Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here this morning to take part in the debate on Bill C-274.
I want to thank my colleague from the New Democratic Party for introducing this bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act regarding the transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation. The member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, from the province of Quebec, is the finance critic for the second opposition party.
I feel compelled to speak to this issue because many people in my riding, Lévis—Lotbinière, have expressed their concerns about this matter and what the Canada Revenue Agency is supposed to do.
Furthermore, my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier had intended to move a motion or introduce a bill to change this situation after a number of his constituents expressed their serious concerns and fears. As everyone here knows, all parliamentarians have to wait their turn in order to introduce a bill or motion in the House. Unfortunately, my colleague was 214th in line to be able to introduce his bill, which meant he was very unlikely to introduce it before the end of the 42nd Parliament, which will end in October 2019.
This bill should go through second reading so that we can study all the tax implications and, most importantly, determine how it will contribute to the economic development of the regions of Quebec and Canada.
We believe that this government has not done what is necessary to support the economic development of our regions, and here is why. It appointed just one minister to look after Canada's six economic development agencies, when that minister is not familiar with the realities of all the regions of Canada, particularly those of Quebec, and likely never will be.
The Liberals have been in office for over a year, yet they still have not managed to sign a softwood lumber agreement. They also have not managed to create any jobs in Canada, except perhaps at the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. They are setting up an infrastructure bank for projects of $100 million or more. They are even saying that investors would prefer projects of $500 million or more. However, if projects of $100 million or more or $500 million or more are required, the Lotbinière RCM, whose municipalities have an average population of 2,200, will not see a penny of that money for many years to come.
What is more, the government set up only a modest compensation program for farmers and cheese producers. However, these days, our dairy producers are very concerned, particularly with regard to the new and upcoming NAFTA negotiations. I can see why they are concerned, given the government across the way.
Let us not forget the most important thing: the government did all of this while completely losing control of the deficit. It announced a $10-billion deficit, which is huge, but now it seems the deficit is going to be closer to $30 billion. What is worse, the budget will not be balanced until 2055. There are many people here in the House who will not even live to see that happen.
This bill has to pass second reading stage so that we can provide a tool to help protect our seasoned Canadian entrepreneurs. This will also help ensure the prosperity of a business supervised by a parent who is committed to the success of the business. Parents are excellent mentors for the business, especially if they have been working at the business for 40 years. They have weathered a few storms and are certainly able to give the best advice to the future generation, often their own children or grandchildren. These entrepreneurs worked hard on developing their businesses. The least we can do is take the time to address this issue in the House.
Let us build on what Quebec did when faced with the same problem involving the sale of businesses between members of the same family. In 2015, the finance minister included measures in his budget to ensure that this type of transaction is taxed fairly and equitably for family members of small-business owners.
We must also encourage family solidarity and in doing so, protect our small and medium-sized businesses to ensure their survival and allow children and grandchildren to take over the operations and maintenance of their family business, both in Canada's cities and its vast rural regions.
Many business people are not motivated to transfer their cherished business to a family member. Imagine that you had to pay between $250,000 and $1 million more in taxes on a small business. This is quite different than selling the business to a non-family member. That is the lesser evil. What is scandalous is the demise of these businesses, which results in the loss of 15, 20, or 30 jobs in small communities of 1,000 people.
Future generations work in the family business. However, when the owners want to retire and enjoy a well-deserved lifestyle after having worked to build a good business, they do not want to give their money to the different levels of government. We all know that the best place to invest money in order for it to grow is in the pockets of Canadians and not in those of a Liberal government.
Anyone who can count and who is an entrepreneur at heart will perhaps prefer, unfortunately, to sell their business to someone else rather than to a family member, because today's tax system is not accountable to anyone and does not respect the contributions of those who have developed these businesses for the past 40 years.
We believe that the aging of our population will result in increased business transfers, and that most small businesses will sadly not make it out in one piece. The survival of small businesses is vital to job markets all across Canada, especially in the regions. Young entrepreneurs are having a hard time coming up with the capital needed to take over the business, especially since they have to borrow 30% more to ensure that their parents can have a decent retirement. Many entrepreneurs want their children or grandchildren to take over their business, which is only natural. When people invest 40 years of their life in a business, they usually want it to continue after they are gone.
We believe that horizontal equity, when it comes to taxation, is a fundamental part of ensuring a fair and competitive business environment. It is only fair that all Canadians should be treated equally when it comes to taxation, and not two different ways. It is unfair that there are two separate tax structures depending on whether business owners sell to their children or grandchildren, or to a stranger. We believe that the Income Tax Act penalizes families who want to keep the business in the family.
In closing, for all these reasons, and more importantly, because this government has not taken the necessary steps to support and develop our regions, which is very important, this bill needs to pass second reading. This tool will help protect Canada's experienced business owners and help guarantee millions of jobs for future generations. This is a good initiative and we will support it.