger projects that take time to fully realize, including those with multiple phases.

Today and in the years to come, this low-tax environment will play a crucial role in supporting economic growth and enabling businesses to invest more of their revenues back into their operations.

With economic action plan 2015, our government has earned an international reputation for responsible economic and fiscal management. We are creating growth and lowering taxes, all the while following through on balancing the budget. We will secure lasting, long-term economic prosperity, prosperity with which even the opposition members cannot disagree.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:40 p.m.


Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome debate on true job creation in this country because there has been a lot of rhetoric from across the aisle for a long time, but I see every day in my riding of York South—Weston that job creation just is not happening.

The city of Toronto's unemployment rate currently sits around 9% and for youth it is around 15.4%. That is an enormous increase over what it has been and it is something that the government has not managed to do anything about. In fact, it has gotten worse over the period of time since the Conservatives were elected in 2006.

Let me provide an example of an individual who, until recently, was employed at the airport. He is a trained lawyer who came to Canada as a refugee and could not practise law here because he did not have the language and got himself trained as an accountant. He worked for a while as an accountant, but the manufacturing company he was working for went belly up. Then, just to do anything, he was a valet at the airport making $14.35 an hour, which he thought was enough. Guess what? The airport authority contracted out his job to another company, which fired all of the workers and hired people back at $11 an hour.

Those are the kinds of jobs that the government has managed to create over the past nine years that it has been in charge. In the words of a McMaster University study, nearly one-half of all the jobs in the GTA are precarious jobs. Those are jobs that are low wage, part time, temporary and contract. They do not have security and do not have the amount of money required to raise a family in this country.

Manufacturing jobs, the kinds of jobs that small and medium-sized enterprises might be able to create, have been disappearing at a rate that is perhaps even faster than the rate that the ethics have disappeared in the other place. Over 450,000 jobs have disappeared in the past few years and even the low dollar and low oil prices have not kick-started a resurgence. The government has managed to give away tax money to large enterprises that have not done the job of creating work.

The Bank of Canada suggests we are 270,000 jobs below full employment. That is not 100%; that is full employment. Those 270,000 jobs are a lot of jobs in this country that Canadians could use, as well as better quality jobs. A recent CIBC study suggests that we are now at an all-time low in the quality of employment in this country. Most, if not all, of the job creation has been in low-wage, precarious work.

Unemployment RatePrivate Members' Business

7:45 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I assure the hon. member for York South—Weston that he will have his remaining time of seven minutes for his remarks when the House next takes up consideration of the question before the House.

The time for consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Pursuant to order made on Monday, April 27, 2015, the House shall now resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider Motion No. 19 under Government Business.

I do now leave the chair to go into committee of the whole.

(House in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 19, Mr. Bruce Stanton in the chair)

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons


That this Committee take note of the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we begin this evening's debate, I would like to remind hon. members of how the proceedings will unfold.

Each member speaking will be allotted 10 minutes for debate, followed by 10 minutes for questions and comments. Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, members may divide their time with another member. The debate will end after four hours or when no member rises to speak.

Before we begin the debate, I will remind hon. members that as we are in committee of the whole, members have the choice of where they wish to sit in the chamber. They will be recognized, of course, from whatever seat they may choose. Due to the informality of such debates, it often assists in the tenor of the debate if members can sit closer to each other in the course of the debate, on either side of the House.

We will now begin tonight's take note debate accordingly.

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario


Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Chair, I remember very clearly being in Moscow on a parliamentary mission in the mid-1980s as Gorbachev's perestroika got under way. This process had the potential to set the people of Russia free, as they were trapped in a fundamentally defective, undemocratic system, and to finally allow them to express their industriousness and creativity in service of their values and interests. That is what the potential was back in the mid-1980s. Russia was facing serious challenges but looking for ways to meet them. There was reason for optimism in Moscow in those years.

What followed in the 1980s and 1990s was a turbulent period for Russia, one marked with great opportunity but also great risks, and sometimes great losses. Despite the difficulties, Russia made democratic strides and had the potential to leave those difficulties behind, as the growing pains of a real democracy, with a strong economy. How different things are today.

Putin has done his utmost to put the genie back in the bottle. He is restricting his people's freedom at home and offering them false promises of global greatness through actions that, in truth, undermine Russia's status both in the region and on the broader international stage. Putin has even refused to take the steps necessary for the Russian people to enjoy a long-term prosperity. Instead, he has rewarded his friends in the hope that high oil prices will allow them to bankroll his regime.

Today, the Russian people are paying the price for this cronyism and short-sightedness. The Russian economy is in no position to cope with the new economic realities, including the low price of oil. The Russian people are hurting.

In the meantime, the sanctions imposed by Canada and its partners in response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine are being felt. The Russian government itself has recognized this.

The Russian regime lives in the past. It is trying to preserve Russia's outdated political system and its unreformed economy. It has little to offer the Russian people and it is trying to hold the Ukrainian people back.

In addition to its military activities, the regime is waging a propaganda war, using everything from state-controlled media to Internet trolls to convince us that the Ukrainian government is fascist, that Russia has no troops in Ukraine, that the Crimea voted to join Russia, and other falsehoods.

Russia is hoping to use the democratic freedoms it curtails at home, and in particular its chokehold on the freedom of the press, to spread disinformation and weaken Ukraine's resolve to defend its core values. It sees anyone's attachment to these freedoms as a weakness. This tells us all we need to know about how poorly Putin understands democracy and the power of democracies.

Russia depends on propaganda, because it knows its actions are indefensible.

There is nothing left in the Putin government that represents the spirit of perestroika that I witnessed in Red Square all those years ago.

This is the second assault by the Putin regime on an independent country in barely over five years. We must not forget the attack on Georgia in 2008.

Russia's actions in Ukraine call for a robust and sustained response by Canada and its partners. It means supporting Ukrainian people to exercise their sovereignty. It means supporting European security in the face of the Kremlin's attempts to change borders by force. It means imposing costs on the Putin regime in the Kremlin for its actions.

Defending Ukraine in the face of Russia's aggression means defending pluralistic democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. It means building transparent and democratic institutions where bullies and thugs are held to account.

Lasting peace and prosperity in Ukraine is dependent on having the capacity, through democratic and transparent institutions, to balance values and interests.

It is a disciplined and determined approach that will be Canada’s best contribution to the people of Ukraine.

We know that $400 million in economic stabilization is important in terms of supporting the incredible list of civil societies. We know that the contribution of non-lethal military equipment and training is vital to pushing back the oppressors. We know that the support of our professional monitors and what they provide is essential.

For me, though, it is the investment that we provide in bilateral development to advance reform, democracy and the rule of law that is most important. Only with sound governance on much needed democratic reforms will Ukraine prevail from the strength of its ideals and it belief in independence and self-rule. Contrast this with Putin's cronyism and his determination to undermine the Ukrainian people's sovereignty over their own government. It is, in other words, precisely what Russia aims to prevent.

When it comes to supporting the people of Ukraine, Canada will not relent. Whether by sending hundreds of observers to support free and fair elections, by training judges to improve the independence and transparency of the judiciary, or by working directly with Ukrainian cities to enhance their ability to analyze their economies and to plan, Canada is helping to build up the Ukrainian state.

In recent days, we have spoken about moral clarity in this place. We have to allow the people of Ukraine to emerge from this crisis with the power, the will and the intellectual and moral impetus to shape their country in accordance with their own values.

The Ukrainian people will not be intimidated. Last year, they took to the streets to ensure that their country would stay on the European path, and paid for it in blood when the Yanukovych regime cracked down. However, they persisted and prevailed. Today, they face a similar challenge as the Putin regime attempts to intimidate them into submission. This tactic failed for Yanukovych and it will fail for Putin.

Canada and the international community stand with the people of Ukraine. Today and tomorrow, the Ukrainian people can count on us standing shoulder to shoulder with them as they work to secure their country's future as a secure, stable and prosperous democracy.

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, surely, we are all united in wanting to see a better future for Ukraine.

I would like to quote from the minister of finance for Ukraine, who said recently:

International support can only be effective if the Ukrainian government is also effective and diligent in its efforts to reform the country, fight corruption, improve transparency and accountability, improve the rule of law and create the conditions for the return of economic growth and prosperity.

The minister mentioned building democracy. He mentioned election observers. I have been one on four occasions. Could he be more specific about what kind of specific support is Canada offering Ukraine that would address the very real and serious concerns raised by the Ukrainian finance minister?

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Chair, strides have been made within the country, and we are very supportive of the presidency of President Poroshenko. One of the elements that he and the members of his government are committed to is the kind of reform that the hon. member mentioned in her comments.

Yes, Canada has provided considerable assistance. Just the fact that the member was an observer on four different occasions is part of the assistance that Canada has always contributed to this part of the world.

One of the things that we have done is provide $35 million in bilateral development assistance to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and to support civil society. We are working closely with individuals and NGOs in that part of the world to ensure that Ukraine stays on the right track.

However, they are the ones who are being oppressed. They are the ones who are being bullied. They are the ones who have been threatened, and we have to give every benefit of the doubt to them and ensure that they continue to have the support that they so richly deserve.

Ongoing Situation in UkraineGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for his comments this evening, for the motion that is before the House and for the opportunity to discuss this matter. It is not the first time. I remember when we gathered in December, I think two Christmases ago, to talk about what was going on in the Euromaidan. There has been some movement since that time, but there has also been a great deal of tragedy.

I would like to ask the minister about measures that Canada can take to be strong and forceful in this situation, apart from the training. That matter will be commented upon in detail by our foreign affairs critic. I think it is already a matter of public record that we support the government in this initiative. It is important to make those resources available.

I would like to ask the minister particularly about some economic measures that could be helpful in bringing a resolution to the situation. I know it is an extremely complicated matter. It is easier said than done, but I would like to know what discussion has been held among foreign affairs ministers or finance ministers within NATO or among others of our allies about the SWIFT financial system, which of course is the system that facilitates international banking. Russian commerce is facilitated by SWIFT. If Russia's participation in SWIFT were in some way interdicted, that would have a very powerful impact. I realize it is a complicated matter and as I said, it is easier said than done, but I would like to have the minister's reflections on the extent to which this measure has been discussed among foreign ministers or finance ministers within NATO or otherwise.