Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to present Bill C-43 at third reading. This important bill implements key initiatives from economic action plan 2014.
This year's budget has further illustrated the responsible leadership of our government. It is a budget that builds on our strengths and continues to implement the government's plan for jobs and growth. Our efforts to support jobs and growth are underpinned by our plan to return to balanced budgets in 2015. This commitment to fiscal responsibility has helped to ensure that Canada maintains its hard-earned international economic fiscal advantage, which will help foster a growing, healthy economy that creates stable, well-paying jobs for all Canadians.
Indeed, our government's plan to return to balanced budgets is not an end in itself, but a means to increase Canada's economic potential, improve employment opportunities for Canadians, and raise our standard of living. It is for this reason that we made returning to balanced budgets the cornerstone of our economic action plan. To that end, economic action plan 2014 continues to focus on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity: long-lasting prosperity, the kind that our children can rely on and that future generations can appreciate.
However, I must remind members that the global economic situation remains fragile and that difficulties beyond our borders may affect Canada.
Thus, it is truly important for our Conservative government to implement its economic action plan, which will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Bill C-43 does not deviate from these objectives. It supports jobs and growth, helps families, strengthens communities and continues to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.
I would like to highlight today some of the key budget measures in Bill C-43 and thereby demonstrate how this government is demonstrating strong and responsible leadership with this major legislative measure.
First, let me touch on some ways our government is making our tax system simpler and fairer. This includes closing tax loopholes and strengthening tax enforcement to ensure all Canadians pay their fair share. Since 2006, our government has taken significant steps to establish our country as a global clean energy leader, including through regulatory actions, investments in technology and innovation, and broad-based incentives. The government has also supported these sectors through the tax system by expanding eligibility for the accelerated CCA for clean energy generation equipment.
In 2013, we encouraged businesses to invest in new clean energy technologies by expanding the types of organic waste that can be used in qualifying biogas production equipment and the range of qualifying equipment that can be used to treat gases from waste. Today's legislation would build on that success by expanding eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance, CCA, for clean energy generation equipment to include water current energy equipment and a broader range of equipment used to gasify eligible waste.
However, that is not all. Today's legislation also focuses on connecting Canadians with available jobs by helping them to acquire the skills that will get them hired and will help get them better-paying jobs.
In Canada, apprentices in skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and are required to participate in technical training for short periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. Apprentices can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training required by their program, including educational fees, tools and equipment, and forgone wages.
That is why, in order to help connect Canadians with available jobs, we created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will help apprentices in Red Seal trades by providing them with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.
More specifically, Bill C-43 amends the Income Tax Act to extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans—a non-refundable tax credit for interest on loans paid under the Canada student loans program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.
By helping Canadians get the skills they need to find a new job or a better job, we are investing directly and effectively in this country's greatest asset—our people, who are supporting the economy in general.
Another way we are proposing to improve our system of taxation is by updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Earlier this year, the government released for public comment draft legislative proposals relating to technical changes to the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and related regulations.
Following this public consultation, Bill C-43 includes amendments to relieve the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax on services of refining precious metals supplied to a non-resident person who is not registered for GST/HST purposes and to implement real property technical amendments that provide for the consistent treatment of different types of housing and ensure that the special valuation rule for subsidized housing works properly with the GST/HST place-of-supply rules and in the context of a GST/HST rate change.
We will continue to build on our government's stellar track record of improving the fairness and integrity of Canada's tax system, and as is evident from some of these measures, Bill C-43 does exactly that.
There is so much more to this bill than simply tax measures. This bill implements many positive budget measures that I would like to address now, and at the same time I would like to highlight some of the misinformation that the opposition would have Canadians believe.
Bill C-43 proposes to establish the governance structure for a new world-class science and technology research facility that would serve as a hub for Canadian and international Arctic research. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station, also known as CHARS, will not only strengthen Canada's position as a world leader in cutting-edge research in the Arctic but will also support the local economy in the region by creating jobs.
The opposition consistently accuses our government of a lack of consultation and an aversion to science. This research station will provide a very clear example of our government's commitment to exercising stewardship over Canada's Arctic lands and bringing together industry, academia, aboriginal governments, and international stakeholders to co-operatively leverage their expertise, experience, and resources.
It is also important to note that our government engaged widely on all phases of this project, and there is overwhelming support behind it. I could not be more proud of the action our government is taking in this bill, which will cement Canada as a global leader on Arctic issues and scientific research.
If the opposition had its way, it would also attempt to convince the public that our government is taking social assistance away from those who genuinely need it. This could not be further from the truth. Let me clear: that is categorically false.
Bill C-43 would simply give the option to the provinces and territories to establish minimum periods of residence to qualify for social assistance. The specifics of this option would be up to the provinces and territories. Subsequently the provinces and territories would be accountable to taxpayers, who believe that refugees, specifically bogus asylum claimants, should not have access to better health care than Canadians.
By making these changes, our government would ensure that our immigration system would be protected from those who are seeking to take advantage of taxpayer-funded health care, welfare, and other social benefits. We have had numerous examples of these over the last number of years.
Let me spell it out for the opposition one more time. Our government is committed to helping all newcomers, including genuine refugees, integrate into Canadian society and fully contribute to our community and our economy. Those in genuine need will continue to receive Canada's protection more quickly.
Another key measure of this bill supports job creation and grows Canada's economy. I am talking about our government's small business job credit. This measure would lower EI payroll taxes by 15% and save small businesses over $550 million over two years. This is real money we would be giving back to small businesses, to job creators. It is money they would use to help defray the costs of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, thus supporting growth and job creation.
These are small businesses all across the country, some in my own riding of North Vancouver, all of which have frequently told us that the number one job killer is higher payroll taxes. We listened to the voice of small business, the business experts who actually understand what this measure will do for job creation.
Dan Kelly, the President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called the small business job credit “a big, big deal for small business. It's good news for people looking for jobs....”
Of course, we can expect the opposition members to continue attacking job creators with massive tax hikes, such as a $20 billion carbon tax, and foolishly ignoring what small business is saying about this measure. They will argue that their ideas of an expanded CPP and a 45-day workyear that would cost Canadian taxpayers $4 billion and thousands of jobs alone are the best options for job creation. If we ask any small business if they would prefer increased payroll taxes, the divide is clear.
We will not apologize for listening to small business concerns. On the other hand, our government will continue to lower payroll taxes for 90% of businesses and support some of Canada's most important job creators. Over 780,000 small businesses will benefit from this program.
This legislation will also help consumers. For instance, our government has a strong record of supporting consumers in the telecommunications industry. Since the last wireless spectrum auction in 2008, prices for wireless services have decreased by nearly 20% and jobs in the wireless industry have increased by 25%.
The legislation before us today builds on this record by prohibiting wireless service providers from charging their customers for paper billing, thereby fulfilling a commitment we made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to put an end to this pay-to-pay practice.
Furthermore, the bill includes changes to simplify the certification process for telecommunications equipment used by consumers and businesses.
Finally, I want to touch on a set of measures that I believe are critical in strengthening Canada's financial sector.
Credit unions play an important role in our communities and in our economy. Across our country, credit unions and caisse populaires work hard to serve their members in the best way possible. Measures in Bill C-43 support a vibrant and robust credit union system here in Canada.
Specifically, our government is moving forward to clarify federal regulation of provincial credit unions and support those that want to become federally regulated. Some of these initiatives include access by provincial credit union centrals to federal intervention tools, such as lending by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation; ceasing supervision of provincial credit union centrals by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions; and making changes to the federal credit union framework to promote continued growth and competitiveness of credit unions that want to offer services on a national scale by streamlining the federal amalgamation process from multiple steps into just one.
We understand there is some interest, so as we build on these measures, we will continue to consult with provinces and industry to ensure the federal regime for credit unions is as clear and simple as possible.
Twenty minutes allows me to touch on only a very small portion of the positive measures included in Bill C-43. Some of the other measures contained in the bill include doubling the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable. This is a way to put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, allowing families to save on putting their children into sports or after-school activities.
The bill also proposes to strengthen Canada's intellectual property regime to improve conditions for business investment and access into international markets while reducing costs and red tape. It also introduces new reporting standards to meet Canada's 2013 G8 commitment to increase transparency for entities operating in the extractive sector. It would create new indices in the national DNA data bank that would contain DNA profiles for missing persons, allowing families of victims to have better tools available to get closure.
Let me remind members that since the global recession, Canada has created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs. This is one of the strongest job creation records in the G7. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The Canadian middle class is now among the richest in the developed world, ahead of our neighbours to the south for the first time ever. Just recently, we saw the International Labour Organization say in its global wage report that pay gains here in Canada are the second best in the G20. This is great news for Canadians.
These results do not happen by sitting idly and hoping for budgets to balance themselves, nor do they happen without a steadfast commitment to a proven plan for job creation and high growth. In this respect, Bill C-43 delivers a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will continue putting Canadians to work and building a strong economic future.
I urge all members of the House to pass this good bill.