Madam Speaker, this is not the first time we have talked about this matter in the House. However, I would like to reiterate it in English.
The minister has made it clear that the transfer of administration from the federal tax system to Revenu Québec would have significant impacts on the human resources of the CRA. We need to think about the people, the people who work day after day at the CRA. Their work is essential to maintaining the integrity and fairness of our Canadian tax system.
We must take into account the potential impacts on more than 5,500 employees of the CRA who work in Quebec. These people work in 14 offices across the province, including the National Verification and Collections Centre in Shawinigan and the Jonquière Tax Centre. Let us not forget the vast majority of these jobs are permanent and well-paying. Jobs like these help stimulate the economy of various regions in Quebec.
Let us say that we would transfer the tax administration from the federal system to Quebec. Could Revenu Québec really absorb all of the people currently employed? I am taking the liberty to cast serious doubt on this. I will elaborate.
The Conservatives claim that there would be no job losses and that Revenu Québec could certainly hire a large number of people, especially all the people whose work relates directly to the administration of the income tax and benefit returns of Quebeckers. However, even a transfer of some personnel to Revenu Québec would leave many people out in the cold.
Premier Legault admitted it himself, that if the Government of Canada transferred its tax administration in Quebec to Revenu Québec, there would certainly be job losses. This would be a headache for these people and their families, which would perhaps have to move to another region or even another province. It would be a logistical headache since a game of musical chairs would have to be orchestrated in the field. As well, it would be a financial headache since all of that would not be without cost.
Also, let us not forget the potential impact it would have for Canadian taxpayers across the country.
Currently, the federal government, nine provinces and three territories have harmonized their definition of income and have a single tax return administrated by the federal government. This is the simplification and the savings for which Quebec is looking. Quebec has different definitions, different rules and different exemptions. For a single tax return in Quebec, a choice has to be made. Either Quebec adopts Canada's definitions or Canada adopts Quebec's definitions.
What are the Conservatives trying to achieve? What are their true intentions?
On May 6, a symposium took place, organized by academics from the Université de Sherbrooke. After a whole day of discussions, invited experts came to a strong conclusion that the issue was far more complex than it had been presented and proposed by the Conservatives. They concluded that if Quebec's aim for this proposal was to save money, then the advantage for Quebeckers would be to have one single tax return administered by the CRA, like in all other provinces in Canada.