Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2017-12-01 13:02 [p.15904]
Mr. Speaker, there are many reasons to oppose Bill C-63.
Take, for example, last summer's botched tax reform and the supposed tax cuts for the middle class from which hardly anyone benefits fully because a person has to earn $110,000 a year to be entitled to the maximum amount. Then, there are tax havens. I would like to remind members that Canada signed the OECD's convention on tax evasion five months ago but still has not ratified it because the Income Tax Act is full of holes, and Bill C-63 does absolutely nothing to fix them.
I will talk about just one aspect of the bill, which is truly scandalous and has largely been overlooked so far.
I am talking about the cannabis taxation framework. Cannabis will be legal in eight months. At that time, the federal government will no longer really be involved. Quebec will be responsible for health and detox services. Quebec will be responsible for education and prevention. Quebec will be responsible for the administration of justice. Quebec and the municipalities will be responsible for public safety and security. In short, Quebec will be stuck with all of the responsibilities and the costs, and it will cost a lot. All that Ottawa is going to do is issue the production licences. That does not cost a penny. This is how the bill is drafted, and Ottawa will be issuing permits and raking in the tax money. The provinces will take on all of the costs and the federal government will not take on any.
Part 4 of Bill C-63 has to do with cannabis taxation. It states that cannabis will be taxed “under a single Act of Parliament”.
Yes, I said “a single Act of Parliament”. That is what it says in black and white in the new paragraph 8.8(1)(a), as set out in clause 170 of the bill. Ottawa wants to collect all of the tax. It wants to take up all of the available tax room. That is what Bill C-63 boils down to. It cannot be stressed enough that it is the provinces and cities that will be paying all of the costs. Once the federal government gets its hands on all the money, what will happen? If we want to know the answer, all we have to do is keep reading this nefarious bill, which makes it pretty clear.
The Minister of Finance will turn to the provinces and tell them he has gobbled up all the revenue and siphoned off all the money. He will tell them to come and see him so they can talk it over, and maybe he will be able to give them back a small amount. We heard the Minister of Finance say that he might go fifty-fifty. That means 50% for Ottawa, which will have paid for nothing, and 50% for the provinces, which will have paid for everything. Even then, the parliamentary secretary says this fifty-fifty arrangement is not set in stone and will have to be looked at. None of this is very reassuring.
We could end up with a ratio like 95% for Ottawa and peanuts for the provinces. We do not know. That is the problem with Bill C-63. It allows that kind of theft. The Minister of Finance will be free to do whatever he wants, because he will be the one setting the ratio. If this bill is passed in its current form, Quebec will just have to obey if it does not want to be hung out to dry and left with nothing, zip, zero, to pay for regulating cannabis consumption, educating and treating the public, and ensuring public safety.
A few years ago, former Quebec finance minister Nicolas Marceau coined the phrase “predatory federalism” to describe Ottawa's blackmailing behaviour over transfer payments. My good friend Nicolas Marceau, an excellent economist, was putting it mildly. We are seeing that predation happen in real time today, here in this House, in a debate being rammed through under a gag order. Under Bill C-63, Ottawa gets all the money. The Minister of Finance could decide to give some to the provinces, at his discretion and under his conditions.
Paragraph 8.8(1)(a) mentions those conditions. It says that the provinces must abide by the conditions if they want to get the transfer, but it does not say what the conditions are. That will be up to the federal government to decide later on, by itself, without having to come back to the House.
In Quebec, Minister Charlebois has started drafting a plan to regulate cannabis consumption. The Minister of Finance may decide that he does not like Quebec's plan. He might force Quebec to change its plan if it wants a share of the money the federal government gets its hands on thanks to Bill C-63. He might stop the payments if Quebec does something he does not like. This is serious.
Bill C-63 can say all it wants about coordinated cannabis taxation agreements, but the real story is something else altogether. Something agreed to at gunpoint is not an agreement; it is a shakedown. Bill C-63 is a weapon for extortion. Quebec has its hands full figuring out how to regulate this in terms of security, public service, and prevention, all of which Ottawa dumped on its plate, so the last thing Quebec needs is another pointless federal-provincial battle instigated entirely by a federal government that refuses to respect Quebec. The predatory federal government is taking all of the money and using it to make my people and their government do its bidding. I have had enough of the federal government shoving things like this down our throats with its mammoth bills.
A year ago, Bill C-29 tried to make Quebec consumers powerless against banks. The Bloc Québécois was unable to intervene until late in the process, but we moved heaven and earth. The National Assembly, consumer groups, the Government of Quebec, and everyone else protested loudly, and the government backed down.
There was another omnibus bill, another nasty surprise, six months ago. That time, the government was giving a gift to the private investors putting their money in the infrastructure bank. It gave them the right to ignore Quebec's laws, agricultural zoning, and municipal bylaws. Once again, no one said anything in committee, because the Bloc Québécois was not there to stand up for Quebec. Once again, the National Assembly protested, and so did the Union des producteurs agricoles. However, we lost the battle that time. It is frustrating that there are 40 MPs from Quebec who would rather clash with Quebec than defend it. We are facing the same situation today, another omnibus bill that is hiding a scam.
In the committee study, no one pointed out that Ottawa wanted to take all the money from cannabis and use that as blackmail to impose its conditions. No one raised any issues about that during the study of the bill, because the Bloc Québécois was not at committee.
Although it is late, it is not too late. We will very firmly oppose Bill C-63, and we will not be the only ones. As in the case of other omnibus bills, we will have Quebec behind us.
This time we will see whether the Liberal members from Quebec have found their backbones since last year. It remains to be seen. Time is running out.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of 2,546 constituents who have signed e-petition 211. It concerns a guaranteed annual income. They believe a guaranteed annual income in Canada would help not only to eradicate poverty but would allow individuals the opportunity to use that income to become successful. They highlight the idea of Dauphin, Manitoba, which had a minimum income pilot project in the 1970s, which has been studied quite extensively by researchers at the University of Manitoba.
View John Nater Profile
View John Nater Profile
2017-06-14 19:19 [p.12710]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening to debate the estimates process and the main estimates. Too often Canadians probably have their eyes glaze over, and I am sure some parliamentarians' eyes glaze over when we talk about the estimates.
The estimates are the foundational role that Parliament plays in this place. The business of supply or withholding supply is a fundamental purpose of this place, one that dates back many generations before the House was established to our forbearer in the United Kingdom. It was at Runnymeade in 1215 with the great Magna Carta that the power of the purse, and the supremacy of Parliament in the business of the supply process were fundamentally established.
Fundamentally speaking, the government ought not and should not spend a dime of taxpayers' money without the approval of this place, yet time and time again, we see the Liberal government abusing the very supply process which we are debating tonight.
In fact, just a couple of nights ago we were in this place debating the Salaries Act, a standalone piece of legislation to give pay raises to certain Liberal ministers. When the Prime Minister tried to establish a gender equal cabinet, he forgot he was giving his female junior ministers a lower salary than their male colleagues, so he decided to introduce the Salaries Act. It was a conscious decision by the government to introduce a piece of legislation to increase the wages of certain ministers, certainly something that is well within the right of the government to do.
The Liberals forgot something. They forgot that this piece of legislation has not yet been passed by the House. It has not been passed by the other place either. Instead of passing the legislation, the Liberals decided to abuse the supply and estimates process. It did not go unnoticed by members of this place or the other place.
The Senate Committee on National Finance reported, in its 13th report in March 2017, its grave concern of the abuse by the Liberal government of the estimates process. The report stated, “Senators and Treasury Board officials also discussed the larger issues of parliamentary authorities and approval, and the proper usage of the supply process.”
The report went on to say:
However, the Supplementary Estimates are not intended to be a convenient mechanism for the temporary funding of needs that were foreseeable and could have been planned, particularly in the case where such needs have their own source of authority in an Act of Parliament. The Salaries Act for ministers, like the Parliament of Canada Act for MPs and Senators, authorizes the payment of ministers’ salaries out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and also fixes the amounts of those salaries.
In direct notice in speaking to the government of the day, the committee stated:
Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.
The member from Halifax was just talking about the new independent senators in the other place. This report included independent senators, members of the other place, who expressed grave concerns about the abuse of the estimates process. We are seeing this tonight as we debate the main estimates. Rather, they encourage the Liberal government to fundamentally follow the rules of this place and the other place.
Citing Debates of March 25, 1981, the other place recommends, “A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.” However, in at least two occasions, we have had estimates come through the House using the estimates process in place of a piece of legislation.
It cites paragraph 937, “The government may not use an appropriation act to obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.” It goes on to cite Beauschene's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, which cites those statements. Of course, we are all big fans of Beauchesne's sixth edition in this House. Particularly around this side of the House, we are very proud of the great insight we have from Beauchesne's co-editor, Mr. John Holtby, a distinguished member of our team who is always providing us with great insight into the rules of this place. Certainly, the estimates is one of those issues.
Therefore, we have a process, and it is one that has unfortunately been abused on these issues by the government across the way. Too often, the members on the other side forget that, in fact, they are not members of the government; that only members of the cabinet serve as members of the government. Each and every Liberal MP who does not serve in the government is a member of Parliament first. Those members may sit as Liberal MPs, but they are not members of the government. Fundamentally, we need to remember in this place that we are members of Parliament first, and it is our duty to this place to properly undertake the review of the estimates process.
When I was reading through the estimates process, I was intrigued by some of the issues that are being recommended and encouraged. I happened to turn to page 228 of the main estimates, dealing with PPP Canada, Public–Private Partnership Canada. It is intriguing that in 2015-2016, there was no money spent for investments; again in 2016-2017 there was $267,700,000 allocated; and again in this current main estimates $267,700,000. Is the government planning to go forward continuing to fund PPP Canada? We do not know.
In fact, we do not even know what is going to happen to the infrastructure bank. As we speak in this place, the other place is debating the infrastructure bank. Indeed, the government could have used the provisions through PPP Canada where it has money, where, tonight, we will be voting on $267 million for PPP Canada. We could get that money out the door, enhance public–private partnerships, and reduce the risk on the taxpayer. That money is in the main estimates, and yet, in the other place, they are debating splitting it out. Indeed, just hours ago, the hon. Joseph Day, the leader of the Liberal caucus in the Senate, gave an impassioned speech in the other place about this very issue.
I want to quote from the blues: “The analogy that occurred to me as I read the bill is that Bill C-44 is like one of those Ukrainian dolls. You open up the first doll and there is another doll inside it, and you open up the second doll and there is another doll, and you keep going and peeling off the onion skins. As you open one, another one is revealed underneath and under that another and another and another. But while that may be fun as a doll, it is absolutely no way to present legislation for proper study.”
That is coming from a Liberal senator. I know the member from Halifax was just speaking about what he called the improved Senate, the improved process. This is one of the Liberal senators who is concerned about this. Of course, another issue that we see coming forward is the issue of an automatic escalator in taxation. In the other place, again, Senator Joseph Day, the leader of the Senate Liberals, said:
The “effectiveness” of the taxes. How much is raised, I would suspect is the effectiveness. Those are the words of the government official, not mine. Colleagues, that is certainly a rationale for government coming forward in a budget bill and asking to increase the applicable exercise tax rate, but I fail to see how it is a rationale for allowing future rate hikes without parliamentary scrutiny or approval. When the officials were asked for precedents for such an extraordinary provision, they pointed to the tax brackets for personal income taxes, which rise automatically with inflation. But, colleagues, that indexation works to taxpayers' advantage. If a tax bracket goes up because of inflation, we pay less tax. That is nothing like the automatic excise tax increase.
Indeed, in the budget bill that is being debated in the other place right now, there is an automatic tax increase without ever again having the approval of this place or the other place. It is fundamentally contrary to some of the basic principles of the power of the purse in this place, and it shows the degree of respect that the government has lost for members of Parliament.
If we look back in the not too distant Canadian history, in the 1970s, granted it was well before I was born, but in the recent past of Parliament, in 1975, that great Liberal, Senator Joseph Day, said that parliamentarians felt they needed more time to debate the borrowing itself. In 1975, the borrowing authority was broken out of the supply process, and set up in its own dedicated process.
In 1975, the Speaker in this place ordered a borrowing clause struck from the supply bill related to supplementary estimates on the ground that under the House of Commons rules then established, its inclusion in the supply bill virtually precluded discussion of the borrowing provisions. After that, every year the government would have to come to Parliament and request, in a borrowing authority bill, the authority to borrow a stated amount of money for that year.
This is a fundamental power of this place and too often, we forget that. It was not too long ago as a perfect example of the disrespect that the government has for this place, the recent botched, boggled, failed appointment of Madeleine Meilleur as Commissioner of Official Languages. Fundamentally, Parliament was not involved in that process. Members of this place were not involved in that process. They were not consulted, they were simply told in a letter dated nearly a month after Ms. Meilleur was informed she would be the successful candidate. That is not consultation. Officers of this place ought to be chosen with fundamental consultation by members of this place.
The estimates process, the business of supply gives us the opportunity to pass judgment on the continued confidence of the government in office. The confidence convention means that cabinet, in this case the Liberal cabinet, is accountable to the House, and confidence can be withdrawn by a number of provisions including the supply process, including a vote on main or supplementary estimates. In this case, our opposition does not have confidence in the government, and we will be voting against the estimates because of that lack of confidence.
I wish to highlight one matter in particular. It is our national debt and ongoing deficit spending. We all vividly recall in the last election the then leader of the third party, now the Prime Minister, promising Canadians, giving them his solemn word, that he would run tiny $10 billion deficits for three years, and only three years, but by 2019, in time for the next election, we would be back to balanced budgets. That quickly went out the window with the very first budget of the Minister of Finance. Now, over the next number of years, we will see continued deficit spending. In fact, the Department of Finance's own numbers show we will not return to balanced budgets until 2055.
Let me put that in context. My son Bennett just turned one on June 1. By the time the budget is balanced, Bennet will be 39 years old. He will be older than I am now, and that is pretty old. My daughter Ainsley, is about three years old. She will be 41 by the time the budget is balanced. We are putting the debt, the spending and the mismanagement of the Liberal government on our children's generation. It is unacceptable that by 2055, we will have $1.5 trillion in total debt, debt that will be paid back through the continued interest charges of future generations.
It is completely unacceptable that the government has given no plan for the return to balanced budgets. Our friend and colleague, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, the finance critic, asks the Minister of Finance on a very regular basis, when will we return to balanced budgets. Each and every time, the Minister of Finance waffles and fails to answer the question.
My constituents were hurt In my riding of Perth—Wellington. They are hard-working Canadians. They balance their chequebook each month. Small businesses balance their books each month. However, each and every month they find it harder and harder to continue to survive in their businesses because of the concerns and the issues being placed on them by federal Liberal government and the Liberal government in Ontario.
I spoke to one business owner not too long ago whose hydro bill tripled in the time that the McGuinty-Wynne Liberal were in office provincially. Now we are seeing at federal level the imposition of a carbon tax, which will only see the cost of running a business increase. It is not just businesses that are seeing their costs increase. Families are seeing their dollars stretched further and further each week because of the Liberal government.
I recall the very first bill brought before the House, Bill C-2, which was what the Liberals called a middle-class tax cut. No one making under $44,000 a year got a cent out of that tax cut. In fact, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 were getting the biggest tax cuts out of that, but those making under $44,000 got nothing, not a dime.
In the first budget, the Liberals took away the fitness tax credit. They took away the arts tax credit for families that decided to put their children in arts programs or in fitness activities to improve their health. They got rid of the text book and education tax credit. I was at Carleton University earlier today, talking with current students and former students, and the importance of fundamentally helping our young people survive. Again, the Liberals are making it harder and harder for Canadians to get by.
I want to speak to home ownership for a minute and the changes the Liberals have been placing on the burdens of buying a home for the first time. We should be encouraging and helping Canadians buy their first homes. A strong society encourages home ownership, encourages Canadians to buy that first home rather than discouraging them from doing so, as we are seeing in the recent changes.
I want to close on where I started, and that is about the fundamental importance of the supply process and the estimates process. This process belongs to the House, belongs to Parliament, the power of the purse, the ability for parliamentarians, each and every member of Parliament, whether they are government MPs or not. This is our opportunity to pass judgment on the confidence we have in the government.
I have no confidence in the government, and I will be voting against the main estimates when they come to a vote later this evening.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House again tonight. I will be splitting my time with the member for Sarnia—Lambton.
I appreciated the speech I just heard, and before I get into my remarks, my colleague the vice-chair from public accounts committee expressed very good comments and much confidence in the Senate. We will wait to see what the government does with the budget bill that the Senate will send back with all the amendments. We will see if she is bragging about the members of the Senate then. However, it is good to follow the member from the Liberal Party.
I am pleased to speak during the debate on the main estimates and this government's mismanagement of the Canadian economy. The main estimates are a publication from the federal Government of Canada. They detail the Liberal economic plan, how it has failed, and how Canadians are the ones ending up paying for it. Most disappointing is that we can see item by item, line by line, that the main estimates are telling us that the Liberal government's only solution to the problems it is facing is to try to manage on behalf of Canadians by borrowing more money, spending more money, and putting our children and grandchildren into bigger debt.
The biggest problem with this borrowed money is that in the long term it affects Canadian workers, families, and jobs. Economic forecasts suggest it could be 2055 before the government again has a balanced budget, unless, of course, Canadian voters decide to elect a Conservative government as soon as possible to stop the skyrocketing debt the Government of Canada is piling up.
On May 30 of this year, a few days ago, the parliamentary budget officer released a report entitled “Following the Dollar: Tracking Budget 2016 Spending and Tax Measures”. This document is important because it provides Canadians with an independent analysis of the Liberal government's finances.
In the annual federal budget, the government outlines its fiscal plan, including additional spending for ongoing programs, new spending initiatives, and changes to taxation. I want to highlight some of the findings in the parliamentary budget officer's document. For example, the parliamentary budget officer says, “...many spending measures had more funding or less funding in fiscal year 2016-17 than indicated in the budget (31 per cent)”.
The people of Battle River—Crowfoot, the investors on Bay Street and around the world, the middle class and, as they would say, those trying to join the middle class are disappointed that the Liberals were 30% wrong in their budgetary calculations. Imagine: 31% of the Liberal budget was wrong in its projections. In the private sector, accountants, number crunchers, forecasters, chief financial officers, and other executives would be in serious trouble if one-third of their facts and figures were wrong. They might be fired from their jobs for such a 30% error.
Small businesses around my constituency and across our country cannot survive and stay in business if they are one-third wrong on their budgetary estimates. Obviously they would be poor managers, and those businesses would undoubtedly lose business. However, the Liberals are confident that if things go off the rails, even by 30%, they can simply borrow more money off the backs of taxpayers in the next federal budget.
The parliamentary budget officer also found that 8% of the Liberals' spending measures “were not provided funding through the supplementary estimates.” This is important because it means that 8% of the budget was never funded. These budgetary announcements—“announcement” being the key word—were never paid for. They do not exist. The middle class and those trying to join it have been shortchanged by the Liberals by almost 10%.
Is this another tax, to simply withhold 8% to 10% of what they promised? Is this another way of promising something, then not delivering on it, and hoping no one notices?
The parliamentary budget officer noticed and we noticed. The parliamentary budget officer's report said, “That is, they were not implemented as stated in Budget 2016.” The Liberals promise, and then they break the promise. The current government should get an A for announcement and a D for delivery. It should get an A for making those wonderful promises to municipalities, and wonderful promises to Canadians, but when it comes right down to delivering, the budget officer said it is failing.
I hope the Canadian electorate tires of this talking the talk, but not walking the walk. I hope the voters do something in the very next election. The parliamentary budget officer is so very diplomatic in the way he makes these comments, much like our Auditor General. As chair of the public accounts committee, I have learned that Canada's auditors general, including our current Auditor General, are for the most part very matter of fact when they comment on the government's performances. The parliamentary budget officer, another officer of Parliament, carefully said, “...which suggests that the Government may need to improve its funding processes or its estimation methodology for spending measures included in the budget.”
Therefore, what makes this credibility gap that the Liberals are the architects of even more tough is, and I will again quote the parliamentary budget officer report. He said:
Moreover, there is no clear line of sight from budget announcements to their implementation. The different presentation, wording and accounting methodology makes it challenging to align budget spending measures with items included in the estimates. And it is not possible to track spending on most budget measures beyond the first year or what was actually spent on specific measures. It is thus very difficult for parliamentarians to follow the dollar and hold the government to account for implementing its fiscal plan, as outlined in the budget.
This would be brilliant if it were not so scary or so nefarious. It almost makes one wonder if this is some type of devious plan concocted by our finance minister and President of the Treasury Board, who is here tonight, so we can throw him in there too, both of whom should know better. An alternative explanation would be simple incompetence. Canadians do not want to believe that those in charge of Canadians' fiscal situation are so incompetent, but the facts and the figures they present cannot even be traced or linked to reality. That is according to the parliamentary budget officer, and yet Canadians do not want to believe that the books are cooked.
Even an accountant has a difficult time following the money trail left by the current government. Worst of all, we parliamentarians are supposed to be able to examine what has been done by the Liberal government, and debate these things during main estimates debate, for example, like we are doing here tonight. Canadians rely on us to spend the time going over these books: the budget, the estimates, the supplementary estimates, and even the public accounts of Canada. Canadians should be able to depend on and believe that these expenditures by the Liberal government are what it says they are.
Therefore, what do the Liberals do? They present this House with a budget that reads almost like a plate of spaghetti, and then they challenge the members of Parliament to follow each noodle of their expenditures of taxpayers' dollars, and make political and policy decisions on the success or failure of these expenditures. The Liberals make it as hard as possible to follow the expenditures. The average member of Parliament has very great difficulty following the promised expenditure to the actual expense. Liberal backbenchers do not have to read or study this; they just accept what the finance minister says. They are basically told, “Do not bother about that, we will give you your talking points; you're new, over the years you'll learn how to do this.” However, even the parliamentary budget officer says the methodology of working through this is difficult.
I have concentrated my comments on the work of the parliamentary budget officer. The Liberal government is scrambling the facts and figures we are debating tonight in the budgetary main estimates, and I believe dishonestly.
The budget officer tries to withhold the frustration of that office, and the PBO gently calls for more streamlined reporting in the budget process, a little more transparency and methodology.
I am thankful for the opportunity, on behalf of Battle River—Crowfoot, to bring forward some of the concerns we have with the government, the main estimates, and with its spending.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2017-06-06 18:11 [p.12160]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Oshawa, for leading this motion today and for all his work on behalf of taxpayers and all Canadians.
Transparency is vital to Canada's free democracy, especially when it comes to spending Canadians' hard-earned tax dollars and making decisions, like on the carbon tax, that would seriously impact their ability to make ends meet and the whole economy.
Today's motion calls on the Liberals to open the books, to do what they promised to do and be honest with hard-working Canadians about the impact of the carbon tax on their lives. The Liberal carbon tax will make things so much worse for families and businesses in Lakeland, across Alberta, and in all of Canada.
Before the Liberals unilaterally announced that they would force the carbon tax on all Canadians, the Department of Finance completed two analyses on how much this tax would cost, its economic consequences, and how it would affect Canadians. Both documents were released through an access to information request, but all the detailed information was blacked out.
Canadians should know what their government is doing with the collection and spending of their hard-earned tax dollars and how the government's fiscal decisions will impact them. However, the Liberals are keeping all this a secret. Obviously, the Liberals are hiding information they do not want Canadians to know. Perhaps the documents prove that the carbon tax will harm Canadians by raising the price of everything for everyone.
A carbon tax supporter, professor Nicholas Rivers, admitted that the Liberals' national carbon tax would increase the price of gasoline by 11¢ a litre, electricity bills by 10%, and natural gas by 15%. It is a burden Canadian families should not have to bear. In fact, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation calculated that the national carbon tax will cost more than $1,000 per person, or more than $4,000 per family of four, annually.
The redacted documents probably show that low-income Canadians, the most vulnerable, will be hurt by this tax the most. Low-income families in Canada spend a majority of their household income on basic necessities, including food, heating, and gas. This tax will disproportionately hit them with cost hikes on essentials.
The Liberals have promised time and time again that transparency is their most important principle. They have created this facade by posting mandate letters online, starting endless studies and reviews, and consulting on consultations, but when it comes to comprehensive, meaningful, internal information that should be available to all Canadians, the Liberals are shutting the books.
In 2016, the parliamentary budget officer said that the Liberals' first budget was “less transparent than [any] Conservative budgets under Stephen Harper and overestimates the number of jobs that will be created”. Fast forward to this year and the same independent parliamentary budget officer chided the Liberals for their lack of transparency on spending.
In the 2015 campaign, the Prime Minister talked a big game about transparency, and in fact, the Liberal Party's campaign website has an entire section entitled: “Openness. Transparency. Fairness. Making government work for Canadians.” The platform says,
At its heart is a simple idea: transparent government is good government. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.
However, the Liberals' actions speak much louder than their words. Hiding these reports goes against the most fundamental promise the Liberals pledged to Canadians for 78 days, and regularly ever since. Here we are, day 596 into their mandate, and it is clear that the Liberals are all rhetoric almost all the time, leaving a trail of broken promises.
The Liberals love to talk about transparency. In fact, they have said the word in one form or another a combined 1,358 times in the House of Commons and at committee since they took office. That is a lot of talk for a party that does the complete opposite.
The Liberals must be transparent about the costs of their nationally imposed carbon tax, especially since much of the information they have presented does not make sense or add up and because the carbon tax will hurt most the very people they claim to care about. The key tenets of the Liberals' argument for the carbon tax, that it would be revenue neutral and would reduce emissions, are actually verifiably false.
The Liberals told Canadians that the tax would be a neutral price on carbon. First, there is no guarantee whatsoever of any so-called revenue neutrality in every province, and recently, the Library of Parliament revealed that Albertans and British Columbians will pay $280 million in GST on the carbon tax over the next two years. The Liberals cannot claim that the carbon tax is revenue neutral when the federal government will collect millions in GST revenues from taxing the tax.
The member for Newmarket—Aurora said, “To characterize something as a carbon tax is not doing that person any justice. We all know it is a revenue-neutral plan. Just because people keep calling something a carbon tax does not make it a carbon tax.”
That is nonsense. It is obvious it is a tax and it is obvious the cost will be passed on to consumers. In fact, the member for Carleton found out recently that internal government documents show that the tax will cascade through the Canadian economy. Since the Liberals are forcing this tax on all Canadians, then Canadians deserve to fully understand what it will cost them.
The member for Vancouver Quadra said that British Columbians are “proud that the emissions were driven down over a number of years by this carbon tax”, but in fact, in every year since 2010, emissions in B.C. have actually increased. They have gone up every year. There has been no significant reduction in gasoline purchases, which should concern proponents on that side, since transportation is the second-highest sector for emissions.
What is worse, resources and other industries, such as cement manufacturing, have been hit hard by the tax. Cement that used to be manufactured completely in B.C. is now being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. Rural growth has stalled. However, the left spins a different tale.
The Prime Minister said just this month that a carbon tax is something “everyone can understand”, but they do not. In a way, they cannot, because the very nature of the Liberals' carbon tax is not transparent. The cost is hidden in the price of groceries, at the gas pump, in the price of meals at restaurants, in heating bills, in annual school board fees required for additional resources for transport, in future municipal tax hikes or service cuts to cover the added costs to their thin budgets, in recreational cost increases, in hikes in refrigeration and heating costs, and in job cuts.
Therefore, this motion calls for maximum clarity for customers on bills, invoices, and receipts to show Canadians exactly how much this tax will cost them. As much as the Liberals and the left want to deny it, this tax will punish Canadians. Just as in the case of the HST and GST, it should be clear to everyone why their everyday bills are suddenly more expensive.
Transparency can always be improved. Throughout the years, access to information requests have been a valuable tool for opposition MPs, journalists, and Canadians to find out information from federal departments on a variety of issues, and on spending in particular. Of course, the Liberals made this a specific pledge in their election platform, which states, “We will amend the Access to Information Act so that all government data and information is made open by default in machine-readable, digital formats” and “We will also ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.”
Of course, like so many others, this promise has yet to come to fruition.
The President of the Treasury Board, the minister responsible, even announced this past March that any access to information reform would be delayed indefinitely. He then skipped out on the Transparency for the 21st Century conference organized by the Information Commissioner herself. It is just another example of the Liberals saying one thing to get elected and then doing something, anything, else.
The carbon tax will kill jobs, especially in remote, rural, and agriculture- and energy-based communities. I have heard from business owners in Lakeland who are predicting layoffs because they are already struggling to stay afloat. Small and family business owners who may employ half a dozen or a dozen employees but whose businesses are significant to their communities will be forced to make decisions they do not want to have to make: raising operating costs or prices, decreasing output, cutting wages and benefits, or laying off their employees. All Canadians deserve to know how much the tax will cost them in every aspect of their lives.
The Liberals' pattern of breaking promises and blaming others is getting old. Whether they are low income, the poor, middle-class Canadians, families, single parents, seniors, people on fixed incomes, businesses, or charities, all Canadians deserve better.
I support this motion. I thank my colleague. I urge all members of this House to support it too. The Liberals need to walk their talk because, in their own words, it is a matter of trust.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)

Question No. 954--
Mr. MacKenzie (Oxford):
With regard to page 11 of the Guide for Parliamentary Secretaries published by the Privy Council Office in December 2015, where it states that Parliamentary Secretaries are “prohibited from accepting sponsored travel”: (a) does the government consider the trips taken by Parliamentary Secretary Khera and Parliamentary Secretary Virani, which are listed in the 2016 sponsored travel report by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, to be a violation of the guide; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what corrective measures were taken to reconcile the violation; and (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, why does the government not consider these trips to be a violation?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to trips taken by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism), their sponsored travel was pre-approved by the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
Furthermore, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism) made the proper and appropriate public declarations to the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner upon their return, in accordance with the rules that govern the practice of sponsored travel.
Sponsored travel is not unusual for ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
For example, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the former parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, travelled to Taiwan, a trip that was sponsored by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association.

Question No. 958--
Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy:
With regard to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and energy efficiency programs, for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017: (a) what programs are in place; (b) what are the eligibility criteria for each of these programs; (c) what tools do the government and the CMHC use to promote these programs to the public (i) at the national level, (ii) at the provincial level; (d) how many people use these programs (i) at the national level, (ii) by province, (iii) in the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot; and (e) how much has been spent to advertise these programs (i) at the national level, (ii) in each province?
Mr. Adam Vaughan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, considers energy efficiency an important issue. Many of the housing programs available to Canadians include a consideration or component for energy efficiency.
In regard to stand-alone programs, in response to part (a), CMHC green home program was introduced in 2004 and is intended to encourage consumers to purchase energy-efficient housing or make energy-saving renovations which can generate significant reductions in energy costs for homeowners and have a positive environmental impact. CMHC green home offers a premium refund to CMHC mortgage loan insurance borrowers who either buy, build, or renovate for energy efficiency using CMHC-insured financing.
For the years 2014, 2015, and up to June 22, 2016, borrowers could benefit from a 10% refund on their mortgage insurance premium, and a refund of sales tax where applicable, when using CMHC-insured financing to purchase a new or existing energy-efficient home or to undertake energy efficient renovations to an existing home.
Enhancements to the program were made in June 2016. Effective June 22, 2016, the base premium refund increased from 10% to 15% of the total premium paid and a two-level premium refund structure exists, allowing for as much as 25% of the total premium paid to be refunded, depending on the level of energy efficiency achieved.
In response to part (b), under the CMHC green home program, most new homes built under a CMHC eligible energy-efficient building standard automatically qualify for a premium refund. For all other homes, eligibility is assessed using Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide rating system.
Information on how to apply for a partial premium refund and eligibility requirements is available on CMHC’s website
In response to part (c), CMHC's modernized green home program was launched in 2016 and was actively promoted through various channels including mortgage professionals, industry associations, media outlets, and CMHC's redesigned web content. CMHC's green home program continues to be promoted through various social media outlets including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
In response to part (d), the number of refunds issued under CMHC green home, at a national level, during the requested years is as follows: 752 in 2014, 476 in 2015, 443 in 2016, and 153 in 2017. These numbers are not available by province or territory nor specifically for the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
In response to part (e), CMHC did not spend any specific advertising funds prior to 2016. In 2016, CMHC spent $20,940 to advertise the CMHC green home program at a national level.

Question No. 959--
Mr. David Sweet:
With regard to the call for proposals for government funding under the Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Innovation Program allocated for Clean Energy Innovation that closed October 31, 2016: (a) what criteria were used to select approved projects; (b) what projects received funding, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) type of project, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received; (c) what projects have been selected to receive funding in the future, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) type of project, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received; and (d) for each project identified in (b) and (c), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?
Hon. Jim Carr (Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, in response to paragraph (a), the criteria used to select approved projects are outlined in section 6 of the “Energy Innovation Program, Clean Energy Innovation Component: Request for Project Proposals, Applicants’ Guide”, which is made available to all applicants.
With respect to paragraphs (b), (c), and (d), as of April 4, 2017, NRCan had not yet formally announced any of the selected projects for the clean energy innovation program. However, 100% of the $25.1 million in funding available for this program has been allocated to projects selected through the call for proposals process. The current number of projects expected to be supported by the clean energy innovation program is approximately 27, although this figure could change slightly in the future. All applicants have been notified, and NRCan has started conducting post-selection due diligence and negotiating contribution agreements with applicants. It is expected that the majority of the 27 contribution agreements will be signed by June 30, 2017. Once contribution agreements are signed, NRCan will announce the projects. NRCan will also disclose the contribution amounts through the formal, quarterly proactive disclosure process. This information will be available on NRCan’s website.

Question No. 960--
Mr. Kevin Sorenson:
With regard to the announced 372.5 million dollars in repayable loans provided by the government to Bombardier: (a) was the government told during its negotiations with Bombardier that the financial assistance provided by the government would be used for bonuses to executives; (b) did the terms of the financial assistance include any guarantees that the loans would not go towards executive bonuses; and (c) if the answer to (b) is affirmative, what are the details of such guarantees?
Hon. Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), the Government of Canada is committed to the long-term viability and success of the Canadian aerospace sector. The repayable contribution by the government to Bombardier is focused on research and development. This contribution will support creation of high-quality jobs and development of leading-edge technology in Canada. It will ensure the long-term competitiveness of Bombardier as a key aerospace firm for Canada.
In response to part (b), the strategic aerospace and defence initiative and C Series are claims-based programs where recipients make claims against eligible costs associated with research and development required in the performance of the project by the recipient. As negotiated in each individual contribution agreement, the costs must be reasonably and properly incurred and/or allocated to the project with eligible costs mainly supporting labour, materials, overhead, equipment, and contractors. Costs not related to the completion of the project are ineligible.
In response to part (c), specific terms of the contribution agreements are deemed third party commercially confidential information and protected under paragraph 20(1)(b) of the Access to Information Act.

Question No. 966--
Mr. Guy Lauzon:
With regard to page 24 of the Liberal election platform where it said “We will ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices”: (a) does the government plan on keeping this election promise; and (b) in what year does the government plan on introducing legislation which would make such changes?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, our government continues to raise the bar on openness and transparency because government information ultimately belongs to the people we serve, and it should be open by default.
Major reforms to the Access to Information Act have not been done in more than three decades since it was enacted and we are taking on this challenge in a two-phase approach.
Changes to the act have to be carefully crafted to balance our fundamental values of openness with other principles, including independence of the judiciary, the effectiveness and neutrality of the public service, the protection of Canadians’ personal information, and national security.
We are working on fixing an Access to Information Act that is stale-dated after decades of neglect and, furthermore, we will legislate a requirement that the act be reviewed every five years so it never again becomes stale.
Through the ministerial directive issued last spring by the President of the Treasury Board, we moved to enshrine the principle of “open by default”, eliminated all fees apart from the $5 application fee, and directed departments to release information in user-friendly formats whenever possible.
Furthermore, we will undertake the first full and now-mandatory review of the Act beginning no later than 2018.

Question No. 967--
Mr. Tom Lukiwski:
With regard to the possible extradition of individuals between the Government of Canada and the Government of China: (a) what are the details of any communication between the governments on the subject including (i) the date, (ii) the form (in person, telephone, email, etc.), (iii) the titles of individuals involved in the communication, (iv)the location, (v) any relevant file numbers; and (b) what are the details of any briefing notes on the subject including the (i) title, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) subject matter, (vi) file number?
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to discussions between the Government of Canada and the Government of China, please read the following joint communiqué found online at:

Question No. 968--
Mr. Tom Lukiwski:
With regard to interaction between the government and the Bradford Exchange: (a) when was the government made aware that the company was planning on producing a talking doll bearing the image of the Prime Minister; (b) did the government authorize the company to produce the doll; (c) if the answer to (b) is affirmative, who provided the authorization; (d) did the government provide any input regarding the phrases which the doll says; (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, what are the details including (i) who provided the input, (ii) when was the input provided; and (f) what are the details of any briefing notes or memos related to the production of the talking dolls including the (i) sender, (ii) recipient, (iii) date, (iv) title and subject matter, (v) file number?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the government had no interaction with The Bradford Exchange and did not authorize the production of the doll.

Question No. 969--
Mr. Gordon Brown:
With regard to the “Sober Second Thinking: How the Senate Deliberates and Decides” discussion paper, circulated by the Government Representative in the Senate, and dated March 31, 2017: (a) does this paper represent the policy of the Government of Canada; (b) was its preparation, writing, editing and publication coordinated with the Government House Leader’s March 10, 2017, discussion paper entitled “Modernization of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons”; (c) was its preparation, writing, editing and publication coordinated in any other manner with the Government House Leader; (d) did the Privy Council Office, or any other department, assist in the preparation, writing, editing and publishing of it; (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, with respect to the employees involved, what are their (i) titles, (ii) occupational groups, (iii) levels; (f) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, (i) were any parliamentarians or political parties consulted in the course of their work, (ii) were any staff of the Senate consulted in the course of their work, (iii) were any academics, experts, or any other outside advisors consulted in the course of their work; (g) if the answer to any of (f)(i), (ii) or (iii) is affirmative, what are the names of the persons or organizations consulted, and when were they consulted; (h) were any contractors, paid by the Government of Canada, involved in the preparation, writing, editing and publishing of the paper; and (i) if the answer to (h) is affirmative, with respect to the contractors involved, (i) what are their titles, (ii) what services were contracted, (iii) what is the value of the services contracted, (iv) what amount were they paid for their services, (v) what are the related file numbers?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to discussion paper entitled “Sober Second Thinking: How the Senate Deliberates and Decides”, the paper was prepared exclusively by the Office of the Government Representative in the Senate and published on the Senate website.
Our government believes that a more independent and less partisan Senate will rebuild Canadians' trust in this parliamentary institution.
It is up to the Senate itself to determine how to best adapt its internal rules and practices to function effectively.
Our government will continue to work productively with the Senate to move forward on our legislative agenda.

Question No. 970--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
With regard to the services related to issuing debt and selling of government bonds, since April 1, 2016: (a) what amount has the Government spent on services related to issuing debt and/or selling government bonds; (b) for each service in (a), what is the (i) name of the person or firm, (ii) service period, (iii) amount of the contract, (iv) reason that person or firm was chosen to provide the service?
Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, Government of Canada marketable debt, which includes treasury bills and marketable bonds, is distributed by the Bank of Canada, as the government’s fiscal agent through competitive auctions to government securities distributors, a group of banks and investment dealers in the domestic market. No commissions or fees are paid to government securities distributors.
The Bank of Canada, as the government’s fiscal agent, is also responsible for overseeing and administering the retail debt program, which includes the issuance of Canada savings bonds and Canada premium bonds. Fees are paid to financial institutions in proportion to the amount of bonds outstanding that they have distributed. Any Canadian financial institution can distribute retail debt products, subject to signing the sales agent agreements. Financial institutions are engaged to distribute Canada savings bonds and Canada premium bonds as they are seen as an effective distribution channel for retail savings products. In 2015-16, the government paid an aggregate amount of $3.9 million in fees to a number of financial institutions on an outstanding retail debt stock of about $5.5 billion. The government announced in budget 2017 that it is winding down the retail debt program, so these fees will stop. The Bank of Canada directly pays these fees to financial institutions and is refunded by the Department of Finance. Accordingly, the department does not have the list of financial institutions nor the breakdown of fees paid per financial institution.
The Government of Canada holds foreign currency reserve assets to provide foreign currency liquidity to the government and to promote orderly conditions for the Canadian dollar in the foreign exchange markets, if required. Foreign currency debt is issued to fund foreign reserve assets in a manner that mitigates the impacts of movements in interest rates and foreign exchange rates. The government pays fees to financial institutions selling Canada bills, i.e., short term debt issued in U.S. dollars. Financial institutions are selected based on their ability to efficiently distribute a debt offering to a diverse investor base located around the world and play an active role in secondary market making. The Canada bills program contracts have no service periods. In the 2016 calendar year, the Department of Finance paid an aggregate amount of $2.2 million U.S. in fees to RBC, CIBC, and Goldman Sachs in proportion to the amount of Canada bills they distributed, with a total issuance of $18.6 billion U.S. Disaggregated information per financial institutions is confidential.
These fees, for retail debt and foreign currency debt, are included in the $10.6 million under “Servicing costs and costs of issuing new borrowings” in the Public Accounts of Canada, volume III, section 7.6. Unfortunately, this information is not yet available for the period starting April 1, 2016.

Question No. 971--
Mr.Kelly McCauley:
With regard to funding for the implementation and administration of various measures to crack down on tax evasion, combat tax avoidance and enhance tax collections in Budget 2016 for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and referenced in Supplementary Estimates (B) 2016-2017: (a) how many full time equivalents (FTEs) were created from this additional funding; (b) what percentage of all FTEs within CRA are dedicated to tax evasion and what was the percentage before the additional funding for tax evasion; (c) of these FTEs, how many employees are targeted toward offshore tax cheats; (d) of the new hires at CRA responsible for going after tax evasion, what is the breakdown by area of focus; and (e) how many new FTEs have been dedicated to address the back-log of low-complexity, medium complexity and high complexity assessment objections?
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above noted question, here is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, CRA. Regarding part (a), on the basis of the funding received in budget 2016, the CRA created a total of 654 FTEs across its collections, verification, and compliance programs in 2016-17 to implement, administer, and support the various measures to crack down on tax evasion, combat tax avoidance, and enhance tax collection. Of this amount, 171 new FTEs were specifically provisioned for our compliance programs to crack down on tax evasion and tax avoidance. When fully implemented in 2020-21, this will represent an additional 375 permanent FTEs.
Regarding part (b), the additional provision of 171 FTEs in 2016-17 raised the percentage of FTEs dedicated to addressing tax evasion and tax avoidance to approximately 6% or 2,255 FTEs of the total CRA base of 37,878 FTEs. Prior to the additional funding, 5.5% or 2,084 FTEs of the total CRA base was dedicated to these measures.
Regarding part (c), of the 2,255 FTEs dedicated to addressing tax evasion and tax avoidance, 383 are dedicated to offshore non-compliance. The CRA also has 447 FTEs dedicated to conduct international compliance interventions, including transfer pricing. In addition, these positions are indirectly supported by other compliance and enforcement staff who make referrals and leads to the offshore compliance auditors in the course of conducting their domestic activities.
Regarding part (d), the areas of focus for the various measures to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance include high net-worth individuals, aggressive GST-HST planning and refund integrity, tax scheme promoters, aggressive tax planning specialists, legal support for criminal investigations, large business audits, offshore non-compliance, and international auditors that focus primarily on transfer pricing verification to ensure appropriate attribution of profits between Canada and other jurisdictions.
Regarding part (e), the CRA is focused on service and improving the objection process by providing people and businesses with greater certainty about their tax obligations earlier in the process.
In response to the Auditor General 2016 fall report on income tax objections, the CRA committed to an action plan that addresses each of the Auditor General’s eight recommendations. For example, the agency updated its website in November 2016 to provide taxpayers with more information about the objection process, definition of complexity level, and current time frames for assigning low and medium complexity objections. In addition, the CRA is currently piloting a new triage process for objections, so that taxpayers are contacted earlier in the process and files are complete when assigned to an officer.
Moreover, a separate budget 2016 initiative under the section entitled “Improving Client services at the Canada Revenue Agency” increased capacity to resolve existing taxpayer objections and ensure that taxpayers are provided with certainty of their tax obligations as soon as possible. For this specific client service measure, the CRA did receive funding for an additional 71 FTEs, all of whom were hired in 2016-17.
Funding received in budget 2016 for the implementation and administration of various tax measures to crack down on tax evasion, combat tax avoidance, and enhance tax collections included provisions to ensure that taxpayers who choose to avail themselves of their recourse rights receive timely responses. Funding to address potential impacts to the objections workload will be made available in subsequent years, after the reassessments have been issued.

Question No. 973--
Mr. Robert Kitchen:
With regard to videos which appear on the Environment and Climate Change Minister’s Twitter Account between March 23, 2017, and April 6, 2017: (a) what is the total cost associated with the production and distribution of the videos, broken down by individual video; (b) what is the itemized detailed breakdown of the costs; and (c) what are the details of any contracts related to the videos including (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) description of good or service, (iv) file number, (v) date and duration of contract?
Hon. Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, Environment and Climate Change Canada has one video from World Meteorological Day 2017, which appeared on the Environment and Climate Change minister’s Twitter account between March 23, 2017, and April 6, 2017.
The video was produced with internal resources and Getty Images at a total cost of $68.20. Since March 6, 2017, Getty Images has a one-year contract for 2,500 videos or 5,000 photos.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has no expenditure recorded between March 23, 2017, and April 6, 2017, in relation to (a), (b) and (c) of Question No. 973.
In addition, Parks Canada has no expenditure recorded between March 23, 2017, and April 6, 2017, in relation to (a), (b) and (c).

Question No. 974--
Mr. Robert Kitchen:
With regard to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs): how many GHGs does the current Prime Minister's motorcade emit every (i) minute, (ii) hour, for which it is running?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the RCMP’s information management system does not capture the requested information.

Question No. 975--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
With regard to the government’s claim that the February 7, 2017 Bombardier bail-out will result in 1300 new jobs: (a) what were the calculations used to come to that conclusion; (b) what evidence was given to come to that conclusion; (c) what branch within Bombardier will these jobs be in; (d) how many of these jobs are full-time; and (e) how many of these jobs are part-time?
Hon. Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Government of Canada is committed to the long-term viability and success of the Canadian aerospace sector. On February 7, 2017, the Government of Canada announced a $372.5-million repayable contribution to Bombardier for research and development for the new Global 7000 business jet and ongoing activities related to the development of the company’s C Series aircraft. Bombardier has indicated that employment related to the production of the Global 7000 business jet will go from approximately 1,700 jobs to approximately 3,000 jobs as a result of the strategic aerospace and defence initiative, SADI, contribution.
With regard to parts (b), (c), (d), and (e), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada conducted the required due diligence for projects under SADI. Specific information related to the due diligence and analysis is considered commercially confidential and protected under paragraph 20(1)(b) of the Access to information Act.

Question No. 976--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
With regard to the Phoenix Pay System and Public Services and Procurement Canada since June, 2016: (a) how much has been spent on researching other payment delivery systems; (b) how many meetings have been held on other payment delivery systems; and (c) for the meetings in (b), what are (i) the names and titles of the staff members that have been present at those meetings, (ii) the dates of the meetings?
Mr. Steven MacKinnon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the ongoing public service pay problems are completely unacceptable. Resolving these problems remains our priority. Our government is committed to ensuring that all employees are paid what they have earned.
Prior to awarding a contract for a new pay system, research was conducted by PSPC and with the industry throughout 2008-2009 to seek feedback and test market capability. This included two requests for information and a series of one-on-one meetings with the industry. No further research of other pay systems has taken place since June 2016.
Following an open, fair, and transparent bidding process, PSPC awarded a contract to IBM Canada Limited in June 2011 to design and implement the new pay solution for the Government of Canada.
Since the implementation of Phoenix, PSPC’s priority has been and still is to help each and every employee experiencing a problem with his or her pay and to ensure they receive what they have earned.
In this regard, PSPC is making progress toward achieving steady state and continues to look at options to increase pay processing efficiencies by implementing technical enhancements, increasing capacity, and improving work processes and procedures.

Question No. 980--
Mr. Todd Doherty:
With regard to the protest at the offices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John’s on April 7, 2016: (a) what was the amount of damage to government property caused by the protesters; (b) what are the titles of the government officials who met with the protestors; (c) did the government sign an agreement with the protesters; (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, what are the contents of the agreement; (e) did the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans approve (i) the meeting, (ii) the agreement; and (f) were there any Ministerial Exempt Staff in attendance at the meeting and, if so, what are their titles?
Mr. Terry Beech (Parliamentary Secretary for Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, it would be inappropriate to comment on this incident, as it is currently under investigation by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is co-operating fully with this investigation.

Question No. 982--
Mr. Mark Warawa:
With regard to the statement by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the House of Commons on April 10, 2017, that “Every dollar that comes from putting a price on carbon pollution to the federal government goes directly back to the provinces”: (a) does the government consider this statement to be accurate; (b) if the answer in (a) is affirmative, then how is the government disposing of the extra Goods and Services Tax collected as a result of collecting GST on the price of carbon; (c) when did the program to send the extra revenue collected from the GST back to the provinces begin; and (d) how much has been paid out to the provinces, broken down by province, as a result of such a program?
Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, pricing carbon pollution is a central component of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change that was announced by Canada’s first ministers in December 2016. The pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution will expand the application of carbon pricing, which is already in place in Canada’s four largest provinces, to the rest of Canada by 2018. Recognizing that each province and territory has unique circumstances, the pan-Canadian approach allows provinces and territories flexibility to choose between a direct price on carbon pollution and a cap and trade system. As part of the pan Canadian framework, the Government of Canada will introduce a backstop carbon pollution pricing system that will apply in provinces and territories that do not have a carbon pricing system in place that meets the federal carbon pricing benchmark by 2018.
The pan-Canadian framework includes the commitment that revenues from pricing carbon pollution will remain with the province or territory of origin, each of which will decide how best to use the revenue. These revenues do not include those in respect of the GST charged on products or services that may have embedded carbon pricing costs in them. Revenues generated by the federal backstop will be returned to the jurisdiction in which the backstop revenues originated.
The Government is making investments to address climate change and support a healthy environment, through the Pan-Canadian Framework and other measures. Budget 2016 provided almost $2.9 billion over five years to address climate change and air pollution. This included $2 billion to establish the Low Carbon Economy Fund to support provincial and territorial actions that materially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Budget 2017 proposes a number of new and renewed actions to reduce emissions, help Canada adapt and build resilience to climate change and support clean technologies. To further advance Canada’s efforts to build a clean economy, Budget 2017 lays out the Government’s plan to invest $21.9 billion in green infrastructure. This includes programs and projects that will meet the goals outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework.

Question No. 985--
Mr. Bob Saroya:
With regard to Access to Information requests submitted to the Privy Council Office: (a) between April 1, 2016, and April 1, 2017, excluding instances where no records exist, how many Access to Information requests were completed and; (b) of the completed requests, how many resulted in documents being (i) completely redacted or not disclosed, (ii) partially redacted, (iii) completed disclosed without redaction?
Mr. Peter Schiefke (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), 827 access to information requests were completed during this period.
With regard to (b)(i), of the completed requests, of those that were completely redacted or not disclosed, 53 documents were exempted and 16 were excluded. With regard to (b)(ii), 495 were partially redacted. With regard to (b)(iii), 30 were disclosed without redaction.
The final numbers will be posted in the PCO’s annual report. It will be released in June 2017.
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Question No. 668--
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant:
With regard to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, between the program’s launch and November 30, 2016: (a) what projects have been submitted for funding from the constituencies of Kenora, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Thunder Bay—Superior North, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Timmins—James Bay, Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Nickel Belt, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Parry Sound—Muskoka, Mississauga—Malton, broken down by constituency; and (b) for each of the projects in (a), which have been approved for funding?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 814--
Mr. David Anderson:
With regard to the Prime Minister's trip to the Bahamas in December 2016 and January 2017: (a) what was the total cost to taxpayers; (b) what is the itemized breakdown of each expense related to the trip, including costs related to security, transportation, accommodation, meals, per diems, and other expenses; (c) how many government employees, including exempt staff, were on the trip; and (d) excluding pilots and security personnel, what were the titles of government employees on the trip?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 925--
Mr. Alexander Nuttall:
With regard to the Prime Minister’s attendance at the performance of Come From Away in New York on March 15, 2017: (a) how many tickets the government purchased; (b) what was the amount spent by the government on tickets; (c) who received the tickets which the government purchased; (d) with the exception of travel, were there any other expenses incurred by the government related to the performance; and (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, what are the amounts and details of such expenses?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 926--
Mr. Alexander Nuttall:
With regard to government expenditures at the Rideau Club, since November 4, 2015, broken down by department, agency, crown corporation, or other government entity: (a) what are the details of all expenditures at the Rideau Club including (i) date, (ii) amount, (iii) description of good or service provided; and (b) for any memberships purchased by the government at the Rideau Club, who was the membership for?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 927--
Ms. Linda Duncan:
With regard to funding for post-secondary institutions, for each fiscal year since 2014-15, broken down by department: (a) what is the total amount of funds provided to the University of Alberta; and (b) for what purpose was each contribution or grant provided for?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 928--
Mr. Robert Sopuck:
With regard to the decision by Parks Canada to deny the application by the producers of the movie Hard Powder to film in a National Park: (a) when was the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change informed of the decision; (b) what was the rationale for the decision; (c) when was the Minister of Canadian Heritage informed of the decision; and (d) what are the details of any government funding or contributions, including tax credits, which have been made available to the producers of this movie?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 933--
Mr. Colin Carrie:
With regard to contraband cigarettes and the government’s tobacco control strategy, since December 1, 2015, broken down by province and territory and by month, how many contraband or illegal cigarettes have been seized by the (i) Royal Canadian Mounted Police or (ii) Canada Border Services Agency?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 934--
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant:
With regard to the April 13, 2016, announcement allocating $800 million in spending over five years to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to revitalize their Chalk River facility: (a) how much of the funding has been spent as of March 17, 2017; and (b) for all the spending indicated in (a), what is the break-down of the spending by (i) date, (ii) amount, (iii) project funded, (iv) anticipated completion date of project funded, if applicable?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 935--
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant:
With regard to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, between the program’s launch and March 17, 2017: (a) what projects have been submitted for funding from the constituencies of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, Kenora, Mississauga—Malton, Nickel Belt, Nipissing—Timiskaming, Parry Sound—Muskoka, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Thunder Bay—Superior North, and Timmins—James Bay, broken down by constituency; and (b) for each of the projects in (a), what is (i) the approval status of the project, (ii) the amount of funding requested, (iii) the amount of funding approved?
(Return tabled)

Question No. 937--
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant:
With regard to the answer to Q-667, how was the $805,087,514 in uncommitted funds from four legacy federal infrastructure programs – Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, Border Infrastructure Fund, Green Infrastructure Fund, and 2007 Building Canada Fund, spent between November 4, 2015, and March 22, 2016, broken down by (i) date, (ii) amount, (iii) source federal program from which the funding came from, (iv) details of the recipient of funding, including for each their name, province, postal code, and municipality?
(Return tabled)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2017-04-05 17:20 [p.10223]
Mr. Speaker, if members turn to page 131, they will see that in last year's budget $500 million was projected into this year for child care. After that, $7 billion was projected for new federal, provincial, territorial framework agreements with indigenous communities. That is money this year and money for the next seven years, and it is locked in with an accord, just like the housing money that is locked in with an accord.
The money is going to last past this election and it is going to be back loaded, according to their math, because 80% comes after the next election. Eight years afer the next election there still will be money flowing to cities, municipalities, villages, towns, provinces, territories, and indigenous communities, close to $20 billion over 10 years. It is not back-end loaded. We have parsed it out in 10-year instalments. There are two years until the next election, so 20% is in the first two years and 80% is in the next eight years. That is the way the math works. The money is here this year. It was doubled-up last year. The money will be there next year and every year thereafter. This is a national housing strategy.
When will the NDP get engaged in debating this budget and not the Chrétien-Martin budgets? If those members want to build a time machine, there is money in the budget for technology and innovation, so they can go build a time machine. We are building housing. Why will they not help us?
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to stand in the House and debate the issues that governments and Canadians face, and that Canadians have to deal with.
There was great anticipation about the budget around the country. People were looking forward to a second fiscal strategy put forward by a government that failed, most people would say, with the first one. When we look at the growth rate, the job numbers, and all those, certainly there was failure. There was a hope: I think an expectancy among Canadians that they would see something in the budget that would give them a degree of optimism and hope.
We know some of the problems Canadians are facing. They are facing high household debt. Their hope was that perhaps there would be something in the budget that would help in that regard. We know they are facing skills and training deficiencies, and perhaps there would be something in that regard. We know that Canadians are not saving to the degree they should be, and perhaps there would be something in the budget that would help them. The day after the presentation of the budget, I think all of us would agree there is great disappointment out there. For Canadians, there is no increased hope, no increased optimism, and no increased drive because of things they find in the budget.
What do we know about the budget? We know there is a $23 billion deficit from last year. It was originally projected to be higher, but because the Liberals were unable to get much of their money out of the door, it is a little lower. We know the budget is again written in red ink. It takes Canadians deeper and deeper into national debt. It will increase our debt service charges. It will increase revenues that will go only to service debt, which the government continues to pile up.
Being involved somewhat in former budgets, I can say that we put in place strategies to bring us back to balanced budgets. When the world went into a global recession, Canada was the last to enter into that recession and we were the first to leave it. Why was that? It was because we had a strategy to come back to balanced budget. We understood the importance of keeping our economic house in order, of taking fiscal responsibility for our country. We understood that Canadians expected that of us.
It seems that, even with this budget, Liberals do not seem to care if the federal books are balanced anytime soon. They have gone beyond “budgets will balance themselves”, a quote our Prime Minister gave Canadians, to a frame of mind that is not even concerned about the debts that are being amassed and left to our children and grandchildren to pay off.
I want to be clear. In our 10 years in government, in the first two years we paid down national debt. We took surpluses and paid down just under $40 billion to our national debt. When the entire world went into the worst downturn and recession since the Great Depression, many countries were in massive trouble. We saw that their currency was failing, that their banks were failing, and that their whole plans were failing. We know about Greece and many of those countries, like Iceland and others. There were massive problems. However, Canadians knew they had people at the rudder who understood economies and knew what they had to do.
Although we were opposed to debt and deficit spending, we realized that in the worst recession since the Great Depression we would invest to kick-start the economy, and we did, as every G7 country did. We make no apologies for that. The largest infrastructure spending, the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history, was brought forward by a Conservative government to kick-start the economy. Therefore, the question should be asked, and it is fair to ask because we will ask it of the Liberals. Did that strategy work? The answer is obviously an unequivocal yes. It did work.
We saw that Canada was the first to leave that recession. Out of all the G7 countries, Canada was the very first to leave that recession and come back to growth. We saw that those investments were in long-term infrastructure that would be around for decades, that would help grow economies, and it worked. We know that we came back to our surplus and balanced budget, as we had promised. In fact, some would say it was a year earlier than we had promised. We paid down that $40 billion and went on to watch our economy grow.
I listen to questions being posed by Liberals here, and many of them are new, as the Liberals had 30 seats before and they have 160 now. The Liberals have a majority government, but many of them are first-time MPs. They say we ran up a big deficit; we ran up debt. The answer is yes, we did, but we had the plan to come back.
The Liberals had a plan to come back. They spent, went into deficit and massive debt, but they had a plan to be back to a balanced budget in 2019. However, now our parliamentary budget officer is saying that it is going to be 2030 or 2035. It will be 30 years down the road before we see any kind of plan that can feasibly bring us back to balanced budgets.
We cannot do that. We cannot fall into that trap. We cannot become a country that has that type of massive debt, and we must do what we can. I think in the next election, the very first main plank in coming back to balanced budgets will happen, and I am very optimistic going into that.
On jobs, our focus as a government during the recession was how we would hold on to the jobs we had and how we would create new ones. We invested in innovation and skills development. We invested in making sure we had the best labour force in the world.
However, we did something more than that. We said we had to make sure our tax regime was such that we could be competitive around the world, first of all. We need to sell our goods into a global market, and we have to be certain that we could be competitive. There is no use trying to have a job, make a gadget, and try to sell it if it was be so over-priced that nobody would be willing to buy it. Therefore, we made sure that our taxes kept going down. In fact, we lowered our taxes more than 160 times. We had the lowest tax rate among the G7 countries. Bloomberg said that we were the second-best place in the world to do business. That is why we came out of the recession early.
We sat down with employers and business and asked what it would take to have them hold the jobs they had or create new ones. They were very clear. They said not to do things like raise payroll taxes or increase their level of taxation. Therefore, with what I thought was agreement of all parties, we said we would lower the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, and we did, and then from 11% to 9% phased in over three or four years. We were committed to that. In fact, all parties were committed to that. However, right after the current Liberal government was elected, it made sure that was one promise it would not keep. The Liberals would say to our small business sector, “Why would we ever lower taxes?”
We consulted with Canadians. We consulted with businesses. We hoped to save jobs and secure economic growth during that difficult time. This is why we incurred budgetary deficits. It is also why we created opportunities for young Canadians and saved jobs during an economic recession.
There was a very fragile economic recovery that followed the recession around the world. Too many nations had a difficult time recovering from the recession. It was painfully slow. However, our government immediately pursued getting back to balanced budgets, showing Canadians and the world confidence in our dollar, showing Canadians and the world that we were getting our fiscal house in order, and our dollar reflected that.
Canadians understood that the difficult economic times were over. By 2015, we had brought forward a surplus in the federal budget. Canada was ready to confront another global crisis.
Governments normally only go into deficit if there is a crisis confronting their nation. Governments with budgetary surpluses or balanced budgets have the ability to combat something new. I really fear that with the level of debt we are seeing the Liberal government piling on Canadians, we would not have the capacity to react effectively if there is another massive crisis or global downturn.
In the last budget, the Liberal government said it would be investing in infrastructure. I think all Canadians know the story. During the election the Liberals promised that there would be an itsy-bitsy deficit of $10 billion. The Prime Minister said, “We can do a lot with $10 billion. It sounds big, but we can do a lot with $10 billion.” Then when he came to power, we found that the $10 billion had grown to nearly $30 billion. That was the concern then.
That money was supposed to raise growth. It was also supposed to get the jobs market and the building sector going. It has been a failure all around. The government has had a hard time getting the money out, and the growth has not been there. In fact, there has been less growth. Growth is happening in the United States and all around the world, but it is certainly not happening very quickly here in Canada, in spite of all the measures that the Liberals took in their 2016 budget.
Why would Canadians have hope in this budget? What is in the budget that they could find some hope in? Well, we can listen to the media. I am not one to encourage people to do that too often, but even the media recognize that the budget is probably one of the weakest budgets ever. I spoke to a former Liberal member of Parliament yesterday; he said that this is the most nondescript budget that he has ever seen. That was coming from the Liberals' own benches.
Where should Canada be? Canada should be in its third year of budgetary surplus. This year the Government of Canada should have a surplus of tax dollars to spend without borrowing. The interest payments on Canada's national debt should be decreasing, but the budget book shows us that the interest Canada will have to pay is increasing. We know that when we service debt to the degree that the Liberals will have to service debt down the road, that money is not going to go anywhere else. That money is not going to social programs. That money is not going back into education or health care. The Liberals seem to feel that they will just print more money or that they will just go deeper into deficit.
There are consequences to the actions we take. I warn the Liberal government that there are massive consequences to not having a plan to come back to balanced budgets. There are consequences to increasing deficits and national debt. This generation may not face those consequences, but for our children and grandchildren it will be difficult.
The 42nd Parliament should be in a position now to pay down Canada's national debt. Instead, the Liberals are not spending money to create jobs or grow Canada's economy. They are actually adding to the national debt instead of paying it down. They are leaving their debt for future generations.
The Liberal government has even failed to achieve the economic and employment objectives presented in its last year's budget. Budget 2017 needed to include no further tax hikes on Canadian families, businesses, seniors, or students, but instead needed immediate measures to encourage companies to hire young Canadians and to address the youth unemployment crisis. It should have included a credible plan to return to a balanced budget by 2019, as promised to Canadians. This budget has failed Canadians. The Liberals have failed Canadians with their second budget. There are no new job creation incentives. There are only more education opportunities.
Young students I know are coming out universities and colleges hoping for a job, but the government says, “We'll see if we can get you to take more education after that.”
There is no plan to balance the budget.
According to the parliamentary budget officer, budget 2016 did not meet employment targets because infrastructure investments were delayed, and there were many other reasons. The Liberals get an F. They get an A for announcements, always—Liberals are great at that—but when it comes to delivery, they are looking at a D or an F, because Canadians end up paying the costs.
In Alberta, the new Building Canada funding that was promised to municipalities was withheld by the NDP provincial government. Five rural municipalities have been told to wait or have been left behind altogether. I will even give it to the Liberals in that I think when they sent that infrastructure money to the province, they expected the province would send it out to where the priorities were, but the provincial NDP party said, “No, we're putting it into our general revenues, and then we will pick the priorities sometime down the road.” I think even the Liberals would shake their heads at that one.
No wonder there is no growth. No wonder there is no incentive. No wonder there are no kick-starts in Alberta. The province has the latitude to use the large majority of those infrastructure dollars as it sees fit, but the funds did not go where they were expected to go. It is a massive loss of opportunity for those municipalities, and in some cases the rural municipalities seem to be having the majority of the problems in that respect.
The Liberals also failed to grow the economy with their budget. The economy grew by 1.4% in 2016, which is 0.5% lower than what they had anticipated and claimed it would be in their 2016 budget. They believed it would grow by over 1.8%. They would kick all this money into it and see this massive growth. The previous Conservative government had economic growth of 1.8%, so the Liberals thought they could at least count on that with these extra massive spending measures. When we were investing in infrastructure, the Liberals claimed that we were not investing enough, that we were not spending enough money. They spent a lot more and they realized a lot less growth in the economy. They got less bang for the buck. They had less success. They had lower results. That is the record of the Liberal government.
What did the Liberals do with the $30 billion? What did they accomplish? Well, it is not in jobs and it is not in new revenues coming in.
I want to conclude with two things.
First, I want to talk a bit about our neighbours to the south, the United States. I want to talk about our relationship with them. I think the Liberals backed off on a lot of measures and I think they would have put it to Canadians even more than they have with this budget if it were not for the Trump administration and the knowledge that the U.S. is going to very quickly lower its corporate tax rate.
When we came into power, we lowered our corporate tax rate from 22% to 15%. That created jobs. Our business sector said, “We will create jobs”, and it did, coming out of that recession. Now the Americans are talking about taking it down from 35% to 15%.
We need to be very concerned about businesses making the trip back to the United States, businesses settling down again in the United States. We need to have a plan.
When we lowered that tax rate, we saw head offices and companies, especially in manufacturing, coming into Ontario and across Canada. We need to be cautious. The Americans are here and they are going to compete, and we need to be certain that we are competing at an equal level. We cannot compete at an equal level if we continue to raise the tax burden on them. We cannot increase our manufacturing sector and our business sector if we increase EI and CPP and say, “Here are some extra taxes for you to pay.” Then there is the carbon tax and things like that.
The Americans are competitive. We had better be competitive. The Liberal government's budget nickels-and-dimes Canadians, but it really hits business.
Mr. Speaker, I see my time is up. I thank you for the opportunity to speak, and I look forward to some questions.
View Yasmin Ratansi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Yasmin Ratansi Profile
2017-03-23 16:11 [p.9968]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.
I would like to take the time today to talk about the government's budget 2017, and specifically, the historic investments in infrastructure.
In budget 2016, we invested the first tranche of funds for infrastructure to support the repair of our aging pipes and roads, the building and refurbishing of affordable housing, the upgrading of public transit, and the improvement of indigenous communities. With the fall economic statement, we built on these efforts by targeting public transit, green and social infrastructure, as well as projects in northern and rural communities, and ones that facilitate trade.
The total federal investment in infrastructure now tops $180 billion over 12 years. These infrastructure investments will help ensure a cleaner environment for our children and grandchildren, while serving as a driver of economic growth.
The 2016 infrastructure investments are already making a difference in communities across Canada. In my riding of Don Valley East, we have benefited in the areas of repairs to the housing stock, bike lanes, and walking trails. With budget 2017, we plan to do even more.
We plan to invest in faster, more efficient public transit systems that will help people get to work on time, and at the end of the long day, back home faster to their families. In my riding, and in many urban ridings, constituents tell us that this is very important to them. That is what constituents told us in our budget consultation processes. They want better infrastructure. They said that commuting times were taking away from their productivity.
In our consultations, we heard as well about cleaner sources of energy. Therefore, our budget proposes to help build communities that are cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute the air, harm the environment, and compromise our health. Constituents who suffer from asthma and other breathing issues are thankful that our government is so keen on cleaning the environment.
Hard-working Canadians also need decent, affordable places to live. I am glad our government listened to the people and is investing $11.2 billion in this area.
In the area of a clean growth economy, I would like to expound on some things. Canadians understand that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. The government agrees. That is why our government is further investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure. This is on top of the $5 billion it invested in the previous budget.
The investment of $21.9 billion in green infrastructure will support the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. We will support projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver clean water, safely manage waste water, help communities prepare for challenges that result from climate change, and help build a cleaner, better connected electricity system. This is welcome news to my young constituents who are focusing their sights on jobs of the future.
I would also like to talk about how social infrastructure can help transform communities and help overcome social economic barriers to a truly inclusive society. From early learning and child care for our children in their first years, to home care that supports us in our final years, social infrastructure helps Canadians at every stage of their lives. Building on an initial investment of $3.4 billion over five years announced one year ago, the government will invest $21.9 billion over 11 years to support social infrastructure in Canadian communities, including early learning and child care, affordable housing, cultural and recreation infrastructure, and home care.
In my riding of Don Valley East, there are many families who have to choose between one parent working or both parents working. If both parents are working, they have to look for affordable child care. Child care spaces are expensive or unavailable. It is a question of supply and demand. I am very proud that budget 2017 provides $7 billion over 10 years toward the creation of child care spaces. This will greatly help not only my constituents, but Canadians who are aiming to join the middle class. The investment of $7 billion is over and above the investment we made in 2016.
The government will work in co-operation with provinces, territories, and indigenous partners to provide help to families most in need. A portion of the investment will be dedicated to improve access to culturally appropriate early learning and child care programs for indigenous children both on and off reserve.
Finally, safe, affordable housing is a cornerstone of sustainable, inclusive communities and a prerequisite to middle-class prosperity, yet too many Canadian households struggle to find affordable housing. To address this challenge, budget 2016 invested $2.2 billion over two years, starting in 2016-17, in the affordable housing sector. We also provided funding for low-cost loans and new financing tools to encourage municipalities, housing developers, and not-for-profit housing providers to develop more affordable rental housing units, and we launched nationwide consultation on a new, inclusive national housing strategy to help guide the way forward.
Thanks to the overwhelming participation of provinces, territories, indigenous and other community stakeholders, and the public over the past several months, we will now commit more than $11.2 billion over 11 years to a variety of initiatives designed to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. This investment is a blessing for the constituents in my riding. We have seen the affordable housing stocks shrink. We have seen it is in dire need of repair and renewal. Many Canadians in urban centres know how difficult it is to buy or rent properties.
Our strategy will provide a road map for governments and housing providers across the country. As housing needs vary greatly by community, the government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to ensure that the unique needs of communities all across Canada can be met.
The unprecedented investment in infrastructure that we are making in budget 2017 is about more than improving public transit and repairing aging roads and sewer systems. It is also about building better communities by providing Canadians with cleaner water to drink and cleaner air to breathe. By increasing access to child care, affordable housing, and other key social infrastructure, our budget will strengthen and grow the middle class.
Our 2016 investments have already created good, well-paying jobs to the tune of 250,000 jobs. This ensures that we have a burgeoning middle class.
The trajectory is positive. If we wish to be economic engines, we need to have an inclusive growth strategy. That is what budget 2017 is doing.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2017-02-21 11:22 [p.9131]
Madam Speaker, I want to start off my comments today by thanking not only the member for Humber River—Black Creek for bringing this issue forward but also my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for raising awareness.
This is a devastating disease, affecting approximately 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians over the age of 18 who are currently living with ALS, and more than 200,000 individuals worldwide. These individuals experience a loss of mobility, a decline in breathing, difficulty eating and drinking, and slurred speech or sometimes even the complete loss of speech. While some suffering with this incurable disease may live longer than others, ALS is usually fatal within two to five years after diagnosis.
There is still so much work and research to be done to help reverse this disease. Ultimately, what we would all like to see is that a cure is found. I think I speak for most people when I say that the ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014 played a massive role in raising awareness about the disease. As a chiropractor, my first experience with ALS was in the early 1990s. I served with a friend at the St. Mary's Knights of Columbus. We shared an Irish background, so we had some good fellowship over the years. He married late in life, so he had a young family and a wife. When I heard about his being diagnosed with ALS, it really brought it home. We hear about Lou Gehrig's disease, but to see it first hand, and personally see how fast, how real, and how devastating the condition is, and the real effect it has on family and community, really brings it home.
Public awareness from the ice bucket challenge campaign went viral on social media, with celebrities, athletes, politicians, and all of our friends and neighbours taking part. I bring this up because prior to the 2014 ALS ice bucket challenge, the awareness of ALS really was quite limited. Those who did know about the disease referred to it as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the famous New York Yankees player who came out publicly with his battle in 1939. The importance of raising awareness through social media proved effective because, following the ice bucket challenge, the ALS Association raised an additional $100 million, and the ALS Society of Canada raised an additional $26 million. This additional research funding has led to some extremely valuable research. As my colleague said, in the last five years it has been really accelerated. Recently, a third gene has been identified as a cause for the disease, which goes to show that, by raising public awareness and ensuring that funding is made available to researchers, progress can be made to find a cure.
In 2013, project MinE was initiated by two ALS patients. It is a research project that aims to map the full DNA profiles of approximately 15,000 individuals with ALS and 7,500 control subjects, with the hopes of identifying genes that are associated with ALS, ultimately leading to the development of a treatment. This large-scale genetic research is unprecedented and will require both public awareness and, of course, important funding. On January 10, 2017, Canada became the 17th country to join this research project.
The ALS Society of Canada is leading fundraising efforts and seeking to sequence up to 1,000 genomes, with four of Canada's leading ALS geneticists coming together in their first ever cross-country collaboration. Four other Canadian ALS clinics have also come together to collect and store blood samples being used for research, including the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre's ALS centre in Vancouver, the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre ALS clinic in Toronto, the ALS program at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, and the ALS clinic at the CHU de Québec.
As of today, 7% of Canada's goal has been reached. While 62 DNA profiles are good for a month's work, it is vital that this important research initiative be discussed publicly so that more people, especially Canadians, can participate or donate. As for the status of the project as a whole, 7,963 DNA profiles have been collected so far, with the goal of collecting 22,500 DNA profiles.
There is still a lot of work to be done. However, as we can all see, countries around the world are coming together to find a cure.
I am happy to support Motion No. 105. I believe that we should be using our resources to help advance research for diseases such as ALS.
Our Conservative Party has always been a strong advocate for neurological research, and we have always supported the need for more ALS research. In 2011, Brain Canada was created, with the previous Conservative government investing $100 million over seven years. This includes $10 million to the ALS Society of Canada through Brain Canada to stimulate research relevant to ALS. I was so happy to see the Minister of Finance invest up to $20 million in additional matching funds to Brain Canada in budget 2016. I hope that it will continue to be a national non-profit organization that the government invests in.
We parliamentarians saw how rapidly this disease can progress. Our colleague, the late member for Ottawa—Vanier, was diagnosed with ALS in November 2015. We saw his courage. We saw him try to persevere and remain in the House of Commons as much as he could to represent his constituents. We saw him live out a day as Speaker of the House, a moment which I think brought us all closer. We saw this awful disease rapidly take over his body and his speech. I do not think there is a member in the House who would not agree that action needs to be taken to ensure that a cure for ALS is found.
There is hope. Living with ALS should not be the end. We know that progress has been made and is still being made every single day.
There are 400,000 people around the world who are affected by the disease, with more than 100,000 dying every single year. We need to understand that while millions have been raised for ALS, portions of these funds are allocated to help patients and their families who typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to care for a loved one, and this is a struggle for families. ALS Canada's provincial chapters use a portion of donations to help these families access care in their community and provide specialized equipment to ALS patients.
We must all remember that ALS does not just affect the individuals, but it affects the families and friends as well. There is nothing worse than watching a person one loves and cares about progressively get weaker, lose his or her speech, and eventually become immobilized.
Unfortunately, unlike many other diseases, there is no survivorship. There are currently no anniversaries to celebrate the day that an individual beats ALS. As Dr. Lorne Zinman, a neurologist who is the head of the ALS clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, stated:
...there are so many smart people working on this disease now and it has the necessary attention, and all the community is really excited about a breakthrough in the hopefully not too distant future.
The day for a cure is not an impossible expectation. We have seen breakthroughs with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and many other once-fatal diseases. These diseases have become manageable thanks to research, commitment, and government investment. I believe that researchers are on the right path. If we as a country continue to support projects, such as project MinE, and continue to support our researchers, I believe that ALS will be a disease of the past.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2017-02-13 11:42 [p.8822]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank the member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert for bringing this important motion forward.
It is my pleasure to rise today as chair of the multi-party co-op caucus to highlight not only the economic benefits co-operatives provide but also the leadership on social issues and environmental challenges addressed by these innovative enterprises.
The economic impact of co-operatives and mutuals is clear. With approximately 9,000 co-operatives and mutuals employing almost 190,000 Canadians, the co-operative sector remains a key segment of the Canadian economy.
According to data collected by the Government of Canada in 2012, there are 8,000 non-financial co-operatives across Canada, with a total business volume of almost $40 billion. It is clearly time to develop, in consultation with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, the co-operative sector, and other governments, a federal and co-operative strategy to promote Canada's co-operative sector.
Co-ops exist in a number of sectors of the economy, including wholesale and retail, agriculture, housing, construction, manufacturing, and fishing and hunting, to name a few.
In 2012, Canada's co-operatives had almost eight million memberships and had paid out $607 million in dividends to their members and to their communities.
The co-operative model also places an emphasis on key values like democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.
I am particularly proud to stand in support of the motion as Guelph is home to almost 100 co-operatives, many of them incorporated federally. These include the Co-operators, Gay Lea Foods, Organic Meadow, and the Guelph Campus Co-op, just to name a few.
The Co-operators is an excellent example of one of Guelph's leading businesses. It leads in economic activity, is one of Guelph's leading employers, and also leads in economic returns. At the same time, it champions social and environmental sustainability. The Co-operators is registered as a B Corporation and has led the way for many other Guelph companies to become B corps.
Another great example is Organic Meadow Co-op, first opened in 1989 by six organic farmers. They began their co-op to create a totally new food system that would deliver high-quality, certified organic, local food to consumers.
These organizations operate based on seven internationally established principles, including concern for community, and are global leaders in accomplishing U.N sustainability goals.
Whether generating economic opportunities for new Canadians or providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, co-operatives are addressing a number of complex social challenges.
Perhaps nowhere is that social benefit more clear than in the area of affordable housing. According to a recently published study, more than 40%of all non-financial co-operatives operate in real estate, particularly as housing co-ops. It is estimated that some 2,300 housing co-operatives across the country provide more than 96,000 housing units. This represents 250,000 Canadians who currently live in co-operative homes.
Housing co-operatives, which can range from small buildings to large apartment complexes, are democratic communities where the residents decide how the co-ops operate. The mission of these co-operatives is simple: to help members find suitable and affordable housing. The cost of their housing only increases when operating costs increase, which ensures that low-income households living in co-ops continue to have access to affordable housing.
That is why budget 2016 introduced $574 million to renovate and undertake energy and water efficiency retrofits of the aging social housing stock, including co-operative housing. As of January 15, more than 48,000 social housing units in some 1,000 co-op and non-profit housing projects were slated to benefit from this funding.
It is clear that housing co-operatives play a central role in Canada.
I will now turn to another set of challenges the co-operative model is being used to address, which is the unique health and other social services needs that exist in our communities.
It is estimated that more than 500 co-operatives across the country provide tailored health services, day care, or home care. Health care co-ops can take a variety of forms, including those that are made up of health care providers, or patients and community, or a hybrid of the two. Whether providing home care to seniors and people with disabilities, or employment opportunities for people who experience barriers to employment, co-ops provide crucial health and social services.
I want to bring to the attention of members one such co-operative in Newfoundland. The North Shore Central Ambulance Co-operative provides ambulance services on the north shore of Trinity Bay. Through collective action and community ownership, this co-operative has been able to maintain high-quality ambulance services directly to the community.
The co-operative model also presents a unique economic development opportunity for new Canadians. Indeed, co-ops provide them with networks in their community, training opportunities related to business skills and leadership, and a variety of professional development opportunities. Co-operatives that achieve these goals operate in a variety of sectors and meet a variety of needs for newcomers, including education, health care, financial services, and the arts.
Renewable energy co-ops are another great example of Canadians using the flexibility of the co-op model to achieve shared environmental objectives. These businesses integrate co-op principles, such as democratic decision-making and collective outcomes, and direct them towards the creation of renewable energy. We have a few of those in my home town of Guelph, and they really are doing well.
While most of Canada's renewable energy co-ops are currently located in Ontario, it is a concept that is gaining popularity across the country due to its success. Therefore, I encourage all members of the House to support this motion.
I would like to thank my colleague for tabling the motion, which not only demonstrates the role co-operatives are playing in Canada's economy, but continues the work of our good friend, the late Mauril Bélanger, who was such a staunch advocate of the co-op movement, past chair of the caucus, and a champion for so many Canadians in so many ways.
I would love to see this motion move forward and have success for the benefit of our country.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his presentation.
I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-323. The bill before the House today, sponsored by the member for York—Simcoe, seeks to amend the Income Tax Act “to establish a tax credit for expenses related to the rehabilitation of a historic property”.
Tax changes should ideally be made as part of the budgetary process. This gives the government a chance to fully examine all options, strike a balance between priorities, and make new fiscal commitments only when they are affordable and the government can do so responsibly.
Bill C-323 raises a number of issues that must be fully and thoughtfully considered. Of course, cost is one important element, but it is not the only one.
According to Parks Canada, there are approximately 13,000 historic sites in the Canadian Register of Historic Places. However, the number of distinct heritage properties is probably much higher. Indeed, the register includes heritage districts that could include more than one property. For instance, in Ontario alone, there are 121 heritage districts that comprise over 23,000 properties.
I would also like to point out another challenge when it comes to determining cost. The bill does not cap the amount people can apply for for tax purposes. It is completely irresponsible.
We also have to consider whether this kind of tax credit would actually promote the preservation of historic property rather than just provide an unexpected perk to the owners for doing work that they are already obliged to do.
Equality among homeowners is another very important issue we need to discuss. Some people will be eligible for the home renovation credit while their neighbours, who do not own a designated historic property, would not be eligible even though costs are incurred in both cases. That would be totally unfair.
This bill is also likely to result in a sharp increase in applications for historic designation. The government will have to assess Parks Canada's ability to meet that increased demand. That will result in more costs.
Moreover, as with any new tax credit, the government will have to evaluate the administrative burden on the Canada Revenue Agency.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting equality and efficiency for the middle class and all Canadians, especially when it comes to our tax system. That is why, in budget 2016, the government announced that it would do a comprehensive review of tax expenditures. This effort is part of the government's overall commitment to eliminate poorly targeted and ineffective programs, wasteful spending, and ineffective and obsolete government initiatives. We are striving for equality and efficiency for the middle class.
The government recognizes the importance of preserving Canada's heritage in the interest of the middle class and all Canadians. As a matter of fact, the Income Tax Act already contains incentives to encourage individuals and corporations to make donations for the preservation of historic assets. Donations of such assets or donations intended to support the cost of preserving and maintaining such assets to registered charities are eligible for a charitable donation tax credit for individuals or a tax deduction for corporations. Registered charities are fully exempt from paying tax on the income they receive.
When we add provincial tax relief to the equation, the charitable donation tax credit comes to, on average, 46¢ for every dollar over $200. For most taxpayers who donate more than $200, this tax credit eliminates any tax to be paid on most of the donations and reduces other taxes owing.
A tax credit is also available for up to 75% of an individual's net income and can be carried forward for five years.
Canadian tax incentives for charitable donations are among the most generous in the world. The federal government provides approximately $3 billion in tax assistance annually to the charitable sector.
The government acted responsibly by implementing a measure to strengthen the middle class. One of the first measures we implemented after becoming a government was to introduce a tax cut for the middle class, and that has been in effect since early last year. In total, nearly nine million Canadians are now benefiting from this tax cut.
The second measure that our government took to help the middle class and those working hard to join it was to introduce the new Canada child benefit in budget 2016. This measure gives more money to Canadian families in order to help them deal with the high cost of raising children.
Nine out of ten families are now receiving more money thanks to this program. The new Canada child benefit is simpler and more generous than the old child benefit system it replaced, and it is completely tax-free. It also does a better job of targeting the people who need it the most.
Thanks to the new Canada child benefit, about 300,000 fewer children will live in poverty in 2017 compared to 2014, which means that Canada's child poverty rate will drop by about 40%. This new benefit is the most important innovation in social policy in a generation.
A stronger Canada pension plan was a key promise we made to strengthen the middle class. We delivered on that commitment by working in close collaboration and common purpose with our provincial and territorial partners.
A secure and dignified retirement is certainly a top priority for hard-working Canadians. It has been a pillar of Canadian prosperity since the 20th century.
We know that middle-class Canadians are working harder than ever, and many of them are worried about not having saved enough by the time they retire. We also know that young Canadians in particular, few of whom can expect to have jobs that offer a workplace pension plan, find it challenging to save enough money for retirement.
We enhanced the CPP to improve long-term economic outcomes for Canadian families. Although it will take a little time to adjust, these foundational changes to our pension plan will provide better support to Canadians in the long term.
An enhanced CPP is the right tool at the right time to improve the retirement income security of younger workers. It is an opportunity for today's hard-working Canadians to give their children, their grandchildren, and future generations a more secure retirement.
In its previous budget, the government made major investments in education, infrastructure, training, and other programs that will help to secure a better quality of life for the country's indigenous peoples and build a stronger, more united, and more prosperous Canada.
Our government invested in modernizing and upgrading public transit, improving waste water systems, increasing access to affordable housing and protecting infrastructure from the effects of climate change. We increased funding for innovation, co-operation and partnerships to protect the integrity of our health care system. We put people first and we are giving Canadians the help they need right now, not 10 years down the road.
At the same time, our government is investing for the years and the decades to come, so that our children and grandchildren can inherit a Canada that is more prosperous and full of hope.
View Filomena Tassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this chamber to outline how the Government of Canada is committed to a fair and efficient tax system that benefits middle-class Canadians.
The bill before us today, as sponsored by the member for York—Simcoe, seeks to establish a tax credit for expenses related to the rehabilitation of a historic property. However, tax changes should ideally be undertaken through the budget process. This is to allow the government to fully consider the trade-offs, balance the priorities, and undertake new fiscal commitments only to the extent they are affordable.
This is why the first point I want to underline is that the government is committed to ensure that federal tax expenditures are fair for Canadians, efficient, as well as fiscally responsible. This is the reason that in the government's first budget, growing the middle class, we announced that we would be undertaking a comprehensive review of tax expenditures. This exercise is part of a broader government commitment to eliminate poorly targeted and inefficient programs, wasteful spending, and ineffective or obsolete programs. At the end of this process, Canada will be one step closer to fairness and efficiency for its citizens and taxpayers.
The bill before us today contains several examples of the issues that would need to be considered when assessing the fairness and efficiency of a tax measure, and I will discuss a few of them.
For example, a key consideration is whether the measure would actually encourage the preservation of historic properties or simply represent a windfall to property owners for doing what they were already required to do.
Another question is whether such a tax credit would create any new inequities between historic property owners and other homeowners.
A third obvious question is how much of a revenue cost such a bill would entail for the government. This question is certainly relevant. As currently drafted, Bill C-323 contains no upper limit on the amount that can be claimed for tax purposes. The government would also have to assess whether requirements of the bill would be practical for the Canada Revenue Agency and Parks Canada to administer.
These are only a few examples of the considerations that would have to be weighed carefully in assessing Bill C-323.
From day one, our government has been focused on advancing the economy for middle-class Canadians. Last year, we replaced the previous system of child benefits with the Canada child benefit, a simpler, tax-free, more generous, targeted benefit that would help those who needed it most.
The CCB, built on our middle-class tax cut, has reduced taxes for nearly nine million Canadians. These two measures together mean that more middle-class Canadians have more money in their pockets, and they can use it as they see fit.
A strengthened middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for their children. When the middle class thrives, we all thrive. We have committed historic levels of investments in infrastructure, which will expand opportunities and deliver stronger, more inclusive growth.
Canadians value fairness. That is why, in budget 2016, we also took action to improve the integrity of Canada's tax system to protect the country's revenue base and to give Canadians greater confidence that the system would be fair to everyone.
Here is what we are doing. In April 2016, the revenue minister announced a series of actions that the Canada Revenue Agency will take to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance, thanks to the $444.4 million commitment in budget 2016. These funds are enabling the CRA to hire additional auditors, develop robust business intelligence infrastructure, increase verification activities, and improve the quality of its investigative work. These additional employees will increase the number of CRA audits focused on high-risk taxpayers by 400%.
Furthermore, the government is streamlining its efforts by embedding legal counsel within investigation teams, so that cases can be quickly brought to court. Two new mechanisms are being formed: a special program dedicated to stopping the organizations that create and promote tax schemes for the wealthy, and an independent advisory committee on offshore tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance that will provide strategic advice to the CRA on approaches for combatting offshore tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Canada has also been a very active participant in international efforts to address tax evasion. We are an active member of the global forum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, which was established to ensure that high standards of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes are in place around the world. Canada has also developed an extensive network of bilateral tax treaties and tax information exchange agreements, which provide for exchange of information.
As confirmed in budget 2016, legislation was recently adopted to implement the common reporting standard for the exchange between tax administrations of information on financial accounts held by non-residents. Canada joins more than 100 other jurisdictions that have similarly committed to implement the new standard.
Canada has also been actively engaged in a second multilateral initiative aimed at addressing base erosion and profit shifting, or BEPS. This refers to certain tax planning arrangements undertaken by multinationals, which, though often legal, exploit the interaction between domestic and international tax rules to minimize taxes. Canada has already implemented a number of the BEPS project recommendations. Going forward, the government will continue to work with the international community to ensure a coherent and consistent response to BEPS.
Canada supports the important goal of improving corporate transparency globally. The government has agreed to strong rules in both the Financial Action Task Force and the global forum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes in support of corporate transparency. Amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations enhance Canada's requirements for financial institutions regarding the collection of information on beneficial owners of corporations.
In closing, I would like to assure hon. members of our government's commitment to helping the middle class and those who are working hard to join it.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2017-02-02 12:30 [p.8376]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today. I will make one solemn promise to the House that I will not scream and yell as I give my statement today on the motion. The motion says:
That, given the average middle class Canadian is already overburdened with taxes, the House call on the government to abandon any plans it may have to in any way tax health and dental care plans.
Make no mistake, this is and was the plan of the government in spite of what the Prime Minister said yesterday. I will acknowledge that he stood up here and said that there will be no tax on health and dental care plans, but given the events of the last couple of days I find it very hard to believe, as do many of the colleagues on this side of the House, anything that the Prime Minister says.
It is kind of ironic as well that today is Groundhog Day, because we are talking about Liberal tax increases and the potential thereof. Those of us who live in Ontario and those of us who represent Ontario understand full well the impact that the Ontario Liberal government has made with respect to tax increases and service cuts. I will remind everybody again that Ontario is the most indebted sub-sovereign borrower in the world. To think that we are not on that path with the current government is foolhardy, naive, and a mistake on all of us not to recognize that. Ontario is $315 billion in debt; $22,500 per person is the share of the debt. That is 50% more than California's per person share of debt.
The Liberal government has spoke about debt and deficits. The Liberals promised a balanced budget by 2019. We now see that is not going to happen. In fact, the debt, as projected by the finance department, is going to be $1.5 trillion in 15 years, which is going to work out to about $42,000 of debt per person, per Canadian. Let us think about that. Let us think about the young people, and there are some in the gallery today, who are going to be shouldering the burden of that debt. By contrast, the Conservative plan for debt was that it would have been gone by 2038, and there would have been a $1.7-trillion surplus by 2015 and a balanced budget by 2055.
The reality is this. We have seen this in Ontario and it should come as no surprise to anybody in Ontario that this is happening federally. There is one person who lurks in the shadows of the Prime Minister's Office who has initiated a lot of the failed policies in Ontario, and his name is Gerald Butts. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If 1,000 people do something stupid, it is still stupid. The policies of the current Liberal government that it is following with the Ontario Liberals are going to put us in a position of bankruptcy, in a position of significant debt. Those numbers are not numbers that I am taking out of the air. They are numbers that are quantifiable.
Here is what happens. Taxes go up, services go down. We are already starting to see that. In fact, I know that the Liberals talk about the budget in 2016. Here are some of the losers of that budget: the children; arts and fitness tax credits; the Liberals have cut the education and textbook tax credit; new mortgage rules making it harder to get approved for a home loan; a national carbon tax has been announced; Canada pension plan tax hike; cancellation of the small business tax cut; and elimination of the hiring tax credit.
The thing that really bothers me is that one tax credit because I come from a riding where there are a lot of single-income families. In fact, prior to being elected to Parliament, I was one of those families. The fact was that I was able to split my income with my wife by $2,000. The Liberals eliminated that. Therefore what the Liberals give, the Liberals take away.
I will remind the House that I will be splitting my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.
The Liberals give with one hand and take away with the other.
I have said many times in the House that effectively, what the Liberals are perpetrating on Canadians is middle-class tax fraud.
Why are we here today? It is because we hear this narrative all the time: the middle class and those working hard to join it. The reality is that when they pile on debt and deficit the way the Liberal government is, how are the middle class and those working hard to join it ever going to get to that point?
We have also heard that the finance minister cannot even define middle class, so how do the Liberals know what the middle class is? It is a pure talking point. If they say this narrative over and over again, it will somehow be true.
We talk about the potential for tax increases, in this case the employer health benefits and dental benefits tax, but there are others the Liberals could look at as well. I am talking about tax credits for employee stock options, a public transit tax credit, the Canada employment tax credit, the volunteer firefighter tax credit, the dividend gross-up tax credit, partial inclusion of capital gains, and the mineral exploration tax credit.
Do members know what buzz words the Liberals' use, again, as part of this narrative? They talk about it in terms of fairness and simplification. What does that actually mean? It means taking money out of Canadians' pockets. Hard-working, middle-class Canadians are having money extracted out of their pockets under the guise of fairness and simplification.
Aaron Wudrick, of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said, “Unfortunately, there are worrying signs that [Minister of Finance]'s real intent is to use 'simplification' as political cover to hike taxes by stealth for millions of Canadians”. In the case of this particular tax increase, it could potentially affect 13.5 million Canadians.
The truth is that there is only one party that protects the middle class, and there is only one party that has protected the middle class for as long as I have been an adult. The Conservative Party is the only true party that protects the middle class, and it is the reason I am a Conservative.
The Liberals often talk about taxing the top 1%, but again, this is more false information. That tax increase on the 1% was supposed to be revenue-neutral. The reality is that in six years, there will be a deficit of $8.9 billion. Who is going to pay that? Services go down, taxes go up. Ultimately, the middle class ends up paying for that.
What is interesting, and I have said this here before, and I know that the member for Winnipeg North has argued this, is the reality that those who benefit the most from the Liberal so-called middle class tax increases have been every one of the 338 members of this Parliament. It is actually those I would classify as upper middle-class Canadians, those earning $160,000 to $200,000, who have benefited the most from this. Those earning $45,000 have received nothing. I urge members across the way to stop this false narrative and tell Canadians the truth about what is going on.
There are other broken promises. There was electoral reform. We heard about that yesterday. There were going to be deficits of less than $10 billion annually. We know that story. There was going to be a balanced budget by 2019, but it will not be until 2055. They were going to save home mail delivery, another broken promise. They were going to immediately invest $3 billion over four years in home care. They were going to reduce the small business tax from 11% to 9%, another broken promise, and scrap the F-35 program. I could go on, but I know my time is short.
By the time the Liberals are done with the middle class, the Conservatives will have to clean up the mess and build the middle class back up, just like we did before. The Conservatives did this the last time a Trudeau was the prime minister, and we will have to do it again.
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