Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to speak to the second part of the government's budget implementation bill, Bill C-29. This second budget bill contains the technical legislative amendments that would make budget 2016 law.
I could get into great detail about these technical amendments. It is an area that has been of particular interest to me as a trained economist, someone who sat on the Canadian Accounting Standards Board's user advisory council for many years and someone who understands the importance of a strong banking system with relevant proper oversight.
Prior to being elected to Parliament, I had more than two decades of experience in the global financial markets, first in New York City working for J.P. Morgan for nearly a decade in corporate finance; then in Canada where I was employed by Dominion Bond Rating Service with the responsibility of coverage of the global auto sector; and then as a corporate debt analyst for Scotiabank, with coverage of over 100 companies and where the market value of the Canadian corporate debt market stands today at $418 billion.
I can speak to specific technical elements of the bill that deal with changes of the Income Tax Act, which exclude derivatives from the application of inventory evaluation rules or ensures that the return on linked notes retains the same character, whether it is earned at maturity or reflected in a secondary market sale. I can also talk at great length about the amendments to the Bank Act to consolidate and streamline provisions that apply to a bank or to an authorized foreign bank in relation to the protection of customers in the public. However, as much as these concerns are of great interest to me and as important as they are, I know I would put many people here potentially to sleep.
While the items contained in the legislation may not be the most exciting things, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting the fundamental economic variables correct. This means ensuring that all the technical elements are there and that all the regulations and legislation are in place to help move the Canadian economy and the country forward. I am very proud of our government's commitment to Canada's economic and fiscal strength, to tax fairness, and a strong financial sector. Perhaps most of all, I am proud of our commitment to helping the middle class and those working hard to join it.
I know that a strong economy starts with a strong middle class. While Canadians have more money to save, invest, and grow the economy, everyone benefits. Strengthening the middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for their kids.
However, for too long, many Canadians have been working harder than ever without getting further ahead. I am proud that our government has recognized this and is taking concrete steps to address this. Certainly the measures contained in budget 2016 were designed to set the stage for future growth.
There is a growing consensus, both in Canada and around the globe, that governments need to invest, not only to boost short-term economic growth but to set the stage for long-term growth as well. We know that when we have historically low interest rates and when the debt to GDP ratio is the lowest of any G7 country, we have the fiscal capacity and it is the perfect time to invest in infrastructure.
When talking about infrastructure, I am not talking simply about roads and bridges, which are very important. I am also talking about our social, health, and education infrastructure. Investing in infrastructure will boost Canada's productivity, strengthening our economic foundation, and put us on a higher growth path trajectory. As commented recently by Bank of Canada governor, Stephen Poloz:
In the case of a targeted investment by government which is identified in such a way that it will be growth enabling, it's very likely to pay off very well...That is, it creates more economic growth for all those that use that infrastructure and that, of course, creates tax revenues and the system keeps turning.
Those are not my words. Those are the Bank of Canada governor's words.
In my constituency of Vaughan—Woodbridge, which incidentally the city of Vaughan is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, we have experienced unprecedented levels of growth. Vaughan is the largest employment centre in York region, accounting for 38% of jobs. With over 10,000 businesses employing more than 194,000 people, the city of Vaughan is ranked the second best place in Ontario to do business and among the top 25-best places to live in Canada. While our community has grown, much of the federal infrastructure has not kept pace.
Since our government took over, we have seen real substantial investment in Canada's physical, green, and social infrastructure. We have doubled funding for Canada student jobs, increased funding for new horizons seniors' grants, and boosted FedDev assistance to several businesses in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, including Cutler Forest Products. Just a few weeks ago, in my riding at the Kortright Centre, I, along with my colleague from Hamilton, announced a $4.3 million dollar FedDev grant to Mohawk College for the development of new green energy solutions, a very real and tangible example of our government's commitment to clean innovative technology.
We have a lot of young families in my constituency, which is one of the many realities that attracted my wife and I to Vaughan. We are fortunate to have two wonderful daughters and both successful careers. However, like most parents, I want to ensure that my children have brighter prospects and are afforded even greater opportunities for success than I have had.
I am proud to be part of a government that believes we must do for our kids and grandkids what our parents and grandparents did for us to give us the promise of a better future. Toward that end, budget 2016 has invested in Canadian families through the transformational program like the new Canada child benefit that provides help to those families that need it the most with the high cost of raising children.
The child benefit system we inherited from the previous Conservative government was complicated, consisting of a taxable income-tested Canada child tax benefit with two components: the base benefits and the national child benefit supplement. It was a taxable universal child care benefit received by all families, regardless of income, even millionaires. It was system that was both inadequate in that it did not provide families with the support they needed as well as insufficiently targeted for those who needed it the most.
Under the Conservative government, for example, families with very high incomes were still receiving benefit. That is not a Canadian value. Our government's new CCB is simpler. Families will receive a single payment every month. It is tax free, so families will not have to pay back part of that amount received when they file their tax returns.
As well, the new CCB is better targeted to those who need it the most, specifically low and middle-income Canadian families. In addition, it is a far more generous program than the one it replaces. Nine out of ten Canadians will receive higher monthly benefits, and it is estimated that the new Canada child benefit will lift approximately 300,000 children out of poverty. Further, as contained in Bill C-29, in 2020, the Canada child benefit will be indexed to keep pace with rising costs.
Let me emphasize this point on how transformational Canada child benefit is in reducing income inequality. It is estimated that the CCB will allow for a reduction in the poverty rate for children in Canada from approximately 11.2% to 6.7%, or the Canada child benefit will lift approximately 40% of those children who currently find themselves living in the very tragic situation of poverty.
I was very fortunate to go to university, something that was not a possibility for my parents who immigrated to Canada through Pier 21 from Italy in the 1950s. My parents are ingenuous and hard-working people who benefited from having union jobs with decent pay and benefits. My parents helped as much as they could. Personally, I worked summers to pay for university at a pulp mill, a grain elevator and a fish cannery, and after school, including part-time jobs at McDonald's and Zellers, to help save and ultimately pay my way through two university degrees.
The costs for post-secondary education were significantly less than they are today. Now more than ever, in this highly-skilled global economy, it is of paramount importance that post-secondary education remains affordable and accessible to Canadians. To compete in today's knowledge economy requires an educated and highly-skilled workforce and more years of training. The cost of education, particularly professional training, has been increasing exponentially and a greater financial worry has been placed on the shoulders of students and their families.
We, as legislators, need to work to ensure that young Canadians have access to meaningful work at the beginning of their careers, which means paying for more education and training so as not to be burdened by an enormous debt load. That is why our government has put measures in budget 2016 that make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low and middle-income families, and provides provisions that make it easier for students to repay student loans once they enter the workforce. Budget 2016 also includes measures to help young Canadians gain experience, earn extra income and find good jobs after graduation.
This government knows that the road map to a better future lies in recognizing the needs of all Canadians, to our children, families, workers and our most vulnerable populations, including our seniors.
Our seniors built our country. I believe very strongly that we have a responsibility to assist those in their golden years live with dignity and a secure retirement, and treat them as valued members of our national community. It is another reason I am proud of our government's initiatives in budget 2016. By rolling back the retirement age from 67 to 65, which placed $13,000 into the hands of new retirees over that two-year period, increasing benefits to the guaranteed income supplement by nearly $1 billion, which will help nearly one million seniors, including three-quarters of whom are women, improving in the GIS for single seniors, and making significant new investments to support seniors, budget 2016 is helping to ensure our seniors have a dignified, comfortable, and secure retirement.
Bill C-29 proposes to amend the Old Age Security Act to provide that in the case of of low-income couples that have to live apart for reasons not attributable to either of them, such as illness, and, for example, one spouse being in a nursing home and the other staying at their primary residence, the amount of the allowance is to be based on the income of the allowance recipient only. This proposed amendment ensures seniors are not unfairly penalized due to a situation they have no control over.
Making our most vulnerable populations a priority shows this government's vision in working toward a smart, ethically responsible, and fair society.
However, fair-mindedness has always guided our government. As a matter of fairness, our government is looking to crack down on tax evasion and underground economic activity, aiming to close corporate loopholes which threaten hard-working Canadians. I am proud to say that budget 2016 has invested approximately $444 million over five years for the CRA to enhance its efforts to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance.
In fact, I am proud to state that I introduced the motion to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, calling for an investigation into offshore tax havens. I am very pleased with timely and decisive actions taken by our government to present tax evasions and aggressive tax avoidance, both at home and abroad.
The Government of Canada will continue to address unintended tax advantages, including limiting the ability of wealthy individuals to use private corporations to inappropriately reduce or defer tax.
Bill C-29 would amend the anti-avoidance rules in the Income Tax Act that prevents a multiplication of access to the small business deduction and the avoidance of the business limit and the taxable capital limit. In addition, through Bill C-29, to improve transparency and adhere to international standards, we will implement the country-by-country reporting standards, as recommended by the OECD, for corporations with operations in various geographies. In addition, we will introduce rules to prevent the avoidance of withholding tax or rents, royalties, and similar payments, using back-to-back arrangements.
There is still work to be done, but our initial efforts have improved the fairness and integrity of Canada's tax system, as well will contribute to fiscal sustainability.
We continue to work in the best interests of all Canadians to ensure they have confidence in our tax system, that no one unfairly subsidizes our tax system.
Having worked on Wall Street and in the Canadian banking sector, I can say first-hand that Canada has world-renowned and one of the most stable financial banking sectors. We were one of the only nations whose banks were left intact and came out unscathed from the 2008 global financial crisis.
However, our financial sector did not become world-renowned by accident, and it will not stay that way without continued maintenance and oversight by Canada's regulatory institutions, primarily, through the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
I had a first-hand view of the global financial crisis. The regulations that govern our financial institutions, including strong lending practices and solid levels of tier 1 capital held by the banks, along with the role of CMHC and OSFI, allowed Canada to exit the global financial crisis in a stellar manner. Part 4 of Bill C-29 would strengthen the framework regulating financial institutions, while balancing the need for stability and competition with the needs of consumers and businesses.
Our government makes it clear that the shareholders and creditors of Canada's largest banks are responsible for their bank's risk, not taxpayers, not depositors. Canadians will not be stuck with the tab in the event of an economic shock. The changes proposed in the Bank Act reflect enhancements in the areas of corporate governance, access to basic banking services, disclosure of information, business practices, and public reporting.
The same section would amend the Financial Administration Act, the Bank of Canada Act, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act to clarify certain powers of the Minister of Finance in relation to sound and efficient management of federal funds in the operational crown corporations.
It would amend the Financial Administration Act to allow the minister to lend, by way of auction, excess funds out of the consolidated revenue fund and, with the authorization of the Governor in Council, may enter into contracts and agreements of a financial nature for the purposes of managing risks relating to the financial position of the Government of Canada.
Also contained in part 4 are amendments to the Bank of Canada Act that would allow the Minister of Finance to delegate to the bank the management of the lending of money to agent corporations. Again, Bill C-29, the second part of the budget implementation bill, puts in place measures that would safeguard and strengthen Canada's world renowned financial institutions. The Government of Canada will balance the need for stability and competition with the needs of consumers and businesses.
Budget 2016 would not only strengthen the financial institutions, it would strengthen our social institutions and our country's social safety net. Canada's employment insurance program provides economic security to Canadians when they need it most. That is why Bill C-29 contains several changes to the current employment insurance system. These changes to the eligibility rules would make it easier for new workers and those re-entering the workforce to claim benefits.
In addition to the changes in eligibility rules, the waiting period to receive unemployment insurance would also be reduced from two weeks to one week. These measures would provide unemployed workers with hundreds of dollars more, when they need it most.
I am proud of our government's efforts to extend employment insurance benefits in regions that have been severely impacted by the collapse in the price of oil and other commodities. In budget 2016, we promised those impacted by the cyclical downturn in commodity prices assistance. We will deliver with approximately $2.5 billion investment in employment insurance over the next two fiscal years.
Make no mistake, we all want Canadians working. We all want Canadians earning a good living, with decent wages and good benefits, but in those times when Canadians are laid off, the Government of Canada will be standing there with them to make sure that they are able to stand on their own two feet and get back to work as soon as possible.
Division 6 of part 4 of the act, which amends the Royal Canadian Mint Act, would remove the requirement that the directors of the mint have experience in respect of metal fabrication or production, industrial relations, or a related field. This amendment to the Royal Canadian Mint Act would allow the government to draw on a greater pool of candidates with diverse experiences.
As I wind down my comments I would like to say a few words about a very important group of our society, our veterans. In November, we wear poppies as a symbol to remember the sacrifices made by Canadian veterans. The Government of Canada has a social covenant with all veterans and their families, a sacred obligation we must meet with respect and gratitude. In the past, all too often that covenant has unfortunately been breached.
Canada's veterans have dedicated their lives to the defence of this nation and they deserve our unwavering support. Bill C-29 would give back to veterans who have given so much in the service to all Canadians, by restoring critical access to services and ensuring the long-term financial security that disabled veterans so deserve. Provisions in this bill would mean that Canada's veterans would receive more local, in-person government services, as well as better access to case managers.
In closing, I would like to say how privileged I am, and what an honour it is to represent and serve the residents of the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, and how happy I am to have been able to speak on second reading on Bill C-29, the budget implementation act.