House of Commons Hansard #232 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, I did a lot of canvassing over the summer. I did reach some doors where I had similar questions.

What I was said to them was the following. Canada has one of the best balance sheets in the world. We have probably the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world. We have a lot to be proud of. We have an economy that is growing faster than all other economies at the moment. We are spending responsibly. That was validated by the IMF when Christine Lagarde came here just over a year ago.

We are spending responsibly, we are investing in infrastructure, we are investing in our future, and we are doing everything we can to keep our debt at a manageable level.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are many things we can agree on. I am going to bring to my colleague's attention, as I have to her colleagues, the Labour Code changes.

One of the areas I am concerned about is the unpaid leave for domestic violence. I am hoping the government will be open to listening to experts, both legal experts and people who work in the area of domestic violence. The challenge for many in those circumstances, who are often mostly women, is that their ability to take an unpaid leave to deal with creating a safe plan, hiring a lawyer, and perhaps finding a new place to live will not happen right away. It will happen over months or a year. However, when they come home to their abusive partners with a paycheque that is less, because they have taken unpaid leave, that might be a serious safety issue for that family and that partner.

I am encouraging the government to look at that again and to make those paid days for domestic leave.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of areas we need to continue to look at to better support our workers across this country. I appreciate the member putting a wonderful idea on the table.

I will say that I am very proud of what we have done so far in terms of supporting workers. I asked the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour a question in the House today about an announcement made this week about measures we are taking to protect workers from harassment and sexual violence in the workplace.

I know we will take more steps to support our workers in the days and years to come.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the election, we campaigned that an economy that works for the middle class is an economy that works for everyone.

The member has done a lot of work with immigrants in her community. Could the member comment on how these changes we are putting forward will help immigrants in her community?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Davenport we are very blessed to have 52% of the people in my riding born in other countries. They are very happy with the changes introduced in the budget not only this year but last year. Mainly it is because we actually spent quite a bit of time and money and resources making our system more efficient. For example, to process spouses went from 26 months to 12 months. That is just one of the many great changes new Canadians are seeing in our system that will very much benefit not only our immigrants but our economy, both today and tomorrow.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to join this debate on the budget implementation bill. I have seen many of these go through and I can say that I am really pleased with what I have seen in it. It is going to make a significant difference in the lives of all Canadians. As always, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak about the budget implement act, Bill C-63.

Our government is making intelligent investments that will have a direct impact on job creation and strengthening our economy while at the same time creating opportunities for success for all Canadians.

Our government is taking the right steps to give all Canadians, including the middle class especially, a brighter future. Allow me to take this opportunity to tell everyone about some of these investments and what I consider to be the right steps.

For example, the richest 1% of Canadians will be asked to pay a little more tax than others so that we will be better able to provide the middle class with some tax breaks they very much need. This tax cut has directly benefited nine million Canadians and is something that we Canadians will be proud of.

Second, let me talk about the Canada child benefit. The Canada child benefit has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. I know this for a fact because many of these children are in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek, and I will mention some of their stories.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hosting the hon. Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek, and as we walked through Yorkgate Mall, we encountered a constituent who was expecting her first child. The hon. minister and I took this opportunity to explain the financial opportunities this new mother stood to gain from our government's new Canada child benefit. This constituent, about to be a new mother for the first time, was overjoyed with a sense of relief to know that there would be financial help from the government and she thanked us for making a difference in her life and the life of her baby.

It would be a good idea to dig even deeper into the numbers on how the Canada child benefit is helping ridings like mine and many others throughout Canada. As of July 2017, there were a total of 12,250 payments provided in the riding of Humber River—Black Creek, which directly impact more than 20,000 children, who are so much better off as a result of the Canada child benefit. Their moms have extra money to be able to invest in everything from winter clothes to assisting with dancing or piano lessons, things they certainly could not do before. With some families, that money is putting more food on the table.

The average payment to a family is $770, and families in my riding have already received a total of almost $10 million dollars. That is $10 million dollars more that has gone into the riding of Humber River—Black Creek to help the single moms, the families, the children to have a better quality of life. That is all part of the budget implementation act. It is making a difference in their lives in that one riding. Repeat that throughout our country and think how much better off so many families and children are. These numbers cannot be ignored and do make a significant difference.

It is stories like these that allow me to rise today and speak confidently that the bill would help make a positive difference for Canadian families. The investments our government has made in people, in our communities, and in our economy are working. Canada has the fastest growing economy in the G7 and we are reinvesting the benefits of that growth back to the people who contribute most to that success.

Because of Canada's strong economic growth, our government's bottom line is better and we can, as a result, do even more to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. With lower taxes on small business, more support through the Canada child benefit, and an enhanced working income tax benefit, it will be an enormous help.

One of the things I have often heard from some of the parents or families who come into my office is that if they go to work, they will be worse off because everything they make will get clawed back. The working income tax benefit will help those families so they can go out and get a second job and not be penalized for it.

When the Canada child benefit was first introduced in July 2016, the extra money in parents' pockets had an immediate effect on consumer confidence and economic growth. Canada, as I said, has the fastest growing economy in the G7, giving our government the flexibility to reinvest a lot of these benefits.

With the increased cost of living increases to the CCB starting in July 2018, two years ahead of schedule, for a single parent with two children making $35,000—and I have a lot of them in my riding of Humber River—Black Creek—the strengthened CCB will mean $560 more next year, tax free, for books, skating lessons, or warm clothes for winter. The added confidence these increases bring to families is proven to have an immediate impact on economic growth.

Because the economy is growing so well, we are allowing low-income workers, including families without children and a growing number of single Canadians, to keep more hard-earned money from every paycheque by further enhancing the working income tax benefit by an additional $500 million per year, starting in 2019. This enhancement is in addition to the $250-million annual increase that will come into effect as part of an enhancement to another program the Liberals are strengthening, the Canada pension plan, to help people have a more secure retirement. That is very much top of mind for a lot of people given what has happened recently with Sears. We saw what happened with Nortel previously. These events really shake the foundations of many people. Taken together, the two enhancements that we have made will boost the total amount our government spends on WITB by about 65% in 2019, increasing benefits and expanding the number of Canadians who qualify.

Let us talk a little more about cutting taxes on small businesses. Our government committed to reducing the small business tax rate to 9% from 11%, effective January 2019. That represents a considerable amount for many small businesses. We want them to flourish and grow, while ensuring that Canadian-controlled private corporation status is not used to reduce the personal income tax obligations of high-income earners rather than supporting small businesses. This is about reinvesting money back into businesses so they will grow, can hire additional people, and certainly do much better. This means up to $7,500 in federal corporate tax savings per year to help entrepreneurs and innovators do what they do best. Small businesses are a key driver of our economy and a cornerstone of communities across the country. As our plan works to grow the economy, small businesses see the benefits of that growth with lower taxes.

As we continue to move forward, we want to ensure that the average Canadian has a good quality of life and can take the opportunities the government is trying to provide them by tax advantages that only the richest individuals, using high-priced accountants, were able to take advantage of in the past. Instead, the government has listened to small business owners, professionals, farmers, and fishers and will move forward in a way that protects all of them, innovators and entrepreneurs as well. As we lower taxes on small business, we are committed to ensuring that they support business growth and investment and not give personal tax advantages to the wealthy over the middle class.

We are doing very well. As I said earlier, we are the fastest growing economy in the G7; we have the lowest debt to GDP ratio and have created over 500,000 more jobs, many of them full-time, good jobs, in the last two years; the economy is great, and our country is doing very well. I am very happy to support Bill C-63 and hope that everyone in the House realizes the benefits to all Canadians of supporting it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague for receiving the Maclean's Parliamentarian of the Year award for being a mentor. It is certainly well deserved.

However, on this particular issue, I am not sure I want her to be mentoring anyone. There were a number of things she totally ignored in her comments. She ignored the fact that this budget will increase our debt. In fact, the interest costs alone will rise by $9 billion per year to $33 billion a year by 2021. She talked about not having personal tax advantages for the rich. I am wondering if she was including the finance minister and Prime Minister in that. It does not seem like it from some of the questions that have come up. She talked about the small business tax cut. My colleague and all of her colleagues know that there is no way that would have happened were it not for the immense pressure put on them by the opposition and hundreds of thousands of Canadians who protested the proposed tax changes that were going after so-called tax cheats. Because of the pressure by the opposition and Canadians who were going to be negatively impacted, the government capitulated and reduced the small business tax credit, which is a good thing. However, to imply that the government members it out of the goodness of their hearts is a little rich.

Finally, my question relates to infrastructure. She commented about the infrastructure they are investing in, but the problem they are not talking about is where they are investing in infrastructure, namely Asia. There is nearly $500 million, almost half a billion dollars, being invested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which Canada will have about a 1% say after investing that money. We know that the infrastructure investments that bank will be making will benefit Canadians, but will cost Canadians all kinds of money. How can she really honestly support that kind of spending?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, investing in infrastructure is a fabulous way of creating jobs and wealth and helping to grow the economy. Over $36 billion in projects have already been announced and are under way through our infrastructure plan. By investing in both the Asian infrastructure bank and our own infrastructure bank, it will provide lots of opportunity to invest in bridges and sewers. So many things throughout our country that have been neglected for many years by many governments will now receive infrastructure investments that will help keep our cities strong. Cities have clearly not had the money to do that, which has led to many bridge and road collapses. This money will begin to ensure that we are building a strong Canada that will stay attractive to many other people to live and invest in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, on this side, we certainly welcome some of the changes proposed to the Canada Labour Code that would prohibit unpaid internships unless they are educational, and provide flexibility within the workplace for people to take important leaves.

I want to draw to her attention one of the leaves I find problematic, and that is unpaid leaves for victims of domestic violence. I want to point out to her the issues that may be a barrier to victims accessing that leave. Because it is unpaid, it will put victims in a vulnerable state within domestic relationships where one partner is controlling the other economically. If that individual is coming home with a paycheque that is less than what it should be, it could actually put the family and the individual in harm's way. I encourage her to support looking at this particular part and being open to amendments at committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the best parts of this budget implementation act is this whole issue of flexible work arrangements. We just have to recognize that we are in the 21st century. Many women are working, many families experience pain and difficulty together and need to find ways for their employers to give them the help they need. Certainly, my colleague raises a very good point, but as with everything, we have to start to introduce change. As we go forward at committee, I am sure there will be a variety of amendments that will be costed out. The flexible work arrangements are something moving us in a much more positive way throughout Canada.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard the budget implementation act, I would like to talk about the climate around investment these days.

It is important to understand that while the government can create jobs, programs, and a number of different things, it is ultimately entrepreneurs who create the work, the employment, and the wealth in our country. I say that because one of the things the government fails to understand, or one of the challenges it has had over the last little while, is the uncertainty that small businesses face.

There is a number of issues and a number of things the Liberals are trying to do in stimulating the country, such as universal child benefit and other that obviously will make families better off. We do not have a problem with that. The challenge we have is the instability of what entrepreneurs face. Let me give an example.

While we were in government, we did a number of things to try to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses. I used the acronym called “TIRE” because it was a multi-pronged approach. We lowered corporate taxes to one of the lowest in the G7, down to 25%. We can say okay, it was great that we lowered corporate taxes, but what did that do? That was just one thing in a number of things we did, but it was important to create certainty for entrepreneurs to flourish.

Let me talk about the acronym of TIRE and what it stands for. The “T” stands for taxes and trade. One of the things we did was lowered taxes for corporations because we wanted to increase investment in Canada and we wanted to create a favourable environment to encourage other crown corporations and individuals to invest here.

The second thing we did was trade. We worked on the CETA deal, which we pretty much got to the finish line. It was nice to see the Liberals complete it. However, we were there. We negotiated it over the four years we were in government.

The second one was TPP, another agreement we worked on and had actually signed it but were waiting for ratification on it. This is important because Canada has about 35 million people and they cannot possibly sell all their goods to each other. We are definitely a trading nation. These are important things. We count very heavily on the U.S. That number used to be 85% to 90%. I realize now it is down to 75%. However, we need to create other opportunities. This was one of the reasons why we worked on trade along with taxes.

The “I” in TIRE, is infrastructure, investments, and immigration reform. We worked on these things. We spent major amounts of money in infrastructure across the country, and we got it out in record time. The Liberal government has also promised infrastructure money, but we have not seen a whole lot in the first two years. There is always some concern with a half billion dollars going to the Asia Infrastructure Bank, but the budget officer has said that almost $2 billion have been unspent at this point in time.

The “R” stands for research and development, and red tape reduction. If we look at the R and D, the government continues to spend money on it and continues to commit money to it. These are good things, but sometimes it misses the mark. We have talked about superclusters being important. My challenge is that as a small business person, it is very hard to access those things. Most businesses in the country are small businesses. While there is probably nothing wrong with the concept of superclusters, the challenge is that money needs to go to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Entrepreneurs tell us all the time that it is always difficult to raise capital. If we look at some of these things, this always seems to be the number one issue. When we look at places like San Francisco, silicon valley, Boston, Israel, and a number of other places around the world, there is great entrepreneurship. A lot of times Canadian companies have to go south of the border to raise money for second rounds, third rounds, VC rounds, and those kinds of things. These are some of the things with which we are challenged. When we look at R and D, absolutely important is the number of programs. The government has programs such as SR&ED a few others that are effective and helpful.

I sat on the red tape reduction committee. We travelled the country, and red tape was another thing that frustrated entrepreneurs to no end. We have to find ways to continue. One of the things we implemented was the one for one rule. When a new regulation was introduced, we would reduce a regulation.

One of the challenges is this. The federal government regulates a number of areas. However, then there are provincial and municipal jurisdictions and each of these add a layer and make it difficult for entrepreneurs to get started.

The last thing, the “E” in TIRE, is entrepreneurship and the economy. One of the things I always tell people when I talk to them about business is that there is a whole suite of things that we need to do in order to encourage entrepreneurship in this country. Right now, there are obviously a number of incubators and accelerators. Members are obviously familiar with Communitech in Waterloo, which does an amazing job. There are a number of other incubators and accelerators across this country. I always wonder if it would not make sense, as we move forward, to encourage colleges and universities to look at making that part of their mandate. I realize that is not always possible, but I think if we are going to teach entrepreneurship, if we are going to talk to people about starting businesses, then we also have to give them a place to actually help hone their craft.

Some of the things that are helpful for incubators are, obviously, that there is access to capital and money, that there are mentors, and that there is an environment where there is a chance to work and feed off what is going on with other individuals. As I visited a number of incubators in Silicon Valley, one of the things that was amazing was this whole issue of like-mindedness. People could come together, share their ideas, have access to capital, and all those other things.

However, one of the things we struggle with in this country is that we do not have a culture of entrepreneurship. I talk to students taking business programs all the time and ask them what they think they are going to do. They tell me that once they get their MBA, they want to work for a big company. Now, there is nothing wrong with working for a big company, but one of the challenges we have in this country is that we do not have enough people willing to start businesses and be entrepreneurial.

As I look at these things that we worked on as a government, I use TIRE, where the “T” is for taxes and trade; the “I” is for infrastructure, investments, and immigration reform, which is trying to help businesses bring in the people they need; the “R” is for R and D, and red tape reduction; and, of course, the “E” is for entrepreneurship and economy.

One of the things that has been a challenge with the latest implementation, or the thought process of taxes and taxation, has been the uncertainty for small businesses. I have literally had all kinds of phone calls coming into my office. People were saying that they were not happy and were not sure what they were going to do.

I co-hosted a round table here on Parliament Hill as the co-chair of the entrepreneur caucus with my colleagues. We had the CFIB and a number of individuals. We had a high-net-worth accountant, who represents a lot of money. He said that since this has happened, over $1 billion has gone south of the border. Now, we are never going to see a press release sent out on who was going to invest in Canada but will not now. Money is fluid, and it can move in different directions. Quite frankly, when there is uncertainty, it makes it a challenge.

I also want to talk about the unintended consequences of some of the proposed tax changes. Remember, in previous years, it took the Carter commission four years to look at tax changes and another six years to implement them, which is over a decade. However, this was done in less than 75 days in the middle of the summer.

Doctors are a segment of people who were singled out as not paying their fair share of taxes. I have an individual in my office who lives in my riding but has a practice in Welland. She is a dermatologist, and her husband is an orthopaedic surgeon. She feels totally vilified with what is going on here. She and her husband have over $400,000 in debt, with another $100,000 for her to set up her practice in Welland. She said that if things do not change that, in two years when her lease runs out, she will be moving south of the border. I am not saying that every doctor is leaving, but there are certainly individuals out there who do not feel like the hard work and time they put in is going to be rewarded.

As I look at some of the budget implementation act, I see large deficits, which are for a time when the economy is not doing that well. Right now, the economy has been doing relatively well. What happens if we continue to spend all of this money that is for a rainy day? Our growth is better than average, and maybe better than expected, but I believe that on the horizon we will see less than 2% growth, or 1% and change, over the next couple of years.

If we stack up some of things that are going on here, such as the uncertainty with the tax proposals, the fact remains that it is still hard for entrepreneurs to access money. When we look at taxing passive income, it makes it very discouraging for people trying to grow the economy, create jobs, and, quite frankly, trying to help Canada grow as a nation.

I would encourage my friends on the other side of the House to reconsider what they are looking at, where they are going with these tax changes, and the deficit, because there will be lasting and long-term results.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 8th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member across the way for his intervention today, and for giving us the letters T-I-R-E to consider and to remember the points he has given. It always helps when in a presentation to have something to refer to.

My question is whether the TIRE was flat or not, and whether maybe we did not get economic growth with $150 billion in increased debt in the country. Our strategy of investing in the middle class seems to be getting the growth that the previous government did not get by giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

Could the member comment on the different strategies that are being used by the member's party and our party?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the members that the TIREs were full, we were running on all four TIREs, and everything was working well.

We can look at what happened with the great economic downturn in 2008. It was Canada that actually did better than any country in the G7. It was Canada that led the way in growth. While other countries had this huge fall, we continued to maintain.

We spent money. It was the opposition that said we needed to spend more. We spent what we felt was important at the time to get the economy back on track. I will just say that we want to be careful looking at this quarter. Things are well, but I believe there are huge troubles on the horizon. We have mortgage rates that are going to change in January. They are going to raise the benchmark by over 2% to qualify for first-time homebuyers or for homebuyers in general. That will mean that less than 75% of what homebuyers qualify for in 2017 is not going to be there.

There is a whole bunch of these small cuts that are happening. I would encourage the members to be cautious, because as we move forward into 2018 and 2019, I really believe there are storm clouds on the horizon.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my Conservative colleague for his speech in the House on the budget implementation bill.

He talked a lot about business owners. Whenever I meet with small business owners back home, they often tell me about unfair credit card fees. Some businesses are paying extraordinary sums to credit card companies. Some small businesses are paying more than $200,000 per year.

I would like to know whether this is also an issue for small and medium-sized business owners in my colleague's riding.

Do they talk a lot about how the government has not done a thing to better regulate credit card fees?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that I pay attention to on a regular basis are the surveys that come out from CFIB.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which has members all across this country, has a great pulse on what is going on in the world of small and medium-sized businesses. One of the things that continues to come up is credit card fees for CFIB.

What I would say to the member is that this is an issue that continues to come up, time and time again, as an issue of concern. It is one of the things that we looked at when we were in government, and one of the things that I believe needs still more work.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia, Indigenous Affairs; the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, National Defence; and the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove, Taxation.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this debate in the House tonight, for the government bringing forward budget 2017, and now for Bill C-63. The government's actions are in line with and directly support the four initiatives of the Guelph and Wellington poverty elimination task force, by looking at the four areas of income inequality, affordable housing, food insecurity, and health inequities.

There is an old African proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” This government knows that working together with others, and other orders of government, is crucial. In fact, the whole-of-government approach is the way forward.

On the first point of income inequality, the goal of the Guelph and Wellington poverty elimination task force is that all members of the community have the income, resources, and opportunities to fully participate in the community. Of people living in poverty, 70% are currently working. According to Statistics Canada, Canada has one of the highest proportions of low-paid workers among similarly industrialized countries.

The government believes that the working income tax benefit can do much more to improve the financial security of low-income working Canadians. To this end, in the 2017 fall economic statement, the government is announcing its intention to further enhance the working income tax benefit by $500 million a year, starting in 2019. The maximum Canada pension plan retirement benefits for workers will also be increasing over time by 50%. The government has increased the guaranteed income supplement payments to seniors by up to $947 a year, which is going to help 900,000 low-income seniors, 70% of whom are women.

The Canada child benefit has helped to stimulate the economy. Our economy is growing at 3.7%, leading the G7, and we have created more than 500,000 jobs since it was introduced. There are 12,000 families or 24,000 kids in my riding who receive a total of $8 million per month tax-free. This is an enormous boost to the Guelph economy. The budget implementation act will now index these funds two years ahead of schedule due to the strong growth we have in our economy.

Economic opportunity is the best way to address income inequality. This legislation will take the next steps for our innovation and skills plan, an agenda that focuses on people and addresses the changing nature of the economy to ensure that it works for all Canadians. Bill C-63 will enact several key parts of our plan, including $600 million in new financing for clean technology firms, and $400 million to put in place the venture capital catalyst initiative.

The second point that the poverty elimination task force is looking at is affordable housing, with the goal that everyone in Guelph and Wellington can find and maintain an appropriate, safe, and affordable place to call home. The government will invest more than $11.2 billion over 11 years through the national housing strategy to provide low-income Canadians with improved access to adequate and affordable housing. This is the most significant investment in housing that has ever been made in the history of Canada.

Through the rental construction financing initiative, the government will also offer more than $2.5 billion over the next four years in low-cost loans to support the construction of new rental housing to help increase the supply of rental housing. Budget 2017 also proposes a total investment of $2.1 billion over the next 11 years to expand and extend funding for the homelessness partnering strategy beyond 2018-19. Our national housing strategy will be announced over the next few weeks. We will be meeting with members of the Guelph and Wellington poverty elimination task force to discuss implications for Guelph and how we can work together.

The third point is food insecurity. Everyone has to have access to affordable and healthy food in a dignified manner. We have a shared objective federally. In fact, the agriculture committee that I sit on has repeatedly heard from witnesses on the food policy, addressing the nutritional food that Canada needs to focus on, and working with partners like food banks to reduce food waste and to improve food distribution within our communities.

The Canada child benefit has been mentioned a lot today. It has helped lift 300,000 children out of poverty. Thanks to this benefit, by the end of this year, it is estimated that child poverty will be reduced by 40% from where it was in 2013.

For a single parent with two children and $35,000 of income, the acceleration of the Canada child benefit will contribute $560 toward the increasing cost of feeding children. This increase means more nutritious food for lower-income children and families, allowing for a more engaged and active student population in our schools.

To address food insecurity within indigenous communities, they need employment opportunities. Budget 2017 invests $50 million in the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy, providing the knowledge indigenous peoples need to sustain themselves and build their communities.

Finally, on health inequities, everyone in Guelph and Wellington has to have access to affordable health services. Drug prices in Canada are among the highest in the world. Patented drug prices in Canada are 17% to 37% higher than those in France, Italy, the U.K., Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Canada's generic drug prices are also comparatively high.

We have heard from Canadians about the need for improved access to prescription medications and lower drug prices. Through budget 2017, we are investing over $140 million over five years to help improve access to pharmaceuticals and support innovations within the health care system, but we know there is a lot more to do.

People may be wondering how these two policies, federal and municipal, are so well aligned and how this can happen. In truth, if a government believes in the whole-of-government approach and serving its people, there can be no other way. Our government understands the needs of our communities, both large and small, from coast to coast to coast, and is prepared to offer communities what they need to realize their goals.

The results of the past two years justify the trust Canadians placed in this government in the 2015 election. We promised we would work together, and we are. I am confident that the measures in budget 2017 and the budget implementation act will continue this positive trend, build our communities, help the most vulnerable, and have a successful economy together.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, something I have heard is quite concerning. Some telephone calls have come into my office. As members know, I am focused on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs file. The calls are from people who are expressing significant concern. They are asking how the government can spend half a billion dollars on infrastructure in Asia, through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, when we have so many desperate needs at home. They ask why the government is putting heated trailers at the border for people when people in the north are freezing.

When the member says that the government is taking care of vulnerable people, I would like him to provide an answer on how spending half a billion dollars to provide infrastructure in Asia or backstopping investors in Asia is helping people in the north, as its communications adviser suggested.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, when we participate in international activities, such as the infrastructure bank, and we are setting up an infrastructure bank within Canada to also attract international investment, it makes us participate in the investment of world development, both in Canada and abroad. We will be looking at significant investments in infrastructure that Canadians will not be paying for by themselves. They will pay for it in partnership with other countries, similar to what we will do in China.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently in my riding, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several doctors. As the representative of North Island—Powell River, a huge challenge for us is attracting health care professionals to the region. The doctors talked about their concerns on the impacts of the small business tax to these types of communities. One thing that is really important for the House and the Prime Minister to hear is how hurt these doctors were by the comments the Prime Minister made about rich doctors and how much of a ramification that had on their offices. People have gone into their offices to chastise them for this.

What I notice is missing from the bill has nothing to do with tax fairness across the board. I see a focus on small business and not at the significant tax loopholes that the very wealthy use every day to not pay their fair share. What are the member's thoughts on this specific issue and how those impacts are meaningful in communities like I represent?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question looks at how we work as a country together. Because physicians serve our communities in so many ways and they give so much to our communities, how do we ensure our communities are there for them when they need them as well?

When we look at tax fairness and tax inequities in our system, we will be helping their patients, developing communities, increasing the economy, and helping them to continue to contribute to Canada, which they do in such a great way.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the people in Guelph know how diligently my colleague works on the innovation file. I have had the pleasure of working with him on a number of initiatives. As the chair of a subcommittee on innovation through our Atlantic growth strategy, I have discovered a lot of opportunities available to Atlantic Canadians. Could my hon. colleague talk about how our focus on innovation is helping companies, entrepreneurs, and people in his community thrive in this growing economy?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I almost never have a conversation without innovation coming up in some way, so I appreciate the member coming at this from this angle. Innovation in Guelph and innovation elsewhere includes social innovation. Through the investments our government is making, we see a social innovation that is contributing to our economy, to our environment, and developing social benefits for all Canadians. I thank the hon. member for his focus on innovation. Social innovation is a very important part of our strategy going forward.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau NDP Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, which I will strongly oppose.

I would like to talk about Sunday's municipal elections in Quebec. There are 37 municipalities in the riding I represent, and it spans 3,200 kilometres. I would like to congratulate all of the candidates who ran in the municipal elections and all those who won. I care about having a good working relationship with other representatives. I look forward to working with the newly elected officials. I would also like to celebrate the fact that more women were elected mayor. I am very proud to say that we now have more women mayors back home. This is good news.

In my speech today, I want to talk about the issues that are not part of the Liberal government's bill. For example, the government is not doing anything about credit card fees, and more recently, it refused to work with us, the provinces, and other stakeholders to create a universal pharmacare program. I also want to talk about how the government is refusing to remedy tax unfairness by facilitating the intergenerational transfer of family farms. The last issue I will touch on is employment insurance.

I will start with credit card fees, which cost Canadian merchants tens of thousands of dollars. It is their second-largest expense after salaries. Small retailers make up more than 50% of the Canadian economy. For example, a Saint-Boniface service station called Alimentation Lemoyne & Auger in my riding pays $30,000 per year in credit card transaction fees. That is a lot of money. Canadian small businesses pay the highest credit card transaction fees in the world. The Liberal government should do like other countries, such as Australia and EU countries, which have capped fees at 0.5% or less.

This is a measure that the Liberal government should have introduced for small business owners. We really would have liked to see some progress. We would have liked for the government to stand up for small business owners in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. There is supermarket owner in Laval who spends nearly $200,000 on credit card fees. The government needs to act now to better regulate those fees.

Last month, the NDP used an opposition day to raise a debate in the House of Commons on the need to adopt a universal pharmacare program. In the riding that I represent, the population is aging, so I care about health-related issues. We had a debate in the House of Commons, but unfortunately, the Liberal government decided to vote against our motion.

That day, representatives of the Centre Avec des Elles in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon and the Centre des femmes l'Héritage in Louiseville came to attend question period. They also got to meet several MPs. These people from my riding, who came to the House the day that we moved an opposition motion on the need for a universal pharmacare program, could not believe that the government was going to vote against such a measure, when, unfortunately, the cost of prescription drugs is rising every year.

The people I represent did not think it was the right approach to lowering the cost of drugs. They were really frustrated to see the Liberal government's inaction and unwillingness to act. We would have really liked to see something in the budget for this. However, there is nothing yet again. There is no action on the part of the Liberal government.

I had have the honour of being the agriculture and agrifood critic since 2015 after being the deputy critic from 2012 to 2015. I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food since 2012. I am the longest serving member of the committee. Anything that has to do with the transfer of farms and fishing businesses is really important. We know that Canada's population is aging and that succession and planning is not going well.

My colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques introduced a bill to address a fiscal injustice in the transfer of farms. Unfortunately, that bill was defeated in the House of Commons before it could be referred to a committee. We think it is disgraceful that the government is doing nothing to help the next generation of farmers in Canada.

I would also like to raise the matter of employment insurance. I represent a rural riding where many people work in seasonal industries. These people depend on EI, but they do not always have access to it, sadly. The budget contained no changes or assistance to give workers access to employment insurance. Currently, 15,000 Canadians are having to contend with the spring gap. This needs to be discussed, because during the campaign, the Liberal Party said it would fix the problem by improving the system and making it so that these people have access to EI.

There have been some minor changes, but the Liberal government has not carried out a comprehensive reform to improve access to employment insurance for workers in the agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and tourism sectors. These sectors are incredibly important to the economy, and we need to make sure we support the people working in them.

The unemployed workers' movement in Quebec claims that the Liberal government has not reformed the employment insurance system. Forty-four percent of Canadians will not be eligible for employment insurance. That is a lot of people, a lot of Canadians and Quebeckers who need reform and change so they can access EI when they need it. This is really important to them.

We really hoped to see some progress on reducing inequality. We know that a special committee was formed to examine pay equity. A report entitled “It's Time to Act” was even published. The government committed to taking action, but not today, tomorrow, or even in a year. It is going to introduce a bill on pay equity to ensure that women and men earn equal pay for work of equal value. It is going to take until the end of 2018. I am trying to understand why the government is dragging its feet on introducing a bill that would truly further equality.

I think everyone agrees that there is still work to be done. It is 2017. The government claims to be feminist, but it needs to walk the talk. This bill needs to pass quickly. We are deeply disappointed to see so many things missing from this budget, especially since the government is always saying that it can do better.

The government should have done better with this legislation.

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4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Pat Finnigan Liberal Miramichi—Grand Lake, NB

Mr. Speaker, I salute my colleague, the member for Berthier—Maskinongé. She also sits on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. I want to thank her for her hard work.

Let us look at our budget since we have been in power. There are still many things we would like to do, this I know. There is obviously still much to be done.

We increased the Canada child benefit, which was great. We increased the old age security pension, which was also great. Then, we lowered the retirement age from 67 to 65. On the agriculture front, we allocated $250 million to producers and $100 million to processors.

These are some of the positive things we have done in the past two years. There is much to do, of course, but will my colleague at least acknowledge that our government has been very busy? We still have a lot left to do. Does she have anything to say about that?