House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.


Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

moved that Bill C-245, An Act concerning the development of a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, none of my Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot constituents were surprised when I introduced Bill C-245 concerning a national poverty reduction strategy. I have worked for community organizations in various capacities and been involved in groups, associations, and cooperatives, so they know that I have always been driven by a desire to reduce poverty in our community.

In choosing to introduce this bill, I have chosen to build on the work of Ed Broadbent. In 1989, he got the House to unanimously approve a motion to eliminate child poverty. I am also building on the work of Tony Martin, a member who was dedicated to laying the groundwork for this bill and working out how best to develop such a strategy. He held consultations and met with anti-poverty groups across Canada. Jean Crowder and several of my other colleagues in the House also took up the torch and fought for this kind of bill.

I would also like to thank all the organizations and individuals across this country who have expressed their support for my bill since I introduced it at first reading on February 26, 2016. I am very proud to have the support of several Canadian anti-poverty organizations.

Federal leadership is needed to reduce poverty. Canada has signed international human rights treaties that require us to make very clear commitments to guarantee each and every Canadian citizen the right to a decent standard of living. Poverty reduction is a non-partisan issue. Every member in the House represents a riding in which poverty is a reality. We all witness this when we return to our ridings. Every time I travel around my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I see poverty on the faces of all kinds of people, including children, families, people who live alone, and seniors. When I meet with anti-poverty organizations in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, I see how hard they are working on the ground to distribute food and clothing to help all those families.

It costs more to do nothing about poverty than it does to address it. We can do something to reduce poverty. Poverty greatly hinders both individual and community development. Grocery store and retail store owners in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot tell me that they are also concerned about the growing gap between the rich and the poor. When wealth is concentrated in the hands of one group, the purchasing power of regular Canadians keeps diminishing. That is what store owners in my riding are talking to me about. They tell me that they are still struggling to recover from the 2008 economic crisis because too many people continue to get poorer.

Another growing problem these days is that some people are working 40 hours a week and are still poor. Youth employment is increasingly precarious. A third of all young people have part-time employment. The use of food banks is the ultimate proof. Representatives from the Moisson Maskoutaine food bank in my riding tell me that they are seeing a growing number of workers using food banks such as Accueil Fraternel, in Saint-Hyacinthe, or the soup kitchen in Acton Vale. More and more workers need food aid. We also see many immigrants using food aid.

In some Canadian communities the cost of living, including rent and food, is high. We have to put in place a strong social and economic safety net because poverty affects everyone. We should all be concerned by the fact that, in a country as rich as ours, inequality is growing and worrisome.

In this bill I am presenting a very comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. As I mentioned, over the past decade there have been many consultations that have led to the plan put forward by this bill. This bill focuses on our obligation to produce results, not the means. All members of the House should therefore focus on the poverty reduction goal we want to achieve. Voting for this bill at second reading stage will ensure it is referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

The committee has undertaken a study on poverty that will wrap up next June. By adopting this bill at second reading, the ideas it contains can be discussed at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. I will be a member of the committee studying poverty until June, since I am replacing my colleague from Churchill—Keewatinook Aski who usually sits on the committee. Some witnesses have already appeared and presented other tools that are consistent with the objective of this bill. Let us at least give ourselves the opportunity to use the ideas in the bill as the basis for the discussions that will take place at the committee and compare them to other ideas that will be presented so that we can make the best possible recommendations when we table our report.

As I said earlier, in 1989, the House unanimously adopted a motion to eliminate child poverty. In 2009, the House of Commons reaffirmed its desire to reduce poverty. We are now at the point where we need more than empty words. We need to establish a real strategy. Establishing a strategy means setting goals: where do we want to be in five or 10 years when it comes to reducing poverty? We also need mechanisms to measure poverty. Right now, in Canada, we still have not agreed on an official definition of poverty. We still have not established how to measure poverty. If we want to be able to see how well a program to eliminate poverty is working from year to year, we have to have mechanisms to measure progress and determine whether poverty has been reduced or not.

That is what my bill proposes. Let us develop mechanisms for measuring poverty so that, year after year, we can take steps toward reducing it. My bill would also add social condition to the Canadian Human Rights Act. We know that poverty is a ground for discrimination, but right now it is not in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

We need mechanisms and indicators, but the most important point that this bill makes is that we, the federal government, need to show leadership in order to reduce poverty, but we cannot do it alone. We need to work with community organizations.

In my riding, like in those of my colleagues, day after day, community organizations work to reduce poverty by giving people food and clothing and helping families in need. In Saint-Hyacinthe, we even have the Fonds d’aide Optimiste, which helps children participate in sports so that poor children can take part in these activities, just like their friends do.

Community organizations in our ridings are doing what needs to be done. They are also working to tackle poverty at its roots because we have to focus not just on the consequences, though that is part of it, but also on the causes. We have to work with these community organizations and truly partner with them.

Municipalities have to be partners in our poverty reduction strategy too. We know they are responsible for providing social housing. In Saint-Hyacinthe, there are 200 households on the waiting list for social housing. I am sure that MPs who meet with these organizations in their ridings will hear about households waiting for social housing. Food banks and soup kitchens cannot meet the demand. Municipalities are putting strategies in place to ensure their services and activities are available to everyone.

We have to partner with the provinces too. Many provinces, including Quebec, already have poverty elimination strategies. Other provinces tell us that Quebec's strategy is a model. Provinces that do not have strategies are thinking of adopting them, and all provinces are urging the federal government to develop its own poverty reduction strategy so we can coordinate our efforts and work better together. That is what it will take to reduce poverty.

Education is a big part of the conversation about poverty, so the provinces are involved at that level too. No child should come to school with an empty stomach. Children's academic performance should not suffer because they move too often or are worried about a parent having lost a job. Such children are less likely than others to graduate or go on to university. Those are some of the effects of poverty, and we have to work with the provinces to tackle the causes of poverty.

Children raised in poverty require more support, and there are costs associated with that. I talked about this earlier. It will be more expensive in the long run to not address poverty and let it persist. Poverty also means more health care costs, as many studies have shown. People living in poverty are ill more often and have a hard time paying for their medication.

Although I represent Quebec's agri-food capital, we still have food deserts, that is, areas where people have little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables within walking distance. Unfortunately, some people have to get some of their groceries at Dollarama, and that is unacceptable. Everyone knows how important nutrition is to health, so we need to take action on this.

There are too many statistics right now that should frighten us. Having one in seven people living in poverty in Canada is unacceptable. We have a duty to act. The poverty rate is higher in Canada than in the other OECD countries.

When talking about poverty rates, we need to see the face of poverty. For instance, 15% of the children in my riding live in poverty, and among indigenous people, it is one out of every two children. In addition, 6% of seniors in Canada live in poverty, and 63% of low-income, single seniors are women. The median income for seniors in Quebec is $20,200 for those aged 65 to 74, and for those 75 or over it is less than $20,000. There are real people behind the statistics. Lastly, the median income for indigenous people is even less. As for immigrants, they are twice as likely to find themselves living in poverty.

In closing, we must pass this bill at second reading so it can be studied by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

We have to think of the faces of poverty in our ridings.

I will close with a quote by Nelson Mandela:

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

Together we can make a difference.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member. She talks a great deal on the issue of poverty and income inequality.

When we look at the past year, particularly at the last budget that was presented, we saw probably the most profound and significant movement toward more equality in income. We saw that in the increase in taxes for Canada's wealthiest. We saw a substantial decrease for Canada's middle class. We saw a huge increase in the Canada child benefit, a redistribution of wealth that I would argue has not been seen for many years.

Could the member provide comment on the last federal budget and its contribution to the redistribution of wealth? Can she think of another budget that has done as much for Canada's poor?

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, what this bill is saying is that it is nice to include poverty reduction measures in the budget, but the problem is that we cannot measure poverty.

Researchers who appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities told us that they did not have any data.

According to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the new Canada child benefit will reduce poverty. However, there is currently no data available to verify and validate that.

My bill will give us the mechanisms to help us back up our claims that we are reducing poverty.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's words. I think we all in this House want to tackle poverty.

The member mentioned a few things in her speech about the problem around poverty, but the system we have is that the government needs to do more. More government to solve the problem that government cannot do confuses me.

If the hon. member wants to eradicate poverty, maybe the NDP should not adopt policies that put people out of work, take more off their paycheques, and put businesses out of business. We all know that small businesses hire people. What happens when they leave? Business close up and we have blight. Blight moves in.

Instead of more taxes, more government regulation, maybe we should see less of that. I would like to hear her comments.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

I am sure that all hon. members would like to see full employment in the medium and long terms.

I have worked with troubled teenagers who wanted to change their situation. We all want everyone to have a job that values them, gives them a sense of pride, and gives them a place in our society. However, we are not there. Until then, the government has a role to play in ensuring that all the mechanisms are in place to give every individual an opportunity to improve their economic situation.

I personally think that spending this money now will enable us to save in the medium and long terms.

Doing nothing about poverty will cost us twice as much as doing something. This has been proven.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, what my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is proposing today is that we develop an integrated strategy to eliminate poverty rather than working in a silo.

I would like my colleague to comment briefly on what advantages an integrated strategy would have over small projects here and there.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I think that reality shows us what those advantages are. For too long, we have been working in a silo when it comes to reducing poverty. The proof that it is not working is that, today, the gap between the rich and poor is still growing. We have more and more poor people.

I think it is important to work together with community organizations, the municipalities, and the provinces, but it is also important to have an interdepartmental vision when it comes to eliminating poverty.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Madam Speaker, I am very proud and feel privileged to rise today to speak about Bill C-245.

As members know, I am from the riding of Saint John—Rothesay, which is in southern New Brunswick. I am very proud of that riding. It is a riding with many success stories, but it also has many challenges that beget opportunities on the poverty front.

This is why I feel privileged to speak to the private member's bill put forward by my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. I would like to thank the member for her leadership and for taking a stand on poverty reduction.

I had the opportunity to meet with my colleague face to face last week, and we talked about poverty, a national poverty reduction strategy, and our passion about helping those in need. We are both very aligned and agree that the federal government can lead the way in a national poverty reduction strategy. I look forward to working with the member hand in hand to help our government come up with the proper strategy.

Our government is working hard to reduce poverty from coast to coast to coast. When a colleague, especially one who is sitting on the other side of the House, rises to show the same dedication as we have, it is very encouraging. A big part of Bill C-245 is in tune with our agenda and with what we are aiming for, which is an inclusive society where everyone will be able to take part to the fullest.

For those who are not familiar with piece of legislation, I will explain what it is.

Bill C-245 is also known as the poverty reduction act. This act will provide not only for the development and implementation of a national strategy to reduce poverty in Canada, but also for the appointment of an independent poverty reduction commissioner. As well, it would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, to add “social condition” as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Finally, it would amend the Department of Employment and Social Development Act to establish a national council on poverty elimination and social inclusion.

This government is in agreement that we must reduce social inequality and build stronger communities. Today, it is hard to believe that there are more three million Canadians who are living in poverty. This is clearly unacceptable.

Let us take the year 2014, as an example, and look at some numbers from Statistics Canada. The figures show that 8.8% of the Canadian population lived in low income in 2014. In 2014, 8.5% of children aged 17 and under lived in low income.

Let us not forget seniors, because 1.3% of seniors in families lived in low income, and the rate for those living by themselves was close to 11.3%. Speaking of seniors, we have to keep in mind that they will account for close to one-quarter of our country's population by the year 2030, which is a staggering number.

When we look at this picture, we realize that the clock is ticking. As a government, as members of Parliament, we all need to work together. We need to act now on poverty reduction. We need to draw on the efforts of all Canadians to address these social and economic challenges, which is clearly reflected in Bill C-245.

The bill states that a national poverty reduction strategy must encourage the participation of Canadians, nonprofit organizations, and private sector suppliers in an effort to reduce poverty. We could not agree more.

Bill C-245 shows an understanding that the face of poverty is changing. Many groups are affected. I am thinking about youth, children, indigenous people, women fleeing from violence, veterans, and people living with a disability.

Bill C-245 states that a national poverty reduction strategy must take some specific factors into account. Here, I am talking about the way that poverty affects different genders, the specific needs of urban, rural, and remote communities, as well as the factors that put some individuals at higher than average risk of poverty.

On that last note, Bill C-245 does mention factors such as indigenous status, single parenthood, low-wage and precarious employment, immigration, lack of education, and prolonged illness and disability. In addition to all of that, Bill C-245 acknowledges that several provinces and some municipalities have either implemented or are delivering poverty reduction strategies. That is good news. Real work has been done here.

Now that we have looked at this piece of legislation more closely, we see how in tune it is with what our government is already doing to reduce poverty in Canada. For example, there is the Canada poverty reduction strategy, which Employment and Social Development Canada is currently working on. This strategy will support and be aligned with those that already exist at the provincial and municipal levels. It is clear and extremely important that all three levels of government are aligned and work together to reduce poverty across our country.

We will work in collaboration with our partners. They include all Canadians, all levels of government, non-profit organizations, academics, the private sector, and, of course, people who have experienced or who are experiencing poverty. It is absolutely crucial that we involve those on the front lines and those experiencing poverty across our country. This problem will not be solved from the top down.

In fact, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development recently appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, also known as HUMA, which I am very proud to say that I, along with the member opposite, are members of. He tabled a discussion paper entitled “Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy”. This document was designed to open a dialogue on the subject of poverty reduction in Canada. Basically, it will help us and aid us in developing a national poverty reduction strategy.

That is not all. The minister also recently launched the tackling poverty together project. This important research project will consist of six extensive case studies across Canada. I am thrilled and very pleased that the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development came to my riding of Saint John—Rothesay to announce this wonderful project and that my riding will be included in this project. It will help us better understand the impact of poverty reduction programs in communities that have identified poverty as an important issue.

Now, let us talk about the issue of housing. To lift people out of poverty, as a national government we have to address it. There is no other way around it. In fact, I would like to note that Bill C-245 also acknowledges the need to address this issue. Canadians know that housing matters. Unfortunately, too many of them are unable to find or afford a decent place to live. Again, that is unacceptable in our country.

Therefore, we are developing a national housing strategy to chart the course for better housing, and socio-economic and environmental outcomes for all Canadians, including those living in indigenous and northern communities. This strategy will also rely on existing collaboration between the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. I am glad to highlight the fact that consultations are already under way. We are reaching out to get Canadians' views on a vision for housing so that all Canadians can have access to housing that is sustainable, affordable, inclusive, and flexible.

Our government is fighting poverty through different ways and through different initiatives. In particular, there is the Canada child benefit, the increased guaranteed income supplement for seniors living alone, as well as our investments in social infrastructure.

We are working hand in hand with our partners to reduce poverty coast to coast. This bill would add greatly to our progress and contribute to our efforts, which we will make even stronger in the weeks and months ahead.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, I am truly honoured to stand here today to speak about such an important piece of legislation introduced by my NDP colleague. Bill C-245 is an act concerning the development of a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada. Regardless of where one sits in the chamber, I believe everyone here wants the same thing. We want what is best for Canadians, but we have different ways of getting to that goal.

The purpose of this legislation is to create a national poverty reduction strategy, an independent poverty reduction commissioner, a national poverty reduction advisory council, and to alter the Canadian Human Rights Act to add social condition as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Those are the key points in this bill. As my colleagues had said, these are very important facts and when we come to a national strategy and look at what we can do for Canadians, everyone in the chamber needs to be onside.

However, I have some observations and concerns about the bill. I too have had the opportunity to speak to the sponsor of this bill and know she has great passion and focus and has done her homework on this, so I appreciate all of the work she has done.

In this bill, many of the measures are open-ended. A big concern I have is that it would create permanent levels of red tape. There are also some financial considerations that we should look at in the bill. When we sit in the chamber, we have to recognize that debate is not about saying it is good, bad, or ugly, or anything in that sense. Rather, it is important that we have this dialogue so that we do what is best for all Canadians. This is where we start to differ in some of our approaches to poverty reduction.

The effects of Bill C-245 cannot be accurately forecasted because there are a number of issues that need to be considered. First, we need to look at how a strategy is going to be implemented, at the number and salaries of employees of the commissioner and the 16 members of the national council, and what the spending estimates are for those.

Data from six federal offices allow us to make an estimate of what the costs will be. This is what I find very difficult to comprehend. The costs range anywhere from $7.6 million to $719 million. That was the forecast spending that we just received. I believe it was on October 25 or 26 that the report was released. Just on that, there is a gap of almost $700 million. That is a big concern for me, because $700 million could do a lot. It could put more people into job training or put more food on people's tables. At the end of the day, it would put more money into the pockets of Canadians if dealt with properly.

Another of my concerns is that duplication could occur. The one thing this government is very well known for is its duplication. Many studies have been done over and over again. Studies are really important to do, but unless action follows these studies, they are truly worthless.

Starting in June of 2016, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities adopted a motion to study poverty in Canada. The committee is currently studying four main areas, including government administered savings and income support programs, education and training, housing assistance, and community initiatives.

As of now, the study will continue until, I believe, June 2017. Indeed, I had the opportunity to sit in committee as a spectator, because I sit with three other members on that committee who are doing a great job, and it is very important that we allow the study to continue and for witnesses to bring forward some of their ideas for a strategy.

It is being studied and continues to be a major issue for Canadians, and there is a reason it is being studied. Poverty has continued for decades and decades and there needs to be a stop to this issue. We know that a reduction of poverty could strengthen the economy, reduce health care spending, increase the level of children's education, and reduce crime. I would like to commend the committee for doing this study and looking at some very important key points that would help all Canadians.

I am not denying the importance of any of these factors. However, as I said, Conservatives on this side of the House have different approaches to this. We believe that the government should develop a dynamic solution that relieves the pressure felt by many seniors and those with disabilities. We must work with our provincial and territorial governments and communities to coordinate, by integrating education, job creation, and employment strategies as part of this plan.

People do lots of studies when in government, whether federal, provincial, or municipal. There was a study completed in 2010 by the human resources committee. We have all of these studies, but we need to look at them and ask, “All these facts were found, how can we start implementing them into action?” That is something we need to start doing.

Creating more bureaucracy does not eliminate poverty. That is one of the biggest concerns. We can continue to study, but we need boots on the ground doing the work. Canadian Families need to have the skills and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency, and we must target support for those who face barriers.

Reviewing the bill in its entirety, there a few recommendations I wish to be considered. Rather than creating a new position of commissioner, this role should be under the deputy minister of the Department for Families, Children, and Social Development, since many of the programs, such as our income support programs, old age security, and CCB, are monitored by this department. This would become part of the deputy minister's role. It is also very important because in the same department they are looking at the disabilities act. It is also responsible for the guaranteed income supplement, which is very important to many people suffering from poverty in Canada.

Through the duties of the deputy minister, he would have access to and the ability to review all of these programs. The information on how much is being spent is available there, and how many families are receiving the benefits. There is a great link in that regard, and he or she, working as the deputy minister, would have access to all of these programs and have insight that is second to none. He or she would also have the ability to prepare reports from the data available, providing a measurable benefit for Canadians. As the member who sponsored the bill noted, we do not always have the appropriate data, so we need to make sure that when data is collected, we put it together so we can look at the intersectionality of it all so that it is best for all Canadians. The deputy minister would be able to develop and monitor, as well as report the findings from, the poverty data to the minister and to the House.

We also need to ensure that the council is not just made up of anti-poverty organizations. Just a few weeks ago, I went to a poverty panel and there was not one person in the room who talked about job creation. That has to be part of the conversation. What else can we do for Canadians? Therefore, job creators have to be at that table as well. It just cannot be people talking about poverty; we need to involve those people who are going to be part of the solution at the end of the day. We need to take action and work together to reduce poverty in Canada, but adding more bureaucracy and red tape is not the solution. We must provide lower taxes and put money back in the pockets of Canadians.

Can we do more? Absolutely, and I think all of us in the House recognize that we can do more. From 2004 to 2014, we did see a reduction in poverty from 11.4%, as reported in 2004, to 8.8% in 2014.

The one concern I have with this is that we need to make sure we do not have a one-size-fits-all approach. We see a lot of programs implemented throughout Canada, and not all Canadians are the same. Not every region is the same. Whether rural, urban, or on reserve, we need to recognize that communities and the people who reside in them have different needs. We have to recognize the differences between the provinces as well. Even cities in my own riding are very different. I am very fortunate to represent Elgin—Middlesex—London, where I have a number of communities, ranging from 100 people to 380,000 people, so I recognize that even in the riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, there are communities that are very different.

I know that the sponsor of the bill truly has pure intentions, but I fear a new level of bureaucracy that will do nothing for those who need assistance now. We need more action and opportunities for Canadians, and we need to focus on how we can help them. This role, I believe, should be under ESDC and be that of the deputy minister.

This is a very important conversation we are going to have, and I appreciate all the work that has been done by the member of Parliament on this. I continue to look at the good work that is going to be done by the human resources committee, but I think that some of the considerations I put forward should be looked at if we are to support this bill.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

October 31st, 2016 / 11:50 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, it is important for me to support Bill C-245, an act concerning the development of a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada.

I sincerely thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for taking up the torch that the NDP has been carrying for many years now. The fight against poverty is an issue that is very dear to me, as it is to her and the entire NDP caucus. In fact, I am a member of the all-party anti-poverty caucus.

This issue is not new. In 1989, NDP leader Ed Broadbent moved a motion to eliminate child poverty in Canada before 2000. That motion was unanimously adopted by the House. However, obviously, the Conservatives and the Liberals, who have shared office almost equally since that time, have not taken the necessary measures to eradicate this scourge. In my riding of Hochelaga, one merely has to take a walk down Ontario Street or Saint-Catherine Street to see that poverty is all too real.

This bill was first introduced by New Democrat Tony Martin. Later, my colleague from British Columbia, Jean Crowder, took over. Now the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot has taken up the torch. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that the bill will be passed this time.

It is difficult to believe that Liberal members would oppose this bill to reduce poverty given that they made so many promises to that effect during the last election campaign. The Prime Minister even came to my riding to stage an announcement and promised that he would lift out of poverty the equivalent of an Olympic stadium filled with children. With this bill, the NDP is reaching out to him so he can put his words into action. It is high time, given that the House voted unanimously in favour of eliminating poverty in Canada twenty-seven years ago.

The purpose of this bill is to put in place an effective poverty reduction strategy that will take into account the needs of all communities by analyzing all factors and indicators of poverty. It has the support of many community groups and organizations that have long been calling for a comprehensive and concerted strategy to reduce poverty, even eliminate it entirely.

The purpose of this bill is to help eliminate poverty and foster social inclusion. It would establish and implement a poverty reduction strategy to ensure that, together with the provinces and territories, municipalities, service providers, and other stakeholders, the government takes real steps to reduce poverty in Canada.

It should be noted that six Canadian provinces have already passed similar legislation. It is therefore very important that they be involved in the process.

This bill would create the office of the poverty reduction commissioner, provided with a team and a budget, which would report annually to the House of Commons. It would also appoint a national council on poverty elimination and social inclusion, which would be charged with finding effective and viable solutions, to help Canada eliminate poverty.

In terms of concrete measures, the government would be forced to strengthen the social and economic safety net so as to leave no one behind. Let us remember that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives everyone the right to dignity and that it is the government’s responsibility to give effect to the charter.

Some of my colleagues in the other political parties seem nervous when we talk about strengthening the social fabric, whether because this would increase expenditures or out of pure ideological blindness. Also, to the advocates of austerity and the stone-age economists, I would say that many of the figures appearing in the budget expenditures column should be regarded as investments, and that poverty is detrimental to the economic and social development of our society.

For example, more and more studies are showing that providing funding for housing and combatting homelessness is much more than simple spending but, on the contrary, constitutes investment, both economic and social.

For instance, the “Impact Study on the Activities of the Société d’habitation du Québec” estimates that every dollar invested in its programs and its projects to replace, upgrade, and modernize public low-cost housing has injected $2.30 into the Quebec economy, mostly in the residential construction sector. Obviously, this does not take into account the social repercussions, which generate further savings.

It is also now generally accepted that it costs the Canadian economy more to ignore the problems of housing and homelessness that it would cost to solve them. The most conservative estimates show that homelessness costs the Canadian economy close to $4.5 billion every year. Other studies estimate this cost to be as high as $7 billion. For the government, eradicating homelessness and poverty would be a well-considered investment. The victims of homelessness and poverty are more vulnerable to physical and mental health problems and therefore more likely, that is, more than the average, to find themselves in hospitals and prisons, thereby generating substantial costs for the state. Therefore this is what really should be making some of my colleagues nervous, rather than the simple fact of investing to eliminate poverty and homelessness.

I have not finished yet. By way of comparison, every month it costs $10,900 to house a person in a hospital room, $4,333 in a provincial prison, and $1,932 in a shelter. Those costs are exorbitant when compared to the $701 it costs on average to grant a rent supplement and the $199.92 it costs for social housing. When are we going to start investing in the Canadian economy by embarking on a new wave of social housing construction? This bill would also target access to affordable housing that is safe and satisfactory for all.

Naturally, as the NDP’s housing critic, this aspect of the bill is particularly appealing to me, since it echoes my bill C-265, tabled on April 3, 2016. The act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians is designed to introduce a real pan-Canadian housing strategy, in partnership with elected officials in the other levels of government and with housing stakeholders, and in compliance with the international obligations of Canada, which recognized the right of every person to housing when it ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976.

I would like to offer a picture of the current housing situation in Canada. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the CMHC, considers housing unaffordable when a household devotes more than 30% of its income to it. When we look at certain statistics from the 2011 National Household Survey, we see that 3.3 million households spend over 30% of their total income on housing.

Looking more specifically at the 4.1 million tenant households, we note that over 40% of these allocate more than 30% of their income to rent. Indeed, 19% of them spend over 50% of their income on rent, and 10% of them over 80%. Therefore, it appears that a much higher percentage of Canadian tenant households have been exceeding the affordability threshold established by the CMHC.

Consequently, the households in urgent need of housing are too often faced with choosing between the essential needs they have to meet. In a rich country like ours, we think it is totally unacceptable that people should have to choose, for example, between paying for groceries and paying for rent.

Obviously, Canada’s housing situation has even greater repercussions on the most vulnerable and venerable in our society. Single-parent families headed by a woman, seniors living alone, indigenous households on or off reserve, recent immigrants and persons living with disabilities are among the populations most likely to be victims of this affordability crisis.

Incidentally, this bill would also take account of the needs of all communities, and would introduce social condition to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. More specifically with regard to first nations members living on reserve, the National Household Survey shows that nearly 40% of their dwelling units, which are the responsibility of the federal government, are in need of major repairs, while nearly 35% of them are not suited to the size of the family. In certain Inuit communities, the percentage of dwelling units not suitable to family size is in excess of 50%.

It is high time that Canada adopted a strategy to combat poverty as well as the means necessary to eliminate it.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business



Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to take the floor today regarding a very special bill, a bill that clearly shows that our government has scored a bull’s-eye with its efforts to reduce poverty all across the country. I am of course speaking of Bill C-245.

First of all, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for having tabled this piece of legislation. She has worked hard and has shown leadership. Indeed, she shows that it is possible to have a shared vision, even if we do not sit on the same side of the House.

Bill C-245 would develop a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada. Such a strategy is perfectly consistent with our government’s intention to reduce poverty throughout the country. We have truly made this our key theme. It is even an integral part of the mandate of my colleague, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Needless to say, we looked very favourably on the tabling of such a bill.

Like us, this bill wants to lift as many Canadians as possible out of poverty. It states that, among other things, a national poverty reduction strategy should take into account the factors that put some Canadians at higher-than-average risk of poverty. It also mentions the need to focus on the consequences of poverty for society at large. In addition, Bill C-245 aims to encourage everyone to get involved in poverty reduction. This is most welcome, for it is perfectly in line with the work we have already started.

Indeed, Employment and Social Development Canada is developing a poverty reduction strategy. Its ultimate goal is of course to reduce poverty, but it is also to make our society more inclusive. Whether we like it or not, poverty is everybody’s business, because everybody suffers its consequences. If every person can thrive and participate in the life of his or her community, all of society will be the winner for it.

To attain our goals, we are consulting all of our partners. Among other things I refer to the general public, community and not-for-profit organizations, academics, businesses, and of course those who have lived in poverty.

The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development recently appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, also known as HUMA. There, he tabled a discussion paper on poverty entitled, “Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy”. This document was drafted in the hopes that it would get Canadians talking about poverty reduction, and it will inform the development of our poverty reduction strategy.

We also just launched the tackling poverty together project, which will also help us in developing our strategy. As part of this project, the government will conduct case studies in six communities in order to obtain a regional perspective and a better understanding of poverty in communities in Canada. It will also allow us to hear directly from Canadians living in poverty and receive recommendations from organizations that deliver poverty reduction programs. As hon. members can see, we are working in a spirit of collaboration.

I want to point out that our strategy will support existing provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies and harmonize with them. We are consulting our provincial and territorial counterparts and our other partners to ensure that we are getting this right.

Bill C-245 is in line with what we are doing. One of its goals is to take the needs of communities into account, particularly indigenous communities. That is what we are focusing on too, especially in terms of housing.

I will turn now to a second strategy we have implemented. The national housing strategy will enable us to improve the housing situation of all Canadians, including those in indigenous communities and the far north. We are currently holding targeted consultations with Canadians, governments, indigenous organizations, the private sector, non-profit organizations, municipalities, and housing experts. As everyone can see, our government is very active on this file.

We see the introduction of Bill C-245 as very encouraging. It proves that we are moving in the right direction. This is clearly the right time for Bill C-245.

At this point, I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the measures we have taken recently. Of course, we introduced the Canada child benefit, which will give nine out of ten families more benefits for children than they were receiving before. This new benefit will reduce child poverty by about 40%. The Canada child benefit is about more than just giving families more money. It represents the most important innovation in social policy in a generation.

Speaking of generations, my colleagues in the House will recall that we also enhanced the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors. For some people, this means an increase of up to almost $1,000 per year.

Lastly, we have also made massive investments in social infrastructure. More specifically, we will be making initial investments totalling $3.4 billion over five years.

We also reached an agreement with the provinces to enhance the Canada pension plan to address the fact that many Canadians might not be saving enough for their retirement and therefore face a greater risk of living in poverty in their old age. From a poverty reduction standpoint, enhancing the CPP is good news, because it will help low-income workers, now and in the long term.

Furthermore, although low-income earners will have to contribute to the enhanced CPP, these higher contributions will generally be more than offset by an increase in the working income tax benefit, which will help almost 6,000 Canadians escape poverty. Not only will the enhanced CPP ensure that the middle class in Canada enjoys a more secure retirement, but it will also help current and future efforts to reduce poverty.

All these measures I just spoke about reflect my personal determination as the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin and our collective determination as government to reduce social inequality and ensure the prosperity of all Canadians. The intent of Bill C-245 is closely aligned with our objectives and our actions.

I could continue, but I believe that everything I mentioned demonstrates that our government is taking the necessary steps to reduce poverty in Canada. The introduction of Bill C-245 by my colleague only proves beyond a doubt that we must continue in this direction.

Poverty Reduction ActPrivate Members' Business

12:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The time provided for the 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.

The House resumed from October 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-29, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

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.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I am just wondering about something. During the election, the Liberals never suggested that they would invest in Canadian infrastructure by privatization.

I noticed that the bill has some fancy words in it, like “asset recycling” and “flywheel for investment”. Could the member tell us what the government means by that? Is it for privatization or not?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, when I say our platform commitment was to invest $120 billion over the phase one and phase two periods in infrastructure across Canada, I believe that is the right process for us to follow. We are in a period of low interest rates and we need to invest in infrastructure to enable our economy to improve productivity and to put it on a path of a higher long-term growth trajectory.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I admire the hon. member's sincerity, specifically the pride he shows not only in his area but his country, something we all could benefit from.

There are comprehensive common reporting standards in this budget implementation act. It is a one-size-fits-all program that was put in place by Ottawa to meet its OECD commitments. It really discriminates against small credit unions throughout this country and has caused a fair bit of grief, particularly as we already have similar American regulations to deal with, known as FATCA.

My question is this. Does the member support these common reporting standards as they are or does he believe, like many credit unions, that they do need to be changed taking into account the different structures of credit unions in this country?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the question from my hon. member, who is an individual I have interacted with greatly in the House.

After the financial crisis in 2008, the world moved to common reporting standards for financial institutions globally across the board. What we are adopting in Bill C-29 are common reporting standards that all OECD countries have incorporated. If there are situations that present themselves where there is an anomaly, then those situations may be worth looking into. However, at the same time we need to ensure we have strong, stable financial systems and institutions that Canadians can have faith in, and that can lend to borrowers, to creditors, and to people wanting to buy a home while remaining sound.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:30 p.m.


David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, in his speech the member referred to his experience in the banking sector and the strength of our rules and regulations over the last while. Could the member tell us a little about the impacts of weaker regulatory structures in other countries throughout the financial crisis in the last decade?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, if we look at the experience of the financial crisis, where regulatory structures were insufficient to deal with the complexity of products that were being sold in the market, and where legislation dealing with subprime mortgages allowed for no verification of income and jobs when lending by certain institutions globally, we ended up with very bad and tragic results. We entered into a financial crisis not seen since the Great Depression. However, that was not the case in Canada. We had a robust regulatory system for our banks and financial institutions, and lending practices that were prudent. Therefore, our banks came out of the financial crisis unscathed. We cannot say that for many of the global banks both in the United States and Europe.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, during the election campaign the Liberals promised to reduce the small business tax from 11% to 9%. This is not found in Bill C-29, which is a budget implementation bill.

When will this measure be introduced, and why is it not in Bill C-29?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. Yesterday morning, I met a lot of local business owners at a health and wellness expo in Vaughan—Woodbridge. I know these small and medium-sized businesses. Most, if not all, of the entrepreneurs put their heart and passion into running their businesses. It is something I am concerned about, and I want to make sure that they all succeed. In budget 2016, we have lowered, and will lower, the employment insurance premiums, which is a very significant step for them. Our small business tax rate is very competitive in Canada and globally. We offer a number of credits for our SMEs in Canada, which are the backbone of our Canadian economy. We introduced a tax cut that has benefited nine million Canadians. The introduction of the Canada child benefit will give Canadians $2,300 more tax-free income on average to spend at their local small business enterprise. That is a good thing. We need aggregate demand to drive our economy, and that is what we are doing.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, again I go back to the issue of credit unions and the common reporting standards.

Credit unions, as we heard right across the country in pre-budget consultations, have had extreme issues in dealing with some of these FATCA regulations. I believe we heard from Desjardins that they have to submit 300-plus separate reports while some other banks only have to produce one. These commons reporting standards will add to that, particularly to smaller credit unions.

The member heard the Canadian Credit Union Association request that the same kind of exemption for low risk, under 2%, assets that are held by a foreign national in a credit union be waived.

Will the member agree that we should be looking at trying to make the burden on these small credit unions less, to help grow our economy?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very important question.

When FATCA was introduced by the United States, there was much negotiation between our two countries on this issue. I will say that we do not want to overburden any institution with regulatory burden and extra cost, but we need to balance that with having institutions conform to global financial standards that are introduced, whether it is with the United States or Europe, that we agree to, and we have agreed to that.

Of course, if there are anomalies that we need to look at, we should look at them. We do not want to hinder the intermediation process in financial institutions. We want to encourage competition among credit unions and banks, and we want to keep that healthy.

I am very cognizant that many credit unions exist and are operating in rural communities. Therefore, we do not want to hinder their competitive landscape. We want to make sure that they are there to serve the local residents. I fully understand that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary budget officer was quite clear about the fact that we left a surplus at the end of the last fiscal year. We are very proud of that. In addition to leaving a surplus, we also planned to invest a significant amount in infrastructure.

The Liberals decided to add to that amount. The difference between us is that they are running a deficit of over $30 billion this year in order to invest a bit more in infrastructure.

Can my colleague tell the House who will foot the bill?