Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-30, which implements certain provisions of budget 2021.
As everyone knows, it is a mammoth and extremely dense bill that contains a wide range of measures. We unreservedly support some of these measures, which we would like to see implemented even if we vote against the budget.
This part of the bill seeks to extend COVID-19 assistance programs, which although not perfect are nevertheless essential, until September. These include the Canada emergency wage subsidy and the Canada emergency rent subsidy. Many businesses that have suffered badly over the past year rely on those programs. Considering how important predictability is in business, of course we are pleased that entrepreneurs will have a clear idea of the programs available to them over the coming months. However, the amounts allocated will decrease gradually throughout the extension period.
However, there is one little thing worth noting. The bill gives the Minister of Finance the power to extend the programs until November 30, 2021, through regulation, without having to go through the legislative process. I believe I am right in thinking and safe in saying that this measure is an insurance policy in case the House is dissolved for a fall election, which would prevent it from enacting a law that would extend the wage subsidy beyond September 27, 2021. I will let my colleagues read between the lines to determine when the government expects the House to resume.
We are particularly pleased that, instead of paying taxes in the year that they received a government assistance cheque and getting a credit in the year that they reimburse the amount, as is currently the case, under Bill C-30, taxpayers will not have to pay taxes on any government assistance that they reimbursed. Those who have just completed their 2020 income tax return could end up paying taxes on the amounts they received through the Canada emergency response benefit. However, even if the government asked them to pay back those amounts, under Bill C-30, any reimbursements made this year make the cheques received last year tax-free.
Another piece of good news is the creation of a hiring subsidy program, which will be in effect from June 6 to November 20, 2021. That program is offered to businesses restarting their activities and hiring or rehiring employees. I am also pleased that taxes will finally be imposed on Internet products and services and Airbnb rentals, which will put an end to the unfair competition that we have strongly criticized.
I would also note the new Canada-wide child care program, even though it is part of a general trend of interference and federal centralization. Fortunately, there is mention of a possible asymmetrical agreement with Quebec and the federal budget statement repeatedly touts the child care system. However, there needs to be assurances that this agreement will translate into full compensation with no strings attached for Quebec for its share of the total cost of the program. Since this federal government likes to interfere in matters that are not under its jurisdiction, I would like to note that family policy and related programs are exclusively under Quebec's jurisdiction.
Bill C-30 provides for a one-time payment of just over $130 million to the Government of Quebec to harmonize the Quebec parental insurance plan with the Employment Insurance Act. Since the eligibility criteria and benefit period for EI have been temporarily modified and increased, Quebec has the right to opt out with financial compensation with respect to the maternity and parental benefits program.
However, Bill C-30 also lays the foundation for a Canadian securities regulation regime, which the Bloc Québécois and Quebec strongly oppose. This bill provides for a significant increase to the budget of the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office, so it is not a stretch to conclude that Ottawa wants to strip Quebec of its financial sector. I remind members that the office was created in 2009, and its purpose is to create a single pan-Canadian securities regulator in Toronto. Bill C-30 authorizes the government to make payments to the transition office in an aggregate amount not exceeding $119.5 million, or any greater amount that may be specified in an appropriation act.
Although the Supreme Court ruled on a number of occasions that securities were not under federal jurisdiction, Ottawa finally got the green light in 2018 to interfere in this jurisdiction provided that it co-operate with the provinces and not act unilaterally. History has taught us to be cautious in such situations.
This plan to create a national securities regulator in Toronto is bound to result in regulatory activities transitioning out of Quebec. I will note that the unanimity we have seen in opposition to this bill in Quebec is rather remarkable. All political parties in the Quebec National Assembly, business communities, the financial sector and labour-sponsored funds are against this bill. The list of those who have vehemently expressed their opposition to this initiative includes the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, Finance Montréal, the International Financial Center, the Desjardins Group and Fonds de solidarité FTQ, as well as most Quebec businesses such as Air Transat, Transcontinental, Québecor, Metro, La Capitale and Molson.
This plan is just bad and must never see the light of day. Contrary to what members opposite are saying, this is more than just a dispute over jurisdictions or a new conflict between the federal government and the provinces. This is quite simply a battle between Bay Street and Quebec. It is an attack on our efforts to keep head offices in the province and preserve our businesses.
Keeping the sector's regulator in Quebec ensures that decision-makers are nearby, which in turn enables access to capital markets for businesses. A strong Quebec securities regulator is essential for the development and vitality of the financial sector. In Quebec, the financial sector accounts for 150,000 jobs and contributes $20 billion to the GDP. That is equivalent to 6.3%. Montreal is the 13th largest financial centre in the world.
A strong financial hub is vital to the functioning of our head offices and the preservation of our businesses. It is a well-known fact that businesses concentrate their strategic activities, in particular research and development, where their head offices are located. This new attack on Quebec's jurisdictions risks having us go the route of the branch plant economy, to the detriment of Ontario.
This potential exodus of head offices could have serious consequences on every level of our economy, since Quebec companies tend to favour Quebec suppliers, while foreign companies in Quebec rely more on globalized supply chains. Just imagine the impact that can have on our network of SMEs, particularly in the regions. As we have seen during the pandemic, globalized supply chains are fragile and make us very dependent on other countries. We will not stop fighting against this plan to centralize the financial sector in Toronto.
We will also keep calling out the government for ignoring the demands of the Quebec National Assembly and the provinces and refusing to increase health transfers from 22% to 35%. As we know, the government is ignoring the will of the House of Commons, since a Bloc Québécois motion calling on the government to substantially and permanently increase federal transfers to the provinces was adopted in December 2020.
The government could well have taken advantage of the fact that the deficit announced in budget 2021 was lower than expected, by $28 billion, which is exactly how much Quebec and the provinces are asking for. With massive spending on the horizon, it is clear that by refusing to increase transfers, the government is making a political choice, not a budgetary choice, to the detriment of everyone's health.
It was a long time coming, but Bill C-30 finally includes the increase to old age security that this government promised during the 2019 election campaign. However, the increase will amount to only $766 per year, or $63.80 per month, and will apply only to seniors aged 75 and over. The increase will not begin until 2022 and is insufficient for seniors and for the Bloc Québécois.
In closing, we will vote in favour of the bill, because we do not want to deprive seniors aged 75 and over of this cheque. We do not want to deprive businesses and workers of the assistance programs they are counting on, but we will continue to fight to ensure that all sectors of Quebec society receive their fair share in a fairer budget in the future.