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  • His favourite word is report.

Liberal MP for Yukon (Yukon)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House December 1st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 17th report later this day.

Canada Pension Plan November 30th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his fine speech.

We are doing other things to help seniors. I would like the member to tell us what they are.

The Environment November 24th, 2016

[Member spoke in Gwich'in]

[English]

Madam Speaker, the lifeblood, the spiritual survival, the culture, the food, and the clothes of the Gwich'in people of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska, for eons, has been integrally connected to the porcupine caribou herd. It is their soul. The herd migrates annually between Canada and the United States, which jointly manage it. Interrupting the most sensitive stage of the life cycle of these caribou and their calving on the 1002 lands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, could lead to their extinction, and the end of a way of life of the Gwich'in people. This herd could be devastated to extinction by potential oil and gas drilling in ANWR, now being discussed in the United States.

Therefore, I call upon all parliamentarians, and indeed all Canadians, to do whatever they can to preserve this iconic Canadian heritage and treasure, and the lifeline at the heart of the Gwich'in people. Mahsi'Choo, Gunalchéesh

Canada Pension Plan November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague used the word “investment”, because I was astonished to hear some people suggest that this is a tax. If I put money in my savings account, I do not call it a tax. This is an investment in the future when people become seniors. I, and I am sure many other people, did not have the discipline when I was young to put away the money I should have. I bought a boat, canoes, and kayaks and did not set aside money for my old age.

To help our youth, we increased the student grant program to help them afford what they are doing. At the same time, when they get into the work world, they will be able to contribute to their Canada pension plan when they are young and healthy so they can have at least one-third of their salary when they retire and can try to come up with other ways to supplement that and survive, because as someone mentioned, that is not nearly enough.

This will be a help to people really in need who are elderly.

Canada Pension Plan November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that question has been raised and answered a number of times, so I will not get into the technical details.

I am glad the member raised the child tax benefit and various other programs.

My colleague was right in mentioning that this legislation would not help today's seniors. That is why I started my speech with seven items that will directly or indirectly help today's seniors.

I am sure the member supports the huge increase for families with children, especially families with low incomes, often single mothers, who will be getting a massive increase. Not only that, it is not taxable. Last year a single mother, a journalist, living in my constituency told me that she was shocked because she had a $2,000 or $3,000 bill for her child tax credit. She did not realize that it was taxable. We have made it non-taxable to help people like her and those families who are really struggling.

Canada Pension Plan November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here this evening to discuss this bill.

One of the main reasons I got involved in politics was to fight poverty. As anyone in Parliament can imagine, I am delighted with a number of the provisions in the last budget, and with the provision we are talking about today, to reduce poverty. We have had provisions that I might bring up in answers to questions related to students, families, and other vulnerable groups, such as the disabled. However, today we are talking about a bill in relation to seniors.

It may be hard for those who are not close to retirement age to think about this, but I think everyone can understand how much the cost of everything is going up when they pay their monthly bills and wonder if they can pay off their credit cards, oil bills, electricity bills, cable bills, and telephone bills. It is increasingly difficult for everyone, but it is hard for those who have not retired to imagine what stress this brings to seniors who can no longer work. They get to a certain age and their bodies start deteriorating, and they have to compete against a younger, stronger, healthier generation that has the up-to-date education needed to get a job.

Job prospects for many are very limited. We can imagine what kind of stress that causes when seniors do not know how they will pay their heating bills, buy food or clothing, or keep the lights on. I am totally sympathetic to suggestions in the House on helping that group of impoverished seniors. I am delighted that we increased some of the programs for seniors in general. It gets them out with community groups. It helps them remain happy and healthy.

I am happy with, as the Conservatives mentioned, the increase to the guaranteed income supplement, because it goes to the poorest of seniors. For seniors who have middle-class incomes, there was the middle-class tax cut. There are other provisions that will indirectly help seniors as they come into play. The biggest social infrastructure fund in Canadian history will allow for things like affordable housing.

There is an increase in homelessness. It is sad for all of us in the House to think of seniors, of all people, being homeless. One only has to go by the Tim Hortons at Queen and Kent, which I pass on the way home from my office, often at two or three o'clock in the morning. There are always three or four homeless people there who have nowhere else to go, and some are seniors.

The elements we will put into renewable resources will decrease the cost of energy. There is a fund for storage. There are ways of storing energy so that people can use energy at cheaper times of the day or at night. All of these things are pieces of the bigger picture to help people who are really in need. I cannot imagine anyone in the House who does not want to help seniors in need.

For that reason, I consider the increase in the Canada pension plan another part of the puzzle. This is a significant change. It is not as big as the Canada child benefit, which is huge, but this is big. Instead of people getting one-quarter of their incomes in retirement, they would receive up to one-third. People who are critical of this change would say that this is a massive increase, but I want all of us to imagine how we would live if tomorrow we got only one-quarter or even one-third of our current incomes. I do not think there are many Canadians who could live on that. There may be people who ask for other increases, but this, in itself, is a major change.

So that it will not be too disruptive financially, it will be phased in over seven years, from 2019 to 2025.

It affects at least three acts. Nothing is easy legislatively.

First, it affects the Canada Pension Plan act. That will increase the pension a person is allowed from one-quarter to one-third of income. It increases the survivor benefits too. As we can imagine, survivors are sometimes in an even more desperate situation. Imagine an elderly women who is left as a survivor if she cannot work. She has spent most of her life caregiving, taking care of family. She does not have the skills and may not have the health. Obviously, with today's costs going up, she needs increased funding, so this will increase the survivor benefits. It would be the same for people with disabilities. Some of them have limited opportunity, so they will get this increase as well.

The Canada Pension Plan act also has to change the maximum level of pensionable earnings. It will also allow for the required additional contributions beginning in 2019.

I am sure that all of us have heard people say that they would like to donate more to their pensions, but there is a limit. This will increase to 14% as of 2025. The bill will also set up, for the purpose of implementing this change, an additional Canada pension plan account and the accounting required to manage that account.

In the act there are also financial provisions for reviewing the act, so we have to make adjustments to those and to the Governor in Council regulations that relate to them.

The second act we have to deal with is the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act. Once again, a lot of these are just administrative changes for the simple goal of having higher contributions and salaries. The investment board that invests these funds comes under an act, and adjustments have to be made so that it can take into account these new funds and provide them to the Canada pension plan.

Finally, there are a couple of changes to the Income Tax Act. First is increasing the working tax benefit. I think most people understand the benefit of a working tax benefit. We do not want to be penalized for going to work. People who are in desperate situations who are not at work are getting some assistance. Of course, it is barely enough to live on. The working income tax benefit, I think everyone here probably agrees, is a big incentive that allows people to work and still keep some of their benefits. That has to be changed in the Income Tax Act. Then there is a deduction for an additional employee contribution.

It is a momentous agreement the premiers came to. I am sure all of us here understand how difficult it is to get all the provinces together to agree to a change like this. It is a shared provincial and federal responsibility, so none of us can do it alone. We have to have an agreement.

I think it is a good grassroots type of feeling that all the premiers are on side and the federal government is on side. That is what will lead to greater prosperity for the seniors we see who are otherwise having to make decisions about whether to buy nutritious food, keep their heat on, or have cable television, when they are home much of the day because they have health problems and are not able to work.

For that reason, I support the bill.

Committees of the House November 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in relation to its study of the supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year 2016-17.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the order of the second reading of private members' bills introduced in the Senate and recommended that the items listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, yes, the child benefit is a sea change in Canada, it is huge. It is the biggest thing for my riding with thousands of new dollars for parents. I think it went way ahead, and would have covered indexing for a few years. The sooner indexing comes in, the better for me. I am happy when the government does put it in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question, because it allows me say something else. As I said, I did not have time to get in a couple of other things from the budget that were so exciting for us, which were pan-Canadian.

First of all, of course, the middle-class tax credit goes to so many people in the north. It helps us more than anything else, because the cost of living is so much higher.

One of the reasons I got into Parliament was to fight poverty. We have increased money for low-income students, for the poorest of seniors in the OAS supplement, for women's shelters, and for services for veterans. There are also the categories for people in the housing strategy and poverty work, as well as money for the people who really need it, which is very important to me.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. However, I think the member is preaching to the converted on this side. He might talk to his colleagues to the right.

For a long time, I have been supporting investment in mitigation, because, as I said earlier, it is hurting us more than anyone else. Therefore, I am certainly in support of this type of funding, and, in fact, even internationally. I tabled a bill about eight years ago for those people who had lost their country because of this type of disaster and had no place to live as their homes were inundated, and that would make them eligible for a category under immigration as refugees.

I certainly support the direction the member has suggested, but I do not know the technical details.