Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be participating in this debate on Senate Bill S-6 in my new role.
I would like to start by saluting my colleague opposite for his fine speech on this bill. I will continue in the same vein and express my support for this bill.
Until just recently, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. I sat on the committee for nearly three years, and I absolutely loved it. We got to examine all the issues that fall to the federal government, including all bills related to taxation authority, and review our government's finances. One of the last studies I took part in was about Bill S-6, an act to implement the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. It is part of our government's agenda for ensuring tax fairness and a fair tax system.
Before I get into the details of the legislation, I would first like to underscore the fact that this is not only part of this government's tax fairness agenda, but this also places itself within a whole framework of what we are trying to achieve to help Canadians who are trying to keep their taxes low, including small businesses as well as for middle-class families.
When our government took office three and a half years ago, we made a commitment to invest in growth and we made it while upholding the principle of fairness for all taxpayers. This proposed legislation goes a long way toward that end.
A fair tax system is key to ensuring that the benefits of a growing economy accrue to all and are felt by more and more people, especially people with good, well-paying jobs for the middle class and for everyone who works hard to join it.
I would like to remind hon. members that one of the first things our government did was lower taxes on the middle class and raise them for the wealthiest 1%. Over nine million Canadians benefited from that measure. That really fills me with pride. All members can take pleasure in knowing that nine million Canadian families enjoy a much lighter tax burden today.
After the middle-class tax cut, we took steps to replace the old system of child benefits with the Canada child benefit. I take pride in that measure because it fulfilled an election promise. The leader of the Liberal Party of Canada made that promise in my riding, Hull—Aylmer, surrounded by middle-class families and families hoping to join them. These people work hard to build a stable family life.
It is one of the biggest promises we have ever made, and the result is that 300,000 children were lifted out of poverty in Canada. That is remarkable.
I have been involved in federal politics for a long time now. I started here, in 1988, as a page in the House of Commons. I remember there was a debate that year called “campaign 2000”. The idea was to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.
We made that commitment in 1988. Every single government since has made it too. However, it was not until 2015, when the current Liberal government was elected, that we were able to accomplish great things in that area. We cut the child poverty rate by a third, which is remarkable, and we did it in one fell swoop. It was one of the most important social programs—if not the most important—to have ever been implemented in Canadian history.
I would now like to return to the bill on the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar. As I said earlier, I am on the Standing Committee on Finance; we examined the provisions of the bill and we unanimously voted to support this bill without amendment. I am very proud that we have now reached the stage where it is up to the House of Commons to approve it.
I know that this is not something that we generally do when we introduce a bill, but as a former member of the Standing Committee on Finance, it is very important for me to review and explain the five major clauses of the bill without getting into too much detail.
First, this bill sets the maximum withholding tax rate on dividends at 5%. That is important, particularly if the beneficial owner is a company that controls at least 25% of the voting power in the company paying the dividends. It sets the maximum withholding tax rate at 15% in all other cases. The first provision is consistent with other double taxation treaties that Canada has with a number of other countries in the world.
Second, the bill sets the maximum withholding tax rate on interest at 10% and eliminates withholding taxes when interest is paid in respect of a loan made, guaranteed or insured by a public agency or the central bank of one of the states or when the beneficial owner of the interest operates exclusively to administer or provide benefits under one or more pension, retirement or employee benefits plans, subject to certain other conditions. As I said, that is completely normal. That is something we do in the 93 other double taxation treaties that Canada has with other countries.
The third element of this double taxation treaty sets the minimum withholding rate of 10% of the gross amount of royalties and further provides for the withholding tax on certain royalties. This is particularly important, especially for people who might be involved in companies such as in the mining sector.
As members know, Canada is a worldwide leader with respect to investment in mining companies and in doing these investments around the world. It is very important for Canadians who are working for these companies in these countries to have this opportunity to participate and be protected by these taxation agreements.
The fourth element includes a provision to avoid potential double taxation that can arise in respect of the capital gains that an individual realizes on the deemed disposition of property upon immigration between two states, in this case between Canada and Madagascar.
This proposed bill will benefit Canadians by boosting our exports abroad, making it easier for Canadians to take part in these activities. In doing so, Canadians will know they are protected by these measures on double taxation.
Tax fairness is as important to Canadians as it is to our government's plan for economic growth. It is very important that Canadians know their hard work will be rewarded with greater opportunities and a fair chance of success. They need to know that their fair chance of success and opportunities are being protected and that their efforts will not end up being for not when they are caught in between differential taxation treaties between two different countries.
The legislation before us today will build on Canada's extensive network of income tax treaties. As I mentioned earlier, we have 93 comprehensive tax treaties that are currently in force with countries around the world. Canada's tax treaties are a part of a larger global network of approximately 3,000 tax treaties between nations worldwide. Therefore, we have 93 of 3,000 treaties. We have been doing quite well in ensuring we are protecting Canadians, their investments and efforts abroad.
This network of tax treaties is really fundamental to economic growth, not only for Canada but for many countries. It is fundamental to our trade and investment. At the end of the day, we can talk about companies but we really are talking about people. We are talking about how people are putting their creative efforts into creating economic opportunities through entrepreneurial opportunities that present themselves. This gives them that opportunity to ensure they are fairly taxed and their efforts are protected.
By eliminating double taxation, these treaties provide the certainty which Canadians need to support open and advanced economic opportunities and encourage our friends in our countries, in this case Madagascar, to support open and advanced economies as well. They permit the exchange of information needed to prevent international tax fraud and tax evasion.
From what I have gathered in listening to the speeches presented in the House today and with the support of all major political parties for this treaty and others like it, we are really creating a whole network of opportunity for Canadians to ensure they can take their economic activities abroad. Yes, we want investment here and yes, it is important, but we also have to ensure that we have equipped Canadians with the opportunity to go abroad, to find and create opportunities. This is not only be good for them individually, but also good for Canada in creating more international trade opportunities. I dare say if it is done in the right conditions, there are certainly great economic opportunities for the countries in which we decide to put our entrepreneurial know-how to work.
Bilateral double tax conventions are also fundamental to eliminating tax barriers to trade and investment between two countries. They achieve this purpose in a number of ways.
First, tax treaties provide greater certainty to taxpayers regarding their potential liability to tax in the other country.
Second, they allocate taxing rights between the two jurisdictions, thus eliminating double taxation.
Third, treaties like this one reduce the risk of burdensome taxation that may arise because of excessive withholding taxes.
Fourth, they ensure that taxpayers will not be subject to discriminatory taxation in the other country.
Fifth, tax treaties authorize the Canada Revenue Agency and its foreign counterpart to exchange tax information for the purpose of preventing tax evasion and tax fraud.
Last, tax treaties give jurisdictions a dispute resolution mechanism.
All of these objectives are important, and this bill will enable us to achieve them.
By updating our tax relationship with Madagascar, we can strengthen trade and investment between our two countries. By doing so, we are showing the world that Canada is an outstanding place to invest and to do business in and, more important, we are creating stability for Canadians to invest and do business outside of our country. We do this because we know that Canada's economic success rests on the hard of Canadians but also on the strong relationships that inform direct investment.
I would like to draw the attention of the House to the importance of signing such tax treaties.
Canada has 93 tax treaties with 93 countries around the world. These treaties are part of our government's efforts to ensure Canada's economic well-being. Since budget 2016, our government increased the Canada Revenue Agency's resources and funding in order to strengthen its ability to crack down on tax evasion and tax avoidance. The CRA's compliance programs now help them to better target those posing the highest risk of tax avoidance.
These efforts are producing tangible results for Canadians. Through the new system in place, our government can monitor international electronic funds transfers of $10,000 or more that enter or leave the country. This represents over one million transactions per month. Monitoring these transfers helps us better assess the risk of individuals and companies committing unfair tax avoidance.
In closing, by increasing the number of tax treaties we have with our partners, the Government of Canada is helping to create favourable conditions for long-term economic growth that will help strengthen Canada's middle class and support those working hard to join it. The bill we are introducing today is an important step towards achieving that goal.
I encourage all my hon. colleagues to support this bill. That concludes my speech. I thank my colleagues for their attention and hope to have the unanimous support of the House to pass this legislation.