Madam Speaker, I want to briefly put on the record my strong support for the bill. I think it is an excellent bill and I appreciate the work of the member for Cambridge in bringing it forward.
At the same time, I understand that some members of the government oppose it, so I expect we will have an interesting vote next week. I would encourage all members to take the time to read the details of the bill and appreciate its importance.
Briefly in my comments I want to say that there are some who question and dispute the value of what they call “boutique” tax credits, or specific tax credits aimed at specific things. I think that is really the heart of the debate. I do not think any member here is opposed to first aid or opposed to encouraging more first aid, but it is this question of whether we should have specific tax credits to help encourage people in a positive direction.
I would defend the value of certain specific tax credits that provide an effective incentive to encourage people to take advantage of opportunities that they might not otherwise and to make it easier for people to afford things that we regard as socially positive. I think there is good economic as well as social logic to these kinds of things.
From an economic perspective, economists identify something called “positive externalities”. In other words, if in an economic interaction there is a positive social effect, then it is in society's interest to create additional incentives to encourage people to make those kinds of interactions. Then there is a corresponding analysis for negative externalities, where if there is an economic interaction between two parties that has a negative effect on a third party, it is in society's interest to try to discourage it.
Therefore, when we have something like people taking first aid training, which generates positive external social benefits beyond the individual receiving the training and the individual providing the training, then there is a social interest in providing that additional incentive, and that is what the bill would do. It would provide that extra economic incentive in that direction in terms of a positive externality.
This tax credit would also make the thing for which the tax credit exists, in this case first aid, more accessible to individuals who might not be able to access it. Therefore, that is obviously a positive.
I want to say as well that when it comes to the question of tax cuts and how we cut taxes, we should not just be looking for a smaller government but we should be looking for a stronger society as well. The bill would achieve both of those objectives. It would provide a tax reduction and would give money back to ordinary Canadians, but in the process, it would create a stronger society, a society with people with the capacity to help each other within their own communities.
This is what we should be looking for. It is not more government, not simply less government for its own sake, but a reduced role for government and a corresponding strengthening of society. That is why I like these kinds of tax credits, because they provide that additional incentive for people to build up and be active within their communities at the same time as they provide a tax reduction.