Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-234.
This bill amends the Income Tax Act to create a home security tax credit.
First, I wish to inform you that the Bloc Québécois will be voting against this bill. Our party and I recognize the challenge of home security, especially in rural areas. I come from a rural village called Saint-Jean-de-Matha. I commend the great passion that the hon. member for Prince Albert, for whom I have a great deal of respect, put into his speech.
This issue is very important, but we believe that the solution proposed in this bill is not effective enough.
We believe that the bill would only push people to spend more on security systems that would not adequately protect them. I am talking about keeping people safe, not property. As far as property is concerned, I do not know if the same thing happens in Saskatchewan, but in Quebec when we install security alarm systems, our insurance costs go down. There is also compensation for this. I will therefore focus on personal security.
Instead, we think that the money that would go towards subsidizing the purchase of these kinds of systems would be better spent by giving it to provincial police, indigenous police and the RCMP, as members have pointed out in discussions on this bill so far. I remind members that first nations police services are in serious need of resources and that the government needs to start funding them properly to help remote communities.
This bill would amend the Income Tax Act to establish a non-refundable personal tax credit for purchasing a home security system. The credit is for a maximum of $5,000 a year and includes the total of all amounts spent on home security. We have heard a number of arguments in support of this bill. One such argument is that crime in rural areas has risen higher than in urban areas. The member shared some compelling stories about people with addictions who resort to crime after losing their jobs. Since these areas are sometimes poorly served by law enforcement, residents may choose to install security systems, such as cameras or alarms.
The argument I want to advance here is that, as we see it, if the police are already having a hard time responding, investing in a security system that alerts the police would be an ineffective way to protect people, as I said, because police intervention is too slow to prevent the crime and keep people safe anyway. Let me reiterate that we appreciate the significance of this issue, but we think it would be better to invest more in supporting the RCMP, police services in Quebec and the provinces, and first nations police services. We think that introducing this tax credit will encourage people to spend money on systems that will probably not do much to prevent crime. From our perspective, it will actually give people a false sense of security.
I also want to reiterate that indigenous communities are sorely lacking in resources and are often poorly served by police forces. We think the money tied to this bill would be better spent on community security and safety, especially in first nations communities.
More fundamentally, the Bloc Québécois believes that the best way to fight crime is to fight inequality too. For example, although Quebec's social safety net is not perfect, it acts as a good foundation to ensure Quebeckers are protected. We have social programs to support families and the those most in need, including support to help women access the job market through family policy, such as subsidized child care and parental leave, which help combat poverty, since the two are linked. There is also the public school system, which has been mismanaged in recent years, not to say decades, but which is very important and has a wealth of knowledge and competence.
On that topic, this week is Hooked on School Days, so I salute all the young people and encourage them to continue their studies. I also commend the commitment of teachers in this mission.
Quebec's social safety net is part of a strong state that redistributes wealth. As we know, the Quebec model lies somewhere between those of northern Europe and western Europe. I actually have two books to recommend to any of my colleagues who would like to understand more about the importance of the state in the fight against inequality and in crime reduction.
The first one, which I do not believe has been translated into French yet, is called Combating Poverty: Quebec's Pursuit of a Distinctive Welfare State. Published by the University of Toronto, this comparative analysis explains how Quebec moved away from Canada in its approach to its social safety net in response to the federal government's budget cuts of the Chrétien and Martin years. Despite those cuts, Quebec managed to create important and bold new programs in health and social services. Elsewhere in Canada, services to the public were declining because of federal disengagement, but Quebec expanded its offerings.
The Bloc Québécois is obviously watching very closely to ensure that the current deficit is not reduced through the same Liberal practices as those used in the second half of the 1990s.
The second book I will refer to that could be of interest to my colleagues was written in 1990 by the Danish economist and sociologist Gosta Esping-Andersen. In The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, he explains the various reasons behind Quebec's choices regarding the best ways to establish public policies to fight social inequality, which, I should mention, the Bloc Québécois believes is directly linked to the crime rate.
I believe that rather than covering the cost of security systems, the money that would be allocated under the bill could be put to better use by increasing transfers to the provinces and to Quebec for police services, especially those in indigenous communities. In that regard, the Speech from the Throne took a first step by recognizing the latter as essential services. They were the only ones not deemed essential up to that point. The First Nations Chiefs of Police Association, supported by the Assembly of First Nations, called for this recognition, as well as for funding provided in a more stable manner than through agreements, which only last two to five years and must be constantly renewed. We expect that recognizing these police services as essential services will be accompanied by the funding required to ensure they can continue their operations and work on crime prevention.
Again, from our point of view, this bill does not really help reduce harm. Instead it offers a tax credit to those who install these devices, which could lower their property insurance premiums, as I was saying at the beginning of my speech. In Quebec, having an anti-theft system may lower our insurance bill by tens or hundreds of dollars a year and reduce the risk of theft when we are away.
However, what is even more dangerous than having someone break in while the homeowner is away, to steal valuables or commit the crimes my colleague from Prince Albert was mentioning, is to be home when it happens. Even with the best system, the danger is not reduced if the police fail to show up.
In closing, I want to reiterate that we are of course very sensitive to this issue. I have a great deal of respect for all the remarkable work that my colleague from Prince Albert does, including in the area of agriculture. It was clear from his speech that he is listening to his constituents. However, we do not believe that a tax credit is the best solution. Again, we are more in favour of additional support for law enforcement, starting with indigenous police services, and we strongly encourage ramping up efforts to reduce social inequality, which would reduce crime.