The House resumed from March 5 consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
Madam Speaker, as you know, the Liberals are opposed to this budget because it is a bad budget, and they will therefore vote against it. At the same time, we are well aware that Canadians do not want an election. We will therefore vote so as not to trigger an election.
We have worked hard over the past few months, especially during the time when Parliament would have been working if it had not been prorogued. We held about 30 round tables and meetings that produced some very good ideas and some new policies that are different from the Conservatives'. We will continue working in this way in order to win Canadians' trust as an alternative government.
Why do we say that this is a bad budget?
Let me count the ways. It is a bad budget because it does nothing for one of the main challenges facing Canada today, which is the state of retirement income and pensions. Liberals and others have proposed a supplementary Canada pension plan and amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. This budget does nothing except offer yet more consultations: consult, consult, consult. We believe the time is for action.
It does nothing on the environment. It guts Canada's renewable energy programs, which are critical not only for the environment but for green jobs. Our situation now is pathetic if we compare Canada with other countries, notably the United States.
I could go on endlessly about the bad things in the budget, but I want to be a little more focused. I want to focus on only three areas: jobs, innovation and the way in which the government is proposing expenditure restraint.
We have said time and again that the top priority for the Liberal Party in the year 2010 is jobs. We have an official unemployment rate of over 8%. We have real unemployment of some 12%. We have the prospect for only a very gradual recovery in jobs. We have the government itself in the budget saying the unemployment rate this year will be higher than the unemployment rate last year.
We came up with three very concrete proposals for the creation of jobs in three of the most important areas: manufacturing and forestry, which are suffering; youth, who are suffering with an unemployment rate twice the national average; and the high tech jobs of tomorrow, which are critical for building new jobs in the new economy of the future.
The Conservatives might ask how we will pay for this plan and what about the deficit? Let me provide the answer to that. The Liberal plan is carefully costed at some $200 million to $300 million a year. At the same time, we identified extravagant, wasteful, partisan Conservative spending amounting to $1.2 billion a year, which could be cut immediately. This includes rolling back partisan advertising spending to the levels of 2005-06, substantially less wasteful management consulting, limiting ten percenters to members' own ridings which would save some $20 million, and a rollback of the unwarranted expansion of the 's own department. If we add up those savings, they amount to $1.2 billion a year.
I think even Conservatives know that $1.2 billion is a bigger number than $200 million. Therefore, they could have funded our jobs proposals worth $200 million to $300 million, cut the wasteful $1.2 billion, and would have had close to $1 billion left over. What could they have done with that? Why not beef up renewable energy? Why not give money to hard-pressed students who got nothing in the budget? Why not do something for seniors and pensioners? Why not pay down the debt or some combination of all of the above?
The Liberal proposal addressed the most critical issue of the day, jobs, and it did so in a fiscally responsible manner, proposing a financing mechanism that would more than pay for these proposals and leave almost $1 billion left over for other worthy initiatives.
However, the Conservative policy in this budget is worse than doing nothing for jobs. In fact, it destroys some 230,000 jobs. This is in two ways. First, the estimates indicate that the Conservatives failed to spend at least $1.4 billion of infrastructure money which was allowed to lapse. According to their own methodology, when that number is combined with contributions from other levels of government, it is worth 30,000 jobs. They failed to get the money out, as Liberals have been saying for months. Now the facts have become clear in the estimates and that has led to a loss of 30,000 jobs.
Worse than that, the Conservatives are proposing punishing hikes in employment insurance. They are proposing, beginning next year, to raise EI premiums at the maximum rate allowable under the law for several years. This is a tax on jobs. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, this act alone will destroy 200,000 jobs. I have verified with some of my economist friends that this is indeed a reasonable number. The government will raise an additional $6.3 billion from EI premiums in the fourth year, which is about the same amount it would get if it raised the GST by one point. The government is coming in through the back door, without having to go to Parliament, imposing a punishing tax hike on the companies and workers of Canada to the tune of $6.3 billion a year, the effect of which will destroy 200,000 jobs.
I criticize the government on two counts. First, it does not even have the honesty to admit that it is raising a tax. Yet every first year undergraduate in economics knows that a payroll tax is a tax. It could at least come clean and acknowledge it is indeed raising taxes.
The government members like to talk about a third party agency at a distance from the government, which miraculously sets these premiums as if that agency were located in outer space and as if the Government of Canada had no impact or influence over the agency. That is clearly untrue. The Government of Canada has already overruled the agency two years in a row.
Everybody knows there is only one person in the country who effectively sets the EI premiums, as he decides everything else in Ottawa, and that person is the of Canada. The Prime Minister of Canada is not obliged to have these punishing job-destroying EI premium hikes; he could just say no or raise them at a more gradual rate. It is entirely the fault of the government that these job-destroying tax hikes are taking place.
The nub of my point on jobs is this. First, the government could have implemented the Liberal Party's job proposals, financed by cuts in the government's own wasteful spending, with much money left over. It did not do that. It did not do anything. Worse, the government has measures that, through the lapse of infrastructure money, because it failed to cut it out, 30,000 jobs will be lost and because of punishing job-killing payroll hikes another 200,000 jobs will go down the drain.
The government has done a terrible job on jobs.
The next point is innovation. Sadly, all members know that not all the manufacturing and other jobs that have been lost during the recession will come back, some will, but not all. If Canada is to emerge from this global recession in a leadership position, we have to do research, innovate and commercialize. We have to come up with more BlackBerry-type leading-edge products to serve the global market. We will not compete with China, Vietnam and India on low wages. We have to compete with our brainpower, through innovation and getting these ideas to market and by being a successful player in the new economy.
Part of that is the green economy. As I have already said, the government has completely opted out of support for renewable energy and all the progressive green jobs that come along with it. As the pointed out in his speech, the government has opted out of support for research and innovation. It cut funds to research granting councils and then it boasts about increasing grants this year, but the grants are still below where they were before the Conservative Party came to power.
The government let the space agency funds lapse and got rid of the government's leading scientists. In all these ways it has utterly failed to support the innovation agenda, which is critical for the future success of Canada's economy.
Let me back this up and illustrate the sheer hypocrisy of the government by giving quotes from leading commentators following budgets from the time the Conservative Party came to office. After budget 2006, here is what well-known economist Jack Mintz had to say:
The one policy that could have some impact on productivity--a rollover to avoid capital gains taxes when replacing one taxable asset with another--failed to even get mentioned in the budget.
Following budget 2007, Nancy Hughes Anthony, then president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said:
The government promised in November that they were going to make Canada more competitive and control spending and I think they broke that promise today.
What about budget 2008? Marc Lee, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said:
The funding announced today may fulfill its role as a PR strategy but it doesn't come close to the kind of investment that our cities need to stay vibrant and competitive.
Finally, we have budget 2009. Here are two quick quotes.
Chantal Hébert said, “Tory budget lacking in innovative thinking”.
Elizabeth Church and Daniel Leblanc said in the Globe and Mail, “Money for bricks, but not talent”.
This explains the mentality of the Conservatives throughout their period in office. It has been clear, as these commentators have said, that they have no time for innovation, no time for research, no time for science. They grudgingly will support bricks and mortar to help renovate or build new buildings in universities, but then they shut down the funding for the people who would occupy these buildings. Therefore, their record illustrates a total neglect and a lack of priority attached to this area, which is so important for the future of the Canadian economy.
In ending this part of my speech, the Conservatives talk as if there is only one deficit in the country that matters, the fiscal deficit, that this has to be paid down and nothing else matters. We have the track record for paying down and getting rid of big, juicy Conservative deficits, so they do not have anything to tell us on this topic.
However, there is more than one deficit in the country. The Conservatives have to walk and chew gum at the same time. They cannot focus uniquely and solely on the fiscal deficit. We also have an innovation deficit and a productivity deficit. If we are to succeed in this world in competition with countries around the planet, we have to be more innovative, more productive and we have to address that deficit.
There is also a pension deficit, which the Conservatives do not understand because they propose no action on either the supplementary CPP or the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to help people stranded in failing companies. There is a retirement income security deficit.
There is a care deficit. Anxious middle-class families are at their wits' end to care for their children and to care for older people.
Finally, there is an education deficit.
We need to be able to do more than one thing at one time. Yes, we have to deal with the fiscal deficit, but the Conservatives ignore all the other deficits that the country faces, whether it is the education deficit, the innovation deficit or the productivity deficit. It is equally important that the Government of Canada address all these things, and the government has lamentably failed in that regard.
My third and final point concerns the way this government is trying to reduce government spending.
All economists agree that the worst way is to make the same cuts or apply the same freezes across the board.
Across the board cuts or freezes are a mindless, dumb, stupid way to go. It implies that every program is equally good or equally bad, so we have the same medicine to every department, except defence, across the government. This is not the way to go. What the Conservatives need is to apply their brains, if they have any, to assess which programs are really good, which programs are okay and which programs leave something to be desired.
That is precisely what we did in 2005. We had an expenditure review committee with ministers getting submissions from departments and picking and choosing where it would be least painful or most expeditious to find savings so we could shift from lower priority to higher priority areas. By mindlessly applying exactly the same freeze to every department, the Conservatives have abdicated their responsibility to play any thinking role in this business of restraint on government spending.
My last point is the Conservatives are deluding Canadians. They are pretending that this will be a painless exercise. If they freeze a department's budget for one year, they might get away with it. However, if a department's budget is frozen for one, two, three or four years, it will undoubtedly eat into the fabric of social programs and other services provided to Canadians. All the experts agree on this, but the government is not telling us what will be hit. Will it be the funding for training? Will it be that it will take forever to get a passport? Will it be that student funding will somehow no longer be available? Will it be that the arts will suffer because there is no money? The Conservatives are setting up a system where, without doubt, Canadians will be hurt, but they do not have the courage or the honesty to tell us which Canadians and which programs will be hurt. It is all veiled at the macro level as if this will be a painless exercise when that is the last thing that it will be.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to share my time today with the hon. member for .
I am very pleased to speak to the 2010 federal budget. As chair of the finance committee, I had the opportunity to hear from hundreds of stakeholders and witnesses on what they believe should be in the budget. I do want to thank all of those witnesses who appeared before the committee and presented their suggestions for the budget. I want to thank all members of Parliament from all parties who worked on the prebudget report which was tabled in Parliament in December last year.
The first recommendation of our committee was that the federal government continue the full implementation of current stimulus measures, pay close attention to debt management, engage in meaningful expenditure review and prepare long-term debt reduction plans to be implemented once the global economic recovery is fully entrenched.
I contend today that we have fulfilled that first recommendation, because budget 2010 takes action in three broad areas to achieve these goals. First, it delivers $19 billion in new federal stimulus under year two of Canada's economic action plan. Second, it invests in a limited number of new targeted initiatives to build jobs and growth for the economy of tomorrow, harness Canadian innovation and make Canada a destination of choice for new business investment. Third, budget 2010 outlines a three-point plan for returning to budgetary balance once the economy has recovered.
In terms of the overall direction, it is the completion of the second year of Canada's economic action plan, our government's response to the global fiscal crisis and recession. It is part of a global coordinated plan of the G20 to respond with full monetary and fiscal policy actions: monetary policy in terms of lowering and keeping interest rates low and injecting liquidity into the financial system; fiscal policy by spending on all types of infrastructure, human resources to stimulate the economy, looking after people who are hard hit by the downturn in the economy and doing things such as work sharing. I am very pleased to see it has been extended in the budget, because it is very important in my area of , particularly in the area of Nisku. A lot of companies there approached me and said that they are using this in order to retain employees. Once the recovery takes place, they want to have those employees so that they do not face a skills shortage, which is what is expected in Alberta in the coming years.
In terms of the deficit, I heard loud and clear through consultations, both at the finance committee and my own personal consultations in the riding. It was perhaps the number one issue raised. People understand that they have to budget as Canadians, as families and as businesses and they expect government to do the same. They are very pleased there is a five-year plan outlined in terms of reducing the deficit and addressing the debt issue.
Today I want to address one of the areas that was raised by the member for in his speech which addressed the area of innovation. My primary area of focus as a member of Parliament since being elected nine years ago has been in the area of science, research and development. Budget 2010 continues our focus in this area and builds upon actions in previous budgets and in the science and technology strategy of May 2007.
There are many investments in research and innovation in the budget, including a high Arctic research station, and the world-class TRIUMF facility, which I was very pleased to visit years ago as a member of the industry committee. It is a world-class facility and I am very pleased that it received funding. There is increased funding for the granting councils and for Genome Canada, the Rick Hansen Foundation, knowledge transfer and commercialization. There is additional funding for the college and community foundation program, and the National Research Council's regional innovation clusters. There is more funding for research and development of new technologies for the production of isotopes, and nearly $400 million over five years for the Canadian Space Agency to develop the RADARSAT constellation mission, the next generation of advanced radar remote sensing satellite.
The budget recognizes that the investments of last year went toward building capacity especially with respect to the knowledge infrastructure program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The budget addresses the human resources issue that was certainly raised by universities and colleges across Canada.
I would like to thank Dr. Eliot Phillipson for all of his years of service with the Canada Foundation for Innovation. He has been the president and CEO since 2004. He is stepping down this year. He has done an outstanding service to his country in my view. I think all parliamentarians would want to thank him for his work.
It is often we get into partisan debate and people back home watching us debate wonder whom they should believe. Should they believe the government which is promoting the budget or the opposition which is criticizing it?
What I would therefore like to do today is to quote a couple of national organizations on this budget, particularly on innovation. I would first like to quote the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which issued a press release on March 4. Part of the release states:
The $32 million annual investment in the three major granting councils will help universities to pursue the kinds of research that will drive innovation and produce the highly skilled workers that all sectors of the economy need. The budget also provided $8 million for the Indirect Costs Program.
Economic stimulus efforts such as the Knowledge Infrastructure Program are helping Canada to emerge from this recession and to accelerate economic growth.
In fact, when the finance committee visited the University of Alberta, it had the opportunity of paying firsthand visits to some of the investments made under the knowledge infrastructure program.
The AUCC press release continued:
This program is making a difference on campuses across Canada and paying dividends. As the program enters its second year, Canadian universities and research partners will leverage these new and renovated facilities to generate cutting-edge discoveries.
The new investments in post-doctoral fellows will build on the stimulus infrastructure Program and the research funding announced today provided by the Knowledge Inf. The fellowship program, funded at $45 million over five years, will be internationally competitive and will help attract and keep talented recent PhD graduates in Canada.
That is something the president of the University of Alberta, Indira Samarasekera, has hammered home many times to me, both as chair of the committee and as an MP for Edmonton.
Finally, in regard to these fellowship recipients, the AUCC stated:
Their skills and knowledge will help drive innovative research and discoveries in universities, industry and other knowledge sectors.
The universities and colleges are one side of the equation, and generally receive the bulk of research funding, particularly basic research funding.
I also have a release from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, entitled, “Budget Increases Support for Applied and Industry-Driven Research at Colleges, Institutes and Polytechnics”.
I would like to quote James Knight, president and CEO of this organization:
The budget demonstrates an understanding that colleges, institutes and polytechnics are integrated with the industrial and technological drivers of the economy. They help businesses start, develop and grow. They support the private sector’s need for applied research, product and process innovation, technology access and commercialization. They are the prime providers of graduates with the advanced skills required by Canadian employers.
Mr. Knight continued:
The government has listened to colleges and their business partners. Today’s budget strengthens the College and Community Innovation Program, a partnership of ACCC with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), in concert with the other federal granting councils.
As an Edmontonian, I would like to applaud the work of the president of NAIT, Sam Shaw, who has presented many times on these issues.
This government has in fact had an innovation agenda since 2006. We have implemented the science and technology strategy of May 2007 and made investments in innovation, not only in terms of basic research but also further down the line in terms of commercialization.
I would also point out that the government has taken action with respect to section 116 of the Income Tax Act. This was done as a result of a request made by the venture capital community in Canada. The action taken improves the ability of Canadian businesses, including innovative high growth companies that have contributed to job creation and economic growth, to attract foreign venture capital. It does so by narrowing the definition of taxable Canadian property, thereby eliminating the need for tax reporting under section 116 of the Income Tax Act of many investments.
The Canadian Venture Capital Association, in making representations for changes, stated:
The benefit of a broader exemption is that it would make Canada a more attractive destination for equity investments by non-residents and, in particular, venture capital and private equity funds.
Even before the recession hit, the venture capital community in Canada was facing some very tough times for raising capital and bringing great ideas started and built here in Canada to the marketplace. This change was welcomed by folks like Terry Matthews here in Ottawa, who have actually brought ideas to the marketplace. This is not a budgetary item in the sense of requiring a lot of expenditure, but an essential change. I want to thank the venture capital community for raising it and I applaud the government for putting it into effect.
I would like to wrap up with some comments on the work-sharing program.
The hon. member who spoke previously talked about jobs as an issue. In fact, this is just one example. I recommend that the hon. member read page 71 of the budget, which outlines the work-sharing issue and how we as a government are focused on our investments and ensuring that companies can get through this tough time and keep their employees, their most valuable resource going forward in the future.
I recommend that members actually read and support the budget, recognizing that it is the right budget at this time.
Madam Speaker, I rise today with a great amount of pride and pleasure to speak on the budget and what it means for the province of Ontario. In particular, on this day we recognize the tremendous contribution that women have made and continue to make to our country, and the improvements we have seen throughout the years.
Because of our new budget, Ontario will continue to receive support through major federal transfers in 2010-11. Federal support for provinces is at an all-time high and will continue to grow. For Ontario, this will total $18.8 billion in 2010-11, an increase of over $800 million from last year and a $6.9 billion increase from 2005-06.
This type of long-term support will help ensure that Ontario has the resources required to provide essential public services. Some examples include the $972 million provided through the equalization program, and the $9.1 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of $243 million from last year.
In my riding, we have seen hospital upon hospital facing challenges in managing their budgets and really having to look at how they care for patients. People have asked me what the federal government is doing to help hospitals meet their budgets. Of course, the $243 million will go a long way to doing just that.
Moreover, $4.3 billion will be provided through the Canada social transfer, representing an increase of $1.2 billion since 2005-06.
There is $151 million for Ontario in the community development trust and the police officers recruitment fund, and $196 million for labour market training.
Budget 2010 also benefits businesses and communities in Ontario by providing $11 million per year in ongoing funding for the 61 community futures organizations. Innovative small and medium size businesses in Ontario will benefit from the new small and medium size enterprise innovation commercialization program.
Budget 2010 provides $8 million per year to clean up the Great Lakes, a key objective of the action plan on clean water by the government.
Businesses in Ontario will benefit from the $497 million to be invested in the Canadian Space Agency over the next five years.
Ontario will continue to benefit from the economic action plan, which will continue to provide support to create and protect jobs, as well as assist those who are in need. Over $4 billion will go to help unemployed Canadians to find new and better jobs, including five extra weeks of regular employment insurance benefits and greater access to regular EI benefits for long tenured workers. The temporary extension of our work-sharing agreements for a maximum 78 weeks will go a long way toward helping those looking for work, as well as struggling businesses.
We have frozen employment insurance premiums at $1.73 per $100 of insured earnings,
We have dedicated $1 billion to enhancing employment insurance training programs and $500 million to the strategic training and transfer fund.
There is $6.6 million dedicated to enhance the federal victims of crime strategy, including access to EI sick benefits for those who have lost a family member due to a crime.
Also, $95 million will be provided over the next two years as additional support for the registered disability savings plan to allow it more flexibility when making contributions.
Ontario will benefit further from the new resources provided to encourage innovation and commercialization. These include $32 million per year for the federal research granting councils to support advanced research and improved commercialization; $8 million per year to support the indirect costs of federally sponsored research at post-secondary institutions; and $15 million per year for the college and community innovation program, doubling support from last year.
A new Canadian post-doctoral fellowship program will also be created, aimed at attracting the best young researchers to Canada.
Ontario will benefit from $135 million over two years to sustain the regional innovation clusters of the National Research Council.
Farmers and the agricultural industry will continue to be able to rely on this government. Our government continues to receive and evaluate proposals to the agricultural flexibility fund. To date, $219 million has been committed to multi-year initiatives. A total of $10 million is expected to be spent in 2009-10 and $52 million has been committed to 2010-11.
Since 2009, over 1,600 loans totaling $84 million have been granted under the new Canadian Agricultural Loans Act.
Canada-wide, budget 2010 will invest $19 billion of new stimulus funding to create jobs and secure our economic recovery. This will happen because of cuts to personal income tax totaling $32 billion. This includes adjustments to the federal tax brackets, enhancing the working income tax benefit, higher child benefits for parents and lower taxes for low and middle income seniors. Retraining and work support totalling $4 billion will enhance EI benefits and training opportunities to transition workers toward future employment.
Research and development funds totaling $1.9 billion will help attract talent, strengthen research capacity, improve commercialization, accelerate private sector investment and expand market access and competitiveness to build a strong economy for tomorrow.
Infrastructure investments totalling $7.7 billion will help create jobs, modernize infrastructure, support home ownership, stimulate the housing sector and improve housing right across this great country.
Targeted support to industries and communities totalling $2.2 billion will create and maintain jobs in agriculture, forestry, small business, tourism and culture.
I am proud of budget 2010, our jobs and growth budget. I believe it takes the right steps for Ontario and the rest of Canada to ensure a steady economic recovery, job growth and support for those in need.
Madam Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. For once, we are discussing the budget on this date. That certainly comes as somewhat of a surprise. More surprising and astonishing yet, but much less edifying, is the fact that, once again, this government has failed to pay attention to women, who represent 51% of the population in Quebec and Canada. Once again, there is nothing for women in the budget. There is so little for them in here that, as usual, they are barely mentioned. Reference is made to Canadians and Canadian workers, but with hardly any specific references to women, one can only assume that they are part of the population.
Does the government believe that women have no reason to complain because they are working and hardly manage to earn as much as their male counterparts? To this day, women are continuing to earn 21% less than men, even for the same number of hours and weeks of work. It is true, however, that most women do not work as many hours as men. Because they do not have access to adequate child care, most of them are forced to work part time. These women who are not working 35 hours a week do not qualify for employment insurance.
In this budget, the government overlooked EI; it did not make any change to EI to allow more workers to be eligible to benefits. I find that very distressing, especially since women are contributing to the EI fund and making it grow.
I also find very distressing the gall displayed by the in stating in this budget that he will get rid of the gun registry. Down with the mask and the secrecy. He has asked one of his members of Parliament, a woman, to introduce a bill to eliminate the part of the legislation dealing with long guns. We can see now that, all this time, his true intention was to get rid of the gun registry. This registry was established at the request of women, women whose children had fallen victim to a crazed gunman in 1989.
The fact that they had the nerve to do this, and include it in a budget, I believe, is an insult to women. I find it very insulting and I would even say I find it very distressing, because it means that this government just does not get it. Ever since it came to power, so for four years now, unfortunately, this government has failed to understand that women have something to say, that women have rights and that they have the right to exercise them. The Conservatives are trying every way they can—every subtle, twisted way—to divest women of their rights. They are trying to take away everything that we have fought so hard for over the years.
Today we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the declaration of International Women’s Day. Yet here we are discussing a budget that contains nothing for women. It is so serious that Kathleen Lahey, an analyst and economist at a university in Toronto, has studied the budget and the economic stimulus plan that was supposed to be just as good for women as it is for men. She found some serious problems with this economic plan, especially in terms of investments.
Consider the following example. Only 0.00006% of approximately $9 billion, that is, about $572,000, was spent on improving women's shelters in Inuit and first nations communities. Only $572,000 is being spent to improve all women's shelters, while triple that amount is being spent on improving three animal shelters in Canada.
Does this mean that animals are more important to the government than women? This is not such an unfair comparison, because it is clear that the government has done absolutely nothing.
For years now, it has been making cuts to Status of Women Canada and to programs that would have given women the opportunity to conduct fundamental research. Women no longer have that opportunity because funds have been cut. Cuts have also been made or will be soon to organizations that offer family planning services and ensure that women and men who choose to have children have all the tools they need to make informed choices. Although this is happening here, the government is also pushing its agenda on developing countries. Claiming that it wants to help women and children, it is cutting funding for a number of organizations that were providing very important services to women and children in developing countries.
By cutting this funding, the government is showing yet again that it does not care at all about the health of women and children. It is wrong to claim that it cares about the health of women and children when it does not give them the chance to have all the tools they need to determine whether they want to bring a child into this world, whether they have the necessary resources to raise the children, or whether they have the right to terminate their pregnancy if necessary.
When a government like this slashes funding to women's organizations, to family planning organizations, to a firearms registry that was very functional—because police officers told us so, the RCMP told us so and women's groups told us so—and the registry is used many times every day by the police forces across Canada and Quebec, that same government has the audacity to send our to the United Nations to have her say that Canada has made great strides in helping women and that women in Canada are moving forward. That is not true.
Over the past four years, Canadian women have taken several big steps back. We have taken so many hits that it will probably take us 20 years to get back to where we were four years ago. Once things start going south, it is very difficult to turn them around, to get those rights and that funding back. Once things are cut, they are cut for good. After that, it is very hard to find new money to support organizations that are critical to protecting women's rights and to fund important research and vital programs like the court challenges program. I understand why the government cut the program: it does not want anyone to say that the government is not doing its job. It does not want anyone to challenge it. It does not want any of us, as human beings, as citizens, to speak out against its decisions. That much is clear. A program that cost Canadians just 18 cents apiece was cut. Not because it was expensive, but because it made the government uncomfortable. It allowed people to stand up for their rights, allowed victims to stand up for their rights, allowed victims of crime to stand up for their rights, and allowed victims of discrimination to stand up for their rights.
Such actions make it perfectly clear that this government does not really care about women and children. Some people lie and make up all kinds of stories about how they care for the safety of children and others do not, but the Bloc Québécois really does care about children's safety. Keeping children safe means making sure that parents have enough money to shelter and feed their children and send them to daycare. It means knowing that families will not end up with less money because they send their children to daycare. Unlike other Canadians, Quebeckers get less money because they have adequate daycare services.
Unfortunately, my time has run out, but that is fine, because my colleague from has more to say.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget today for two or three small reasons. First, this is International Women's Day and I believe women have something to say about this budget presented by the federal government. Yesterday was a rather special day because I was in my riding where many activities were organized in women's centres. Women told me that they are not fools and they realize the extent to which they have been ignored by this government over the past few years, since the Conservatives came to power, and especially so in this budget.
I would like to acknowledge the women in my riding of , who asked me to give this government some messages. Of course, I did not really have to explain the budget in order for them to tell me that it is a hollow budget and that it contains nothing for women and does nothing to improve living conditions for them or their families. Nor is there anything in this budget for Quebec.
Furthermore, it meddles in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. Today, we must debate the NDP subamendment. I will start by saying that the Bloc Québécois will vote against this subamendment because it sanctions interference in areas that fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec.
With this budget, the Conservatives have once again missed an opportunity to properly meet the economic, social, environmental and financial needs of Quebec.
For this government, and for certain members of the other opposition parties, it is as though Quebec does not exist. The Bloc Québécois does not systematically oppose every budget; however, it does oppose a budget that does not acknowledge the existence and the predominance of the needs of the Quebec nation.
The policies in this budget are geared towards Ontario and Alberta to the detriment of the pressing needs of Quebec. We have just come through a recession. In fact, we are only emerging slowly from it. All economists agree that the next year will be a very difficult one for Quebec. Quebec will experience the most difficulties pulling out of this recession. The economic recovery will be weak in Quebec compared to Canada.
There is nothing in the budget for the forestry sector, aerospace, the environment or culture. The Bloc Québécois did a prebudget consultation tour in order to ask Quebeckers about their needs, what they wanted to see in the budget and whether they felt the government truly recognized the nation of Quebec. What budgetary items could the federal Conservative government include for Quebec?
A number of Bloc MPs, our finance critic in particular, did a tour of Quebec. They proposed things, compiled information and even delivered that information to the . Unfortunately, none of those items are found in the budget.
Some items were extremely important to the ordinary Quebecker. None of those items are found in this budget. I will list them.
There is nothing for seniors, the unemployed, social housing, the homeless, older workers or informal caregivers. And these needs are found not just in Quebec, but throughout Canada. There is nothing for women, transportation, harmonized sales taxes or equalization. What is in this budget?
There is still no answer for the agencies that, throughout the recession, which is still not over, have made recommendations to the federal government. Canadian food banks requested items that Quebeckers were looking for as well. Women from Quebec and elsewhere also asked on behalf of their children, their families and themselves. There were recommendations calling for maintaining the levels of federal transfers. Of those, the Canada social transfer is being maintained, but we have not heard anything about maintaining the other transfers. There is not a word about this. Worse yet, even if some transfers are maintained, more will be lost because they are not indexed or increased.
Canadian food banks had called on the government to keep working to make the employment insurance system fairer and more comprehensive. There is nothing in the budget about this. It is not the Bloc that asked for it, but Canadian food banks. The manufacturing sector is continuing to decline as a source of jobs, whereas low-paying service jobs are growing.
Conservative members of this House often said that it was not the end of the world if people did not necessarily have extensive employment insurance programs, because they would find jobs elsewhere. Jobs have been proposed, created and made available to people, but these are low-paying jobs with no security—what we call short-term jobs. How are people supposed to live off such jobs without help from employment insurance?
What the food banks were calling for was for the government to continue increasing participation in the guaranteed income supplement. The food banks asked for that, just as the Bloc did. They also called for an increase in guaranteed income supplement and old age security benefits. They said that people can barely survive on $14,000 a year. They also called on the government to invest in social housing and to continue investing in affordable housing. There is nothing about that in this famous budget.
What we do find, as I said earlier, are intrusions, such as the creation of a single securities commission. Not only will Quebec experience a weaker economic recovery than Canada, but I imagine that Quebec will also see businesses leave for Ontario, for Toronto, where the securities commission will be set up. It seems clear that what the government wants is to make people poorer, make the system poorer, make Quebec poorer, give Quebec nothing. The government wants Quebec to toe the line and keep coming on bended knee, as many are doing at present, to beg the federal government for a few pennies.
I do not have much time left, so I will say that my message was this. First, to the Conservative members who say that we do not understand the budget, that we are not reading it correctly, I say that we understand it quite well. Clearly, the budget has nothing for Quebec. It is also very unfair to Quebec.
If the members opposite are consistent and honest, they will do their research. They will stop looking at the budget with blinders on, as they are doing now, and they will open their minds—
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of budget 2010, which continues year two of Canada's historic economic action plan. I will be splitting my time with member for .
As the House knows, last year, as we debated budget 2009, Canada's economy was in the grips of the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. Due to the prudent and early actions of this government, our economy entered the global recession later and less deeply than most other nations. However, we were not immune and we were swept along with the current.
To address this global crisis, our government reacted swiftly by introducing Canada's economic action plan, which included timely and targeted investments in transportation, water treatment and delivery, colleges and universities, libraries, police and fire stations, affordable housing and recreational facilities among other infrastructure projects.
I would like to point out that the city of Mississauga received the largest contribution to important and necessary infrastructure projects from any Canadian government in history. In fact, the former Liberal member of Parliament from my riding said, “The recent infusion of infrastructure stimulus dollars from several different programs is the largest pot of money ever bestowed on the city of Mississauga and the region of Peel by our two senior levels of government”.
I am also advised by the mayor of Mississauga that virtually all of these approximately 138 projects are well under construction and that many have already been completed.
If people visited our fair city today, they would be hard-pressed to travel down any major artery without witnessing the sights and sounds of many ongoing, fast paced construction projects.
In addition, the Government of Canada has invested more than $35 million in Go Transit Mississauga, which will ease the daily commute for thousands of people. This calculated investment is taking cars off the road, reducing gridlock, decreasing smog and greenhouse gas emissions and improving delivery times for the goods and services produced in our region.
I am most proud of our government's historic investment in education, research and innovation through the construction of a new Mississauga campus of Sheridan College and the investment of $35 million in a new instructional centre at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. I would like to inform the House that both of these educational buildings are well under construction as we speak.
I am very pleased to see that these historic and vitally important investments in our people and in our knowledge infrastructure will be continued and completed through budget 2010.
Budget 2010 introduces a number of new initiatives to enhance innovation, which I believe are important to help equip our young people to continue to build the economy of tomorrow. Some of these measures include investing $45 million to establish a post-doctoral fellowship program to help attract the research leaders of tomorrow to Canada, increasing the combined annual budgets of Canada's research granting councils by an additional $32 million per year and doubling the budget of the college and community innovation program.
The budget also provides Genome Canada with an additional $75 million for genomics research. I understand that with the matching private sector funds this will provide $150 million for this important research.
For those who were unfortunately laid off from their jobs in the depths of the global recession, our government has provided and continues to provide significantly enhanced employment insurance benefits and skills training benefits for long-tenured workers. These measures have helped ease the pain experienced by our manufacturing sector.
Indeed, the enhancements of budget 2009 to the work-sharing program saved many thousands of jobs across Canada. In fact, 160,000 Canadians have benefited from work-sharing agreements. By extending work-sharing agreements by an additional 26 weeks and allowing greater flexibility in the qualifying criteria, budget 2010 will continue to save jobs until our economy fully recovers.
Through all of these measures, our government has primed the economic pump. As the reported last week, these measures have worked and our economic is once again pumping growth and new jobs.
As part of my duties with the Standing Committee on Finance, I had the privilege to travel across Canada and consult with many Canadians and various interest groups. It was made clear to me and to our committee that Canadians wanted our government to focus on jobs and on the economy. To highlight this commitment, since July 2009, the Canadian economy has generated 135,000 net new jobs and encouraging statistics on growth and job creation are emerging each month.
To be sure, there is more road yet to travel to return to the vibrant rate of growth that we enjoyed prior to the onset of the global recession. That is why budget 2010 is continuing to implement planned infrastructure stimulus measures, and continues to support and retrain laid-off workers and invest in innovation. However, at the same time as our economy rebounds our government is taking prudent steps to ease off on the accelerator to ensure that our debt and deficit remain manageable.
Following the implementation of the stimulus measures announced in 2009, our government is prudently proposing in 2010 to take measures to return to balanced budgets. We will do this by restraining growth in government spending and by undertaking a comprehensive review of spending on overhead and administration costs.
Our government is leading by example and tightening its own belt. We will do this by freezing the total amount spent on government salaries, administration and overhead. We will introduce legislation to freeze the salaries of the ministers, members of Parliament and senators.
As we know, it is easy to spend and there are always many good ideas for government spending programs, but governing responsibly means having to make tough but prudent choices. In my view, budget 2010 makes these prudent choices.
We will not do what many members of the opposition would propose. We will not balance the budget on the backs of the sick and our students by cutting provincial health and education transfer payments, as was done by the previous Liberal government in the 1990s, nor will we balance the budget at the expense of pensioners.
I am glad to see that this month we will be launching public consultations on how to improve Canada's retirement income system. Finally, we will not balance the budget by raising the tax burden on hard-working Canadians and introducing job-killing increases in business taxes.
As a former business lawyer with over 20 years of experience in advising entrepreneurs, I can say that applicable business taxes are a major factor in every decision to invest and create jobs in Canada. In the high tax era of previous governments, I unfortunately saw thousands of good job creation opportunities slip away from Canada's economy.
Today, one of the great hallmarks of our economy is our comparatively low deficit to GDP ratio and reasonable corporate and small business income tax rates. Canada's overall tax rate on new business investment is the lowest in the G7 and below the OECD average. By 2012, Canada will have the lowest statutory corporate income tax in the G7. In my view, Canada's comparative advantages in debt and tax levels among the G7 nations will continue to make Canada one of the most favourable places in the developed world to invest and create good, high value competitive jobs.
As the has pointed out, before the recession Canada had the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G7 and after the recession Canada will still have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G7 by an even wider margin.
Budget 2010 introduces a number of other key strategic new measures to enhance competition and reduce barriers for business. This includes making Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers by eliminating all remaining tariffs on productivity-improving machinery and equipment, and goods imported for further manufacturing in Canada.
This important initiative will be a significant incentive for our manufacturing sector. It is estimated that this commitment will create 12,000 jobs, diversify trade and boost Canada's manufacturing sector, as well as its overall productivity. I believe, by establishing the first tariff-free zone for manufacturing among G7 and G20 partners, this budget will have a great impact on the protection and creation of manufacturing jobs in my region of Ontario.
Budget 2010 introduces a number of important changes to the taxation of foreign investment in Canadian business which will greatly enhance the ability of Canadian businesses to attract foreign venture capital through revisions to section 116 of the Income Tax Act. In my business career, I saw too many innovative high technology entrepreneurs who were forced to relocate their companies and the high-value jobs associated with them to the United States in order to access needed venture capital.
Terence Matthews, one of Canada's most successful high technology entrepreneurs, has said, “This amendment will have an immediate positive and direct impact on Canada's ability to grow a robust Canadian technology industry”.
Recently, the and the hon. member for met with business leaders in my city of Mississauga. According to press reports, they were told that “Mississauga and Brampton business owners want Ottawa to simplify regulations so they can concentrate on running their companies instead of tackling mountains of paperwork”.
Madam Speaker, let me begin by commending the appointment of the hon. member for as the . His constituents already know he is an exceptional member of Parliament. It is a well deserved step up for him and I commend him on it.
Members are debating Canada's economic action plan, part two. Before I get to that, to provide context, one should talk about what the government has achieved with respect to Canada's economic action plan, part one.
As a bit of background, the Windsor-Essex region has an economy that is primarily dependent on the automotive industry, and within that the economy is largely dependent on the traditional Detroit three manufacturers. The parts sector and machine tool, die and mould sector have created a cluster of manufacturing around those businesses.
The region has struggled with high unemployment even before the downturn. It was higher than provincial and Canadian averages, in large measure because of the restructuring that was beginning during the earlier part of the decade. Sadly, during the recession, of course, the region reached the highest unemployment in urban centres in all of Canada, which was about 3.5 percentage points higher than the next highest unemployment rate for an urban centre. During the great recession the region was an area of great historic need.
What was the government's reaction to that? It was historic investment. The government was able to stabilize the base of the economy for the region, and beyond that for southern Ontario, by participating in a significant restructuring of Chrysler Canada and General Motors Canada. It allowed the government, of course after stabilizing the base of the economy, to do a few things beyond that.
The government was able to support working families by extending employment insurance benefits, investing literally billions of dollars back into the employment insurance system, and supporting workers while they were looking for alternative employment. The government also provided billions of dollars in retraining for those families that wanted to pursue different careers and move into different sectors.
The government invested heavily in the work share program, which I can say saved literally thousands of jobs in the Windsor-Essex region. It was a very significant program that is still supporting some of those jobs as I speak. The government has made some enhancements in the economic action plan, part two, to ensure that it continues to be a good program.
The government was also able to stimulate the economy beyond the auto industry. It was the highest per capita infrastructure stimulus funding in all of Canada. There were significant investments through the government's knowledge infrastructure program, which included funding of $40 million toward a new Centre for Engineering Innovation at the University of Windsor, and $16 million toward a Centre for Applied Health Sciences at St. Clair College. There were significant strategic investments for the medium-term to long-term economy in the region, which included training for health care professionals and engineers for the knowledge jobs of the future.
The government invested millions to improve the region's airport and to build a retention treatment basin to capture combination sewer overflows into the Detroit River. That was a very significant step forward in terms of addressing the Detroit River area and the environment, which are of concern.
The government was also able to focus on how to diversify the economy. People in our region have talked about it for a long time, but now the government is actually doing it under the economic action plan through a new economic development agency for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario, and companion programs like the community adjustment fund to help single industry communities make that transition. The southern Ontario development program is helping small-sized and medium-sized enterprises along with the Community Futures Development Corporation for rural economic development in the region.
Those are some tools that are helping the government retool the machine tool, die and mould sector in the region, and to do things beyond just production for the automotive industry, like aerospace, nuclear and the green energy revolution that is coming to the province. The region is preparing for green energy manufacturing and is moving to have a maintenance and repair operations centre for the aerospace industry.
With improvements to the airport the region is seeing regional tourism strategies come together, which are linking the finest aspects of the region's cultural assets like its Underground Railroad heritage, its environmental assets, and the budding Lake Erie-North Shore wine region with the cosmopolitan flair of a newly emerging city of Windsor for a very strong tourism approach.
Those are all significant investments coming under part one of Canada's economic action plan that are building a sense of hope and optimism in our region for the first time. We feel like we have turned the corner. Unemployment is coming down. There are approaches to the future. Our economy looks a lot better. We can honestly tell the people that in a time of historic need for this region, our government, under the leadership of the , has made historic investments.
It was not that long ago when we had three Liberal cabinet ministers in three ridings who did not deliver a fraction of that kind of investment to the region. They used to say that Canada and Ontario stopped at London. That is no longer the case because of the attention of this federal government, the Prime Minister and this cabinet.
What have the two Windsor NDP MPs been doing during this entire time? They have spent their time voting against every single dollar of investment, voting against the restructuring of the auto industry and voting against stimulating and diversifying our economy.
What can we expect as we approach part two of Canada's economic action plan? I do not know but I suspect more of the same over there. What are we doing with part two of the economic action plan? Obviously we are ensuring that our economic recovery takes hold by providing further public stimulus until such time as private stimulus leads the way in our economy.
We have developed a credible plan for tackling the temporary deficits. We have established the foundation of strong pro-growth economic policies including, among many things, one that is very significant and literally makes Canada a tariff-free zone when it comes to manufacturing inputs. That is critical as we reach a point where we have a dollar that is at par with the United States which gives us tremendous purchasing power. We also need to solve the productivity gap and make our businesses more competitive so those investments in technology and equipment will be made tariff-free now. That is a significant step forward.
Increasing investment in research and development, particularly closing the loop in our R and D web at $10 billion science and technology strategy, but the area where we need to make the last bit of progress is in the commercialization of research and development. We do a lot of great research in this country and now we need to commercialize it, which would also solve part of the job creation. Spawning new industries can come from that. Therefore, our colleges and universities are getting an additional leg up and our granting councils are getting additional investment.
What is being said about our budget? We have many endorsements from national agencies but locally who is supporting this budget? The mayor of Windsor is saying very positive things about our budget. Our regional chamber of commerce has come out strongly endorsing this budget as being good for our region. I was just speaking with the University of Windsor president, Dr. Alan Wildeman, last night who said that they were very much in favour of this, particularly in a budget where we are seeing the need to generate multi-billion dollars worth of savings over time, that they get a boost in funding. So there is lots of good news there.
The other major winner in this budget are Canadian seniors who collect a U.S. social security benefit. A horrible tax fight was foisted on them by a previous Liberal government after they retired, eating into their retirement savings and throwing many of them out of their home. Our committed to it in the last election as a government initiative and, before that, it was my personal crusade to right that wrong, and now it is in the budget. Those folks who retired prior to January 1, 1996 are now grandfathered the way they should have been in the first step. I challenge the Liberal members across the way to stand and vote for them and correct the mistake that was made if they have the decency to do it. I call on the two NDP members for Windsor who said that they were in on this issue, to stand up for those same seniors today and vote for the budget later on. I will be watching them and I know seniors will be.