House of Commons Hansard #230 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Abandoned VesselsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition has to do with constituents who want strong action to clean up abandoned vessels.

I have to recognize my colleague, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, because the petitioners are calling on the government to support her Bill C-352, and to immediately get the federal government to be a main player to do some much-needed work to clean up our coasts.

We are a coastal nation, and this is needed by many constituents, both in my riding and across this great country.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1153, 1157, 1159, 1160, 1162, 1171, and 1172.

Question No. 1153Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

November 6th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

With regard to the appointment of Rana Sarkar as Consul General in San Francisco: (a) who made the decision to pay Mr. Sarkar at a rate significantly higher than other Consul Generals; (b) was there an open competition for the position; (c) if the answer to (b) is affirmative, what are the details of the competition including (i) where was the competition posted, (ii) number of applicants, (iii) selection criteria; (d) is the government taking any steps to ensure that Mr. Sarkar’s salary does not impact salary negotiations between the government and other diplomats; (e) was the government warned that paying an appointee at higher than the normal rate would have an impact on the salary negotiations with other diplomats; and (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, what are the details of the warning, including (i) who issued the warning, (ii) date, (iii) recipient, (iv) reason warning did not impact salary decision?

Question No. 1153Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec

Liberal

Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Sarkar’s compensation is comparable to that of the San Francisco consul general appointed by the previous government.

With regards to key postings, it is common, both in the public service and the private sector, for compensation to reflect the qualifications and expertise of the appointee. This has been true for many recent appointees, including former cabinet ministers Lawrence Cannon, Michael Wilson, and Loyola Hearn, Gary Doer, Patrick Binns, Alex Himelfarb, David Alward, Vivian Bercovici, Kevin Vickers, Guy Saint-Jacques, Dennis Savoie, I. David Marshall, Paul Maddison, Gordon Campbell, Gérard Latulippe, Jean-Carol Pelletier, and Catherine Doyle.

With regards to key postings, it is common, both in the public service and the private sector, for compensation to reflect the qualifications and expertise of the appointee. This has been true for many recent appointees, including former cabinet ministers Lawrence Cannon, Michael Wilson, and Loyola Hearn, Gary Doer, Patrick Binns, Alex Himelfarb, David Alward, Vivian Bercovici, Kevin Vickers, Guy Saint-Jacques, Dennis Savoie, I. David Marshall, Paul Maddison, Gordon Campbell, Gérard Latulippe, Jean-Carol Pelletier, and Catherine Doyle.

Mr. Sarkar brings specialized expertise, including most recently as national director for high-growth markets at globally recognized KPMG. Throughout his career as an adviser and entrepreneur, he built a considerable skill in providing strategy and transaction-focused services to firms, investors and start-ups, enabling cross-border trade, investment, and innovation.

His background will serve Canada’s interests in San Francisco and Silicon Valley specifically. He is specifically responsible for working to attract investment and help Canadian business succeed in the fastest-growing industries on the continent, and work to expand our reach across the Pacific Rim while we grow our presence in the world’s fastest emerging markets in Asia.

This was one of a number of diplomatic appointments to strengthen our outreach to the United States, highlighting the importance and mutually beneficial partnership of our two countries, which continues to support millions of middle-class jobs on both sides of the border.

Question No. 1157Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

With regard to the government’s decision to award certain funding only to areas which are considered “superclusters”: (a) which areas applied to be superclusters; (b) which areas were selected by the government to be “superclusters”; (c) how was each area in (b) selected; (d) for each area which applied, but was not selected to be a “supercluster”, why was each area not selected, broken down by individual area; (e) what specific guarantees are in place to ensure that areas outside of “superclusters” receive their fair share of funding, broken down by funding program; and (f) for each guarantee referred to in (e), what is the website location where the text is located?

Question No. 1157Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the government’s decision to award certain funding only to areas that are considered “superclusters”, please see the response from Innovation, Science and Economic Development below.

With regard to part (a), the innovation superclusters initiative received more than 50 applications representing all regions of Canada, including British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces, and the north. Several of the applications involved interprovincial participation. The applications are from highly innovative industries such as clean technology, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, health/biosciences, clean resources, and agrifood, as well as infrastructure and transportation.

With regard to part (b), the application process for the innovation superclusters initiative is ongoing and a final decision has not been made.

With regard to part (c), the selection of applications involves a two-phase application process. In the first phase, business-led consortia, including companies of all sizes, post-secondary institutions, and other innovation partners, were invited to submit letters of intent to outline their ambitious plans to build world-leading superclusters at scale. The first phase closed on 24/07/2017.

In the second phase, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application. After the selection process concludes, contribution agreements will be negotiated and results will be announced.

Descriptions of the assessment criteria and process, reflecting key elements contributing to program outcomes, are published in the program guide, which can be found at https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/093.nsf/eng/00003.html.

They are used to assess the potential of proposals to generate real economic impact and industrial benefits for Canada, as well as other key elements, such as the importance, relevance, and feasibility of the applicant's proposed plans.

With regard to part (d), the application process is ongoing and a final decision has not been made.

With regard to part (e), the purpose of the innovation superclusters initiative is to accelerate the growth and development of a small number of business-led innovation superclusters in Canada with strong innovation ecosystems that have the potential to be global leaders. The program provides funding to selected applicants with whom a contribution agreement will be signed.

It is expected that the benefits of funded activities will extend beyond the borders of a supercluster, drawing on partners across Canada to achieve a national network effect. Regardless of their location in Canada, organizations outside the supercluster region will be eligible to participate in funded activities.

With regard to part (f), program information can be found on the innovation superclusters initiative website at www.canada.ca/superclusters.

Question No. 1159Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

With regard to salaries in the Prime Minister’s Office, as of September 18, 2017: (a) how many employees had a salary higher than the salary of a minister ($255,300); and (b) how many employees had a salary higher than the salary of the Prime Minister ($345,400)?

Question No. 1159Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec

Liberal

Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a) of the question, the Privy Council Office, PCO, is unable to respond because in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the principles of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, and this information has been withheld on these grounds. PCO is able to confirm that no employees had a salary higher than the salary of the Prime Minister: $345,400.

Question No. 1160Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

With regard to meetings or communication between the Prime Minister and the current Premier of British Columbia: (a) what are the details of any meeting or communication where the Trans Mountain Pipeline was discussed, including for each the (i) date, (ii) type of communication (i.e. meeting, phone call, email, etc.), (iii) location, (iv) purpose or summary of communication; (b) what is the official government position with regard to the Trans Mountain Pipleline; and (c) when was the official position communicated to the current Premier of British Columbia?

Question No. 1160Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec

Liberal

Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Mr. Speaker, on July 25, 2017, the Prime Minister, in an introductory meeting with British Columbia Premier John Horgan in Ottawa, briefly discussed the Trans Mountain expansion project. Premier Horgan noted the need to protect British Columbia’s interests, and indicated that further discussions with Alberta were planned on the issue.

The Prime Minister announced the Government of Canada’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project on November 30, 2016. The Government of Canada requires that Kinder Morgan meet or exceed all of the 157 binding conditions set out by the National Energy Board. The Government of Canada has also established the oceans protection plan to ensure any risk coming from increased vessel traffic in Burrard Inlet is properly mitigated.

There has been no known direct communication of the official position of the Government of Canada to Premier Horgan. The Government of Canada’s approval of the project has been noted in the media many times since November 2016.

Question No. 1162Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

With regard to the January 1, 2017, policy clarification to the interpretation of eligibility criteria for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Involuntary Separation Provision, not including any changes to the Allowance and not including changes made to involuntary separation of couples who are eligible to receive the Allowance: (a) what was the interpretation error that required the change or clarification to interpretation; (b) how was the new interpretation communicated to relevant individuals (i) at Service Canada, (ii) at government departments, broken down by each department within which the new interpretation was circulated, (iii) to seniors who would be affected by the change, (iv) to Senators and Members of Parliament; (c) what are the details of any directives, memorandums, or communiqué circulated to advise the individuals in (b) of the new interpretation, including for each the (i) date, (ii) recipients, (iii) sender, (iv) title, (v) summary of contents, (vi) file number, (vii) text, (viii) website address of text, if applicable; (d) were any responses received to any directives, memorandums, or communiques referred to in (c) and, if so, what are the details, including for each, the (i) date, (ii) recipients, (iii) sender, (iv) title, (v) summary of contents, (vi) file number, (vii) text; (e) how many groups or stakeholders in total were consulted in order to inform the decision to alter the interpretation of eligibility criteria and to understand the effects it will have on Canadian seniors; (f) what is the complete list of organizations, individuals or stakeholders referenced in (e); (g) how many senior couples currently take advantage of the involuntary separation provision for GIS, broken down by province; (h) how many seniors are currently receiving the involuntary separation provision for GIS based off of the old interpretation of the eligibility criteria, and would have been considered ineligible if their eligibility was under the policy clarification enacted on January 1, 2017, broken down by sex; and (i) considering Canada’s aging population, what is the government’s plan to help the increasing number of seniors who will face this vulnerable situation?

Question No. 1162Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, old age security, OAS, benefits are intended to provide partial income security for seniors in recognition of the contributions that they have made to Canadian society and the economy. Low-income pensioners are entitled to additional assistance through the guaranteed income supplement, GIS. The GIS is calculated based on income to ensure that these benefits are provided to seniors most in need.

The GIS is paid at a different rate based on whether seniors are single or part of a couple. This reflects the different economic realities of single seniors and senior couples.

Since 1971, the Old Age Security Act has contained a provision that allows low-income couples in receipt of the GIS and who are forced to live apart for reasons beyond their control to receive their benefits at the higher single rate based on their individual incomes. The intent of this provision was to recognize the increase in cost of living where one member of a couple remained in the matrimonial home while the other was required to go into a chronic care facility, nursing home, or home for the aged. These couples are often described as being “involuntarily separated”. In budget 2016, the OAS Act was amended to extend this provision to involuntarily separated couples where one member receives the GIS and the other receives the allowance. These amendments came into force on January 1, 2017.

In January 2017, the department issued an administrative policy direction to front-line Service Canada staff in order to reflect the expanded scope of the provisions for GIS/allowance couples. The department also took the opportunity to clarify the intent of the legislation with respect to eligibility for the involuntary separation provisions.

Specifically, the policy guidance was amended to state that couples must first qualify for the GIS on the basis of their joint income before the involuntary separation provisions could be applied. In order to address any possible situations where individuals had been paid under these provisions while their combined income was above the allowable threshold, a “grandfathering” clause was included to ensure that no current beneficiaries would see a reduction in their benefits.

Shortly thereafter, the department received an enquiry from Mrs. Vecchio’s office with respect to this policy direction. Departmental officials met with Mrs. Vecchio on June 21, 2017, in order to hear her concerns in person. At that meeting, she expressed her concerns about couples whose combined income is sufficient to render them ineligible for the GIS, but who may have a large disparity of income between the spouses. She noted in particular that in these situations, if the higher income spouse requires long-term care, the higher costs for that care could result in a significant reduction in the pooled income available to the lower income spouse.

As a result, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development asked his officials to undertake a further analysis on the impact of the January 2017 policy directive. It became apparent that the implementation of this policy guidance was disadvantaging modest income couples. The minister has therefore tasked the department to correct this issue, by assessing the eligibility of couples involuntarily separated based solely on their individual incomes.

The department has already begun identifying senior couples who were affected by the January 2017 policy direction, a process that will be completed by the end of October. Departmental officials will subsequently reassess the benefit entitlement of any couples who were impacted by the January 2017 directive. The number of couples impacted by the directive is expected to be low.

Question No. 1171Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

With regard to government expenditures on foreign aid since January 1, 2016: what are the details of all expenditures, including for each the (i) recipient, (ii) country, (iii) amount, (iv) date of contribution, (v) purpose of expenditure or project description?

Question No. 1171Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Compton—Stanstead Québec

Liberal

Marie-Claude Bibeau LiberalMinister of International Development and La Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to transparency and open government and as such regularly publishes data on Canada’s international assistance projects.

In accordance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative, IATI, the D-Portal contains a wealth of project information including government expenditures on international assistance since January 1, 2016. Details with regard to recipient, country, amount, date of contribution, and purpose of expenditure or project description can be found at: www.d-portal.org/ctrack.html?search&publisher=CA-3&year_min=2016&year=2016&year_max=2019&year=2019#view=main.

Additionally, Global Affairs Canada maintains the Project Browser, a website that publishes detailed project information and is updated daily. This interactive tool allows the user to search the department’s international projects and download information as open data files. The information published also follows the IATI standard and includes details with regard to recipient, country, amount, date of contribution, and purpose of expenditure or project description. It can be found at: http://w05.international.gc.ca/projectbrowser-banqueprojets/filter-filtre.

Question No. 1172Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

With regard to the proposed tax increases on small businesses announced by the Minister of Finance on July 18, 2017: (a) on what date was the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food made aware of the proposed tax hikes; (b) was the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food consulted prior to the announcement; (c) what impact studies have been conducted by the government related to how the tax increases will impact farm families; and (d) what are the details and findings of any such impact studies?

Question No. 1172Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Louis-Hébert Québec

Liberal

Joël Lightbound LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government assesses issues arising under the tax system on an ongoing basis. It relies on a range of approaches and information sources to develop an in-depth understanding of potential issues, including the statistical analysis of tax return data, the monitoring of the tax literature, and consultations with the Canada Revenue Agency, academics, tax professionals, and other stakeholders.

When the analysis identifies a need for action, options are developed and assessed against a range of criteria such as their impact on the fairness of the tax system, economic efficiency, and the ease of administration of the tax system.

This process was followed in the development of the proposals contained in the consultation document released on July 18, 2017. Tax data and other information were used to assess the scope of the issues and the impact of different options. In particular, the number of businesses that could be affected by the various options to estimate the fiscal impact of the proposals was assessed, within constraints imposed by available data.

Draft legislation was also released for two of the three proposals contained in the consultation document. Stakeholders, including farmers, were invited to comment on the proposals and the draft legislation. Stakeholders were also specifically invited to provide their views and ideas on whether and if so, how, it would be possible to better accommodate genuine intergenerational business transfers in the Income Tax Act while still protecting the fairness of the tax system.

The government will not be moving forward with measures relating to the conversion of income into capital gains. During the consultation period, the government heard from business owners, including many farmers and fishers, that the measures could result in several unintended consequences, such as with respect to taxation upon death and potential challenges with intergenerational transfers of businesses. The government will work with family businesses, including farming and fishing businesses, to make it more efficient, or less difficult, to hand down their businesses to the next generation.

In the coming year, the government will continue its outreach to farmers, fishers, and other business owners to develop proposals to better accommodate intergenerational transfers of businesses while protecting the fairness of the tax system.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 1149 to 1152, 1154 to 1156, 1158, 1161, 1163 to 1167, 1169, and 1170 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 1149Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

With regard to the call for proposals for government funding through Natural Resource Canada's Energy Innovation Program allocated for Clean Energy Innovation that closed October 31, 2016: (a) what criteria were used to select approved projects; (b) what projects received funding, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) type of project, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received; (c) what projects have been selected to receive funding in the future, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) type of project, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received; and (d) for each project identified in (b) and (c), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1150Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

With regard to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority: (a) what was the total airport screening budget for the following fiscal years (i) 2014-15, (ii) 2015-16, (iii) 2016-17; and (b) what is the projected total airport screening budget for the following fiscal years (i) 2017-18, (ii) 2018-19, (iii) 2019-20?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1151Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

With regard to contracts signed by the government with Sparks Advocacy since November 4, 2015, and for each contract: (a) what is the (i) value, (ii) description of the service provided, (iii) date and duration of the contract, (iv) internal tracking or file number; and (b) was the contract sole sourced?

(Return tabled)