I call to order the 43rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance. It's wonderful to be here in lovely Vancouver. This is the first of our nine city stops for pre-budget meetings. We have with us today in Vancouver 30 witnesses, so we have a very full agenda. We're also doing a site visit to the Port of Vancouver today.
I want to welcome all colleagues to Vancouver.
We have sessions of an hour and a half and we have seven witness groups per session, so it's a very busy time. In the first session we have with us, first, the Corporation of Delta; second, First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition; third, the Ladner Sediment Group; fourth, the Rental Owners and Managers Society of British Columbia; fifth, the Public Service Alliance of Canada; sixth, the Village of Tahsis; and seventh, the Sport Matters Group.
We'll ask for an opening statement of up to five minutes from each group in the order I've presented.
We'll start with Ms. Jackson, please.
You can begin your submission.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman.
Bonjour, mesdames et monsieurs. Bienvenus à Vancouver. Thank you so much for being here with us.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am simply going to paraphrase some of our brief. It is a long brief, but I hope everyone has an opportunity to read it.
I will begin with our recommendation that the federal government reinstate local navigation channel dredging funding in the federal budget in order to provide adequate long-term funding for a local navigation channel dredging program in the Fraser River.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, you have all received a map that shows the Fraser River as it comes down through the metropolitan Vancouver area. I have it behind me as well. We will leave that for people to look at, at their leisure.
The Fraser River is the largest river in British Columbia, some 1,400 kilometres long. It actually drains one-quarter of the area of the province. As a result, there are deposits of 32 million cubic metres of sediment, and 10% of that is deposited in the lower Fraser region.
We used to have 20 feet of water in our harbour and along our side channels. That was at low tide. Today we have two to three feet of water at low tide. We're having a very difficult time trying to resolve this issue. Without continued dredging, the key deep-sea shipping and navigational channels will be too shallow for commercial and domestic vessels to safely access our ports.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, for more than 100 years river maintenance has been the responsibility of, and in fact funded by, the federal government--namely, Public Works and Transport Canada. They maintained the deep-sea fishing and shipping channels and the domestic and local channels for the fishing industry, tugs, barges, commerce, and pleasure craft. They all use these channels.
In 1990 Transport Canada diverted water from the side channels in order to increase the heavier flow into the main channel to continue to flush the main channel. As a result, the side channels were silted in to a very large extent, and this continues.
We have had 10 years of accumulation, in the amount of about 1.2 million cubic metres, which needs to be removed in order to save our side channels. We need your help. There is no longer scheduled dredging to maintain the Fraser River channels. Port Metro Vancouver dredges the main channel only. Port Metro Vancouver has completed studies that indicate that to restore the channel to pre-1998 conditions it will cost $5 million, plus $500,000 annually to sustain it on a long-term basis.
Port Metro Vancouver has given my colleagues from Ladner $125,000. This is the Ladner harbour sediment study, which is to give them other tools in order to look at dredging to reduce the buildup of silt. They are high and dry in their homes along the channels most of the time.
You will hear from them later, Mr. Chairman.
We have been declared by Fisheries as a core harbour. Of the 1,170 small harbours, 750 are core harbours along the coast, and we are one of them. We do have very large economic impacts, as you can see from the notes we've given you.
Once again, just to recap, we recommend that the federal government reinstate funding for local navigation channel dredging into the federal budget in order to provide adequate long-term funding for a local navigation channel dredging program in the Fraser River. You can see the affected areas in purple on your map.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to speak today. I'm going to read directly from the submission, so please bear with the notes that you already have. Hopefully, you'll have a chance to read them.
Over the past five years, the issue of secondary channel dredging has become a significant local issue and, given the senior government's responsibilities on the Fraser River, as with the St. Lawrence River, it is also an issue of national significance. This matter has been discussed with the local port authority and representatives from several departments in your government. This brief provides information on the background to the issue and on some recent activities and then identifies the support needed to make progress in addressing the concerns.
Here's a little bit of history. The Fraser River in B.C. travels, as Mayor Jackson said, through almost three-quarters of the length of British Columbia and is a very unique river. One aspect of the river is that it runs through a major clay-bank area in the central interior of B.C., where it picks up a tremendous amount of fine clay and silt. This silt has been deposited in this delta by the Fraser River for thousands of years, and of course continues to be deposited.
The lower reach of the main channel of the river is used for heavy ocean freighter traffic that plies the river as far as New Westminster. This area of the river needs to be constantly dredged to maintain shipping depth of water for ocean freighters.
Up to approximately 1998, the management of the lower reaches of the Fraser River was under the jurisdiction of the federal government, under the Department of Public Works and later the Department of Transport. They were the shepherds of this lower area of the Fraser River, and along with maintaining the main channel for ocean traffic, they also maintained the secondary channels for fishing vessels, tugs, and barges, and general traffic for both commercial and pleasure craft.
Through the years, as river managers, they have trained the river by placing diversions at critical locations to divert more water into the main channel at the expense of the secondary channels. The result of this increased flow in the main channel was less silt settling out in this area, which resulted in less dredging needing to be done in the main channel and a subsequent savings of millions of dollars annually.
The secondary channels are now showing the results of this water diversion training. With less flow coming through these secondary channels, they are silting up dramatically, with alarming reductions in the water depths for navigation. Where there were 20 feet of water at low tide, there are now, in many areas, only two to three feet.
The result is that the channels are becoming a hazard to navigation. Water lease-lot owners are experiencing their floating homes and vessels tied to docks going aground at low tide, at times causing damage to the structures. Commercial and residential boat owners' safety is at risk when accessing the area when there is insufficient water to navigate to their docks. And there are substantial private expenditures to keep their floating structures floating, not sitting in the mud.
The need for this type of program has never been more urgent, nor has the call to action.
The port authorities in the Vancouver area were amalgamated in early 2008 to form a new authority, Port Metro Vancouver. They have been charged with maintaining the water depths in the lower Fraser River; however, their main concern is the ocean freighter traffic in the main channel.
Port Metro Vancouver hosted a community meeting in the area last summer to discuss dredging with the stakeholders of the Ladner secondary channels. They encouraged us to form a working group--
Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity.
My name is Al Kemp. I'm the chief executive officer of the Rental Owners and Managers Society of B.C. I'm also a past president and director of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations.
There is a critical dual need in British Columbia—indeed throughout Canada today—to increase rental stock and to make rental housing more affordable. Our industry, the industry that provides homes for one in three Canadians, is not looking for preferential treatment, and we're not looking for money. Perhaps that's a refreshing change from what you will hear as you go across the country. What we are looking for is simply the extension of equitable tax policies that are currently available to businesses and consumers in other industries.
To meet this dual need to increase rental stock and to make rental housing more affordable, we propose three changes to tax policies that should be incorporated into the 2010 federal budget: one, make capital gains taxes equitable with other industries; two, zero-rate the operation of rental housing for the GST and HST; and three, zero-rate the construction of rental properties for GST and HST.
While it might appear on the surface that each of these changes would be of great benefit to the owners of rental properties, in fact they would benefit renters through increased rental housing availability and affordability. I'm sure everybody would agree that those are highly significant goals, both economically and socially. Most renters are in the low- to middle-income categories, where a rent increase of only a few dollars can have a significant effect on their budget, their disposable income, and their quality of life.
In 1972 the then-federal government enacted a tax regime that continues to this day to have a negative and discriminatory impact on the residential rental industry. From 1972 to 1998, rental housing construction in Canada fell by 90%, from 50,000 units per year to only 5,000. In the succeeding decade, that level has not changed significantly.
Our industry is essentially penalized for any attempts to increase rental stock through the sale of current properties and reinvestment in new development. Because our industry is defined as a passive business, capital taxation policies that discriminate against reinvestment in rental property, as compared to any other type of property, include, but are not limited to, payment of 100% of capital gains tax on disposal of property, recapture of 100% of capital cost allowances on disposal, the inability to defer recapture of CCAs, and the unavailability to our industry of a preferential tax rate on the first $400,000 of income.
Note that all of the above represent immediate payment of taxes by our industry as opposed to deferment of taxes by virtually every other industry. We're not asking for tax exemption.
With the application of these policies for nearly 40 years, a vicious circle has resulted. The policies have created a shortage of rental stock. This has led to illusory capital gains, which has led to a disincentive to sell and reinvest, which in turn has led to a shortage of rental stock. Only the federal government can break this circle by changing its discriminatory tax policies.
Removing this discrimination will put billions of private dollars to work, certainly a need in these economic times. Owners will sell and reinvest, not only adding critically needed rental housing but also increasing income and sales tax revenues from the many sectors involved in multi-unit construction, ranging from architects to appraisers, equipment renters to realtors.
Turning to sales taxes, GST and HST have had and will continue to have a counterproductive effect on our industry that directly impacts rental rates. Food and shelter are essential necessities of life. In Canada food is not taxed; shelter is, indirectly.
The current 5% GST is estimated to add about $150 to $200 per year to a typical renter's shelter costs. With the advent of HST in British Columbia, that number increases to between $300 and $500 per year.
Groceries are zero-rated for GST and HST. Rental housing should be zero-rated through input tax credits identical to the provisions for suppliers of food. This would result in a minor reduction of tax revenues but have a major impact on housing affordability for renters in the lower- and middle-income brackets.
With respect to construction, it's difficult to quantify the cost to construct an apartment building today, because federal tax policies have rendered such construction economically unattractive for decades. But if we compare the average cost to construct a 900-square-foot condominium unit and a wood frame building, which would be a typical apartment building, HST would add about $12,500 to the average $250,000 to construct such a unit. That would translate into about $750 of additional rent if that unit were to be rented.
Again, recognizing that food and shelter are both necessities of life, HST should not apply to the construction of multi-unit residential housing.
In conclusion, by implementing the above recommendations, the federal government and Parliament will provide the necessary leadership to achieve a profound positive effect on the supply of rental housing and its cost to renters. This is critically needed in these difficult economic times. New rental stock will be created and upward pressure on rents will decrease. These benefits are highly desirable for the government, for stakeholders, and for 10 million Canadian households.
Good morning, committee chair and members.
Bonjour tout le monde.
I'm the B.C. vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The PSAC represents most workers in federal government departments, agencies, and crown corporations. There are approximately 165,000 PSAC members across Canada, 15,000 of which are in B.C.
I'm going to speak about the importance of a national child care program. The PSAC doesn't represent child care workers, but we think child care should be one of the top priorities of the federal government. Mainly, I'm going to read from my exciting presentation.
A significant federal commitment to develop a national child care system similar to the one currently in operation in Quebec, a universal non-profit child care system available to all children whether their mothers are employed outside the home or work full time in the home, will provide immediate economic benefits and will assist in Canada's recovery from the current economic slowdown.
Beyond the jobs that can immediately be created by employment in child care facilities, child care provides support to parents across the labour force. Many families are now facing tenuous employment, layoffs, or difficult transitions to new jobs and the associated challenge to their financial resources. Accessible and affordable child care services are critical for parents to maintain their labour force attachment and/or obtain necessary skill development to deal with employment transitions.
The early learning and child care sector is labour-intensive and involves local expenditures, so spending in this sector has a high multiplier effect. Canadian research calculates that every dollar of child care spending produces a ripple effect of $1.58 in the local economy. Many U.S. studies have produced similar figures.
In terms of long-term gain, investing in the early years is, first and foremost, about investing in children's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual well-being, ensuring that Canada is competitive with other modern economies now and in the future.
Child care yields high economic and social returns. Depending upon how and where the research is done, studies show returns from $2 to $17 for every dollar spent. These returns are derived from improved school performance, reduced need for remediation in the school years, and reduction of anti-social behaviour, all resulting in mothers' labour force participation and adult productivity later.
Child care helps keep families, and women in particular, out of poverty. With access to good child care, female lone parents, most of whom are unable to pay child care user fees, are better able to seek further education, train for work, get decent jobs, and accept promotions. Two-parent families also have a chance to improve economic stability and income, particularly in times of insecure employment and stagnating wages.
In Quebec, where universal child care is available to all families, there has been a 50% drop in the rate of children living in poverty, in stark contrast to the rest of Canada, where, despite an all-party resolution in the House of Commons--in 1989, I believe--to eliminate child poverty by 2000, the national child poverty rate remains at about 10%, which is a disgrace in a wealthy country like Canada.
Child care supports women's workforce participation, education, and training. Child care is a key support for women already in the workforce and for those who want to enter it. Since Quebec's child care reform began, twice the number of married women entered the workforce than did so in the rest of Canada, providing Quebec with a substantial return in income and payroll taxes.
Child care builds local economies, since we know that a lot of these child care dollars go directly to the economy. Child care would also help us address the diminishing labour force. We've seen that in Quebec with their child care program, which is very affordable and universal and has resulted in more women being able to enter the workforce. Also, the Quebec birth rate has increased.
In terms of what we're asking for, we would ask that the federal budget include new federal transfer payments to provinces and territories specifically to provide access to quality affordable child care services based on the Quebec model, and that these payments also be made conditional, with measurable targets, to ensure that there is a system of quality, affordable, inclusive, and universal child care services in the provinces and territories.
The cost of a national child care program will be offset by reduced expenditures on unemployment benefits, poverty reduction programs, health care, education, and policing costs.
The current system....
Is my time up?
I am the mayor of Tahsis. Councillor Schooner is with me. Tahsis is located on the north end of Vancouver Island and is very beautiful. Come visit us.
I'm going to be speaking to you about RCMP funding and about a little bit of the history as well.
First, we would like to thank you for this opportunity to present to you, the Standing Committee on Finance. We would respectfully request that the committee consider our recommendation as part of the budget preparation process, as this affects not only our rural village of Tahsis but all small communities across Canada.
In January 2005 the funding for 215 additional RCMP officers was added by the British Columbia government. Of those 215 officers, 80 were targeted for rural communities and general policing across British Columbia. It was the biggest investment in the RCMP by the provincial government in over 20 years.
In June 2006 the RCMP made it mandatory for two officers to respond to calls whenever there is a threat of violence. Also, what the RCMP call “hubbing” began to take place: closing small, two-person outposts and redeploying staff to bolster other detachments.
Also in June of 2006, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bill Sweeney stated in an interview with the CBC that any changes involving increased funding would require consultation with territorial and provincial governments, which pay 70% of the cost of RCMP services in small rural communities and remote areas. “All jurisdictions where we are involved in rural policing will encounter challenges around the provisions of backup,” he said.
He also stated:
||It could very well be that there will be negotiations with territories and provinces with respect to increased resources. We can't ignore the fact that some jurisdictions will be affected more than others.
This year the RCMP are removing all police officers from communities of less than 5,000 that have a single member stationed in them. Increased funding is desperately required to facilitate RCMP to protect citizens residing in rural communities. Since it is unsafe to have one-member stations, the required need is for two-member stations.
The federal service plan states that the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General works to maintain and enhance public safety in every community across the province. It is not possible for this service to be implemented if the funding is not available for the RCMP to implement it. Therefore, the Village of Tahsis respectfully requests that the Standing Committee on Finance add additional funding to the RCMP budget and that the funding be targeted for increased policing in rural communities.
Once again, the Village of Tahsis thanks you for this opportunity to present our recommendations.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm not going to speak to the brief. You have the brief, so you've seen what's there. I'll just highlight a few key points.
I'm with the Sport Matters Group. We've been in front of the committee for the past nine years, but typically on Parliament Hill. It particularly pleases me to be here in Vancouver, given that this is the Olympic and Paralympic city. It's a place that leads the country in sport participation and sport volunteering, so I think it's appropriate that we're here today providing some remarks. I would add that it's also my home. I live in Chelsea, on the Quebec side, and work in Ottawa, but I spent about 15 years training here with Canada's national field hockey team and went on to compete for our country in two Olympic Games.
Not long ago, I think Thérèse Brisson, from the other hockey--ice hockey--was in front of you in Ottawa. You would have heard quite an animated presentation about the importance of supporting sport, so I won't repeat Madame Brisson's remarks. But I will pick up on them in our recommendations.
I would also add, just before I move to the policy recommendations, a thank you to the committee. In the last two years I think this committee has provided sage advice to the , and in both cases action has resulted. There has been increased investment in the Own the Podium program, and those watching our Olympic and Paralympic results from this past winter will know that Canada now leads the world. In the Beijing games you'll see a best-ever finish at 13th place. So support for that budget provision is leading to real results.
The second thing is that the infrastructure stimulus measures that were introduced in the most recent budget are also having a profound effect. It's been 40 years since the centennial year, when we renewed our infrastructure in communities. We're talking about the memorial rinks, the centennial pools, and such. We now estimate through our policy analysis that there will be over $3 billion of new capital invested by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, along with community partners--a number of the municipalities that are here today and a number of local community not-for-profit and charitable groups. So thank you to the committee for the support of those recommendations.
Now we need to look at three things--a three-legged stool--for the coming decade. First we need to bridge the gap in our national sport program. It requires a $22 million investment because of the economic downturn. Canada's corporate sector is not able to participate at the level we anticipated, given the downturn, and we are respectfully asking the government to help us bridge that gap. It's an interim measure that will help us get past the impact of the recession in 2010-11. The details of what the $22 million will be put toward and will achieve for the country are itemized in the brief, as they are in the Canadian Olympic Committee's brief and the Own the Podium brief itself.
The other two legs of the stool relate to the Income Tax Act. The fiscal policy of the Income Tax Act is something that's rarely looked at to support the sport or social policy that the Government of Canada, Sport Canada, spends its time on. There are two simple changes to the Income Tax Act that would greatly enhance community and individual participation in sport.
First is to modernize the act so that amateur community sport becomes charitable. For example, , a minor hockey team in Erindale that seeks to have a fundraiser and issue charitable receipts is not able to do so. It's somewhat incongruent with the fact that a local arts group can do that. So modernizing the act and making amateur sport at the community level charitable will help communities help one another to increase sport participation and all the benefits that come from that.
The second change to the Income Tax Act is to amend the children's fitness tax credit so it is fully refundable. It's currently a non-refundable tax credit. There's a group of Canadians who are just below the taxpaying line who are not benefiting from that credit. As you can imagine, this is when we need to support those families so they can receive the benefits and take the steps to register their children in soccer, hockey, skating, or swimming programs, and such.
So we suggest a three-legged stool, the first priority being a $22 million stimulus investment, and then two changes to the Income Tax Act to make amateur sport charitable and the children's fitness tax credit fully refundable.
I'm Adrienne Montani with First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. With me is Julie Norton, our chairperson.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I'll explain our name first. First Call means that we think children and youth should have first call on society's resources. It's very simple, because they have the right to it and because they're our future, of course.
In our brief that we submitted earlier, we said that children are the best investment for a sustainable future. It's not just a nice slogan, but actually very true and is backed up by stacks of research. We have made commitments to children that we're not honouring. I refer here to the all-party pledge in 1989 to end child poverty in this country by the year 2000. We obviously missed that deadline. We also signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child shortly thereafter, but there are lots of children's rights we have not upheld.
Based on these commitments we've made and have not completely fulfilled, and on the research that we stand upon on the issues of child development and the harm that poverty does to children, we have an over-arching message to you that children are our most sustainable resource and that we should be investing in them in this next budget—and certainly in a recessionary time.
In our written submission you'll see two major recommendations. We've tried to lump them together. The best thing this budget could do would be to make a strong investment in early childhood development. That would be the first thing. Our second recommendation would be to reverse the growing trend in income inequality in this country. Both would accomplish something in improving children's health and well-being. They are social determinants of health that we need to pay attention to if we want to improve outcomes for children in this country.
Canada's current claims of investing heavily in early childhood development are challenged by the actual data and the results we are achieving. We are regularly lambasted in the international research by the OECD, UNICEF, and Save the Children. In repeated international comparative rankings with other developed countries, we rank at the bottom in our investment in early childhood development and our support for young children and families.
Here in B.C. we have research that shows that about one-third of the children arriving at kindergarten are vulnerable in terms of one or more developmental indexes, meaning they're vulnerable to poor outcomes as they grow up.
Meanwhile, the research evidence is extremely strong—and some of it was cited earlier—on the importance of early brain development and the extremely high economic and social return on investment in early childhood development.
The largest chunk of funds the current government puts toward early childhood development is for the universal child care benefit, which we would argue is a fine income transfer for low-income families. It's fine to give low-income families money, but this benefit does absolutely nothing to increase the number of child care spaces in this country or to increase their quality or accessibility. So we think this needs to be re-examined. Call it an income transfer, but don't call it a child care benefit, because that's not the way it works.
So based on this information, and in line with some of the previous speakers, we are suggesting that we make a substantial and significant investment in increased transfer payments to provinces and territories to create a system of child care that actually increases spaces and the accessibility and affordability of child care, very much like the Quebec system. We need federal transfers to do that. This is important not only for children's development, but also for women's equality and women's attachment to the workforce—and even their ability to go back to school so they can become more employable. In this country, only about 17% of children under 12 have access to child care space. So it's impeding our economy in that way.
The budget should also enhance the current federal investments in programs with good track records, such as CAPC, the community action program for children; the Canada prenatal nutrition program; and aboriginal head start. If you remember Kellie Leitch's report, she recommended that 25% of aboriginal children be given access within five years. We think that's an abysmally low target; it should be 100% of aboriginal children who have access to that.
Our second overarching recommendation is to look at the growth of income inequality in this country. The recent Conference Board of Canada report card says that poverty is the chief challenge facing this country. We have an abysmally high poverty rate, and it has not gone down very much since 1989.
In our brief last year we called for a comprehensive legislated commitment, with timelines and targets, for a poverty reduction plan in this country. We call for it again this year.
But this year we particularly want to draw your attention to income inequality and how it needs to change. Families are working as hard as they can. They are working extra hours to make up the difference in their stagnating wages. Most of the tax cuts made and those kinds of changes have benefited those who already have the most and are doing very well. Those in the middle class and the lower income bracket are working harder. So you have women working two jobs, single parents working two jobs, having no time for their children, just to keep up.
The policy levers that we'd ask you to look at or recommend to government are to increase the child tax benefit; increase eligibility for EI benefits, especially for women, because they're way underrepresented, so increase access to EI and the level of benefits; look at youth-at-risk employment programs and continue to invest in those; increase social housing investments to restore some of that federal funding; make post-secondary education accessible in this country to those with financial barriers; and again, invest heavily in early childhood development.
I want to sum up by saying tax cuts don't help low-income families very much, because that shrinks our government capacity to care for each other. That's really important, and we've lost that capacity.
Welcome to all of you, and thank you all very much for joining us this morning.
Having spent four happy years teaching economics at Simon Fraser University, admittedly some years ago, I'm always pleased to get the opportunity to return here and see friends, relatives, and in-laws, although I don't think we'll have much time today.
Anyway, I'm delighted to be here. Thank you for joining us. I have just a few questions.
Ms. Jackson, can you give us a little bit of history? Try to be brief, please, because I want to ask many people....
Good morning to all the witnesses. It is a pleasure to be here with you in Vancouver.
I want to start with a question for Ms. Sinclair. You gave a great presentation, very interesting. A representative of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, you stressed the importance of childcare. You also pointed out the economic and tax advantages of a universal program. And you talked about the advantages for children, but not as much as I would have liked, seeing as that is perhaps the biggest advantage.
Obviously, when we invest in services for children, it opens up a lot of possibilities for families where parents may not have been able to work. But it is still very important for children themselves in terms of socializing and acquiring skills, not to question, of course, the ability of parents to help their children learn better. The fact that daycare centres are well structured is extremely important.
Do you have any studies on the importance of daycare to children as it relates to learning?
Ms. Montani, I listened to both you and Ms. Sinclair. I think that your presentations and your requests for the Department of Finance are along the same lines, to a certain extent. In addition, both of you cited the example of Quebec's universal childcare program. Quebec made its decision without necessarily waiting to have the federal transfer payments. You are not the first to refer to Quebec's example. It has allowed more women to join the workforce and more children to receive adequate services early on, especially in terms of development.
As a member of my party, the Bloc Québécois, I completely agree with what you are asking for. But we believe that if the federal government agrees to make transfer payments, Quebec should also get some given that it has already made commitments. I am very glad to know that we made this decision and that, as a result, we are being touted as an example by many. A lot of people are saying that Quebec made the right decision, as much for women and children as for the job market. I would also add for the economy. In this respect, that testimony was along the same lines as yours.
The way I see it, it is extremely important that all politicians be very familiar with this issue. I was listening to Ms. Dahling earlier, talking about her small municipality, which has a pretty serious crime problem. I think that the measures you are proposing have to do with prevention. Of course, in the very short term, they do not involve the police fighting crime, but when we invest in this area, we invest in prevention.
Do you agree, Ms. Dahling?
If I could be so bold, sir, as chair of the metro Vancouver board, we oversee about 2.5 million people in the lower mainland. As you can see from the map—and it goes only a little north of Pitt Meadows—this entire area is subject to flooding. As the silt continues to come down every year, you can appreciate that we have a diking system that is very formidable in this entire area. The diking system that was put in place with the help of the provincial government some 15 to 20 years ago with the Fraser River flood control program could be in jeopardy in some areas, because if you have a dike that is at this level and the bottom of the river used to be at this level and it continues to rise with the silt, at some point in time you can actually see the bottom of the river surpassing the height geodetically of your diking system. It is a very important point to be made, particularly when last year and the year before the mighty Fraser was very close to overspilling its banks, and that would be an absolute disaster for the entire lower mainland.
We believe in prevention, but as you know, local government only receives 8¢ of every tax dollar collected in this country. The federal government gets, I believe, 48¢ and the province gets 42¢. The local government cannot, nor can the metro government, take on the responsibility solely on the back of the property tax, where so many people, obviously, are looking after all of the functions, from policing, to engineering, to parks and recreation, and all of those facilities that are needed at the lower government.
So we are turning to the federal government in order to continue on with metro Vancouver's major problem in terms of the silting up. As you can see, the lines go right off the page. We're going right up, basically, to the town of Hope, through Kent and Harrison and so on. Chilliwack is another area very vulnerable to siltation.
I'm sorry I'm giving such a long answer, but it certainly is a question and a problem for the entire lower Fraser.
Yes, that is what we feel. With all due respect to the new port authority for metro Vancouver, I think they feel that their focus is the navigational deep-sea shipping channel, but the side channels that have been traditionally cared for by the other port authorities are not being tended to. It really has to be focused on. If it's the port authority in terms of long-term, sustainable funding to keep all the channels clear, certainly we would welcome that. If it comes from the federal budget, we would welcome that.
As you can see in our notes, there was also a comparative made in terms of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which doesn't need to be dredged from the bottom, but the icebreaker situation during the winter is a very good example of another Canadian city that has to have access to the waters, the navigational areas, the side channels, for major economic regions, and transportation of goods, services, and people.
As you can see in our notes once again, there is set aside an annual budget of $6.9 million through the federal government, for which we thank them. However, 80% of that is diverted to the St. Lawrence Seaway, which leaves a very small portion to be used in other areas of the country.
We're looking at the west coast in a similar fashion as needing some major help, and being able to identify the $5 million to remove the silt at this point, but the ongoing, sustainable funding is very critical to us.
Again, I apologize for my long answer.
My first take is that I have an eight-year-old playing in the Pontiac, so we'll be down to Montreal at some point and take you on.
There are really three things that drive community participation.
One is the capital requirement, and in 2005 numbers there is a $15 billion infrastructure deficit in the country. We know that over the next 18 months, if fully implemented, there'll be $3 billion addressed. What you're experiencing is the $12 billion gap.
The second determinant is the quality of the sport experience. There's significant work...led by leaders from Quebec and British Columbia, called the Canadian Sport for Life model. This is now three or four years under way. It's full purpose, adopted by federal-provincial-territorial governments, is to shift the sports system from an exclusive model to an inclusive model. That's the driver. This needs to be implemented.
The third thing is community capacity, and we've brought two ideas forward here today. One is to modernize the Income Tax Act so that amateur community sport is indeed charitable. This will help--
Good morning. My name is Don Krusel. I am the president and chief executive officer of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
Firstly, we at the Port Authority want to recognize and congratulate the Government of Canada on the effectiveness of the targeted investments in the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative to strengthen Canada’s competitive position in international trade. Together these activities have established a strong and positive reputation for Canada's Asia-Pacific gateways. With the continued shift of economic activity and world trade toward the Asia-Pacific region, this national strategy of facilitating trade between Canada and Asia will continue in its overwhelming importance to the Canadian economy. The Port of Prince Rupert has benefited from these investments and has increased its international profile, and it owes a great deal of its success to the collaborative activities of the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative.
The $30 million investment by the Government of Canada in the Fairview container terminal in Prince Rupert has been a tremendous success and has created significant economic opportunity across western Canada. A picture is worth a thousand words in illustrating the phenomenal success of the new trade corridor gateway in Prince Rupert. The graph that has been handed out to you--and I hope all panel members have a copy--provides a startling picture of the dramatic increase in North American trade that has been achieved through the Port of Prince Rupert as a result of the Asia-Pacific gateway initiative investment in the container terminal in Prince Rupert. As the graph illustrates, during the first 30 years of existence and prior to the conversion to a container terminal in 2007, the Fairview terminal never handled more than 1.1 million tonnes of cargo in any given year. Last year, during its first full year as a new North American gateway container terminal, it handled 1.8 million tonnes, and this year it is expected to handle 2.5 million tonnes of cargo. That is a startling 127% increase over the previous best year and a 1,200% increase over just two years ago. When the new facility reaches capacity, expected within the next five years, an extra 4 million tonnes, or an increase of nearly 5,000%, will be flowing through that terminal.
These achievements have not gone unnoticed internationally and worldwide. Recent articles in the Journal of Commerce, a U.S.-based trade publication, have referenced comments from U.S. port officials about the success of Prince Rupert and the Asia-Pacific gateway. To quote the article:
||[U.S.] port officials appear to be looking with envy at what has been done in Canada to lure North American importers to Prince Rupert. The [U.S.] West Coast port directors cited the effective effort of the Canadian federal, provincial and local governments, together with that country's Pacific ports and CN [Rail], to promote the Canadian gateway for trade with Asia.
The article goes on to describe how the U.S. west coast port authorities are lobbying their own federal government to provide the same level of economic and organizational support as is being provided here in Canada. While it is very flattering to be viewed as a role model for our U.S. counterparts, it is also a warning to us that we cannot be complacent and allow ourselves to lose any competitive advantage that we might have gained through the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative.
We believe that the Government of Canada's Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative and measures for economic stimulus have been successful to date but can be more effective with continued support and future enhancements. I would like to highlight three for consideration by this committee: to provide new and additional funding for the Asia-Pacific; to provide greater access to federal economic stimulus; and to amend federal regulations to enhance the ability for federal ports to access venture capital.
However, I am not here today only to applaud past infrastructure investments made in the Prince Rupert gateway but to remind you that we are not yet finished building Canada's Pacific gateway. Thus we need continued support from the Government of Canada in completing this important task. The Port of Prince Rupert has a real and immediate opportunity to facilitate the development of new export capacities for bulk commodities targeting the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, the growing container traffic and terminal capacities are driving new opportunities for export and import logistics services such as container stuffing and reload, cold storage, transload, and short sea shipping opportunities.
In conclusion, we applaud the support and direct investment made by the Government of Canada, along with our partners in the Fairview container terminal. Together, we not only created a new gateway for trans-Pacific container trade but also have drawn the attention of the international shipping world and opened the door to a multitude of new investments and development opportunities.
Key to realizing the opportunity and unlocking the potential of the Prince Rupert gateway will be a strategic investment in infrastructure at the Port of Prince Rupert by the Government of Canada.
I thank you for your time and attention.
Good morning. My name is Nigel Lockyer. I'm the director of TRIUMF.
TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. It was founded 40 years ago by three British Columbia universities and the University of Alberta. Today, it is 11 full-member universities and four associate universities, so it's represented by 15 universities across Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia all the way to Victoria.
Every five years, TRIUMF undergoes what's called an international peer review. This year's review was chaired by Dr. Rolf Heuer, the director general of CERN, which is the largest laboratory in the world. Members on the committee included directors from Asia, the United States, and Europe. The head of the European Science Foundation was on that committee, as was the CEO of the B.C. Cancer Agency and Canadian businessmen.
The report is complete. They gave us an A-plus, you might say, on our track record, and fully endorsed our plan for the next five years.
TRIUMF also initiated by itself an economic impact study. It shows that in the last 10 years there was $1 billion of economic activity associated with TRIUMF. Our next five-year plan proposes to double that, so that would be $1 billion of activity in five years.
TRIUMF is a little unusual in the sense that it's not only a world-class science facility but has demonstrated its ability to work with the private sector. Our major collaborator is MDS Nordion at the moment.
I don't have time to describe our whole program, nor do you want to learn about physics or nuclear physics, I assume, so I'll just talk briefly about the fastest growing part of the plan: nuclear medicine.
TRIUMF is engaged in nuclear medicine from soup to nuts. We design the accelerators, the cyclotrons that are used to make medical isotopes. Those cyclotrons are found around the world. They're found in Sloan-Kettering in New York and they're found in Korea. They're manufactured in Canada. That is a growing field and it's a growing business.
In order to use those isotopes, they're usually connected to molecules. The field that connects molecules to isotopes and designs molecules is called radiochemistry. We have a radiochemistry team that's growing. It collaborates with MDS Nordion, UBC, and General Electric, so it's an area where we see the future of the field in nuclear medicine going.
We do imaging. We're involved in the science associated with that, both clinical and science research, in British Columbia and across Canada.
The one area that I'll draw attention to that has been in the news a lot lately is the medical isotope crisis in Canada and around the world. TRIUMF has proposed a short-term, medium-term, and long-term solution.
The short-term solution, in collaboration with B.C. Cancer, Sherbrooke, Western Ontario, and Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, is to use the existing cyclotrons that are in the major medical centres. By changing the target from what you normally use to generate isotopes, you're able to make technetium-99 in sufficient quantities for those local medical centres. So that we see as something that can take place over the next two years—and it has been proposed to NSERC. That just relies on our know-how.
The medium-term solution is part of our five-year plan. It actually was part of it before the crisis came about. We are proposing to build a high-power, very small electron accelerator, which would fit probably across this table, that would allow us to produce molybdenum-99 in quantities sufficient for all Canadians.
It's not an expensive investment on the scale of reactors, so I believe the Government of Canada has a choice between reactors and accelerators. The solution we've proposed does not use highly enriched uranium; it uses natural uranium, where all reactors now will have to switch away from the way they're doing things.
Our long-term vision is that nuclear medicine, being a growing field that allows you to decipher cancer, whether a tumour that's growing or dying or whether there are estrogen receptors on it, and so on, is something that's going to take place. We propose an espresso-maker cyclotron, something small that fits on your desk and gives single-patient doses of medical isotopes, and which could be put in every hospital in the world. That's the end goal of nuclear medicine. It's really going to be everywhere.
I think the opportunities are fantastic, and we're very pleased to offer to you our proposal that we brought with us.
Good morning, committee members, and thank you very much for the opportunity to address the standing committee this morning.
My name is Robin Silvester. I'm the president and chief executive officer of Port Metro Vancouver. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, operating as Port Metro Vancouver, has submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance a federal pre-budget submission wherein we recommend that the Government of Canada undertake a new round of funding for the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative, specifically including the replacement of the New Westminster rail bridge and the replacement or upgrade of Fraser River training infrastructure.
The port recognizes and applauds the support of successive federal governments in the creation and expansion of the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative. The investments announced by the federal government have bettered our nation's west coast trade infrastructure to the benefit of all of Canada, which is fundamentally a trading nation. These improvements have demonstrated to customers and port users the Government of Canada's commitment to advancing significant trade-related activity in the Asia-Pacific gateway.
While much has been done to facilitate trade through the Asia-Pacific gateway, funds available for investment in this initiative have largely been committed. A number of investment priorities remain. We respectfully submit that the Government of Canada should consider further investment to position the Asia-Pacific gateway as truly competitive. Specifically, the two infrastructure projects I address today are key to the continued and future competitiveness of the gateway.
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada's largest and busiest port and the most diversified port facility in the whole of North America. Port Metro Vancouver's navigable jurisdiction stretches along 600 kilometres of coastline, and the Fraser River comprises nearly half of that jurisdiction.
In 2008, the cargo handled along the Fraser River accounted for 29% of Port Metro Vancouver's total tonnage, representing a very significant contribution to the port's overall economic impact in the region and to the related tax generation of taxes to all levels of government.
The New Westminster rail bridge represents an existing federal asset and a critical component of the gateway infrastructure. This single track swing-span bridge crosses the Fraser River between Surrey and New Westminster. In addition to approaching the end of its useful life, this 100-year-old structure also offers a mere 10-metre vertical clearance over the Fraser River, a major international shipping channel. Furthermore, the narrow distance between its vertical supports presents an ongoing challenge to river navigation, and columns have been damaged in the past after being struck by barges transiting in heavy currents.
The Government of Canada has recognized that rail access to and from Port Metro Vancouver is critical to the success of Canada's international trade initiatives. As a result, the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative identified three key rail corridors essential to the success of trade in the metro Vancouver region: the Roberts Bank rail corridor, the north shore trade area, and the south shore trade area.
The New Westminster rail bridge is a critical component of the north and south shore rail corridors, especially in conjunction with the increasing freight demand forecasted from higher cargo volumes through the gateway. At this time, the bridge is at or near sustainable capacity. The current users of this bridge include CN, Canadian Pacific, Burlington Northern Sante Fe, Southern Railway of British Columbia, VIA Rail, Amtrak, and the Rocky Mountaineer. Replacement of the New Westminster rail bridge with an improved crossing would represent a sound investment that would significantly contribute to the success of Canada's international trade initiatives. To date, no funding has been identified for the replacement of this crucial infrastructure.
Moving rapidly to the Fraser River training infrastructure, this is also an existing federal asset managed by the Canadian Coast Guard. These marine control structures channel direct current and control wave action, thereby maintaining water depths and reducing erosion. By stabilizing the course of the Fraser River, they in turn help to manage sediment suspension.
The training infrastructure serves three vital functions: the structures improve navigation; they reduce the requirement for maintenance dredging, which I believe links to a number of presentations you had earlier this morning; and they contribute to the commercial viability of the port's dredging program and thus the ongoing viability of the Fraser River as a trade corridor.
The structures also address issues relating to erosion and sediment deposits for lands adjacent to the river and contribute to flood control and safety.
There are 14 structures involved, some of which are more than 100 years old, and all are currently in varying conditions of disrepair. The replacement value of these marine structures is estimated at $150 million—and again, no funding has been identified for their replacement.
To conclude, Canada is a trading nation. Given the importance of trade to Canada's financial well-being, the magnitude and growth in Asia-Pacific trade, and the importance of diversifying and expanding Canada's trade with new markets, the Fraser River is critical to the economy and the communities along metro Vancouver.
Port Metro Vancouver recommends that the federal government undertake a new round of funding for the Asia-Pacific gateway and corridor initiative, including the replacement of the New Westminster rail bridge and the replacement or upgrade of Fraser River training infrastructure.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today.
My name is William, or Bill, Otway. You have my background in the brief previously submitted.
I'd like to advise you, with pleasure, that the Shuswap regional association of the B.C. Wildlife Federation has voiced its support for the proposal I'm putting forward. We all believe that one of the very best investments our government could make with taxpayers' money is to invest in the revitalization of the Pacific salmonid enhancement program, or SEP. Such an investment would provide the opportunity for increased economic benefits and additional long-term sustainable employment for thousands of Canadians. Despite continuing efforts to restrict this operation, SEP has been a success. It contributes significantly to our salmon production and has provided a buffer for our fisheries in light of continuing decline in the production of wild salmon stocks. The program is responsible for something in the order of 40% of the economic benefits and jobs our fisheries produce. It has the potential, with some rational investment, to expand those benefits in a major way.
The public fishery in British Columbia plays a major role in the economic well-being of both B.C. and Canada. The wholesale value of the commercial public fishery in 2005 was $793 million and it contributed 5,700 jobs. At the same time, the recreational fishery generated $1.4 billion and 7,700 jobs to our economy. Simply put, the public fishery in British Columbia generates in excess of $2.1 billion annually and 13,500 jobs. There is no reason, given a rational revitalization plan for SEP, that these benefits cannot be doubled over time.
The committee is no doubt aware of the problems experienced here in B.C. this past year with our Skeena and Fraser sockeye. What the committee may not understand is that the failure of those salmon runs meant a minimum loss of $125 million to our economy and the associated jobs. Bringing SEP to full and expanded production could have compensated for some of those losses with production of other species and retained the lost economic benefits and jobs. A review of the 2007 report to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Salmon in Sight, will show that a planned revitalization of SEP also provides the opportunity to produce green power.
Our recommendations are as follows.
One, dedicate $200 million to the DFO Pacific region over the next six years to create an expanded and revitalized SEP program and to develop a salmon master plan.
Two, stipulate that the funds dedicated to this program will be under the control of the Pacific region of DFO and not the deputy minister or the Ottawa mandarins. Moreover, it must be stipulated that these earmarked funds cannot be hived off for any other use within DFO.
Three, require the establishment of an advisory body composed of representatives of all stakeholders to work with and advise DFO Pacific region on the best projects to undertake. This body would also review all science-proposed projects and make recommendations on their viability in achieving the goals of the expanded SEP.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Eric Wilson. I am the chair of the finance and taxation team for the Surrey Board of Trade. The Surrey Board of Trade is the second largest board of trade in British Columbia.
Thank you for allowing us to speak today.
Specifically we're asking the government to consider two areas of tax policy for revision and introduction. One concerns the availability of the small business deduction to companies that have taxable capital in excess of $10 million. The second is to consider the introduction of legislation allowing for consolidated corporate tax filings among companies under common control and ownership.
By way of background, subsection 125(5.1) of the Income Tax Act reduces the ability of a company to claim the small business deduction based solely on its taxable capital. It begins to erode once the capital exceeds $10 million, and it disappears entirely at $15 million. This has a significant impact on businesses that are capital intensive. For example, the Automobile Dealers Association has highlighted this many times.
Prior to 2004, the $10 million threshold also served as the level at which a company would incur what's referred to as a corporate capital tax, which is a static tax based solely on its capital structure. Once you incurred a $10 million limit, you paid a certain degree of tax on the excess. In 2004, that level, for purposes of the large corporations tax sections, was increased to $50 million, but the $10 million threshold for the erosion of the small business deduction did not change. We are requesting either that subsection 125(5.1) be repealed or that the $10 million threshold referenced therein be increased to $50 million to at least bring it into harmony with the level at which a company will incur large corporations tax.
With respect to allowing consolidated tax returns to companies under common ownership and control, it is very common for a business to have its individual units split into various subsidiary or sister corporations for purposes of liability, competitive insulation, succession, or variable compensation patterns. It's not unusual for one facet of a business to operate at a loss whereas another facet operates at a profit. An example might be a manufacturing business that also does its own distribution. The distribution end of a manufacturing business sometimes does incur losses. If for competitive or legal liability purposes this company chooses to maintain its business units in separate legal entities, it has to go through an enormous amount of professional expense, complexity, and, to a certain degree, uncertainty to access the losses of the distribution company with the manufacturing end.
We believe that Canada is one of the only countries in the G7 that does not allow consolidated corporate filings.
Within the package that was submitted prior to my appearance here, there is a discussion of various techniques and strategies that are embraced by the CRA in allowing consolidation of losses within a related group or a group under common control. But as I said earlier, it's unwieldy and unnecessarily expensive, and at the end of the day, the amount of tax revenue that would be realized by the government would functionally be unchanged in the event that consolidated filings were allowed.
In 1985 the Technical Committee on Business Taxation recommended that the federal government review the Department of Finance's 1985 discussion paper, “A Corporate Loss Transfer System in Canada”, which acknowledged there were problems with the current loss utilization techniques, specifically legal and accounting costs, administration and compliance costs, and uncertainty regarding the utilization of the tax planning techniques. It argued that a group reporting system would improve the equity and neutrality of the income tax systems as between economic entities; enhance the response of business to tax incentives provided by the federal government; and increase the freedom of managers of business organizations to structure business operations in the most desirable way from a business point of view, with less concern about adverse or uncertain tax consequences.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to present to the committee. My comments will focus on the first question the committee has put forward, which is in regard to the spending measures needed for prosperity and sustainability. Specifically, my presentation focuses on the fastest-growing population in Canada: aboriginal children. It also focuses on themes that this government has championed, among them economic development, strategic investment, and technology.
You've all received a copy of my presentation. What I'm going to discuss with you today is One Laptop Per Child. It's a program that is currently in 15 other countries, one million of them in operation, and it has yielded tremendous results. It's about education, empowerment, globalization, responsibility, and investing in a key resource, our children.
This iteration of One Laptop Per Child in Canada is unique. It focuses on aboriginal children. It has the support of organizations and individuals from the aboriginal community, among them Chief Atleo, Roberta Jamieson, Susan Aglukark, Clint Davis, the ITK, and several others. I point that out at the beginning because this is not a solution that has been made in central Ontario; it is in fact a solution that is being put together in collaboration with aboriginal leaders and individuals.
It's also a program that's built on partnership between the not-for-profit community, the private sector, and hopefully the government. It's a pilot project that I am speaking to you about today. We believe that if we can pilot this, this time next year, for our kids, about 5,000 of them in various parts of the country, we can in five years reach a population of 250,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12.
With respect to One Laptop Per Child, it was created in 2005 by a gentleman named Nicholas Negroponte. He's the founder of the MIT media lab. It's a low-cost, low-powered, connected laptop. In fact I have one with me, so you can see that it's actually proven, not something we're going to come up with in this pilot program. It's a tool to get aboriginal kids involved in their own education.
Briefly, the important part is what the laptop will have on it. This particular laptop will have on it a literacy program with aboriginal content. It will have on it a financial literacy program with a banking opportunity, so we're giving actual skills and practical skills to children. It will have at least 100 books, 50 of which will be from aboriginal authors for aboriginal children, and we're pleased to announce that Heather Reisman has agreed to give us the other 50 books. It will have connectivity to the Internet, an entrepreneurship program, a mentorship and leadership program, games to improve dexterity, self-esteem, and creativity, and we'll be doing that in partnership with CAMH, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
We'll also be working with ParticipACTION to come up with a physical education program so that we're not creating a bunch of children sitting in front of computers but that they learn how to use technology for their physical health.
We're also working with the University of Waterloo so that as these programs are developed by the content experts, they are handed over to, as we call them, high-performing tech geeks at the University of Waterloo, who will then be coming up with the application. So we are striving to have an academic aspect to this.
I'm going to go through the deck very quickly. It's important to understand who will benefit from One Laptop Per Child. Obviously, our main population is aboriginal children 6 to 12 years of age, their parents, their communities, teachers, other family members, and we believe, with this investment, Canadians. We are talking about the fastest-growing population in Canada and a population that has demonstrated enormous results when given the opportunity.
As indicated on page 7, the accomplishments to date are taken from a number of evaluations in these 15 different countries, all at different stages, but we know that at the end of the day kids become more interested in their learning. There are lower dropout rates, increased school attendance, and higher literacy rates. They become more creative. Because of their access to the Internet, they explore areas of opportunity that they may not have otherwise explored. In fact, the programs that are on here are musical in nature. There are memory games. There are memory tools. There's a calculator on there. There's a journal on there. So what we've seen is that kids are becoming a bit more engaged in their education.
In reference to page 8, if I came to you with a program and didn't tell you that there were challenges and opportunities for those challenges, it would be a little bit of a misleading statement. We've identified three challenges and three ways to solve those challenges. One is breakage. The computer is built for kids, so the breakage rate is less than 1%. Regarding training, we really believe the best way to get these into the hands of aboriginal kids is to have aboriginal adolescents be the trainers of these programs, so that's built into this program. In terms of the cost, this is a very low-cost solution to literacy problems, self-esteem, and the engagement of children.
Built on this, on page 9 we talk about potential partnerships. For the pilot program, we're talking about $5 million over three years, shared between not-for-profit, profit, and the government. So that boils down to about $2.5 million for the government, and that would be $833,000 per year for three years. At the end of the day, we believe that after three years of this pilot program, and within five years, we could cover the entire population--obviously, with increased investment.
On page 10 I talk about why this is a useful investment for the Government of Canada. I won't go through all of this, but we look at it as a strategic investment. That's a very important part of this equation. Often not-for-profits come and ask for a bulk of money and tell us they'll try to do good things with it. This is an investment in a population that needs it, and it's built on a partnership.
After a pilot program this would be a cost of $250 per child. Currently I'm told we spend $215 per child on just language training in this country. At the end of the day, the bottom line of this program is that it's innovative, it's targeted, it's proven, and it's supported by aboriginal leaders and is cost-effective.
On page 12 you'll see the roll-out. The plan is to do the content to raise the funds and to have these computers in the hands of 5,000 children by this time next year.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address the standing committee. I bring regrets from our chancellor, Chief Shawn Atleo, who is unable to be with us today. We had hoped he could be, but it's not possible.
I'd also like to thank the Government of Canada for the knowledge infrastructure funds that we and other institutions across the country have received. As an example, one of the projects that we've invested in is a new facility that we're building on our Duncan campus. When you look at the issues we have in our brief, one of the keys is that 18% of the population at that particular campus is aboriginal; we are serving the Cowichan bands and various other communities on that part of the island.
Just so you have a bit of an understanding, Vancouver Island University is a new university. We are one of the institutions in British Columbia that was a university college, and in September last year we became a full university. Prior to that we had 73 years of history in the mid-island, and for 20 years we were giving out university degrees. So it's not new that we're granting university degrees, as we've been doing it for 20 years.
We take very, very serious responsibility for our role in mid-Vancouver Island in economic and social development within the communities we serve. So it's a very, very important part of what we do.
The issues we're addressing in our submission concern the changing economy. When we look at the resource-based economy on Vancouver Island and up and down the coast, there's been some critical change. We know the forest industry has changed dramatically. We know, indeed, that fishing and harvesting protein from the sea has changed dramatically. We know there are a variety of changes at hand that impact directly on both provincial and federal jurisdictions. As those resource-based industries change, they displace a lot of people. We're a regional institution that provides support for people in that transition. We are an open-access institution, and it's very important that we address the opportunities for people to come in and address that change in their lives.
We're also very strongly focused on capacity building in first nations communities. We have 51 first nations communities on Vancouver Island. We serve communities up and down the coast and provide support for them. We have the largest head count of aboriginal students of any university in British Columbia. Even though we're about one-eighth the size of UBC, our head count of first nations students is dramatically larger. It's because we provide an environment for them to excel and to be successful. It is a very important issue for us.
The third piece we're very involved in as a coastal institution is looking at ocean management, particularly as it relates to harvesting protein from the sea. Our real strength is in shellfish research, but we have a strong partnership with DFO and look at all of the challenges that exist in harvesting protein from the sea and how we, as a regional institution, can provide supports to help guide that dialogue in a way that moves it forward, rather than some of the challenges that I know exist with the political pitfalls that arise when dealing with provincial and federal jurisdictions. As a regional institution with a strong relationship with DFO, I think we have a part to play and a place to work.
So our recommendations are threefold. The first one is looking at first nations funding for post-secondary education. We know there's a real need there; we know there's a real challenge there. We think we can provide and develop the kinds of models that are going to be successful for first nations in building capacity in their communities, and that's done through small regional institutions that are close to home communities and provide the kind of cultural support that's necessary. This is a model that we can work with other institutions across the country. It's not just something that's going to focus on Vancouver Island.
We also recognize that regional universities, especially when located in resource-based communities where industries are changing, are a place of innovation. We are a place of change that can provide the kinds of supports that will help the economy and help us understand what the next economic drivers are going to be in those communities, especially at the regional and rural levels. We have a role to play.
The third one is the opportunity to engage with DFO in a way that allows us to look at and address this evolving issue on the coast of harvesting protein from the sea and the whole responsibility we have in ocean management as it relates to that. I think we have a role to play in having a dialogue and in providing direction and leadership.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you all for joining us this morning.
I'd like to focus on two themes that I think are critical for the jobs of tomorrow, which some of you have advanced, where I think you'll find a big difference between our view and the government's view. One of these areas is the role of research and innovation in science in creating the jobs of tomorrow. The second one is the importance of the Pacific gateway and trade with China; we can't put all of our eggs in one basket, and we really think Canada's destiny lies increasingly with Asia. Some of you have touched on that.
If I may begin with the first theme, this is principally for Mr. Lockyer and Mr. Nilson, I think. We believe that to create the jobs of tomorrow, government has to be heavily involved in science, in research, in innovation, because many of the jobs lost today will not come back. It's true that with new ideas and innovation in science and research, Canada must work to create these future jobs. On the government side, they've actually cut funding for science and research-granting councils, so there you see a pretty stark contrast.
To Mr. Lockyer, you're seeking quite a lot of money, approximately $300 million. So I have two questions. Have you, other than coming here today, had conversations with the industry department, and what are the prospects for that? Second, in terms of the isotope crisis, you described a short-, a medium-, and a long-term plan. Have you been in discussion with government on that? What kind of reaction have you had to that plan?
Mr. Nilson, I've spent twice as much time as a university professor in economics as I have in politics, and I've been struck by the importance of regional universities to their communities. The little “UQs” in Quebec, for example, are central to the future of their communities. So if we're going to have policies that favour new activities and jobs in regions and not just in the big cities, then I think your proposal is really important. I really subscribe to your first recommendation, where you call for “The creation of a funding program by the Federal Government that supports core operating funding for research centres at regional universities, where the economic and social benefits of the applied research can be clearly demonstrated.” For example, in places like Chicoutimi, I notice that the universities are central to their future, and often the outlook for traditional jobs in those areas is not very good.
I guess my question to you is, are you guys banding together in some way to have a united front? I know the big universities such as the University of Toronto and McGill try to hog all of the money, saying they're excellent and you're not. I've been there. Are the smaller universities based in the regions trying to act in a concerted fashion in this area? If not, I think it would be a good idea.
There are a couple of things I want to respond to.
First of all, I'm a firm believer in the big universities doing what they're doing. It is very, very important for us as a nation to have that strength of the large research universities pushing the agenda the way they are; but we also have to recognize that the regional universities have a real responsibility on the ground in doing things that can't necessarily be done. So thank you for that support.
I just want to give you an example of our shellfish work. Shellfish farmers who have a lease on the B.C. coast are lucky if they make thirty grand a year. They have no R and D capacity. We're building a shellfish research field station where we are the R and D. We also work with first nations, helping them learn and understand. We have a whole program up and down the coast, training managers in first nations communities in shellfish, helping them with R and D as well as the little shellfish farmers.
We are talking about across the country. We're just starting conversations now with other small regional universities that have large aboriginal populations. I'm getting into conversation, for example, right now with Nipissing University, and Cape Breton University, etc. So there is a discussion, but there is not a concerted, well-organized discussion at this point.
I'd like to now move to Mr. Wilson at the Surrey Board of Trade.
I noticed your presentation speaks on behalf of the small business tax situation and is silent on the HST. Given that the date of your submission is August 14, I wonder if perhaps it was something that was not really on your radar at that point. Many small businesses in my community are phoning me and e-mailing me, telling me about the harmful effects of the HST on their business, particularly restaurants, all sorts of service sectors, businesses of all types.
I also want to indicate for the record that despite the Liberals' attempt to run from this issue as best they can, it was a 1996 federal Liberal government that brought in the HST agreements with the maritime provinces. Indeed, they voted for the budget in January that contained the HST provisional moneys.
What I would like to know is whether your members in Surrey, and particularly small businesses, have communicated to you their position on the HST and how that might be affecting their business.
Certainly, as you rightly say, labour is a critical stakeholder in, and a component of, success in the gateway. One of the critical points—and I should emphasize it—is that at the port we're not directly involved in negotiations with labour. That takes place between the labour union and the employers' association.
We provide the perspective of our customers on those negotiations, and our customers do have a high degree of concern again, as you highlight in your question, about unreliability as a result of labour or management action. Our perspective would simply be that we feel that it is extremely important that the framework exists that preserves reliability within the gateway, prevents the risk of the gateway suffering disruption through any cause. That is exactly what our customers tell us repeatedly they want to see.
If I could take a very brief opportunity to clarify my earlier answer, the cost of the New Westminster rail bridge is actually $300 million. The discussions to date with Transport Canada have indicated the potential to leverage the funding of the federal government in the same way as the other trade areas, thus a $150 million contribution being leveraged by a further $150 million. But the total cost of the bridge is $300 million.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for all of your comments and suggestions. It's a real pleasure to be here in beautiful British Columbia.
My first question is for Mr. Wilson of the Surrey Board of Trade. I was encouraged by and interested in your comments about tax issues. As a member of the finance committee, I met recently with the chief economists of all the major Canadian banks, and I'm pleased to see that our government is on track to reduce our corporate tax to the lowest level in the OECD by 2012, which, according to the chief economist at the Toronto Dominion Bank and also Mr. McCallum's successor at the Royal Bank of Canada, will contribute greatly to Canada's economic growth, trade, and investment in the future.
I spent the first few years of my career as a tax lawyer. I've dealt with the issue of tax consolidation for many years, so I understand it. I can tell you that it makes for good work for lawyers and accountants, but I don't believe it's good for business. So I'm pleased that you've raised this, as I think it's something we need to definitely look at. Certainly, our major competitor, the United States, allows this kind of tax consolidation, and it's very beneficial to business organizations in the United States and it helps them grow their businesses.
I wonder if you could tell us what the estimated cost to the government in terms of lost revenue might be from making such a change. Also, could you give us a description of what you think might be the estimated economic benefit to Canada, such as a change in the income tax laws?
I alluded to the lost revenue calculation on consolidated corporate filings in my presentation. There are strategies and techniques that permit it. I'll give you a perfect example, which is the vertical amalgamation of losses going to Profitco. Losses become available to Profitco the day after.
The problem with this is that it's complex. As you say, it's great work for lawyers and great work for accountants, and it's unnecessarily expensive. It can also put a business potentially at risk if there's an unfunded liability in the Lossco, generating losses. The amalgamated entity would assume that liability and put it at a disadvantage.
So from a lost revenue perspective, I don't see that there's a great deal that would otherwise be lost. There would be a cost saving to the business earning the income itself in view of the fact that it has simpler compliance requirements, simpler compliance techniques, and less of a professional fee burden on its cost of doing business in Canada relative to a business in the States. That would be a starting point for the valuation of it.
I am a chartered accountant. I'm a partner with a national firm. When we have different business entities segregated into different corporations, there are techniques that can be applied, as I mentioned, but they're also not without risk. For example, there's transfer pricing domestically. There's a wonderful word in the Income Tax Act called “reasonable”, and that causes more grief for the adviser and the advisee in getting concrete, solid advice they can sleep on as to what is reasonable, because one person's reasonable is another person's unreasonable. It's an uphill “guilty until proven innocent” type of process when you fight an assessment on that basis.
This would eliminate the uncertainty caused by that. It would create, at the business level...the money he doesn't spend on the professional advice goes into the income pool, which generates more tax revenue on the same basis. I think it would require an economic study to give you a concrete example, but speaking from my own experience, and perhaps piggybacking on yours in your other life, I'm not so sure the lost revenue would be significant--if any.
As the chair, I have two issues I want to clarify. I'll put them both on the table.
With respect to TRIUMF, I have been there. We were there with our last committee, and it was a wonderful tour you gave us, Nigel.
You talk about the operational fund. This is sort of the issue of the operational funds for big science projects. It's an ongoing challenge that we've discussed. Do you have any recommendations as to where the funds should come from? Should it be a separate fund? Should it be through granting councils or specific to each institution?
The second question is for the Prince Rupert Port Authority with respect to the third recommendation, about amending the Canada Marine Act. It seems to be a fairly reasonable recommendation that I've heard before. I'm not sure what the argument is against it. Could you highlight for the committee why you're getting opposition? What sort of opposition are you getting, or is it just the fact that it has not been acted on in the past?
Mr. Lockyer, very briefly, because we are running out of time.
I'd like to call the meeting to order.
This is still the 43rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance. We have our third panel with us here this afternoon. We have two panels continuing our discussion in pre-budget consultations across Canada.
We want to thank all of the witnesses for coming before us. We're sorry that we're a few minutes late, but we had a tour of the port of Vancouver at lunchtime.
We have here with us eight groups for this panel, so we have a large number of groups. First of all, we have the Canadian Federation of Students, British Columbia; the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia; and we have as an individual, Mr. Graham Mowatt. We also have the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association; the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada; the Federation of Community Action Programs for Children of British Columbia Association; the Rick Hansen Foundation; and finally, we have the Human Early Learning Partnership here with us.
Welcome to all of you.
We'll have presentations to start with and we'll go in the order outlined above. We'll have presentations of up to five minutes maximum and then we'll go to questions from members.
Will the Canadian Federation of Students start please?
As you introduced me, my name is Shamus Reid. I'm the chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, British Columbia. Joining me today is Ian Boyko, who is our research and communications officer.
The Canadian Federation of Students, British Columbia, represents over 150,000 university and college students across British Columbia, and on behalf of our members I would like to thank the committee for the chance to provide input today.
Our recommendations to this committee will focus on how the federal budget in 2010 and beyond can enhance access to post-secondary education and reduce student debt, with a particular emphasis on the provincial context in British Columbia. Committee members, I understand, have our written submissions as well, so that provides further detail and context.
Over the last few years, the federal government has made some important decisions that were wholeheartedly welcomed by the Canadian Federation of Students and others in the post-secondary sector. The $800 million increase to the Canada social transfer in 2007 was the largest single increase to federal funding in three decades. Replacing the Millennium Scholarship Foundation with an accountable and transparent grants programs was enthusiastically embraced by students and has been successfully implemented this fall in B.C., but there is much more to do before the government can rest on its laurels.
In British Columbia we've seen tuition fee increases upwards of 100% since 2001, which has had a serious impact on the ability of students from lower- and middle-income backgrounds to pursue a post-secondary education in our province. Average university tuition fees have risen from $2,592 in 2001 to $5,040 today, 7% above the national average. The benefit of Canada's new grants program will decline as long as the federal government continues to allow tuition fees to rise year over year. The increase to the Canada social transfer that I mentioned earlier should have gone towards undoing the damage wrought by tuition fee increases. The fact that it didn't exposes a terrible flaw in the federal approach to financing universities and colleges.
B.C.'s share of the 2007 increase to the CST was approximately $110 million. The windfall from that funding could have taken many forms: lower fees, larger institutional budgets, student debt reduction, or all of the above. Instead, overall funding to advanced education in B.C. in the year of the transfer was actually cut by nearly $100 million; $110 million in new federal funding failed to benefit a single British Columbian.
We have no reason to believe the scenario will change without a new federal-provincial strategy for post-secondary education. To ensure that Canada has a plan for becoming the best place in the world to study and research, no matter what province a student happens to reside in, the federal government should work together with the provinces to implement a national post-secondary education act. That's our first recommendation.
Akin to the Canada Health Act, a national piece of legislation would clarify roles and ensure accountability for the billions of federal dollars transferred to the provinces each year. In return, the provinces would gain a written commitment from the federal government to issue long-term support for post-secondary education under mutually agreed-upon principles.
In the area of student financial aid, in terms of our second recommendation, I have already mentioned the government's wise replacement of the Millennium Foundation. The new Canada student grants program is promising, but one area where I think most committee members can agree that there is room for growth is the level of assistance currently offered by the grants.
As we have outlined in our written brief, increasing funding to the grants program can be done, and should be done, without any new budgetary expenditure. Each year the federal government allocates more than $1 billion to education-related tax credits. That's more than double the budget for the grants programs. The fact is that the higher up the income scale one is, the more one benefits from such tax credits, meaning that higher-income earners benefit twice as much from non-repayable financial aid as those who qualify for low-income grants.
We recommend refocusing this massive federal expenditure to those who actually need the dollars by reallocating all budgeted funding from the tax credits to the new Canada student grants program. Such a move could allow the federal government to triple the size of new grants, making a very significant dent in student debt.
Our final recommendation is especially important, I think, to western Canadians. Canada's aboriginal peoples have been denied justice on many fronts. One area that is fundamental to improving the lives of aboriginal peoples and is well within this committee's grasp is post-secondary education. The federal government has an obligation to guarantee that aboriginal learners who require financial assistance get it, and more broadly, the government has an economic obligation to prepare our workforce for the future. The federal government can begin to accomplish this by removing the unnecessary 2% cap on funding to the post-secondary student support program.
I'll end there with those three recommendations and perhaps go into more depth during the question period.
I thank you all for the opportunity again to present, and I look forward to your questions.
Good afternoon. I'm Gavin Dirom, the president of the Association for Mineral Exploration, and I'm here today with my colleague, Byng Giraud.
We have three recommendations to present in follow-up to our paper.
As a bit of background on AME, we represent over 3,500 individual members and 300 corporate members, and we were established in 1912. This province actually produces about $6 billion of investment every year to explore here in B.C. and around the world, and in production money, production equates to about $8 billion of revenue.
With that, there will be three presentations today: one related to infrastructure, one related to tax cuts, and one related to harmonization of the federal and provincial regulations.
Before I do that, perhaps Byng can give a quick thank you in regard to the Highway 37 power line.
Related to that, perhaps there's an opportunity for investment in knowledge infrastructure, and on that one I'd like to recommend further investment in the Geological Survey of Canada.
We have two other recommendations.
The first one is for tax cuts. We've had something called the mineral exploration tax credit here in Canada since 2000. No matter the government, every year it's been recommended that it go forward and be maintained. So the proposal today is that we make it a permanent fixture of our tax credit system here in Canada to maintain our competitiveness with Australia and other jurisdictions. So our primary recommendation is to maintain the METC and make it permanent. In terms of specifics, it could perhaps move from a 15% rate to a 30% rate. That's in support of PDAC, our national body representing explorers and developers.
The other main recommendation, or third overall, relates to harmonization. Canada and the Province of British Columbia, for instance, are challenged to harmonize the environmental assessments, the permitting process for new mines. What we'd like to see is a concerted effort with respect to delegation of authority or work from the federal government to the province, perhaps a devolution of decision-making to the province from the federal government, and going forward, perhaps an amendment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act that would include timelines one way or another to address the fact that these projects are stalled and that it takes many, many years to get billions of dollars' worth of projects into operation, which is unnecessary and inefficient. This isn't about effectiveness; this is about it being efficient.
With that, I'd like to thank the committee and members of Parliament.
Unlike other presenters, I am not requesting funding from the government. Canada is at a crossroads. A major paradigm shift is essential, not only in how the federal government operates but also in the expectations of Canadians, in order to prevent an end to what we all enjoy and expect as Canadian citizens.
Our world has changed in a dramatic way. Canadians, however, still believe the federal government exists solely to provide moneys for everyone's pet project. The economic demands resulting from global warming, global terrorism, an aging population, and the possibility of a pending pandemic require a major shift in federal spending practices.
The budget deficit now projected to last several years will be difficult to pay off and will hamper the necessary spending shifts needed to address this new reality, without a total change in the way that government operates. The fact that the application for submissions to this hearing only speaks about additional spending, new ways to spend moneys we don't have, and doesn't even mention the possibility that perhaps spending less may actually be beneficial indicates how out of touch our government and politicians are with reality.
Areas where spending should occur include the historical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy. Essentially, one result of the constant expansion of the public sector is that Canadians are refusing to vote, as no party is willing to deal with the ever-increasing growth and subsequent waste of the bureaucracy. As a result, governments are being elected by an ever-decreasing fraction of the electorate.
The Canadian public considers the federal government a body that ensures the waste and bad practices of the past continue, instead of being the body providing the solution to our problems. Only the federal government could justify the spending of $3 billion in order to manage the spending of billions more in the infrastructure program. We can no longer afford this insanity, either economically or socially. Change is essential. It is time for someone to say, “Enough”.
A decision must be made to determine which body is responsible for governing Canada, the PMO or cabinet. The PMO is a control issue and it's totally superfluous. Its funding should be cut dramatically.
Major reduction in the size of cabinet is also essential to demonstrate to Canada that government is serious about cutting costs. All ministers of state should be eliminated, along with much of their bureaucracy. Necessary agencies could be combined with existing ministries. As an example, opportunity agencies could be placed with intergovernmental affairs.
Several ministries should be collapsed and placed, again, in existing ministries—heritage to citizenship, natural resources to environment, public safety and veterans affairs to national safety. Considerable downsizing of government is essential.
The tens of millions of dollars presently given away for so-called multicultural special events such as parades, fairs, and celebrations is badly needed elsewhere. It is absolute insanity that Canadians are required to wait for months for pain-relieving or life-saving operations due to the lack of funding while moneys are given away to support social activities.
Due to our aging population, the Canada Health Act must be amended to permit access to private care for all Canadians, similar to what is already enjoyed in Quebec. If we in fact are living in a free society, Canadians should be allowed to spend their own money to speed up their diagnostic or surgical operations that they choose. The only requirement necessary to preserve the concept of universality would be to require physicians to maintain their current commitment to the public system. Prohibiting them from earning an appropriate living by limiting the amount of time they can practice due to the lack of public funds encourages them to leave Canada and must end. The implementation of competition will encourage the public system to reduce waste, especially in administration costs, and improve service and access.
Governments around the world are contemplating spending billions of dollars to deal with global warming. No money should leave Canada in the insane idea that giving another country funding for carbon credits somehow will remedy the greenhouse gas issue. Credits should be only spent internally, if at all. The fact that the greatest sinks for greenhouse gas are the oceans of the world is not only being totally ignored, but they continue to be destroyed by countries around the world that use them as a disposal zone for every toxic pollutant known. It will end up destroying this planet. The entire ecosystem of the oceans is being destroyed by pollution, acidification, and warming of the water.
One possible solution would be to implement a pollution tax on all products, determined by the amount of pollution created by their production and delivery to market—and not just carbon, but all gaseous, liquid, and solid pollutants as well.
The notwithstanding clause must be enacted to correct a major error made in the sixties. Canadians should have rights. However, in return, they must accept some personal responsibilities for their actions. Rights should not be available regardless of one’s lack of responsibility. A person who commits serious crimes against the state should lose their rights. Immigrants or those allowed to enter our country as refugees must respect the laws of our society. Immigrants and refugee claimants guilty of committing serious crimes against Canadian society, for example, murder or the production and selling of drugs, should be deported immediately, as is presently done in numerous other countries. The spending of any funds to defend people who have spat on the hands of our of kindness is unacceptable. Those found guilty of entering Canada illegally should be deported immediately. The government's responsibility to protect and provide security for law-abiding Canadian citizens must take precedence.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon.
Good afternoon, everyone, and members of the Standing Committee on Finance.
My name is Elizabeth Model and I'm representing the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, the City of Surrey, and the Surrey Campus of Simon Fraser University.
With 465,000 people—and growing—Surrey is British Columbia's fastest growing region and our 12th largest city in Canada. Put into perspective with the United States, we would rank 35th population-wise—larger than Sacramento, California, that state's capital, and Miami, Florida. It's a youth-oriented city. It's rich and diverse, with an intertwining of ethnic and cultural backgrounds that brings a special vibrance and mix to the City of Surrey.
Our forward-thinking mayor, Dianne Watts, and her team of councillors and city staff have commenced work on the very large first-phase civic centre project in downtown Surrey, for which you have brochures. It comprises the commercial, business, residential, educational, and entertainment sectors, all brought together in one metro downtown core.
The first funding we're going to request is to complete a project on the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University. It's an internationally recognized and innovative university. It's repeatedly ranked first in Maclean's survey of universities as Canada's premier university, due to its innovative teaching and scientific research and development activities. It targets and attracts future entrepreneurs, who are supported in the student venture program, which utilizes internationally recognized business people who participate in the program as mentors for enrolled students. This fall they have surpassed their target enrollment by 20%, and they have waiting lists.
Simon Fraser University requires a new health sciences and technology building on previously purchased SFU-owned land, a project budgeted at $16 million.
The second thing we're requesting is a proposed arts and cultural component for the downtown core, a 1,600-seat flex theatre and 250-seat studio theatre, which will be a draw for arts, entertainment, cultural, and learning activities. It will also act in conjunction with Simon Fraser University for large-scale lectures, conferences, conventions, and multimedia presentations. It will act as a catalyst, bringing the community together to create a positive, upbeat designated area for drawing more people to the metro downtown core of Surrey.
The economic spinoff is huge. More people equate to more jobs; more jobs, more services; more services, more business, more activity, more investment. It equates to a larger tax base and also has a multiplier and trickle-down effect within the community, where everyone will benefit, both the profit and not-for-profit sectors. It creates a healthy, vibrant, and balanced community.
The required funding for the City of Surrey's arts and cultural component is $150 million.
Finally, we ask for your continued support and endorsement of Service Canada's student employment program, which obviously allows for wonderful learning opportunities for our youth—and our youth are our future. We all remember our first job and what it taught us, or didn't teach us, in life and where we wanted to go. So we ask for your continued support with regard to that program.
So what are we asking of you?
We're asking you to lay the foundation for our future growth in Surrey—liveable, vibrant, downtown Surrey. It's exciting, it's happening, it's Surrey. So believe in us, invest with us. The future lives here in Surrey.
Thank you to the members of the committee for this opportunity to present today. My name is Susan Harney and I'm here for the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.
I think this is the 25th year that I've presented to the federal committee on child care. I remain optimistic that perhaps this is the year the committee will hear the arguments about the benefits of child care to children, the workforce, and particularly the economy, and this will be the year that our government will choose to prioritize the building of a national child care system.
Over the years we have provided you with a multitude of studies that clearly demonstrate that child care and early learning opportunities are good for Canada's kids in health outcomes, reducing poverty, minimizing later difficulties in learning, and preparing our children to be able to compete in the future global economy. Those studies have shown that child care and early learning is good for working moms. Let us be clear that over 70% of moms with young children are working. This is not a special interest group any more. These moms need support to be able to work.
Those studies have shown you that dependence on the market-based approach has failed. In Canada no matter where you go there are long wait lists for child care. The service is unaffordable for many families, and there is no guarantee of quality. Those studies have shown you that Canadians want a national child care program. When polled, 70%, 80%, even 90% tell you that they want a national child care system and they feel the time is now. Finally, those studies have shown you that investing in child care provides good short-, medium-, and long-term economic benefits.
You may have heard this in a presentation this morning, but in case you didn't, this past Friday a brand new study came out from the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council. The report is called “Understanding and Addressing Workforce Shortages in Early Childhood Education and Care”. I don't have copies to give you because it is so newly off the press. You can certainly go to the sector council's website and read the study there. It was done by Robert Fairholm of the Centre for Spatial Economics. He took about two years and analyzed many aspects of the economic benefits of child care. I'll highlight a couple of them.
Investing in child care is the biggest job creator. For every $1 million in the sector, it generates almost 40 jobs. That is at least 40% higher than the next closest industry and four times the jobs generated by $1 million invested in construction.
Child care jobs create other jobs. Every child care job generates 1.4 others through increased spending and parental workforce participation. Child care spending gives the economy a very strong boost. Every dollar to child care increases the GDP by $2.30--one of the strongest levels of short-term economic stimulus of all sectors.
Child care investment pays for itself. Almost 90% of the cost of hiring 1,000 child care workers goes back to governments as increased revenue, and the federal government benefits the most.
Child care is good for society. Every dollar invested in quality provides a $2.54 return in benefits.
Our first recommendation is to cease and desist misleading the Canadian public and the international community by claiming to spend $5.9 billion annually on early learning and child care. That money is mostly in tax credits and does nothing to guarantee quality. There are no targets and timelines. It does not provide the Canadian taxpayers with a guarantee of building spaces or making the service affordable.
Also, we would ask that you prioritize in the 2010 budget--and beyond--significant and increasing new federal transfer payments to provinces and territories, conditional upon their provision of a plan with measurable targets and timelines and approval of provincial legislatures, to build a system of quality, affordable, inclusive child care services. It is not just a matter of it being the right and good thing to do for our kids; economically, it makes sense.
Hi. I'm Sue Khazaie. I manage early childhood and family resource programs at Abbotsford Community Services and am a director of the board of CAPC, Community Action Programs for Children, in British Columbia.
What is CAPC? CAPC is a program that's funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada to support young families with children under the age of six. It's those families that I'm here to talk about today.
I'm here to ask two things.
I'm so pleased that I'm following Susan Harney, because in Canada we need a comprehensive system that addresses the needs of young children and their families, and part of that, a critical part of that, is child care, as Susan has so eloquently said. However, another part of it, the part that I want to focus on today, is how we support parents to raise healthy children and to have their needs met in a way that creates a society where children thrive.
CAPC has been around a while. It's a program that is targeted at vulnerable families, young families. Originally, at its inception, it was designed to address families in crisis and to prevent unintentional injury. It has grown to look at the social determinants of health, to create opportunities for families to gain the skills they need to have to ensure their children succeed, and to draw in those families who are vulnerable and struggling. We are looking at the at-risk populations in the community. Seventy-five per cent of the families participating in CAPC programs live in conditions that would compromise or challenge their ability to parent their children successfully.
CAPC is an upstream investment. It's a prevention focus. It addresses the problems that families might have before they occur and gives them the tools and the skills to succeed so they can raise healthy children. It leverages resources in our communities so that the funding we get from the federal government is only part of the resources we apply to the issue at hand. Our communities rally around these programs tremendously. We have things where there's food contributed or where there are people who make quilts for others. We engage volunteers and the business sector in a number of ways. People want to support the young children of their communities to thrive.
CAPC programs look different in different communities, because when the funding came to communities, the communities were told to address the gaps they had in the community and to identify the specific needs of their families. So this looks different in each community. Having said that, I note that they all address vulnerability for children and families.
What do we know about vulnerability?
We're really lucky to have Paul Kershaw here today, who is one of Canada's leading authorities on early childhood vulnerability. I encourage you to listen to him. He will be able to make the point much more eloquently than I can.
But what we do know is that Paul and his colleagues have been looking at vulnerability in this province. There's been a tremendous increase in recent years in young children entering school not ready to learn. They're not ready to learn, not because of biological circumstances but because the opportunities to learn in early childhood have not been available to them. We have not provided them with an environment that nurtures them appropriately.
We know that children who aren't ready to learn when they enter school are more likely to continue to be struggling with situations of risk. It's something that we as Canadians cannot afford to miss--an opportunity now where we have approximately 212,000 young children under the age of five in British Columbia who deserve our best.
Today I'm asking you to please consider a comprehensive system that addresses the needs of young children and their families in Canada. Secondly, remember, CAPC programs are our successful initiative, and they are making a difference for the young children and families they serve.
In Abbotsford, with the funding I receive for CAPC programs from the federal government and the provincial contribution, I have $45 per year per child. My opportunity to make a significant impact is limited. I ask you to consider that when you're making your budget allocations and increase that funding so that we can indeed make a difference for the children who deserve it.
Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be here and a particular pleasure to build off the presentations by Susan Khazaie and Susan Harney.
I come from the Human Early Learning Partnership, which is a research institute based at the University of British Columbia. The quality of our research there is internationally recognized, including by the World Health Organization, which has named HELP the international knowledge hub in research about early childhood development. In the brief we submitted to you in the summer, the punch line is as follows. We as a society in Canada need to rethink our economic growth strategy to recognize the following thing: that strong economic growth requires strong family policy. If we neglect the latter, we will compromise our economic growth henceforth.
How do we know that? For the first time in Canada, researchers have calculated what it's costing us right now to have biologically unnecessary vulnerability as kids are in their early years. We know from that research that the cost of this brain drain in the early years, an unnecessary brain drain, is staggering. In British Columbia alone, it's equivalent to about $401 billion, along with all of the interest that investment can earn over the next 60 years.
Thinking about that across the country from coast to coast, we're estimating that we're talking about trillions of dollars, which is a staggering cost. How do we know this? We have three sets of unique data that I need you to consider.
As Susan Khazaie said, we know that in British Columbia and many other jurisdictions around the country about 30% of our population arriving at the formal school system in kindergarten is vulnerable. We're not talking about wanting kids to be Mozart or the next Einstein at that age. We're talking about kids coming to school too tired to learn, without the motor skills to hold a pencil, having difficulty following directions or getting along with peers, not necessarily knowing 10 letters in the alphabet, and not being able to tell a story about their day in an official language.
Now, we then can track kindergarten children in every classroom in British Columbia, in every school district around the province, and watch what those kids do as they move their way to grade 4. We then can watch the entire population move from grade 4 to grade 7 and then from grade 7 to grade 12. With those observations--these are no longer predictions--we're able to understand what it means when kids come to school vulnerable in kindergarten, in terms of what it means to their later school success.
We know that were we to reduce early vulnerability from 30% down to 10%, where it ought to be, you would be able to improve kids' ability to earn grades that will get them into university by one third and you would reduce crime by one third. We can then link that research that looked between 1960 to the current date in asking how school achievement improves economic growth, how it influences economic growth.
There's a very robust economic literature that shows that countries are achieving lower rates of vulnerability. If Canada were able to emulate that and achieve better school progress through ages 9 to 15, we as a country could count on our economic growth going up by 0.63%. That doesn't sound very exciting, but today 0.63% of GDP in Canada is about $9 billion, and we all know the promise of compounding interest.
It's with those kinds of figures, calculating over 40 years of a child's working career once they hit the labour force, that we're generating these alarming estimates of what we're throwing away today by allowing three times as many kids to be biologically vulnerable as there need to be. We can no longer say we don't know what we're throwing away. The question is, what do we do about it?
I really applaud the combination of the two Susans' presentations, with one talking about how we need to invest in services and the other saying that we need to support families with the time and resources they need, because all families need that combination of time, resources, and community support. It's not an either/or issue. Election campaigns of the past have pitted it as an either/or issue. That misleads the public and doesn't take us towards this place of recognizing that strong economic policy requires strong family policy.
We're making three recommendations for the federal government to implement. They're expensive and we are not ashamed of it. The first is to build on the system of parental leave. We have to extend it to 18 months in this country, reserving the bulk of additional time for fathers to take. That will cost about $4.5 billion a year. We're also talking about eliminating poverty amongst families with young kids, or at least bringing it to below 5%, by enriching the Canada child tax benefit and the national child benefit supplement. That will cost $6.2 billion a year. Last but not least, designing the kind of early learning and care system that Susan Harney mentioned would cost the country $10.5 billion per year. The grand total is $22 billion, give or take a wee bit.
This means that as you're deciding where to allocate money and thinking about family policy in the future, an extra $100 million here or there may sound impressive, but it's no longer going to achieve what we need it to do. As a country, we can decide not to spend more. In fact, we're likely to do so in the current economic climate. You have tough decisions, in part because our culture has not yet asked for us to spend so much more money. But no longer can we imagine that we are not wasting a tremendous amount of potential that ultimately will undermine our medium-term economic growth.
Thank you very much.
Thank you to all for being here.
Perhaps I could begin with the three who talked about child care.
To Susan Harney, you say that maybe this time you'll convince the committee. I think you have already convinced the majority on the committee. The question is convincing the government. I would remind you that when we were the government, we had a $5 billion signed agreement with the provinces for child care. I personally have been an admirer of Fraser Mustard for many years. It was the Conservatives who ripped up those agreements when they came to power.
I'm not saying that we could spend $22 billion per year in year one. Even if you abolished the Department of National Defence, you'd still be short of money to fund that.
I would give one piece of advice to you, Ms. Harney, even though I'm with you in spirit. I would recommend that you not say that child care pays for itself, because it doesn't. People on the right sometimes say that tax cuts pay for themselves. They don't. It is equally untrue to say that child care pays for itself. I am an economist, and I know that you can build up big multipliers and show that somehow that's true, but it defies common sense. Ask the Province of Quebec if they think child care pays for itself.
So I just think you weaken your own argument when you add things like that, things that are not necessary to the argument and are patently untrue.
I'd like now to turn to....
Perhaps I should let you answer, if you want to. But don't be too long, please, because I don't have much time.
There are two here from Simon Fraser. I've spent twice as much time in education, including four happy years at Simon Fraser, teaching, as I have in politics. I'd like to ask a question about students and a question about Simon Fraser.
First of all, to Shamus Reid, I agree in principle with your proposals, but I have anecdotal evidence that the situation facing students is substantially worse this year than, say, a year or two ago. Youth unemployment is at a record high, so more students can't get jobs. The parents of students are feeling the pinch because of the stock market crash and so on. I have heard that applications for student aid are at record highs because of this combination of circumstances.
Do you agree, based on your membership, that students are facing difficulties substantially greater than a year or two ago?
Good afternoon to all the witnesses.
I am very pleased to be here with you in Vancouver to consider your main concerns along with the other committee members.
Since this morning, several speakers have made recommendations to improve childcare services in order to improve the situation of children and reduce the poverty they face.
Ms. Khazaie, Ms. Harney and Mr. Kershaw, you all made similar recommendations, which means that this is certainly a critical issue that deserves further consideration.
I heard Ms. Harney say that she hoped that the Standing Committee on Finance would really hear her recommendations and make them a priority. A little earlier, Mr. McCallum was explaining where things stood. He said that he had not been able to convince the government and talked about the associated costs. I also heard Mr. Kershaw's response to that.
I think it is high time that society, be it in Quebec or in Canada.... As was mentioned this morning, Quebec is quite far ahead in terms of daycare services. There are costs, yes, but they must be seen first and foremost as investments. Children are our most valuable natural resource, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.
We talked about the vulnerability of children, which has its own costs. We said that a daycare system would significantly reduce the costs associated with that vulnerability.
I speak from experience. For 30 years, I worked with children who were vulnerable and who had many developmental difficulties. Based on my own experience, I can assure you that we can make great strides with respect to learning, which would significantly help families.
I urge you to continue to hammer home this message regarding early childhood services. I hope that it will be heard, even if you have to repeat it nearly 26 times before it comes through loud and clear. I wish you well on that mission. It is essential to continue, because I think that is really where the future lies.
We are talking about investments. So we should not look at it in terms of immediate costs. We have to remember that our future will depend on what we have done for our children. That is vital, and there are many of you making that point. I encourage you to continue.
There are all kinds of ways to find money. Mr. Mowatt, you suggested a number of things that could help improve the various services including daycare service—even though this suggestion may not be yours. I think that some of your suggestions could help the government improve how it manages and takes in money.
The Bloc Québécois has already put forward some very specific measures. It has already made certain recommendations to the government, which are still valid. We mentioned that if the government committed to not staffing one in three positions in the federal public service, it would save several billion dollars, which could be used to provide services like the early childhood services we hope to implement Canada-wide, while increasing transfers.
In my opinion, it is very important to do it by increasing transfer payments, because this is under provincial jurisdiction. Quebec did it without waiting for any such payments, but it is important to establish these services through actual transfer payments. It is also important that the federal government not get involved in provincial matters, especially early childhood services.
I would like to hear your thoughts on that, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, the devil is in the details.
The federal government, current and previous governments, have signed harmonization agreements with most of the provinces to try to make these regulations a little more streamlined.
There's a simple thing that could be done, frankly. In British Columbia we have legislated timelines in our environmental assessment process; things have to be done by a certain time. There are opportunities and options to halt the clock, to pull the process back, but generally there is a legislated timeline; you must get through the process by this date.
The federal government, under the current CEA regime, has no timelines associated with it. We think this would be a simple thing. I know CEA is up for review in 2010 and it should be considered.
We're not talking about taking the federal government's statutory authority away. We're not talking about getting the federal government out of this business. What we're talking about is recognizing that a biologist is a biologist is a biologist. For a geologist, an expert on explosives in federal jurisdiction, these processes do not have to be duplicated at every level.
And some of that comes from the federal government simply saying, we recognize the work you've done as a province.
Mr. Reid, I may regret asking you this because your answers are sometimes long-winded, but the debate is changing even in Quebec now. I'm from Quebec, and there was a resolution passed by the Quebec Liberal Party on the weekend on perhaps having fees for CEGEP. I'm a big believer that CEGEP should be free. For people who are not aware, CEGEP is a junior college. It's a transition period before going to university, and Quebec has always used it as a promotion to maintain students in the educational field.
Now they're promoting that CEGEP should probably charge a fee. Quebec universities charge the lowest tuition fees, but we just heard that McGill is going to increase the cost of its MBA program. The price you now pay for an MBA program is $1,700, and I think McGill is going to increase it to $30,000.
We're seeing some different things going on in reality, and the Federation of Students always has the same demand. So where's the balance? I'm looking at more of a balanced approach. What do we need to do to make sure that students can continue to go to school and receive the right education?
I'm not questioning the fact that students should have debt. You are going to get an education. Is there a problem with having debt? Should there be an amount?
I come from a city where we have a choice of five, six universities. We have four francophone universities and two English universities, and one within an hour and a half. Do we need to go far away to get an education and be in debt after three or four years of education? Is that necessary? What's the balance there?
I don't know if it's an easy question for you to answer, but we need to have more of a balance.
Thank you for the question.
Indeed I do, and maybe I'll start with the Major Projects Management Office, which was a $15 million investment made by this government a few years back. That office is charged with finding efficiencies and effectiveness between provinces, territories, and the federal government.
One example that comes to mind is the Galore Creek project. It's in process and probably has another two to three years before it gets under way, because there are some decisions at the corporate level being made. However, I do think that's a good example of a harmonized effort between the federal and provincial governments. Timing wasn't completely in synchronicity, but it was within two to three months. That's a good example.
A poor example, and I know you have many of them, sir, is Mount Milligan, where you have the provincial assessment completed but they're just now getting under way with the federal assessment. It's not streamlined, it's not parallel, and it ought to have been.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First I want to mention how much I appreciate the evidence of the Canadian Federation of Students. It's very valuable for you to come here and give us the experience of your members. From the New Democratic Party's point of view, that's extremely helpful to our discussion, so thank you.
I want to talk a bit about child care. I think the economic benefits and multiplier effect of a national child care program are clear in study after study. Our party has long been convinced of that. In fact, I think there is a historical precedent. I don't think it's a coincidence that after World War II the introduction, really, of universal education from grades one to 12 coincided with one of the most phenomenal periods of economic growth in Canadian history—from the 1950s to the 1970s. I think this would do the same thing as it unleashes the economic potential primarily of women more than anybody else.
In a way, it's tragic that we have to speak in economic terms when we talk about child care. These are our children. Do we have to justify everything in economic terms to make sure that our children are taken care of and are nurtured and educated? During the last election campaign the number one issue I heard on the doorstep, by far, was child care. Our party will be going to Parliament and pushing for a national child care system. I want you to know we're completely behind that.
If there are any comments you want to make, please go ahead, but I just want to make that statement.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, witnesses.
What a healthy debate we've had, and discussion. Think about the good fortune we have in this country that we can sit around with opposing views and not have to worry about missiles falling from the sky and things like that.
I share the perspective of the two Susans and the professor, as a parent of three children, with a daughter who is a single parent of a two-and-a-half-year-old. I understand Mr. Mowat's perspective too, because I have many constituents who have that perspective on cutting back. So it's all about finding the right balance.
Also, in terms of the Canadian Federation of Students, I represent Kelowna--Lake Country, UBC Okanagan, which is a member of the federation. You're doing great work, and I appreciate your efforts.
I have a couple of quick questions. The first one would be just to clarify. You were asked about discontinuing the tax credits for tuition fees and rolling that into increasing the student grant assistance levels. Do you have a dollar value that it would equate to?
I know that in universities across the country, one of the things we implemented in the economic action plan was $2 billion for a knowledge infrastructure program. From Surrey's perspective, SFU was the recipient of more than $24 million this year. I'm not sure if you're aware of that or not.
Last week the City of Surrey received $30 million for the new library--congratulations on that--and I'm not sure if you heard about that. There is money for some of your infrastructure programs, and there definitely are dollars flowing to your community.
The other aspect is the knowledge infrastructure program. A big component of that investment, for both colleges and universities, is that while it's important to invest in people, you also have to have the facilities that they're working under. When we have the federal contribution, it helps the foundations not have to raise tuitions. From the board's perspective, they can put the money into students.
The Chair: A question, please.
Mr. Ron Cannan: That's just one of the observations from our post-secondary caucus.
The last question, then, is for the Rick Hansen Foundation.
One of my mentors...and it's incredible; we've come a long way in almost 25 years. Thank you to Mr. Hansen and your foundation for all the work you've done.
In your submission, you talked about $100 million in terms of a lead partner. Could that be a multi-year commitment, and how would that be spent?
This is now the fourth panel here on meeting number 43 of the Standing Committee on Finance with respect to our pre-budget consultations.
We have with us, for the final panel, seven organizations. I will list them in order of presentation.
First of all, we have the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of British Columbia; second, the Pacific Community Resources Society; third, the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada; fourth, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada; fifth, the Union of Environmental Workers; sixth, the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy; seventh, the Heritage Vancouver Society. We actually have eight; there's also the Association of Canadian Publishers.
We have a lot of groups today, and we have up to five minutes maximum for opening statements; then we'll go immediately to questions from members.
Could we start with the coalition, please?
It's a great pleasure to be in front of this committee once again, and like one of my colleagues, Susan Harney, in the last round, I too am a multi-year presenter. Susan mentioned to me as she left that it's great that we don't have to convince you any more that child care is important; now we just need you to do something about it.
My colleague, Crystal Janes, and I are presenting from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of British Columbia. We are a not-for-profit organization made up, obviously, of many parents across the province and also caregivers, early childhood educators, grandparents, labour unions, businesses, and many others. We do speak to the need for a comprehensive policy that funds and has standards for a child care system that meets the needs of working families for children zero to 12, that is in the not-for-profit sector, and that is adequately publicly funded to maintain quality that parents can afford--all the kinds of things that a progressive, rich country like Canada can and should be providing.
We will be brief. There are two things we'll do for you today. I'm just going to highlight some of the findings from a pivotal report that was just released from the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council on Friday that speaks to workforce shortages and also to the socio-economic benefits of investment in child care. Then Crystal will have a more detailed presentation.
You may already have heard about this report delivered by the Centre for Spatial Economics, a very respected economic business in this country. It talks about the workforce shortages in early childhood education and care. The research shows that the benefits of early childhood education and care to children come mainly from increased future earnings due to the greater likelihood of attaining higher education. For mothers, the benefits come in the form of higher current and future earnings due to increased labour force activity. Access to early childhood education and care allows mothers to increase their labour force activity, translating into more working hours, increasing mothers' current earnings and increasing future earnings. A lower smoking rate and lower special education and grade failures are also some of the benefits that accrue to children.
It is important, and it has been referenced—Member of Parliament Don Davies mentioned it earlier: the multiplier effect of investment in child care is something we would like to highlight for you. Most literature concerning the impact on mothers of children in early childhood education and care, ECEC, programs indicates that higher program fees decrease a mother's hours of work, so we don't want to have high fees, and $100 a month from what we call the family allowance benefit that comes now from the federal government does not, obviously, help build child care spaces, does not improve quality of child care spaces, and does not actually help anybody afford child care spaces, given the current cost.
Most of the Canadian research is similar to what is found elsewhere in the world regarding the socio-economic implications of early childhood education and care. Within Canada, developments around this area in Quebec are particularly noteworthy, given the speed of magnitude of the change in the sector after the government introduced $5-a-day child care.
Research lands on both sides of the debate about the impact of ECEC on children's socio-economic development. However, on mothers' labour force supply, there is no argument with increased mothers' labour force participation of 12% in Quebec. In the 2008 study the estimated effect of the policy was to increase labour force participation rates by 6.5% for more educated mothers and by 7.3% for less educated mothers. Total annual hours worked rose by 133 and 114....
I will pass it over to Crystal now.
Regrettably, Canada's current policies do not meet the needs of Canadian families. Canada has lagged behind other developed countries in its investment in early learning and care for decades, and it now has the lowest rate of access to early learning and child care programs for preschool children of 20 comparable countries.
Notably, the federal government's approach to supporting families with children introduced in 2006--the universal child care benefit--has not met its stated objective of providing families with choice. Cancelling dedicated child care transfers to provinces and introducing a taxable family allowance has not addressed family child care needs.
The situation is getting worse in B.C. Child care funding has been cut as a result of changes in the federal commitment, forcing child care fees to go up.
Our recommendation to the standing committee this year is consistent with our advice over the last number of years. It's time to invest in children. We recommend, based on the principles and accountability framework outlined in , that the next federal budget include the first installment of a four-year commitment to create a licensed child care space for every three- to five-year-old in the country, as the first phase in building a comprehensive system for zero to 12 years old.
The gross projected cost of meeting this first benchmark is $5 billion. Based on experience elsewhere, Canada can expect an immediate return of 40% through income taxes from increased labour force participation. In addition, Canada can expect a longer-term return of 2:1 on reduced social, educational, and health care costs as children get a good early start through their life cycles.
Thanks for this opportunity.
I'm speaking as executive director, but in fact I'm speaking on behalf of the 175 youth employment centres serving organizations in British Columbia, another 120 community social services in British Columbia, the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres, and an additional 35 youth-serving organizations across Canada.
Our recommendation is that the federal government renew the terms and conditions for the Skills Link program in 2010 and increase the level of funding allocated to Skills Link programming to twice the present level, given the crisis of youth unemployment in the economic downturn.
What will that achieve? It will help reduce the drag on GDP caused by unemployed, at-risk youth who are drawing on criminal justice, alcohol and drug counselling, alternate education, and income assistance services. At-risk youth who successfully attach to the labour market will positively contribute to the national GDP. They'll provide employers the opportunity to tap an untapped pool of young Canadian workers in an increasingly challenging labour market. It will provide employees an opportunity to give back to the community, creating a triple bottom line for participating businesses. We are in full partnership with the private sector on this matter. Finally, it will provide the appropriate interventions to assist at-risk youth in developing the essential skills needed for a long-term attachment to the labour force.
It's interesting to note that when we prepared this brief back in June, the unemployment rate for youth was 15.9%. As of mid summer it went up to 16.3%. Their rate is twice the national average of the overall population. Canada will be facing a structural unemployment situation among youth if there isn't immediate action taken.
In the budget, $53 million was added to the youth employment strategy, but not one penny was targeted toward at-risk youth; it was all targeted at students. If these young people aren't given the work experience opportunities and skills now, when the economy moves into recovery they will not be prepared to enter the workforce.
There are hundreds of not-for-profit organizations across the country that have Skills Link programs on the shelf and ready to go, but there's no funding. There is an apparatus in place that you can move on this social infrastructure intervention immediately. Service Canada has the structure all in place.
Where is the money? There is no money. We were capped at the same amounts we've had in the previous three years.
This is a crisis that we're facing among young people right now. There is an opportunity. There is an infrastructure in place. There are companies that are willing to give them a chance, small, medium, and ma and pa operations willing to give them an opportunity, but the federal government is not stepping up to the plate. It is not providing this group of young people an opportunity to give back to Canadian society, and they will continue to cause a drain on our GDP if we don't move now. This is the time to act.
The government is slipping money into infrastructure projects every day, and we know it because it's in every newspaper every day. Here is an opportunity where we can move tomorrow on this. You can move on this tomorrow and the result would be that this money would flow through the economy within weeks, because there are organizations like ours right across the province in major cities and mid-sized cities and small communities. So it would have an actual impact across the entire country, but the time to act on it is now.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, thank you for the opportunity to take part once again in the finance committee's consultations on the next federal budget.
I'm Bob Harvey, FCGA and chair of CGA Canada's tax and fiscal policy advisory group.
I'm a semi-retired public practitioner from B.C.'s Okanagan Valley who has been assisting small and medium-sized businesses and individuals with their accounting and tax issues for more than 35 years.
Members will be very acquainted with CGA Canada. You've seen us on Parliament Hill many times in a variety of roles. You have received copies today of our brief and my remarks, which are available in both official languages.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance is asking two specific questions. One, have the stimulus measures been effective, and if not, how can they be changed to achieve the desired results? Two, what measures are needed to ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for Canadians?
With these questions in mind, CGA Canada is putting forward the following three-point plan: one, simplify Canada's tax system; two, stay the course; and three, manage the debt.
My comments will focus mainly on tax simplification.
First of all, CGA Canada appreciates that this government has taken a number of measures on the tax front. Various provisions in the 2007 economic statement and the 2009 budget are notable examples. However, CGA Canada believes that much more work can and should be done.
Sound tax policy is an essential lever of any economy, whether we are talking about recovery, productivity, growth, or stability. Canada's tax system has grown to the point where it is unnecessarily complex, cumbersome, labour-intensive, costly to administer, full of red tape, and difficult to understand. Fundamental changes to Canada's tax system are imperative.
Our first recommendation, one that we have advanced many times, is that the federal government should take steps to simplify Canada's tax legislation and the tax system. Tax simplification will result in increased compliance rates and lower compliance costs for taxpayers, less paperwork and red tape for businesses, lower administrative costs for government, and a stronger system with a more secure tax base and predictable revenue.
Simplifying Canada's tax regime should be viewed as a viable form of stimulus; it is good for the economy. Therefore, we reiterate a recommendation first made by CGA Canada in its September 2007 pre-budget submission, that the federal government ought to appoint a panel of experts to undertake a fundamental review of the tax system and to bring forward third-party recommendations to the government for action.
It is interesting to note that the United States is doing this very thing. President Obama has appointed former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker to lead a task force and report back by December this year with recommendations on tax simplification and streamlining the law.
CGA Canada will be watching this U.S. experience very closely. In the meantime, however, measures can be taken to improve our tax structure. First, the federal government should continue working with the three remaining provinces to help facilitate the transition towards a harmonized sales tax.
Second, personal and corporate taxes must be kept on a downward track to internationally competitive rates. This means lowering rates, increasing thresholds, and keeping bases broad and neutral. Prudent, modest, and broadly based tax relief is always preferable to targeted tax cuts.
Third, intensify efforts to manage the paper and administrative burden by tackling the obvious, that is, by eliminating duplicate regulations, getting rid of overlapping obligations, and reducing how often documents need to be filed.
The bottom line is that a simpler, transparent, and fair system with low, internationally competitive tax rates is integral to economic recovery and growth in Canada.
Our second recommendation is to stay the course. Our advice to the government as far as the economic action plan is concerned is to allow the plan to run its full course. It would not be wise to consider additional stimulus until the impact of current measures has been assessed and evaluated in a meaningful way and the results have been made public.
Our final recommendation is to manage the debt. The federal government must pay attention to debt management, keep a watchful eye over its expenditures, and regularly report to Canadians on progress towards that goal.
When Canada entered the global recession, it did so from a position of relative strength on account of years of prudent fiscal management. Like the rest of the world, while we face some degree of uncertainty in the future, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and undo the incredible progress we've made as a nation.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time. We welcome any questions the committee may have.
My name is Shane Devenish, and I'm representing the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, or RVDA, of Canada.
With me today is Gord Bragg, vice-president of RVDA of B.C. and an owner of an RV dealership located on Vancouver Island.
We appreciate the invitation to be here today in the context of your 2009 pre-budget consultations. We will take this opportunity to highlight for the committee the impact that the ongoing credit crisis has had on the RV industry.
The RVDA of Canada is a national volunteer federation of provincial and regional RVDA associations and their members who have united to form a professional trade association for businesses involved in the recreational vehicle industry.
The RV industry has enjoyed strong sales over the past several years as Canadian consumers have moved to the affordable and flexible travel offered by RV ownership. Currently, more than 14% of all Canadian households own an RV. The demographics of our buyers demonstrate future growth in the coming years. However, as prices, affordability, and demand are driving retail sales, RV dealers today are facing an unprecedented wholesale finance crisis.
A recent poll from the RVDA of Canada's 420 dealer members reports the lack of floor-plan financing as their biggest concern currently facing their businesses. The contraction of available business credit has been caused by the following: the departure of Textron Financial early in 2009, leaving GE as the only non-bank floor-plan source; the business model of the big five banks are not conducive to large-scale floor-plan financing; GE's current mandate towards neutral growth; and the absence of an entrance of a new financial institution to our market.
At times the industry has had as many as six lenders that would floor-plan finance RV inventory. However, despite strong demand for the product, the association is left with having only one non-bank lender and a few banks, but on an individual basis and for only financially strong dealers.
The RVDA of Canada estimates that in 2008, aggregate new loan activity to Canadian RV dealerships was between $1.15 billion and $1.3 billion, with a total receivable base of between $650 million and $750 million. At the time of their exit, Textron Financial had an estimated 30% market share of the above, which for the most part remains a void.
While the RVDA of Canada is aware of and supportive of the $12 billion Canadian secured credit facility, the program's ability to deliver floor-plan financing to the RV dealership level has not been identified up to this point. As such, the challenge remains, that being the government providing the means to entice new lenders to the RV sector through the CSCF or by other means.
On July 1, 2009, the U.S. Small Business Administration launched a new pilot program for dealer floor-plan financing. Through this new program, RV and marine dealerships can apply for SBA guaranteed floor-plan financing through an authorized financial institution. This program has enticed additional lenders to the industry and made it easier for small businesses to gain necessary capital to borrow against their inventory.
RVDA met with officials from the policy sector branch in August to propose similar assistance in the form of a loan guarantee in order to attract new lenders into our market. The guarantee would be necessary in the short term only, say two to three years, until such time as the markets resume ordinance. This form of assistance would appear to be the most attractive to a prospective institution looking to enter the floor-plan market. We have not found any company as of today willing to floor-plan our dealers without this form of assurance.
We are eager to work collaboratively towards finding a credit solution that makes sense for the Canadian RV industry, the government, and the Canadian public. The RV market has stability, profitability, and a long history of low-risk loans. We are therefore providing the following recommendation for a federal program spending measure that will ensure prosperity and a sustainable future for Canadians.
The RVDA of Canada recommends that the Canadian secured credit facility hereby be modified to include floor-plan loans that will be helpful to RV dealers through funding that can be directly injected into the RV marketplace. Without adequate floor-plan financing, RV dealers--dealers who have been profitable and a going concern for several years--will not have the ability to maintain a viable business past this year. We desperately need the government's assistance to pass action in order to attract new lenders to the market.
Please consider the following. The retail RV sector is not simply a one-time retail sale. RVing and the RV lifestyle make critical economic contributions to ongoing tourism and recreational spending in every region of Canada.
Thank you again for the opportunity to address the committee today.
I am here as a representative of the members of Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Forest Service. It's a volunteer position that I am in.
When I was looking at the criteria for this brief, there were four parameters: economic, environmental, cultural, and sustainability. I don't know of anything that addresses those criteria as well as B.C. wild salmon.
Wild salmon are a cornerstone of the economy of British Columbia, in terms of sports fishing, commercial fishing, and the tourism industry. B.C. wild salmon are the cornerstone of the coastal and river systems in British Columbia. Salmon are the economic stimulus package of the ecosystem.
Wild salmon are the cornerstone of first nations culture and the heritage of the people of British Columbia who came after the first nations people. B.C. wild salmon are synonymous in British Columbia with sustainability and prosperity, and the sustainability of B.C.'s aquatic ecozones. The five different wild salmon species of British Columbia used to be the icons that B.C. was known for across the world.
Given the importance of wild salmon to our economy, environment, heritage, and culture, how is it that we have come to where we are today? How is it that we have taken the most productive sockeye salmon river in the world--the Fraser River--and ruined it and exploited it so that now we don't have a commercial fishery for sockeye on the Fraser River? We don't have sports fishing on the Fraser River. We don't even have enough sockeye salmon going up the Fraser River to feed the animals that live off the spawning salmon. And how is it that we have a Department of Fisheries and Oceans that can be so completely wrong in estimating over 10 million sockeye salmon returning this year and one million show up?
I say it's because, for some strange reason, we haven't been able to get our message to Ottawa. The 600,000 sports anglers in British Columbia, 35,000 commercial fishermen, and tens of thousands of people who work in tourism somehow haven't been able to get the message to Ottawa that salmon are important, that salmon have to be protected, their habitat has to be protected, and their whole environment has to be protected.
I say that because how else can you explain that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a no net loss of salmon habitat policy? They've had that policy since 1986, and today they can't even tell us how much salmon habitat there is. Not only can they not tell us whether there has been a loss or a gain or anything, they can't even tell us how much there is. Why is that? Because it's not funded. It hasn't been funded properly. In 26 years there hasn't been the proper funding to do this.
You don't have to take my word for it. You can just look at the 2009 spring report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which was issued through the Office of the Auditor General. Not only does the Auditor General talk about habitat, she mentions that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans lacks information regarding numbers of fish stocks, contaminants in the actual fish, and the overall water quality. How can we manage this resource without the proper science?
The lack of funding has been widely known for years. The Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Sierra Club, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, the Honourable John Fraser, and the Honourable Bryan Williams are all saying the same thing, that lack of funding prohibits the federal government from doing an effective job in areas of enforcement, habitat protection and restoration, salmon enhancement, research, and stock assessment. They're all saying that.
Increased funding to the departments should not be considered an expenditure; it should be considered an investment, an investment in the future of British Columbia and an investment that will return to the citizens of Canada a thousandfold--economically, environmentally, and culturally.
I'm Guy Nelson, the co-chair representing industry for the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy. Paul Hickson is the co-chair representing the Canadian Astronomical Society.
Today the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy will be making an urgent, and perhaps final, appeal to all parties to support Canada's international leadership in astronomy through new funding for our flagship project called the Thirty Meter Telescope or TMT. This project is a perfect example of Canada's potential for international scientific excellence, world-class R and D, and high-tech manufacturing.
Canadian astronomers, universities, and industry have acted boldly to make Canada a world leader in astronomy. Now we need the federal government to be equally bold if we are to maintain our leadership position.
As outlined in an earlier written submission, the coalition is seeking $160 million over the next four fiscal years to fund the detailed design and manufacture of the Thirty Meter Telescope here in Canada. This is a flagship project for Canadian astronomy and will create over 1,000 person years of work for Canadians. Most of that work will be in the area of skilled trades, which have been decimated by the recession.
To put the TMT project into perspective, the telescope itself will be about the same size as Science World here in Vancouver and will be housed in a building as long and as wide as GM Place. The only difference is that it will be 22 storeys high.
It's a major scientific infrastructure project and an ideal fit for Canada's infrastructure-focused stimulus plan. It'll create hundreds of well-paying jobs immediately, while also solidifying Canadian industry as a world leader in the fields of complex design, engineering, and manufacturing.
We recognize that our request is a big one. The coalition has been making submissions to this committee for the past five years in preparing for the upcoming deadline. It's now decision time. Without a commitment to funding in the next budget, Canada will lose its strategic position in the TMT partnership with the Americans, and it will lose the $20 million contribution it's already put towards the design. Other countries are waiting to step in to build the telescope and they will do so using a Canadian design funded by Canadian taxpayers. That would be a devastating blow to Canadian science and industry.
To understand why, let me briefly recap how we got to where we are today. The coalition was formed in 2000 and charted a course for Canadian astronomical excellence. It includes industry, 21 universities in Canada, and the Canadian Astronomical Society. We developed a plan to be world leaders in astronomy and we put it into action. We've been remarkably successful with that plan, and all coalition partners have benefited. Astronomy is now Canada's top science, and Canadian industry has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in astronomy-related contracts and resulting spinoff work.
The Thirty Meter Telescope will be the world's largest. Canada is currently a 25% partner in the project, second to none, which we achieved by moving early to secure our position. The federal government and the governments of Ontario and B.C. contributed $20 million to fund the design phase, with Vancouver-based Dynamic Structures designing the telescope and the enclosure.
The telescope and enclosure designed by Canadians is ready to be built. It can and should be built here, but that will only happen if we remain a 25% partner. The Japanese, Chinese, Indians, and Brazilians are all eager to take our place. To be blunt, it would be a travesty if Canada walked away at this stage. Rest assured, this telescope will be built.
Given that Canadian industry has built more than half of the telescopes in the world, it would be devastating to see this built by another country using a uniquely Canadian design. Without additional funding, the Canadian designed and funded telescope and enclosure will be built by another country. The 1,050 person years of work will be gone. Equally important, if not more so, this incredible Canadian design will be handed over to another country. In addition, the $20 million already invested by Canada will be lost as another country takes our design and puts its citizens to work instead. If this happens, expect similar controversies to those that erupted over the sale of MDA and Nortel.
Funding the next phase of the Thirty Meter Telescope requires vision and leadership. I can say frankly that further delays and deferrals will end Canada's participation in this project. Without new funding, our partnership expires on March 31. If that happens, it'll be a sad day for Canada and Canadian astronomy. It'll seriously damage the reputation of Canadian astronomy for decades to come. It will also be a devastating blow to Canada's international scientific standing. Canadian astronomers are ranked as the best in the world. To maintain this leadership they need access to the most modern and powerful instruments. The Thirty Meter Telescope will be the best in the world. Without it, our best minds will be lost to other countries.
If government is not prepared to fund Canada's top science—and one that creates large numbers of jobs for Canadian industry—then what are its priorities?
We've spoken about this project with the ministers responsible and with MPs from all parties. All understand the stakes involved and we have had great support for our request on all sides of the House. We hope that support will now translate into funding.
You will see the benefits of that funding immediately. Canada will reaffirm its international leadership in astronomy, and by moving decisively, we will be a driving partner in this project. People will be put to work immediately on the detailed design, engineering, and manufacturing. The Thirty Meter Telescope offers these 1,050 person years of work, international scientific leadership, and the skills and experience Canadian industry needs to compete with the best in the world.
The coalition respectfully suggests that this is the perfect kind of project for an infrastructure-focused stimulus plan, and it's a concrete example of Canada's science and technology strategy at work.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to any questions.
Good afternoon. It's a great pleasure to be here. Unlike many of you, this is our first time making a presentation to this committee.
I'm here today to urge you to introduce a federal income tax credit program for heritage building owners, to assist with the preservation of our heritage stock. Over 25 years ago such a program was introduced by the Reagan government in the U.S., and at that time Heritage Canada took up the call to have the federal government introduce such a program. Nothing has happened to date, and I'm looking at why it would be a good time to do it now.
First of all, we have the example of the U.S. over 25 years. That should be enough proof that this kind of program works. Secondly, the federal government recently introduced a program to assist homeowners with renovations by receiving tax incentives or a reduction in taxes to do so, and we keep hearing how successful this program is.
Why is it even more urgent today than 25 years ago to have such a program? First of all, the stock of heritage buildings is diminishing. It's just incredible how they are being torn down and lost forever. Sustainability has also become a big issue. We didn't hear about that 25 years ago, but it definitely is not sustainable to put a heritage building into landfill, so that's another good reason. Costs have gone up, and it's clear that it's very difficult for many owners to actually restore their heritage buildings without some incentive. It is of benefit to everyone when this happens, not just to the owner.
Looking at the next question on whether incentives actually work, we have the example of the U.S. government, and in our brief we've outlined how successful that has been. We also have a local example of Gastown in Vancouver. It became a historic area in the 1970s. Not much happened in the way of restoring the buildings until about 2002, when the city introduced a whole package of incentives to financially assist people with the restorations. There has been a lot of uptake on this program, and there is a huge multiplier effect for what the city put in and what the private sector put in. Gastown is now well on its way to becoming a very attractive tourist destination.
Then I look at why the federal government should get involved and not just the cities. First, it's too much for cities to take on this kind of massive program. The federal government introduced the historic places initiative in 2002 and showed great leadership in doing this. The intention was for incentives to be part of this initiative. So the federal government can continue and increase their leadership by finishing this program.
What are the payoffs from such a program? First we need to look at preserving our heritage for future generations, and of course that's the main reason why we'd want to do this. There are the economic benefits--the benefits of tourism that I already mentioned. There's the multiplier effect. We know that when governments put money into this type of program the private sector will put double, triple, or ten times more money into programs such as this.
There's the sustainability that I mentioned. We don't want to have landfills with old buildings crumbling away. There's also the economic stimulation for the building sector and all of the trades involved with this.
I'm Rodger Touchie, the president of the Association of Canadian Publishers. The association is the national voice of Canada’s independent English language book publishers, who produce the vast majority of books by Canadian authors. We represent 134 Canadian-owned and -operated businesses from across the country.
The Department of Canadian Heritage, through the book publishing industry development program and the Canada Council for the Arts, has over the past 40 years invested in our industry with strategically designed and carefully managed programs. These programs increase our capacity to compete with the large multinational companies that dominate our markets and thus enable us to return the taxpayers' investment with abundant cultural and economic value.
Today the book industry is undergoing enormous change through digitization. Over the past 10 years, the Internet has transformed the book-selling process as Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, and others have created highly successful online retail operations. Now the books themselves are going electronic, driven by environmental concerns, economic factors, and the introduction of devices such as the Kindle and the Sony reader.
These changes offer enormous opportunities to Canadian-owned publishers for new markets and new business models. They also present enormous challenges. Investment in new publishing technology and human resource development must be part of Canada's strategy for the development of a knowledge economy.
Last Tuesday we came here, and we appreciate the opportunity to do so. Our primary contacts and presentations to government do go to Canadian Heritage, so I am pleased to quote from a press release from the office of the :
||The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today announced renewed funding for the Canadian book industry totalling $39.5 million per year over the next five years. The renewed investment will help publishers and other book industry stakeholders to weather the current economic slowdown.
This is very, very welcome news for a whole bunch of people I know, for our association, and for members of the French language association, with whom we tend to partner when we make presentations. The emphasis of the new moneys is to go to assisting with the transition of our industry from traditional book production to the world of digital. It's also designed to reduce the administrative burden for our industry.
I just wanted to say today that having dealt with Canadian Heritage over the last decade, and having interfaced with the people who run the programs, I've found them an outstanding group of people to work with. They are efficient in what they do, they're competent, and they listen.
I would also like to thank for being accessible, for listening to our presentations, and for responding to our needs.
Welcome to all, and thank you for joining us this afternoon.
I'd like to start with the astronomy people and the Pacific Community Resources Society. One thing you have in common is that you both say that money to support your groups will rapidly transform itself into employment and jobs, unlike the infrastructure money we've been hearing about.
But first of all, to either Ian Mass or John Coward, I agree with you that when youth unemployment is at record levels, the problem becomes more urgent, and, if anything, you ought to get more money rather than less. Is it my understanding that the funding for this is due to lapse in 2010, so that not only are you not getting money but you may get less money? Is that right, or have I missed something?
Thank you. I thought you made a very powerful presentation, so thank you for that.
My next question is to either Mr. Nelson or Mr. Hickson.
I wish you all the best of luck, but this government has revealed a somewhat negative attitude towards science and research funding. I wouldn't be terribly hopeful. They tend to prefer populist initiatives, using instant gratification, whereas your kind of project provides the payoff in the medium term. I support it. We are on the record as strongly favouring more funding for innovation in research and science, because that's where the jobs of tomorrow are going to come from.
If we look at your project, specifically at the $160 million, is that justified on the grounds of some sort of public good argument for researchers, for universities, or is it a subsidy for a profit-making private sector company? The case for it, I think, depends a little bit on who actually gets the money and how it's justified from a public policy point of view. I wasn't quite clear on that from your presentation.
I didn't delve into the details, but I can give very good details on that. Not only am I co-chair representing industry, but I own the company that has built more than half the telescopes in the world in the last 30 years--in Canada.
We've never made a dime on any telescopes, so you can kind of put that one aside, but what it's done is it has made this company the best in the world in mechanical and structural engineering. It's that skill set that we've applied in other industries. We've grown to be a leader in the amusement ride industry, for instance.
In this particular case, this project, we've already spent, in total, $80 million on the design. Canada's portion has been $20 million. That has been spent. So this is ready to be built. It would largely be built in Canada on the fabrication side. It will be erected in Hawaii. The site has been selected, and that's on top of Mauna Kea. It's one of the two best sites in the world.
But the actual jobs are created across Canada. Interestingly, in Canada the major benefit will be for the astronomers, ultimately, when it's built. Canada is a leader in astronomy.
We focused with this government, as you mentioned, on the job creation aspects of it, because it is very real. We think they are jobs of the future, but they are also jobs today. I'll give you a concrete example. I had 800 people working in my firm a year ago, before the recession. We're down to 400. And those are skilled trades people.
I must point out that we are in a dispute with the government. It has not yet compensated the Quebec government, which was the first to harmonize its sales tax, in the 1990s.
Thank you, Mr. Harvey.
My next question is for Mr. Humphreys, from the Union of Environment Workers.
You raised, what I consider, some fundamental issues. You talked about the Fraser River and said that, based on the estimates, you were expecting approximately 10 million salmon to return to the river this year to spawn, but you recorded only 1 million. That is terrible. I think there is a direct link with the health of the environment. That is a very clear sign of major environmental degradation, not only for salmon, but also for humans.
This morning, Mr. Otway gave a presentation. I am not sure if you know him. He wants the federal government to invest $200 million, while you asked for $100 million, so half the money. Are there differences between your request and Mr. Otway's in terms of restoring salmon habitat?