Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the House today about Bill C-29 and to invite my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill, which is a step forward for Canadian society and the country. As I said earlier, this bill will help families and all Canadians. Naturally, I encourage our colleagues to support it.
Our government made a solemn promise to Canadians. We promised to help members of the middle class who work hard every day and those who are working hard to join it. The government built its 2016 budget around them, and I am proud to speak in favour of that budget in the House today. I am particularly proud to speak in favour of the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2, which is before us today.
Our government has tabled a bold budget, one that considers all those who are supporting their families through their work and yet feel they still cannot catch up. Therefore the government is going to stimulate the economy through measures that foster the growth of the middle class, because when the economy is working for the middle class, the entire country is pushed into a cycle of growth. We listened to Canadians all over the country before tabling this budget, and what we heard is that they need a financial breather.
One of the budget’s primary measures is therefore an income tax reduction. Almost nine million Canadians have more money in their pockets thanks to one of our government’s very first measures. That measure has been to reduce income taxes for the middle class, putting them in a better position to save or invest in their own priorities.
Families are at the heart of the middle class. In this bold budget, we find a social innovation that directly affects families living in each of the constituencies represented here in the House. This innovation, called the Canada child benefit, came into effect last July 1. I will cite the numbers for the House, since they speak for themselves. Those who are watching us today know this very well. For each child under six years of age, a family can receive up to $6,400 a year, that is, $533 per month for each child.
For children between six and 17 years of age, the allowance is up to $5,400 per year, or a maximum of $450 per month for each child. This is an innovation because it is a direct investment in the country’s middle class. The Canada child benefit is producing results which can be felt all over the country, in each of our constituencies.
First of all, the Canada child benefit is much more generous than the previous benefit. For the families affected by this change, this represents close to an average of $2,300 for the 2016-17 benefit year. Next, it is simpler: families get a single payment every month. It is also tax-free, as the money received does not have to be partially refunded on the income tax return. It is also better targeted, since low- or medium-income families receive higher benefits, while families with very high incomes receive lower benefits than what they received under the previous system.
I am delighted to tell the House that the bill that we are debating today will only increase this benefit, and at the same time improve the lot of this country’s children and their families. There are also plans to index benefits to inflation starting on July 1, 2020, which means that benefits will rise with the cost of living.
In addition to helping Canadians, the bill also protects them as consumers, and that protection is tailored to their needs. This bill strengthens and modernizes the protection framework for consumers of financial products and services. We must also ensure that the financial system is adaptable. It met the challenge of the 2008 crisis and demonstrated its soundness to the world.
Traditional business models are nonetheless upset by technological innovations, new consumer demands, and new modes of consumption. Accordingly, the banking sector has to adapt.
What the bill proposes is to simplify and consolidate the current consumer provisions by grouping them under a single section of the Bank Act. It would introduce amendments to the Bank Act to improve consumer protection, that is, to guarantee better access to basic banking services, limit certain business practices, ensure that consumers have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions, ensure that complaints management is better organized, and finally, improve corporate governance and accountability.
Canada's government is showing leadership by taking this series of steps to strengthen financial protection for Canadians, wherever they may live in the country. This is a matter of maintaining public trust.
I have a little time left to talk about another important measure in this bill, specifically the legislation to combat international tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Our country already has measures to combat non-compliance with tax law. However it is important to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance in co-operation with other countries and international organizations.
This bill proposes the adoption of tools and procedures originating in the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD.
First of all, there is country-by-country reporting. This is an instrument that will oblige big corporations to report their activities and the nature of those activities in each jurisdiction where they operate. This will enable the Canada Revenue Agency to have a global view of the activities of multinationals. The interest of this tool is that it can tax the profits of companies in the countries where those profits are made. This is then an initial measure to combat aggressive tax avoidance.
A second instrument provided in the bill applies to tax evasion. It was developed by the OECD and is called the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters. It will compel Canadian financial institutions to put mechanisms in place to identify all accounts held by non-resident Canadians. This information will have to be transmitted to the Canada Revenue Agency. The 100 or so countries and jurisdictions that have adopted this standard will also identify accounts held by foreign nationals, including Canadians. Next, a series of security mechanisms will be introduced to ensure that this information is exchanged among the standard’s signatories.
These measures constitute a step forward for compliance with tax obligations for all Canadians and all businesses established in Canada.
I encourage all members of the House to vote in favour of this bill because it will help every family in our country. There are people who expect this Parliament to take responsibility and pass this bill in order to help families in need in Canada.