House of Commons Hansard #216 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, let me remind the minister. The last time a government had such weak growth during its time in power was under R.B. Bennett, during the Great Depression.

Has the government and his department analyzed what portion of this depressed growth is due to the Conservative government's $14 billion in spending cuts?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:30 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, it is important for people to understand, as I would have thought the member opposite would, that we came through the greatest single recession since the Great Depression, a global recession which devastated economies all around the world, cost tens of millions of jobs and over a trillion dollars in economic activity. Canada was not immune.

However, it is rich for the NDP to be criticizing our government's record in the economy and job creation. It voted against every job creation measure our government put forward, including introducing the small business job credit, introducing the largest and the longest history of job-creating infrastructure in Canada, tax cuts for manufacturers to support new equipment—

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:30 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Chair, I rise on a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt the minister, but, as you know, and as the rules are set out for the committee of the whole, there is some approximation of the length of the question to the length of the answer given. Just in the very short time we have had with the minister this evening, he has taken a minimum of twice, but usually three times, as long to answer very pointed and specific questions from the opposition.

We are here for a long time this evening. In order for us to get the answers that this forum allows us, we have asked very pointed and very specific questions of the minister. For him to make speeches that go two, three and more times as long, and many of them not containing of the data and the actual answers we are looking for, actually undermines this entire process.

I know it is through your guidance, Mr. Chair, and it is guidance, but we would remind the minister that the last series of questions were around 20 seconds long and the last series of his answers were close to a minute in response. That cannot work out in terms of the process we are trying to achieve here tonight. I know through your able guidance, we will be able to actually get some answers from the minister.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Assistant Deputy Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. It is true that the responses should, as close as possible, equate in time to the time taken to pose the question in the first place.

We are also cognizant in this particular format that if the question compels an answer that would require some explanation then, clearly, the minister should be permitted some time to explain the parameters of the question. In many cases, it depends upon the nature of the question as well.

However, as much as possible, I do monitor the amount of time of each, both in the number of seconds taken by the questioner and the response, and we will do our best to ensure we stay within those bounds. I will signal the minister, in particular, or the person responding for the government, to give some indication as to when we are crossing that threshold.

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We were discussing the depressed growth in the country under the Conservative government and I had asked the minister to what degree his $14 billion in spending cuts contributed to this depressed growth.

I want to just remind the minister that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that his spending cuts have actually eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. Therefore, they certainly have contributed.

I have another question about employment. Employment growth over the last year was 0.8%. That does not even keep up with population growth. Does the minister think that less than 1% employment growth is acceptable?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, I am reminded of what Woody Allen said apropos the previous comment about having taken the Evelyn Wood course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. He said, “It's about Russia.”

I think we sometimes need a little time to answer questions. In respect to the last question, 1.2 million net new jobs have been created, 20% more, compared to closest competitor, since our government came into office. Our business performance has been the strongest in the G7 over the recovery.

According to the International Labour Organization's global wage report, Canada has the best gains in the G7 since 2006.

The Centre for American Progress says that Canada has experienced continuing middle-income growth, while for many countries it has halted.

We are doing very well compared to other countries, and we are very proud of our economic record.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, could the minister tell us how many manufacturing jobs have disappeared under his government's watch?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, Canada's manufacturing sector is a cornerstone of the economy, accounting for more than 10% of GDP and empowering 1.7 million Canadians. Its performance is central to the overall health of the economy.

Building on the government's strong record of support for manufacturers, our budget announced a number of important actions to help manufacturers succeed in the global economy and to continue to create jobs, including maintaining—

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Assistant Deputy Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, could the minister tell us how many manufacturing jobs have disappeared under the government's watch?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, we have a net. We are also expanding access to foreign markets by providing $50 million over 5 years for a program to share the costs with small and medium enterprises as they explore new export opportunities.

Also in the budget is $42 million over 5 years to expand the footprint and resources of Trade Commissioner Service.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, perhaps the minister missed my question. Does he know how many manufacturing jobs have disappeared under his government's watch?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, as I have said, we have created 1.2 million net new jobs. Unlike some other parties, we are taking action to help the manufacturing sector. The accelerated capital cost allowance extension is just one of the important measures we are providing.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, perhaps I can help the minister. Under his government's watch, our country has lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs.

Could the minister remind us of something a little more recent. How many jobs in total were lost just last month?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, as I have said, we have created 1.2 million net new jobs. Individual months vary, as the member opposite knows. They seem to be there when the numbers abate; when the numbers increase dramatically, they are silent.

What we are looking at is the overall long-term trend. We are doing better, by 20%, than G7 countries.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, with respect, I would think a G7 finance minister would know how many jobs were lost last month in his country.

Could the minister tell us how many jobs were lost in Canada last month?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, as I have said, there is a variability from month to month and we are looking at the longer term trend. I have not boasted when numbers went very high in one month. I have had a cautious approach to that, and the job creation record continues apace. We are doing better than most other countries in the world.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, perhaps I can offer that 20,000 jobs were lost last month.

However, I would also like to ask a question about job quality because the CIBC has put out a report on job quality. Could the minister tell us when was the last time that CIBC's job quality index was as low as it is currently?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, the economy has posted one of the strongest job creation records over the G7. The CIBC released a report, but we are talking about the longer term record.

The report fails to consider that there have been significant structural changes to the Canadian labour market, in particular the aging of the baby boom generation, the rising number of people age 55 and over and then again returning to the labour market. As well, there were demographic shifts in terms of full-time and part-time workers.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2015 / 7:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Chair, perhaps I can just help the minister here. The job quality index from the CIBC has actually never been as low as it is now. This is the lowest on record.

However, given that the minister is a Toronto member of Parliament, would he like to comment on the loss of 98,000 manufacturing jobs under his government? Does he believe that the loss of 98,000 manufacturing jobs in the city of Toronto is acceptable?

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, of course we are concerned if a company downsizes and people are temporarily laid off. This is a concern and that is why we have a number of programs to help these workers. However, the GTA is doing well. It is a very diversified economy. It is an economy that is an engine of growth in our country.

Our budget builds on broad-based and targeted measures since 2006 that support manufacturers, including reducing the general corporate income tax rate to 15% as of 2012, from over 22% in 2007, increasing the capital cost allowance the manufacturing process included to 10% from 4% and eliminating more than 1,800 tariffs on imported machinery and equipment and manufacturing inputs, providing $450 million of annual tariff savings and making Canada the first tariff—

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Assistant Deputy Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate, the hon. Minister of Finance.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Conservative

Joe Oliver ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Chair, it is a pleasure to talk about economic action plan 2015, our government's latest action to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Though implemented in this year's budget, it is the culmination of many years' work. It is a plan laid out in the worst days of the great recession. In those dark days, we spent billions to create jobs when Canadians needed them most.

At the same time, we made a solemn promise: once the crisis was over, we would take the necessary measures to return to a balanced budget. Economic action plan 2015 is the conclusion of that great work.

However, for such a plan to work, a plan involving billions of dollars over many years, a key ingredient is needed: resolve. When I think of resolve, I recall John Diefenbaker, a great Conservative and a great prime minister. Few men could match his resolve and his devotion to the public. He devoted time to reading letters from ordinary Canadians and writing to them in turn. To those he disagreed with, he was polite. To those who were morally indignant, he often sent the same short reply:

Dear Sir:

This is to inform you that some crackpot is using your name and has recently written to me over your signature putting forward views so eccentric in nature and so much at variance with your usual logical style that the letter could not possibly come from you. I felt that I owed it to you to bring this to your attention.

I do not write letters quite like Diefenbaker, but I respect a leader with the courage of conviction. Canada has a leader with that courage, our great Prime Minister. His resolve has been ironclad.

That was a necessity because when we promised to balance the budget, there were many naysayers. “They cannot do it”, the naysayers said, and “Even if they can, they should not”. However, we did it. Upon the extraordinary foundation of the Canadian advantage, we have built one more advantage, a balanced budget.

That Canadian advantage flows from the success of Canada's economic action plan, and the evidence of that success is abundant. Canada has demonstrated one of the best economic performances among G7 countries over the recovery. Over 1.2 million more Canadians are working now than at the end of the recession. The majority of these jobs have been full-time, high-wage, and in the private sector. Canada has posted one of the strongest job performances in the G7. The IMF and OECD expect Canada's growth, already ahead of its peers over the recovery, to continue to be solid. We have absolutely the top credit rating from all of the major credit rating agencies.

Today, the overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in more than 50 years. Bloomberg now ranks Canada as one of the top countries in the world in which to do business, and Canada's total government net debt to GDP ratio is less than half that of the average for the G7. Yes, that is right: half.

These advantages have made Canada an attractive commercial partner and investment destination. Canada is a great trading nation. Jobs and prosperity here are tied to jobs and prosperity in the world economy, yet the world economy today is gloomy. Growth in the eurozone is paltry in some places, stagnant in others. The once roaring growth in China has slowed. The United States is thankfully an exception, but one country, however powerful, cannot carry the weight of the world economy by itself.

Of course, there are geopolitical dangers and the ongoing repercussions with sharp decline in oil prices. The hard truth is that risks and challenges remain. We cannot abandon the resolve that saw us through the great recession, the same resolve that built a balanced budget.

We must resolve to continue taking measures to promote job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. That is exactly what our most recent budget does.

We are cutting taxes relentlessly for job creators, supporting innovation, expanding Canada's free trade presence across the globe, and making unprecedented investments in infrastructure. In economic action plan 2015, we will cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019. This is the largest tax rate cut that small businesses have received in over 25 years. We will provide an accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers and create a new automotive supplier innovation program: $100 million over five years. It would support job-creating research commercialization and build a thriving auto sector for Canadian. That way, for generations to come, the words “made in Canada” will continue to fuel pride.

This is not the only budget measure dedicated to innovation.

Economic action plan 2015 provides for an additional amount of more than 1.5 billion over five years to advance the objectives of the government's science, technology, and innovation strategy.

That means more funding for research in universities and colleges through federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and nearly $120 million over two years for the National Research Council to support research and development partnerships with the industry.

If they work together, we know that the public and private sectors can build a more innovative economy for everyone.

This is creating the jobs of tomorrow, but to create the jobs of today, we know what works. That is building the vital infrastructure that our economy relies on. Infrastructure gets us to work every morning and gets us home at night. Every minute that we spend locked in traffic is a minute that we cannot spend with our families. It also means billions of dollars lost in our economy.

That is why, since 2007, this Conservative government has made the largest and longest federal infrastructure commitments in Canada's history, and we are doing even more. We will invest in a new public transit fund, which would grow to $1 billion a year. Constructing the next generation of transit, it would cut congestion and build our economy. This new fund would help us get people and goods moving across our cities, to our borders, and on to world markets. Because of our Prime Minister, there will be more open markets awaiting them.

Free trade is the heart of our prosperity. Ours is one of the most open and globally engaged economies on earth, and that is a good thing. It creates jobs and growth right here at home. That is why, since 2006, we have concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries, and we are making significant progress toward concluding the trans-Pacific partnership agreement with 11 other Asia-Pacific nations. It is a market of nearly 800 million consumers, with a GDP of over $27 trillion.

These measures create good-paying jobs. Our government is proud of these measures, which will help build a better Canada.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:50 p.m.

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Chair, through you, I would like to ask the Minister of Finance what economic action plan 2015 is doing to help hard-working Canadian families make ends meet.

Finance—Main Estimates 2015-16Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Oliver Conservative Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Chair, I thank the member for North Vancouver, my dedicated parliamentary secretary, for his invaluable assistance in developing the budget and for that pertinent question.

I have talked about the importance of taking relentless action to create jobs, but we can never forget whose jobs they are. They are our friends', our neighbours', and our family members' jobs. Families are the very bedrock of our nation.

Helping starts with philosophy. Canadians deserve to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, so we have done everything in our power to keep more in their pockets, right where it belongs. This year, Canadian families and individuals will receive $37 billion in tax relief and increased benefits as a result of actions taken since 2006. For example, a typical two-earner family of four will receive tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 this year. That is thanks to measures like the new family tax cut, the universal child care benefit, and cutting the GST.

In economic action plan 2015, we will nearly double the annual contribution to tax-free savings accounts, from $5,500 to $10,000. Individuals with annual incomes of less than $80,000 accounted for more than 80% of all TFSA holders in 2013. Some 60% of those who maxed out their TFSA plans had incomes of less than $60,000. TFSAs benefit the low and middle-income Canadians who need them most.

The budget will also introduce a new, permanent, non-refundable home accessibility tax credit. It will provide up to $1,500 in tax relief per year to help make homes safer and more accessible for seniors and the disabled so that they can safely stay longer in their own homes.

All of these measures, investments, tax cuts, and these strong actions to build jobs and growth are all made possible by a balanced budget. A fiscally balanced budgets permits a socially balanced budget.

Everything is possible with a balanced budget. A financially balanced budget leads to a socially balanced budget. Fiscal responsibility gives us more ways to take action and to lower taxes for hardworking families.

To protect our top credit rating, to grow social programs, to withstand the unexpected and unavoidable shocks to the system, to avoid saddling our children with our debt, empowers us as we work to create jobs.

Let me end as I began, with resolve. Under the strong leadership of our Prime Minister, our resolve is ironclad. We will continue to take relentless action to make this great country even greater, to build prosperity today and tomorrow, the kind of prosperity that our children and grandchildren can rely on.

Economic action plan 2015 is our road map forward. Through it, we will continue down our Conservative course, the road that is working well for all Canadians. I look forward to talking more about that road map tonight.