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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Intergovernmental Affairs February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina is calling for the government to both renew long-term social housing agreements and provide new funding for housing, and I am pleased to explain our position on both of these matters.

The social housing agreements to which the hon. member referred were signed many years ago, in some cases close to 50 years ago. The end date has been known since those agreements were signed and typically coincides with the final payout of the mortgages on these properties. As I noted in the House some time ago, Canadians understand that when their mortgage expires they stop paying the bank.

That is essentially what is happening here. As the agreements end and as they mature, housing providers will find themselves with a valuable real estate asset and reduced operating expenses that can be used to continue to offer affordable housing to the clients. The fact is that most non-profit co-operative housing projects are expected to be financially viable when the agreements come to an end and the federal subsidies stop.

For those who may experience difficulty, CMHC has been actively working with them to help them prepare for the end of these operating agreements. For example, CMHC's affordable housing centre offers a range of tools to assist housing providers, such as a project viability calculator, capital planning tools, and project profiles. Our government has also created more flexibility in some housing programs administered by CMHC to give eligible housing providers better access to funding for capital repairs and renovations.

Hon. members will recall that in economic action plan 2009, we provided more than $1 billion to renovate and retrofit existing social housing so it could continue to be available for Canadian individuals and families in need. Close to 15,000 social housing projects were completed across Canada, everything from replacing roofs and windows to upgrading plumbing and electrical systems.

As for new funding for housing, I would remind the hon. member that economic action plan 2013 renewed the investment in affordable housing for five years, with an additional federal funding of $1.25 billion. This brings the total federal commitment under this initiative to close to $2 billion over the previous eight years.

This funding is delivered and cost-matched by the provinces and territories, which are best positioned to identify and address local housing needs. Depending on their priorities, provinces and territories can also opt to use the investment in affordable housing funds to support projects whose operating agreements have matured, or for other purposes such as new construction or renovation projects, shelter allowances, or assistance toward home ownership.

I am pleased to advise the hon. member that the renewal agreements have now been signed with almost all provinces and territories. The governments of Canada and Ontario, for example, signed a renewal agreement last August that provides for a joint investment of more than $800 million over five years.

The investment in affordable housing is doing exactly what the hon. member has asked for. It is reducing the number of Canadians in housing need. Looking specifically at Ontario, our government has invested some $5.7 billion in housing in that province since 2006. This includes more than $240 million under the investment in affordable housing—funding that means almost 18,000 households in that province are no longer in housing need.

However, there is more to be done. That is why we have renewed the investment in affordable housing and why, again this year, our government will continue to invest about $2 billion in housing across Canada.

Make no mistake: action is being taken. Working with the provinces and territories, we are ensuring that the housing needs of Canadians are being met.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member across the way. I think the government has taken strong steps to support the commercialization of new products. One of the programs we have in place allows businesses with new products to compete for federal government contracts.

We all know that any time a new product hits the market, one of the first challenges is finding that first big contract. We know that if we have a new product come to market, finding that first customer to buy it gives it a strong reference on the resumé of that product so that it can be sold to other people.

We have a program in place so that new products in Canada can get that first contract from the federal government. With that, they have a federal government reference to sell that to private sector employers. We have lots of programs and incubators to support other private sector people purchasing these new things and supporting our new entrepreneurs and new products.

I would like to go on, but I have run out of time.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this is probably the best question I have had from a colleague from the NDP since I was elected in 2009.

Manufacturing is an important economic driver across the country. The Liberal leader said that manufacturing is a factor from the last century and is a thing of the past. He should tell that to the workers in the aerospace industry in IMP Group in my riding, almost 1,200 workers in Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley. Our largest private sector employer depends on manufacturing. There are literally thousands of jobs in my riding alone in just one business based on manufacturing.

They have a robust future. They are signing contracts with companies all over the world to produce aerospace parts for aerospace manufacturing. There are other jobs related to that.

Look at the Irving shipyards in Halifax. There is some $25 billion in shipbuilding. It is going to hire thousands of Nova Scotians. That is manufacturing.

Intertape Polymer Group, in Truro, my hometown, exports to several different countries all over North and South America.

Manufacturing is the heartbeat of small business and medium-sized enterprises across the country. This is where entrepreneurs and innovators live and breathe. For the Liberal Party to say that this is an industry and sector whose time has passed is so backward looking and backward thinking that I cannot see how any Canadian will stand up and support it in the next election.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak about the important role that Canada's manufacturers and small businesses play in creating jobs and a strong Canadian economy. Comprising 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, small businesses are a significant driver of economic growth. They are an important pillar supporting workers, families, and communities across the country. Our government appreciates the efforts and contributions that businesses, and small businesses in particular, make in Canada.

As a result, we have implemented a wide range of policies and programs on the understanding that when our small businesses succeed, all Canadians succeed. While the NDP is moving toward our policies, we believe that our proposals are much better thought out. Since taking office, the Conservative government has put in place numerous measures that benefit Canadian small and medium-size companies.

For example, the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment has been of great benefit to Canada's manufacturers and processors. This has helped them make investments needed to compete at home and abroad. Here I would point out that NDP voted against an extension of this measure in Budget 2013.

On top of that, various incentives in the Canada Revenue Agency have helped improve the provision of information and services to small businesses, while reducing the administrative burden and increasing taxpayer fairness.

Another example of our reductions of red tape is the ongoing funding of $3 million a year to make BizPaL a permanent service for businesses through Budget 2011. BizPaL is an online service that significantly reduces the red tape burden on small business owners by allowing them to quickly and efficiently create a tailored list of permits and licences from all levels of government necessary for them to operate their businesses. It is one-stop shopping for small business. The New Democrats voted against this red-tape reduction measure, then, just as they have today, called for a massive payroll tax hike on all Canadians. This would greatly harm the growth of small business across Canada from coast to coast to coast.

In addition to cutting red tape, our government has helped connect businesses to vital partners to help them innovate in their operations. Our government provided $100 million over five years to help leading business accelerators and incubators across Canada to increase their service offerings for early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs. These investments will help entrepreneurs create new companies and realize the full potential of their innovative ideas through mentorship, specialized training, and business support, and also to support networking with potential customers and investors.

In addition, our government has been increasing the venture capital financing available for innovative companies through the implementation of the venture capital action plan. Since the announcement of this plan in January 2012, the government has invested in four high-performing venture capital funds and established and invested in three large-scale private-sector funds of funds with private sector investors and interested provinces across Canada.

These measures build on so many others that have been introduced by government since 2006, many of which the opposition members have voted against, to assist small businesses to make the investments they need to create good jobs and grow our economy.

Since 2006, the Conservative government has reduced the small business tax rate to 11%. We have increased the amount of income eligible for the lower small business tax rate from $300,000 to $500,000. We have also enhanced the availability and accessibility of the financial support for innovative small and medium-size businesses under the scientific research and experimental development tax incentive program.

We also established the Red Tape Reduction Commission to review the areas of federal regulation most in need of reform, to reduce the cost of compliance for small businesses. We reduced the paperwork burden on businesses by 20% through the paperwork burden reduction initiative.

We increased the lifetime capital gains exemption on qualified small business shares from $500,000 to $800,000. We also indexed this limit to inflation, so the exemption limit has now increased to $813,600 for 2015 as a result.

In addition, we eliminated close to 2,000 tariffs on manufactured inputs, machinery, and equipment. We have provided about $400 million in annual duty savings to businesses across the country. As well, new trade agreements have been established with South Korea and the European Union, which would bring significant benefits and savings to Canadian businesses and open new markets to our exporters.

Creating savings and opportunities for businesses so they can grow and succeed is a critical role for government. We also know that no business can succeed without high calibre employees. From travelling across the country and speaking with entrepreneurs, businessmen, businesswomen, and others who hire and employ people, we know that one of the biggest challenges these employers face is finding qualified and well-trained employees to fit the job profiles they are advertising. This is why our government has introduced numerous training and employment insurance measures to help businesses create good jobs for Canadians.

For example, the small business job credit will deliver significant EI savings to businesses, helping to defray the costs of hiring new workers. The new Canada job grant will better prepare the next generation of Canadians to meet the demands of the evolving labour market, bringing employers into the game so that they have more say and control over what training opportunities are offered, and also the ability to help pay for that training.

It is well known that in these uncertain economic time, the labour market faces uncertain challenges. This is why our government has taken action to ensure that many Canadians have the opportunity to participate in the workforce, given the emerging skills shortage. It is is also why we have focused so intently on and encouraged apprenticeships, particularly in the Red Seal trades, where the need is currently the greatest. Our government introduced the apprenticeship job creation tax credit, which reduces employers' taxes by an amount equal to 10% of the wages paid to apprentices for their first two years of an apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade up to a maximum of $2,000 per apprentice per year. We have also introduced a $1,000 apprenticeship initiative grant for apprentices in each of their first two years of apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade.

The New Democrats voted against both of these job-creating measures, so why would small businesses now believe they are here to support them today?

To build on these measures and further respond to skilled labour shortages, in 2009 we launched the apprenticeship completion grant. Apprentices who complete their certification in any of the Red Seal skilled trades are entitled to receive a taxable grant of $2,000.

In addition to supporting the training and hiring of skilled labour, our government has focused considerable investment on innovation and helping businesses get their products from the farm gate to the market. The new international trade agreements will certainly deliver this benefit.

Our Conservative government has also invested directly in initiatives to help advances in commercial technology, including a $1 billion advancement toward additional knowledge translation; helping discoveries move from laboratories into market applications across the economy; and almost $4 billion in additional support for applied research and business innovation, including the automotive, aerospace, forestry, and clean technology sectors. These measures translate into more innovation, success, jobs, and stronger growth for Canadians.

These are the pillars of Canada's economic action plan and they have delivered for all Canadians. We have among the best job-creation records in the world, with nearly 1.2 million net new jobs created since the pit of the economic recession in July 2009. We have the strongest middle class in the world. Canada is now viewed as one of the best places in the world in which to start and grow a business.

Our government looks forward to building on our record by supporting the dynamic businesses that we have in Canada so they can move forward in a positive direction. Small business owners are the entrepreneurs, innovators, risk takers, and the visionaries who will lead Canada for the next generation. Our government values the contribution of small businesses to the success of the Canadian economy and we will always support and grow this important sector, not just when an election is on the horizon.

Employment February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is quite the contrary. We have been over this with the member opposite before. He simply needs to look at the facts when it comes to what this government is doing to support youth employment in Canada.

Our government offers a wide range of youth employment programs and services that will help young Canadians make a successful transition to the labour market. They range from financial assistance to work experience, career information, and job search tools, so once again, I strongly encourage my hon. colleague opposite to get all the information available on these resources, programs, and initiatives so that he can better support young constituents in his riding as they make the move from school to work.

In the meantime, our government will continue to invest in young Canadians, connect them with available jobs across the country, and make sure they have the skills needed to apply for those jobs and have the labour market information needed to know where to apply.

I can only hope that the member opposite, who seems to be so concerned about youth employment, will actually support the initiatives our government brings forward in this year's budget so that young people in this country can get the jobs that are available to them.

Employment February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the claim by the member opposite that our government is not adequately supporting young Canadians could not be further from the truth. I think he is simply not aware of all of the programs, initiatives, and resources our government offers to young Canadians to help connect them to available jobs and employers who are looking for young people to fill jobs all across this country but are having difficulty finding young people with the skills they need to fill those positions.

I am actually quite happy to elaborate a little about all our government has done to get the facts straight on this important issue and make sure that jobs are available for young Canadians and that young Canadians have the training they need to apply for those existing jobs.

Through our skills agenda, we are ensuring that Canadians have the skills they need to apply for in-demand jobs. This is exactly true for young Canadians. I am sure my colleague on the other side of the House has seen the work our government has done to help young Canadians plan and pay for their post-secondary education.

My colleague may even remember the significant investments in apprenticeships we announced in last year's budget. We introduced the new Canada apprentice loan. This provides apprentices, registered in Red Seal trades, with access to interest-free loans to help ease the financial burden of upgrading their craft, which of course started accepting applicants last month. The Canada apprentice loan has already been successful across the country, and we are seeing a lot of uptake with people applying for this support.

In regard to youth employment, we are moving on many fronts. The government also provides a variety of youth employment programs to help all young Canadians, not only apprentices, make informed career choices and develop the skills, experience, and knowledge they need to secure a good job in our rapidly changing job market.

For example, I am sure the hon. member is aware of our youth employment strategy, $300 million. Unfortunately, his party has consistently voted against it. I am sure he knows that, through several programs, our government provides skills development and work experience for at-risk youth, summer students, and recent post-secondary graduates. It is clear from the number of applicants we see each year that the skills-linked programs are a huge success.

In November, the member opposite asked about employment centres in general for his riding. I might remind the member that we informed him at that point that, if he has specific questions on specific applications for people in his riding, he should please bring them to us outside the House and we will gladly look into them for him.

Our goal is to fund high-quality projects that meet community needs. However, we receive many quality proposals, and not all could be selected with available funding.

In economic action plan 2014, we announced our intent to improve the youth employment strategy and align it with the evolving realities of the job market, and to ensure better outcomes for Canadians and better value for taxpayers.

The summer works experience program provides summer job opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students. This program is an important part of our youth employment strategy.

I ask the member across the aisle that, when we bring these programs forward, when we bring these key investments, which will match young people in this country to available jobs and match employers who have positions with highly skilled young people who are trained to do those jobs, he and his party support those initiatives that we put forward for funding, if he is truly interested in improving the opportunities for young people in this country.

Housing February 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I can assure members that the Government of Canada continues to invest heavily in housing, including approximately $2 billion again this year.

These investments are making life better for low-income Canadians, seniors, people with disabilities and others who have real housing needs and need housing assistance from various levels of government and partners.

Regarding the social housing agreements referred to by the hon. member, I will say again that the end dates for these agreements have been known since they were originally signed. They expire between 25 and 50 years after they are signed. When these agreements mature, the last one in the year 2038, federal government funding for the project will end as planned.

The majority of projects are expected to be financially viable, but for those that may face financial difficulties after the mortgage is paid off, CMHC has been actively working to help housing providers prepare for the end of their operating agreements. This work will continue, as will our government's commitment to ensure that Canadians have access to the housing they need.

Once again, Canadians know that when their mortgages are over, they stop paying the bank.

Housing February 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question of November 24 on affordable housing. I welcome the opportunity to once again explain the government's position on this issue, which we have done many times.

I want to remind the hon. member that the government has a strong record on housing. As I have said on previous occasions, our government has invested more than $16.5 billion in housing since 2006. This has directly benefited more than 900,000 individuals and families across Canada.

Economic action plan 2014 confirmed yet again that our government is committed to ensuring that low-income families and vulnerable Canadians have access to quality and affordable housing.

Our government realizes that some Canadians face financial constraints or have distinct housing needs that impede their participation in the housing market. This is precisely why we have invested heavily in housing and why we continue to work with our provincial partners, the territories, and other stakeholders across Canada to ensure that access to housing remains available to those most in need.

One way we are doing this is by renewing the investment in affordable housing to March 2019, with a federal funding component of $1.25 billion over five years. This funding is being matched by the provinces and territories. It is being delivered through the renewal of existing bilateral agreements.

This collaborative approach has worked well since the investment in affordable housing was first introduced in 2011. This happens in large part because it gives the provinces and territories the flexibility they need to invest in a range of affordable housing programs to meet their local needs and priorities.

We are also providing support annually to households living in existing social housing, including low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities, and aboriginal people. Provinces and territories also contribute to this housing. It is provided under long-term agreements with housing groups. As we previously advised the House on November 25, these agreements span 25 and 50 years, and when they mature, federal government funding ends, as planned. Maybe the opposition just does not understand that when one's mortgage expires, one actually stops paying the bank, but the public understands this.

The majority of non-profit and co-operative housing projects are expected to be financially viable and mortgage-free at the end of these operating agreements. With mortgages now paid off, operating expenses will decrease and housing providers will be in a position to continue to offer affordable housing.

As I mentioned a moment ago, provinces and territories can use the federal funding from the investment in affordable housing to assist housing groups after their operating agreements mature, should the provinces and territories and other operators choose to do so. Our government has provided this flexibility to these partners.

Our government has also taken steps to give some social housing projects greater flexibility when their operating agreements mature. Social housing providers whose operating agreements allow for the establishment of a subsidy surplus fund can now retain any money they may have in this fund after the operating agreements mature. These funds can be used to continue the lower cost of housing for low-income households living in existing social housing. That opportunity and flexibility lies within this partnership

As members can see, our government has taken a common-sense, responsible approach to investing in affordable housing in Canada. We are allowing existing agreements to end, as they were planned to end, but are making needed investments elsewhere in co-operation with the provinces and territories to continue to reduce the number of Canadians in housing need.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member's speech. He had tons of great information on the history of our country, and on the Prime Minister meeting with the premiers from coast to coast to coast.

Recently Canada has worked with all the provinces and territories to negotiate the labour market agreements and establish the Canada job grant, which will provide literally thousands of Canadians the opportunity to use federal and employer dollars for training so they can build better lives for themselves and their families.

These negotiations took a long time. We negotiated with governments of Conservative, Liberal and NDP stripes. Working together as a federation, we now have a Canada job grant available in every province across the country. Quebec had a great system already in place. It is very similar to the Canada job grant that we have now established in all the provinces and territories.

Could the member elaborate on the impact the Canada job grant can have in providing employment, and why it was so important to work with the provinces to establish this program?

Questions on the Order Paper January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, ESDC is not in a position to respond to the question in a specific way within the time allotted. However, in general, ESDC is committed to providing seniors with information about government programs and services.

The department has implemented budget and Speech from the Throne commitments by taking a number of steps to improve seniors’ access to benefits. They include enhancing mobile services to better reach seniors where they live; ensuring clients have easier access to the information they need on the web, by phone, and in person through the Service Canada network; increasing the number of applications that are sent proactively to Canadians before they turn 65 of age; and reorganizing and rewriting the pension-related pages on the Service Canada website using a plain language perspective to better explain the retirement income system in Canada and improve access to the Canada pension plan, CPP, and the old age security, OAS, pensions and benefits.

Through inserts with tax slips for CPP or OAS benefits, we advise seniors on how to access information on the full range of benefits available to them. In 2013, we sent out 7.2 million tax inserts.

Between April 2013 and March 2014, Service Canada mobile outreach services delivered 1,774 information sessions to 22,490 senior citizens and caregivers, community groups, and service delivery partners across the country.

Service Canada also mails application forms for CPP and OAS benefits or the renewal of guaranteed income supplement, or GIS, and the allowances to many senior Canadians. In 2013-14, Service Canada mailed OAS application forms to approximately 250,000 individuals who recently turned 64 years old. A CPP retirement application was also included for individuals not yet in receipt of CPP Retirement benefits. An additional 10,000 CPP application forms were sent to individuals who recently turned 64 and were not in pay for CPP, but for whom an application for OAS had already been received. As well, 138,605 individuals received automatic enrolment letters instead of an application form. Most of these individuals will not need to apply for their OAS pension. Approximately 50,000 applications for the GIS and allowances were sent to individuals who may be eligible, based on Canada Revenue Agency income.

Service Canada has also introduced a landing page on the Internet devoted to content of particular interest to seniors at servicecanada.gc.ca. This page is continually updated with new information of interest to seniors.

In addition to the above, automatic enrolment of OAS beneficiaries using existing information on their CPP and Quebec pension plan began in April 2013 and was fully implemented in October 2013.

As of November 2014, Service Canada has sent automatic enrolment letters to notify individuals that they will be put into pay for their OAS benefit without having to apply. It is estimated that the first 130,000 of these individuals will have been put into pay at the age of 65 by the end of 2014-15.