Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to present Bill at third reading. This important bill implements key initiatives from economic action plan 2014.
This year's budget has further illustrated the responsible leadership of our government. It is a budget that builds on our strengths and continues to implement the government's plan for jobs and growth. Our efforts to support jobs and growth are underpinned by our plan to return to balanced budgets in 2015. This commitment to fiscal responsibility has helped to ensure that Canada maintains its hard-earned international economic fiscal advantage, which will help foster a growing, healthy economy that creates stable, well-paying jobs for all Canadians.
Indeed, our government's plan to return to balanced budgets is not an end in itself, but a means to increase Canada's economic potential, improve employment opportunities for Canadians, and raise our standard of living. It is for this reason that we made returning to balanced budgets the cornerstone of our economic action plan. To that end, economic action plan 2014 continues to focus on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity: long-lasting prosperity, the kind that our children can rely on and that future generations can appreciate.
However, I must remind members that the global economic situation remains fragile and that difficulties beyond our borders may affect Canada.
Thus, it is truly important for our Conservative government to implement its economic action plan, which will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Bill C-43 does not deviate from these objectives. It supports jobs and growth, helps families, strengthens communities and continues to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.
I would like to highlight today some of the key budget measures in Bill C-43 and thereby demonstrate how this government is demonstrating strong and responsible leadership with this major legislative measure.
First, let me touch on some ways our government is making our tax system simpler and fairer. This includes closing tax loopholes and strengthening tax enforcement to ensure all Canadians pay their fair share. Since 2006, our government has taken significant steps to establish our country as a global clean energy leader, including through regulatory actions, investments in technology and innovation, and broad-based incentives. The government has also supported these sectors through the tax system by expanding eligibility for the accelerated CCA for clean energy generation equipment.
In 2013, we encouraged businesses to invest in new clean energy technologies by expanding the types of organic waste that can be used in qualifying biogas production equipment and the range of qualifying equipment that can be used to treat gases from waste. Today's legislation would build on that success by expanding eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance, CCA, for clean energy generation equipment to include water current energy equipment and a broader range of equipment used to gasify eligible waste.
However, that is not all. Today's legislation also focuses on connecting Canadians with available jobs by helping them to acquire the skills that will get them hired and will help get them better-paying jobs.
In Canada, apprentices in skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and are required to participate in technical training for short periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. Apprentices can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training required by their program, including educational fees, tools and equipment, and forgone wages.
That is why, in order to help connect Canadians with available jobs, we created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will help apprentices in Red Seal trades by providing them with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.
More specifically, Bill C-43 amends the Income Tax Act to extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans—a non-refundable tax credit for interest on loans paid under the Canada student loans program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.
By helping Canadians get the skills they need to find a new job or a better job, we are investing directly and effectively in this country's greatest asset—our people, who are supporting the economy in general.
Another way we are proposing to improve our system of taxation is by updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Earlier this year, the government released for public comment draft legislative proposals relating to technical changes to the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and related regulations.
Following this public consultation, Bill includes amendments to relieve the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax on services of refining precious metals supplied to a non-resident person who is not registered for GST/HST purposes and to implement real property technical amendments that provide for the consistent treatment of different types of housing and ensure that the special valuation rule for subsidized housing works properly with the GST/HST place-of-supply rules and in the context of a GST/HST rate change.
We will continue to build on our government's stellar track record of improving the fairness and integrity of Canada's tax system, and as is evident from some of these measures, Bill does exactly that.
There is so much more to this bill than simply tax measures. This bill implements many positive budget measures that I would like to address now, and at the same time I would like to highlight some of the misinformation that the opposition would have Canadians believe.
Bill proposes to establish the governance structure for a new world-class science and technology research facility that would serve as a hub for Canadian and international Arctic research. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station, also known as CHARS, will not only strengthen Canada's position as a world leader in cutting-edge research in the Arctic but will also support the local economy in the region by creating jobs.
The opposition consistently accuses our government of a lack of consultation and an aversion to science. This research station will provide a very clear example of our government's commitment to exercising stewardship over Canada's Arctic lands and bringing together industry, academia, aboriginal governments, and international stakeholders to co-operatively leverage their expertise, experience, and resources.
It is also important to note that our government engaged widely on all phases of this project, and there is overwhelming support behind it. I could not be more proud of the action our government is taking in this bill, which will cement Canada as a global leader on Arctic issues and scientific research.
If the opposition had its way, it would also attempt to convince the public that our government is taking social assistance away from those who genuinely need it. This could not be further from the truth. Let me clear: that is categorically false.
Bill would simply give the option to the provinces and territories to establish minimum periods of residence to qualify for social assistance. The specifics of this option would be up to the provinces and territories. Subsequently the provinces and territories would be accountable to taxpayers, who believe that refugees, specifically bogus asylum claimants, should not have access to better health care than Canadians.
By making these changes, our government would ensure that our immigration system would be protected from those who are seeking to take advantage of taxpayer-funded health care, welfare, and other social benefits. We have had numerous examples of these over the last number of years.
Let me spell it out for the opposition one more time. Our government is committed to helping all newcomers, including genuine refugees, integrate into Canadian society and fully contribute to our community and our economy. Those in genuine need will continue to receive Canada's protection more quickly.
Another key measure of this bill supports job creation and grows Canada's economy. I am talking about our government's small business job credit. This measure would lower EI payroll taxes by 15% and save small businesses over $550 million over two years. This is real money we would be giving back to small businesses, to job creators. It is money they would use to help defray the costs of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, thus supporting growth and job creation.
These are small businesses all across the country, some in my own riding of North Vancouver, all of which have frequently told us that the number one job killer is higher payroll taxes. We listened to the voice of small business, the business experts who actually understand what this measure will do for job creation.
Dan Kelly, the President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called the small business job credit “a big, big deal for small business. It's good news for people looking for jobs....”
Of course, we can expect the opposition members to continue attacking job creators with massive tax hikes, such as a $20 billion carbon tax, and foolishly ignoring what small business is saying about this measure. They will argue that their ideas of an expanded CPP and a 45-day work year that would cost Canadian taxpayers $4 billion and thousands of jobs alone are the best options for job creation. If we ask any small business if they would prefer increased payroll taxes, the divide is clear.
We will not apologize for listening to small business concerns. On the other hand, our government will continue to lower payroll taxes for 90% of businesses and support some of Canada's most important job creators. Over 780,000 small businesses will benefit from this program.
This legislation will also help consumers. For instance, our government has a strong record of supporting consumers in the telecommunications industry. Since the last wireless spectrum auction in 2008, prices for wireless services have decreased by nearly 20% and jobs in the wireless industry have increased by 25%.
The legislation before us today builds on this record by prohibiting wireless service providers from charging their customers for paper billing, thereby fulfilling a commitment we made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to put an end to this pay-to-pay practice.
Furthermore, the bill includes changes to simplify the certification process for telecommunications equipment used by consumers and businesses.
Finally, I want to touch on a set of measures that I believe are critical in strengthening Canada's financial sector.
Credit unions play an important role in our communities and in our economy. Across our country, credit unions and caisse populaires work hard to serve their members in the best way possible. Measures in Bill support a vibrant and robust credit union system here in Canada.
Specifically, our government is moving forward to clarify federal regulation of provincial credit unions and support those that want to become federally regulated. Some of these initiatives include access by provincial credit union centrals to federal intervention tools, such as lending by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation; ceasing supervision of provincial credit union centrals by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions; and making changes to the federal credit union framework to promote continued growth and competitiveness of credit unions that want to offer services on a national scale by streamlining the federal amalgamation process from multiple steps into just one.
We understand there is some interest, so as we build on these measures, we will continue to consult with provinces and industry to ensure the federal regime for credit unions is as clear and simple as possible.
Twenty minutes allows me to touch on only a very small portion of the positive measures included in Bill . Some of the other measures contained in the bill include doubling the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable. This is a way to put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, allowing families to save on putting their children into sports or after-school activities.
The bill also proposes to strengthen Canada's intellectual property regime to improve conditions for business investment and access into international markets while reducing costs and red tape. It also introduces new reporting standards to meet Canada's 2013 G8 commitment to increase transparency for entities operating in the extractive sector. It would create new indices in the national DNA data bank that would contain DNA profiles for missing persons, allowing families of victims to have better tools available to get closure.
Let me remind members that since the global recession, Canada has created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs. This is one of the strongest job creation records in the G7. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The Canadian middle class is now among the richest in the developed world, ahead of our neighbours to the south for the first time ever. Just recently, we saw the International Labour Organization say in its global wage report that pay gains here in Canada are the second best in the G20. This is great news for Canadians.
These results do not happen by sitting idly and hoping for budgets to balance themselves, nor do they happen without a steadfast commitment to a proven plan for job creation and high growth. In this respect, Bill delivers a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will continue putting Canadians to work and building a strong economic future.
I urge all members of the House to pass this good bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill at third reading. This is the second budget implementation bill.
I am pleased to rise given that I will be one of the few members of the House who will have the opportunity to speak to this bill at third reading because, as my colleague from mentioned, the government has limited debate to just one day. We have just one day to debate a massive budget bill that is 460 pages long and contains 401 clauses. It amends dozens of laws by creating, amending or eliminating legislation. We had very little time to examine this bill in committee given the scope of the measures it proposes. The process was seriously flawed in this case. Not only was the bill much too long to examine in two weeks—that is how long we had to examine it in committee—but there was also not enough time for the committees to which we referred certain sections to do their job properly. I would like to remind hon. members that the only authority these committees had was to hear from witnesses and make recommendations to the finance committee, which did not hear from those witnesses. This process is completely inadequate. Anyone who believes in parliamentary democracy cannot claim that this process is adequate for good governance.
As we have seen with all of the government's previous budget bills, as a result of mismanagement we end up with all kinds of flaws, errors, omissions and mistakes in these bills that must then be fixed in subsequent budget bills. That is not an effective way to govern.
Some elements in this bill show that the government refuses to abide by the principles of good governance.
One of these elements—which is something I just asked the parliamentary secretary about—is probably one of the most costly measures in the bill. This measure gives business that pay less than $15,000 in EI premiums a tax credit, without any conditions, to supposedly create jobs. That money is taken from the EI fund, which, as we know, is projecting a surplus in the coming years. That surplus would already be spent. This measure is estimated to cost more than a half-million dollars—around $550 million.
We would expect to see some guarantee of job creation if the government is forgoing $550 million in revenue from the EI fund. However, that is not the case. The only independent analysis we have had is from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who estimated that this measure would create 800 jobs. Just 800 jobs. The only organization that appeared before the committee and contradicted the Parliamentary Budget Officer's figures was the organization whose members will benefit the most from this measure. It was the organization that promoted this measure and it was this organization's study on which the government based its decision.
When a measure costs more than half a billion dollars, one would expect the Department of Finance to conduct an independent analysis to estimate how a break from paying premiums would affect job creation. However, the himself came to committee and told us that the Department of Finance had not conducted any studies, and that the only analysis that he relied on had actually been conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The organization does a good job representing its members and determining what government benefits and measures will help them. That is what it does. That is why the government should rely on an independent analysis before adopting this type of measure. The government should not be sub-contracting the finance department's work—which is essentially what happened—and entrusting it to an outside organization that will first and foremost make sure that its members will benefit. This is one of the measures that clearly demonstrates that this government is completely off track when it comes to good governance. I must say that I have rarely seen another government use such a misguided and erratic approach to the economy.
There is no doubt that we are in pre-election mode, because most of the measures in the bill do nothing to stimulate economic growth and job creation, except for the measures we intend to support. In a 460-page bill, we are bound to find some measures we agree with, measures that support economic growth and job creation. However, many of these measures do not do that. Those measures should be studied separately in their own bill, but the government will hear nothing of it.
Even when it comes to measures that actually are related to taxation and the economy, the government has clearly shown that none of the measures, including the tax credit I just talked about, were analyzed by the Department of Finance. They were not analyzed by the Department of Finance or by independent parties, whose analysis the government ignored.
The government is so proud of its move to double the child fitness tax credit. The goal might be laudable, but the measure will be extremely expensive. According to estimates, this will result in more than twice as much lost revenue, and that the money will be given to parents of children who participate in physical activities.
Once again, the goal is laudable, but is the tax credit the right way to achieve that goal? Was an impact assessment done? In committee, one tax expert told us that the tax credit would not achieve—or would go only a short way toward achieving—the government's goal, which is to increase children's physical activity, and that this is not the right approach to take.
The questions that the Conservative members asked at the Standing Committee on Finance had more to do with anecdotes. They said that some of their constituents benefited from the credit and were happy about it. Fiscal analysis of how effective a tax credit is has to be done independently by the government and must be based on fiscal analysis of the numbers, not anecdotes. Governing on the basis of anecdotes is a bad idea. That is an irresponsible way to do it.
Another aspect that justifies our position at third reading of Bill C-43 is the government's lack of prior consultation on a number of measures. As I said, there are 401 clauses. The fourth part of the bill is on measures that have nothing to do with tax measures. This is one of the largest parts of the bill and it deals with a variety of topics that often have nothing to do with the budget or the economy in general. We might expect the government to at least do its homework and consult industry stakeholders, whose opinion should count to ensure that these measures are effective.
What is more, the division on changes to the Aeronautics Act seeks to centralize the powers of the department and the minister with regard to the expansion of and changes to airports. This could increase the risk of eliminating local consultation in cases of controversial proposals because these provisions give the minister discretionary power. We can see this in the case of the Toronto Island airport expansion.
Was the Canadian Airports Council consulted on this measure? No. Was the Canadian Federal Pilots Association consulted on this measure? No. How can the government propose measures like these without doing its homework? Is this the only proposed measure in Bill C-43 where the Conservatives failed in their responsibilities to Canadians? No. I could go on, in part 4 alone.
For example, the bill changes the rules that apply to co-operative credit societies without understanding the full repercussions. Again, was the Credit Union Central of Canada, the agency that represents credit unions, consulted? Was the Fédération des caisses Desjardins consulted? No. How can the government introduce such measures, which will have significant impacts on various industries?
How can the Conservatives claim they are doing due diligence in this process when they have not even bothered to ensure that there are no flaws in these measures or that they will have no adverse effects?
We do agree with some measures, but they have been watered down. They do not fully honour the Conservatives' commitments, including ending pay-to-pay practices, which is when consumers have to pay a fee to receive a paper copy of their bill. This legislation proposes eliminating these fees in the telecommunications sector. That is great.
We on this side of the House have been calling for an end to these pay-to-pay fees for years now. We have come back to this point again and again. I therefore want to ask the government why it chose to stop there, when it promised to eliminate those fees in the banking industry too. The government did not follow through on its commitment. The banking industry must have better lobbyists than the telecom industry. We know that this government does not necessarily have the best relationship with the telecom industry. That is the only reason I can think of to explain this decision. Once again, this is another half measure for consumers, when the government should be going all the way in meeting consumers' demands.
None of the measures the government has proposed, not only in Bill C-43, but also in all of its economic policies, have any real direction. The government has no policy framework to give its efforts some direction so that they do not end up wasted or focused on vote-chasing, as is quite clear in Bill C-43 and as I am sure we will see in the pre-budget consultation report. This is a real piecemeal approach.
This government does not have a proper industrial policy. However, in part 4 of the bill, the government has included measures that water down the Investment Canada Act and make it easier for foreign interests to acquire companies. There were not really any consultations about this measure. The Investment Canada Act needs much more transparency and much more specific guidelines, so that foreign investors have little or no chance of seeing arbitrary or unjustified decisions. The government must be much more predictable for these investors, which is very important if we want to attract foreign interests.
There is no comprehensive health policy or strategy. The government could show leadership. Naturally, we recognize that health is a provincial jurisdiction. However, that does not prevent the government from working with the provinces, taking a leadership role and ensuring that we have a pan-Canadian health policy that the provinces and territories support. However, the government is making unilateral changes, and our fear is that this bill is specifically trying to politicize the Public Health Agency of Canada.
There is no credible policy on the part of the government to ensure retirement security. However, there are amendments that create other investment vehicles without improving income security. Furthermore, the government does not have a coherent energy policy. Despite that, changes are being made to the law on marine transport. Changes are being made to tax rules with respect to the right to organize and the environment in order to allow the oil and gas sector and extractive companies to apply the same rules in Canada as in developing countries. They are actually being allowed to comply with laws that are much less rigorous than what we have here.
Although we could play a role in developing and implementing coherent policies in the countries with which we do business, the government is going in the opposite direction. It is extremely frustrating to come back to the House for third reading with very little time to debate this bill, as was the case in committee.
That was definitely the case at the Standing Committee on Finance. However, other committees, although they had no real power, tried their best to invite witnesses who could speak to those far-reaching bills that should have been split into multiple bills.
This is extremely frustrating because it clearly shows that this country is moving in the wrong direction. The majority of the government members will give their speeches, at least those who will have the opportunity, and will sing the praises of their economic policies.
When the parliamentary secretary answered a question about this government's performance, in 2008 in particular, when the recession hit, he said that the government was a leader in terms of what governments were doing around the world to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis.
However, that is not what the Conservatives did. During the 2008 election, they denied that there was an economic crisis on the horizon. I remember quite well that the played down the looming economic crisis, but we saw how bad it was. On national television, he simply said that it was a good time to buy stocks and invest in the stock market. How completely irresponsible.
We have called on this government to invest specifically in infrastructure, in the sectors where private enterprise could no longer or would no longer invest because of the current economic situation, in order to make up for the gap left by the private sector, which should be investing and ensuring a thriving economy. The government had to play its role, in large part thanks to the opposition. Boasting about taking the lead on this and acting alone is completely irresponsible. That interpretation is a complete misrepresentation of what we are dealing with.
We are not out of the woods yet. We need concrete measures from this government that are not just intended to win votes, but rather are focused on what they claim is their slogan: job creation and growth. That is not what we see in this bill.
That is why we have no choice but to oppose it. Before doing that, I would like to move the following motion:
I move, seconded by the hon. member for :
|| That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
||“this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-43, A Second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures, because it:
||(a) amends dozens of unrelated Acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight;
||(b) does not take measures to create jobs and address slow economic growth;
||(c) seeks to restrict access to social assistance for refugee claimants, even though there is no financial need and there has been no request from the provinces for such a measure;
||(d) makes amendments to patent legislation that could lead to costly legal action against the government;
||(e) introduces a tax credit whose effects have not been analyzed by the government and that will significantly diminish the employment insurance fund; and
||(f) breaks the government's promises to protect small businesses from merchant fees and to ban banks from charging pay-to-pay fees.”.
Mr. Speaker, as I rise to speak to the government's budget implementation act at third reading, I regret that we are debating, yet again, another massive omnibus piece of legislation.
This legislation contains many specific flaws, but I would like to start by addressing its conceptual failure. It covers too many subjects which are non-budgetary in nature and therefore not suitable for inclusion in a budget implementation act.
This legislation is frankly a smokescreen designed to ram through a multitude of changes without allowing for careful scrutiny and rigorous analysis. It is 460 pages long, with 400 separate clauses amending countless different laws. Bill represents a continued abuse of power, disrespect for Parliament, and plain bad judgment on the part of the government.
I would like to review a few of the specific laws in this legislation.
First, there is the small-business job credit. The conceded, in his appearance before the finance committee, that his department did absolutely no economic analysis of this measure before allocating more than half a billion tax dollars to it.
At the Standing Committee on Finance, we heard from experts who say that this tax credit has a serious design flaw. It creates a perverse incentive for employers to lay off workers or reduce their hours of work in order to qualify for the tax savings.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that this so-called job credit would create only 800 jobs over two years, at a cost of about $700,000 per job. Obviously, it is outrageously expensive and ineffective as a job creation measure. We know that there are better ways to manage half a billion dollars in tax dollars and at the same time better ways to create jobs. There are other measures or potentially better-designed investments that could do more to bolster the economy and create jobs cost-effectively.
We offered a focused alternative. The Liberal plan would create a two-year EI premium holiday for businesses that create new jobs, that actually hire and add to their payrolls. This would be a true incentive for employers to do more hiring. Our proposal would fix the design flaw in the government's tax credit. It was endorsed by Canadian employer organizations, such as the CFIB, Restaurants Canada, and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.
Second, I would like to address the government's latest attack on refugee claimants. Having been overruled by the courts on their previous attempt to deny claimants proper medical care, the Conservatives now wish to make it easier for provincial governments to deny them social assistance. It is a harsh and punitive policy that certainly should not be buried in an omnibus budget bill.
Third, there is the restructuring of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The government would demote the position of chief public health officer, a move that would carry potential risks for the health of Canadians. At the finance committee, we heard from experts about how the Public Health Agency was created in the aftermath of Canada's SARS crisis. They told us that the chief public health officer was deliberately, at that time, made a deputy head so as to have the necessary power and autonomy to work with the provinces and effect change. The omnibus bill would undo much of that good work.
This omnibus bill also attempts to clean up the mess and correct some of the errors contained in previous Conservative omnibus bills. For example, in the last omnibus budget bill, Bill , the Conservatives forgot to include a tax credit for interest on Canada apprentice loans. In the same bill, they forgot to include foreign money-service businesses as foreign entities in measures under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
The Conservatives also forgot to introduce a refund for duties paid on destroyed tobacco products when they hiked these duties in Bill C-31. As well, they forgot to subject pooled registered pension plans to the same GST rules as registered pension plans in previous legislation.
There is a litany of forgetting, and it is an unfortunate result of not just a lack of competence and attention to the detail, the nitty-gritty of government or economic management, but also the design flaw of the overall approach of putting all these changes in a budget omnibus bill and denying the appropriate committees of Parliament to both review and vote on measures pertaining to their area of public policy and expertise.
In this litany of forgetting things, the government may actually be forgetting about the needs of Canadians. However, I do not think Canadians will forget about the failings of the current government come the next election.
Principal among those failings is a lack of consultation, which is clearly evident in this omnibus bill. The government did not consult with aviation groups when changing the rules around aerodromes. It did not listen to Canada's only international cable-laying company when excluding cable laying from the definition of international shipping. It did not listen to the provincial governments when pressing ahead with measures aimed at denying social assistance to refugees.
The Canadian people have made it clear that they need economic growth and employment, and they need growth and jobs to be an absolute priority for the government. Unfortunately, the government is out of touch with Canadians' needs and aspirations, and it is certainly doing nothing to create growth and prosperity.
For example, consider the government's new income-splitting scheme, which will cost $2.4 billion this year. It benefits only 14% of Canadians, the most privileged of Canadians. The measure completely overlooks single parents and parents who happen to both make similar incomes.
The late Jim Flaherty had doubts about it, and he expressed them clearly. These are the words of the late Jim Flaherty:
|| I think income-splitting needs a long, hard analytical look...to see who it affects and to what degree, because I’m not sure that overall, it benefits our society.
If the Conservatives followed his advice and took a long, hard look at income splitting, they would see that it does nothing to really create growth and prosperity, and does nothing to help a lot of the Canadian families that need the help the most. It also puts the government more deeply in deficit this year. The government would already project a surplus, or be close to a surplus this year, if it were not for this income-splitting scheme, which actually puts us back into a deficit situation.
While the Conservatives are borrowing to benefit a small and relatively well-off segment of the population through income splitting, they are neglecting a vulnerable group that has served Canadians with true patriotism and valour; that being our veterans.
In addition to closing Veterans Affairs offices, the government lapsed $1.1 billion that was earmarked to invest on behalf of veterans. Instead of following Parliament's direction and using those funds to take care of our veterans, the government clawed that money back for the federal treasury.
Meanwhile, the government skimped on much-needed mental health services for our veterans. In his recent report, the Auditor General found that 80% of veterans had to wait nearly eight months to find out if they were even eligible for long-term mental health services, and the other 20% had to wait even longer than that.
This is callous treatment by a government that likes to lionize the military, but will not treat individual veterans or their families with care and respect. The Conservative government is even trying to argue in the courts now that it does not have a sacred obligation to those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
A Liberal government would have a very different agenda than the current government, economically and socially. We believe that members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans should have nothing less than the best of care and support from a grateful nation and government. Our goals would be fair treatment for all members of society and the strengthening of Canada's middle class through an agenda of jobs and growth.
We would grow the economy in a way that would benefit all Canadians, investing significantly in infrastructure, innovation and trade. We would partner with the provinces and Canadian municipalities. We would work with progressive investors, including, potentially Canada's pension funds, to invest significantly and massively in infrastructure. We would follow some of the lead of countries like the U.K. and Australia. This year, Australia is investing $13 billion of federal money into infrastructure. It is leveraging with the state governments and with pension funds to create $60 billion of new investments in infrastructure.
We have the capacity, through a forward-thinking and innovative infrastructure agenda, to create jobs and growth in the short term during this time of secular stagnation and slow growth and soft employment. We can create jobs and growth in the short term, but we can also render our economy more competitive in the long term by addressing Canada's crumbling infrastructure needs.
The reality is that we probably have the best opportunity in our lifetime to actually invest in infrastructure. We have bond yields at historic lows, real interest rates actually negative, a crumbling infrastructure and soft employment market, and a slow growth economy. Put those factors together and there is little wonder why people like David Dodge, or the OECD or the IMF are saying that countries like Canada ought to be investing significantly in infrastructure.
This is no time for the government to do what it did in the last budget; that is, cut planned infrastructure spending by 89% in order to achieve a notional surplus on the eve of an election.
Infrastructure spending needs to be significant, it needs to be consistent, it needs to be long term in nature, not just around electoral scheduling.
We would invest, as a government, in getting better labour market information to provide a clear understanding of the skills mismatch to the situation of jobs without people and people without jobs, address labour shortages and, at the same time, give opportunities to young Canadians who need work.
There are 200,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than before the downturn. One of the things we need in Canada is better labour market data. We need to invest in organizations like Statistics Canada. We need to ensure that young Canadians and their families know more about what the jobs of today look like and what the jobs in the future will look like. We need to get better data and we need to make that data available in a user-friendly format for young Canadians, starting in junior high school, such that they can start thinking long term, not just what they want to do but what those jobs actually pay so they can get a job that will provide them with the means to have a place of their own. There has never been a time, in recent history, when we have seen more young Canadians living at home, on the sofa in the basement, because they simply cannot get work to financially sustain themselves.
One of the drivers of high levels of personal debt for Canadian families right now is the direct financial subsidization of adult children who cannot get a job or cannot get jobs that will actually financially sustain them. Canadian families today are seeing record levels of personal debt—$1.65 for every $1.00 of annual income—as parents and grandparents directly financially support young people who have skills, who have good educations, but whose skills do not match current labour market needs. We need to close that gap and part of it is simply providing good information to young Canadians as they are planning their career and their lives, and informing them as to the types of jobs, professional trades, that can provide them with the capacity to support themselves into the future.
We need to work with the provinces to restore the honour and respect paid to professional trades. We have seen a diminution in the respect for professional trades over the last 30 years. We need to reverse that because we know there is a shortage of skilled trades and an opportunity for young people, if they are given the correct information, to choose paths in skilled trades, I think we will see more young people doing that.
We also need to invest more in training and apprenticeships. We need to track unpaid internships, for instance. We have asked the government to mandate Statistics Canada to track unpaid internships. We have been told that there is more use of unpaid interns today than ever before. It is kind of a supply and demand issue.
There are a lot of young Canadians who are desperate for work, desperate for the experience they need to start off their careers, who simply cannot find work. The issue with unpaid internships is that it can deepen inequality of opportunity significantly because only children from privileged families can afford to work for no pay. In other words, it is more likely a child from a privileged family will actually get a good start and get some work experience.
This has tremendous long-term impacts on equality of opportunity. We have learned from a recent report of the IMF that in fact inequality of opportunity is not just a social issue; it impedes economic growth. That is why issues like unpaid internships and income inequality are important and why we should, at the very least, not make the situation worse with a tax change that has the capacity to deepen inequality, like income splitting.
We also need to recognize that over the last 30 years the nature of work and training has changed, not just in Canada but throughout the industrialized world. The old days where one could get a degree, or a diploma, or trade and be set for life and never have to go back to school, university or college, are over, in the same way that working for 30 years, retiring with a gold watch and defined benefit pension plan is largely behind us.
We need to update and modernize our Canada student loans program as part of a suite of support for not just young people as they graduate from high school to get their education, but as they move forward through multiple decades of their careers and lives. There is nothing really there for people in their 30s who have young families, who find that their skills do not match the current job market. It is very difficult for them to finance the education and training they need to get a job to support their families at that time. It would be good for productivity and competitiveness, and jobs and growth, if we worked with people throughout their careers and life cycles to help them get the skills they needed during that entire period.
We also believe it is important that we go back to evidence-based decision making, as opposed to the Conservatives' decision-based evidence making, when we are crafting public policy. What we may think, based on an ideological perspective, is the right thing to do, when exposed to the bright light of fact and information, we may be surprised. It is important that we get the best possible information and data, whether scientific or statistical.
We live in an age of big data. Smart companies and smart governments are investing massively in knowing more about their customers and the demographic trends and how to prepare for them. There is only one organization I can think of globally that has deliberately chosen over the last 10 years to both reduce the quality and quantity of data it collects, and that is the Conservative government. It is an ideological perspective that is wrong headed.
Instead of dividing Canadians with ideologies, a Liberal government would unite Canadians with ideas, based on fact, creativity, imagination and innovation, to create the jobs and growth that Canadians need.
Mr. Speaker, again, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak on behalf of my constituents, the people of Crowfoot, in central Alberta. It is a riding that I have had the pleasure of representing for 14 years.
I am also pleased to be able to split my time with the hon. member for .
When we talk about budgets, budget implementation acts, and the economy, there are a number of issues to which we can broaden out. Budget implementation act no. 2 would bring forward a number of measures. This morning, I would like to speak about three of those measures. I would like to speak a little bit about the economy. We have heard the opposition talk about doom and gloom and the economy of Canada. I would like to share a little bit about how Canada is leading the industrialized countries in the world in job creation and in growth.
Secondly, I would like to take some time to speak about the measures we have brought forward to help hold jobs and make certain we can create an environment where new jobs are created, and speak about how we can ensure people have the skills for those new jobs.
Finally, I would like to speak a little bit about what our Conservative government has done, especially in this budget bill and in other measures, to help support families and communities. How would the government help in a tough global economic downturn? How would it help families?
First of all, let me talk about the state of the Canadian economy. Thanks to prudent fiscal and economic decisions that were made before the recession in 2008-09, Canada has boasted one of the strongest recoveries and strongest records of the advanced economies in the world. When faced with that unprecedented global crisis, our government responded with the economic action plan, which stimulated the economy, protected Canadian jobs during the recession, and invested in long-term growth.
Today's real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels. Our GDP is one of the top GDPs and best performing in the G7. The Canadian economy has boasted one of the strongest job creation records in the G7 over the recovery, with more than 1.2 million jobs created since July, 2009.
Canada has weathered the economic storm well, and the world has noticed. Bloomberg has ranked Canada as the second best country in the world to do business. Are people thinking about expanding a business? Are they thinking about a new business? Canada is the second best place in the world for business. Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next year.
This does not mean that our work is done, however. For Canada, while the recession is long gone, its effects still linger in the world economy. We see signs of this global challenge everywhere. European debt is too high and inflation is very low. Given this ongoing uncertain global economic environment, it is crucial that we carefully target our initiatives to meet objectives that continue to strengthen Canada's economic action plan. That is why Bill includes measures that would help to support jobs and growth.
Last year, we reformed the skills training system to better help Canadians get quality jobs. With economic action plan 2014, our government is taking further steps to ensure that federal funding in programs is directed toward meeting labour market needs. First, our government is committed to ensuring that Canadians can find available jobs by helping them acquire the skills that will get them hired or help them find a better job.
In Canada, apprentices and skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job, paid employment periods. They participate in technical training. They can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training, and they require these types of programs in order to do that. That is why we helped apprentices and created the apprentice loan in the first budget bill. This initiative certainly helps apprentices in the Red Seal trades by providing access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to help complete their training.
Furthermore, Bill proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to extend the existing student loan interest credit.
By helping Canadians acquire those skills that will get them hired or help them get better jobs, we are also supporting our small businesses. That is exactly what our small businesses are looking for. They are looking for people who are employable. They are looking for people who already have the skill set when they arrive at their new workplace so that the small business does not have to spend much longer periods of time bringing their skill set up to where they can really benefit the company.
We recognize that small businesses create good jobs. We also recognize that small businesses serve as the engines of economic growth and prosperity. Small businesses employ half of the working men and women in Canada's private sector and account for two-fifths of our country's business sector GDP. That is why I am pleased that today's legislation includes the small business job credit. Ninety per cent of employees making EI contributions in Canada, about 780,000 each year, will directly benefit from the credit that we have brought forward.
In addition, this credit requires no new paperwork on the part of the business. It will be a refund through the Canada Revenue Agency, so this will not be labour intensive administratively for small- and medium-size business. The Canada Revenue Agency will calculate it and the agency will return it. Small businesses are pleased by that.
Following me, the member for will be speaking. The Brandon Chamber of Commerce has said that this credit “...has provided some fast relief to small employers, and at the end of the day, it gives those businesses a little bit more money to spend on the investment, it gives their employees a little bit more money. It's definitely good for small business...It will absolutely provide some relief for small business, and that's the core of our economy.” The chamber of commerce gets it. The member gets it. He brings the concerns and the needs of his communities to the House.
Jayson Myers, the President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, also praised this initiative by saying, “The Small Business Job Credit will help a powerhouse—the thousands of small businesses—of the Canadian economy become more competitive.”
That is what we want to do in government. We want to give our businesses the opportunity to compete better, the opportunity to compete in a global economy. This job credit represents yet more action by our government to lower taxes for Canadians and for small- and medium-size businesses.
Finally, I want to touch on how our government is supporting families in our communities. Unlike the opposition, we believe that Canadians should benefit from the surplus, not bureaucracy and not big government. We want to make certain that we can put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, Canadian seniors, all Canadians.
Notwithstanding the comments made by the Liberal leader that budgets will just balance themselves, we also understand that it takes discipline, a focus on priorities, and sound judgment. It is important to understand that a balanced budget is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Right now, 11¢ of every $1 goes to service our federal debt. By balancing the books and paying down debt, we will be freeing up taxpayers' dollars that might otherwise have been spent on servicing debt, so that we can invest in such things as infrastructure and social programs. This will also help to keep interest rates low, thereby instilling confidence in consumers and investors. It will strengthen our country's ability to respond to long-term challenges, such as aging infrastructure. It will help to ensure fairness and equity for generations to come. Our government is pleased to be in a position to bring our budget into balance and to help Canadian families do that.
I see that my time is up. I will just mention also that we brought forward the child fitness tax credit and many other credits that I may be able to speak a bit about in questions and answers.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill the economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2. I would like to thank the member for for sharing the time that he has as the Minister of State for Finance with me.
Just over a year ago I was honoured to be elected to represent the riding of Brandon—Souris. At that time, I made a commitment to my constituents that I would support measures to continue building on the economic growth of the region I represent.
The economic action plan is good for the residents of Brandon—Souris, as it is for all Canadians. Our government supports initiatives that will leave more money for small businesses, more money in the pockets of apprentices, and more money in the pockets of hard-working families.
As my colleague, the member for , mentioned earlier, our government is committed to ending unfair billing practices of telecommunications companies and reducing the administrative burdens on charitable organizations.
Our government recognizes the fundamental importance of small business in fuelling our economy, which makes up 82% of Manitoba's economy, and a similar percentage elsewhere in Canada. For that reason, we have introduced the new small business job credit, which is anticipated to reduce employment insurance premiums by 15% for the next two years.
Any small business that pays employer employment insurance premiums equal to or less than $15,000 will be eligible for this credit. It is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over this timeframe. This new initiative will assist local businesses to hire new employees and create new jobs in southwestern Manitoba.
Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, employing approximately 70% of the total labour force in the private sector, accounting for nearly 90% of Canadian exporters, and contributing about 41% to Canada's private sector gross domestic product. It is essential that our local small businesses remain globally competitive and successful, and this small business job credit will do exactly that and enhance opportunities for small business.
Our government also created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will allow apprentices registered in a Red Seal trade to apply for interest-free loans of up to $4,000 for a period of technical training. It is anticipated that at least 26,000 apprentices will apply for these loans each year. Right now, there are more than 50 trades in the Red Seal program, accounting for almost 90% of all apprentices and more than 80% of the total trades workforce in Canada.
As with student loans for university and college students, interest and repayment of the Canada apprentice loan will not start until after apprentices complete or leave their training programs. This will ensure that apprentices will be on the same playing field as college and university students.
As is the case for many members of the House, the constituency I represent is experiencing a skills gap in the labour force. There are too many employers looking to hire skilled tradespeople, and every time a job posting goes unfilled is a lost opportunity to grow our local economy.
As a father and a grandfather, I understand the importance of children being involved in fitness activities. In my constituency, just as in many constituencies across this country, hockey, soccer, baseball, and for sure curling are popular activities. Sports are also expensive and our government understands that.
To reflect that reality we are increasing the maximum amount of expenses that may be claimed under this tax credit, from its current limit of $500 to $1,000 for the 2014 tax year and beyond. As well, beginning in 2015, this tax credit will be made refundable, which will benefit low-income families.
Currently, the children's fitness tax credit provides tax relief to 1.4 million families, and when these measures are fully implemented, they will deliver additional tax relief to approximately 850,000 families. Eligible activities for this tax credit include hockey, soccer, golf lessons, horseback riding, sailing, bowling, and other activities that require a similar level of physical activity.
We are supporting the families in southwestern Manitoba and the families across this country through these initiatives. By promoting the physical health of Canadian children, we are also promoting the financial health of families.
Our government is supporting Canadian consumers by ending the pay-to-pay practice that is being followed by some telecommunications companies. In these unfair pay-to-pay billing practices, Canadians who receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill were being charged a fee to receive their bill in the mail, but now Canadians would no longer be charged a fee for receiving a bill in paper form.
Canadians who do not have Internet access are often low-income individuals or seniors. They are at a disadvantage, as they are unable to get an electronic bill. We listened to the complaints and we are ending this unfair practice. Our government made a commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, and we are delivering on this initiative through this legislation.
As well, our economic action plan proposes to amend the Criminal Code to allow charities to use modern electronic technology to raise funds. Every year, charities in Canada raise millions of dollars through lottery sales to support their good works. However, because of outdated legislation, charities cannot use modern electronic technology such as computers to process their lottery sales. Under the current system, charities must process and activate all sales manually and then send customers their tickets in the mail. As a result, it is more time-consuming and costly to charities.
Our government is proposing to amend the Criminal Code to allow charities to conduct their lotteries by using a computer. This change would allow charitable organizations to use e-commerce to issue lottery tickets and issue receipts to donors. This change would help charities save millions of dollars in administrative costs by allowing them to use electronic technology for their tickets. For example, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has noted that by using computers for a lottery, it could save potentially $1 million in administrative costs annually. If this change is made, charities will be able to allocate more of their budget to support their initiatives and programs. That is how it should be.
To summarize, this legislation is good for our economy, it is good for families, it is good for consumers, and it is good for Canadian charities.
I remain as focused as ever in supporting the growth of our economy and providing support to job creators and hard-working families throughout Canada. I urge all members of this House to support this legislation so that we can continue to get results for Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for , who does wonderful work. He is without a doubt the best member of Parliament that Sherbrooke has ever had since Confederation.
I might say that I am pleased to speak in the House to this bill. However, I must say that it is not necessarily a pleasure for me to do so, because this is yet another omnibus budget bill, another bill that undermines our democratic institutions.
What is more, it does not allow us to do our job properly as parliamentarians and to debate all the issues it contains. This is the fifth edition in a series of omni-budgets. It is not for sale, but I do not think many people would want to buy it. This is like getting a series of books that no one wants to read because they are too long and too perverse. In fact, they are horror stories.
Bill C-43 has 460 pages and more than 400 clauses that affect dozens of statutes. Most of the proposed changes in this mammoth bill have no connection with last spring's 2014 budget.
I understand that the government is in a hurry to remake the country in its own image. However, it is going about it in an underhanded way so that journalists, parliamentarians, and Canadians do not have enough time to say everything they want to say about the measures set out in the budget.
I would like to give an example. I apologize for using my phone. In these modern times, people communicate with me, as they do with all my other colleagues, through incredible new technology.
To come back to my example, my constituents are worried about the clauses in Bill C-43 pertaining to airports, which centralize more ministerial power over the expansion and modification of airports, raising the risk that local consultation will not occur in the face of controversial proposals like the Toronto Island airport expansion.
Some of my constituents also raised the issue of security in private airports. Who will monitor the arrivals, departures and contents of small planes if the government does not set up a monitoring system? How can we ensure that all of the airports or municipalities in which they are located have the required emergency measures in place in case of an air disaster? Will the federal government help the municipalities so that they have all the tools they need to ensure the safety of Canadians?
The NDP is in touch with Canadians. That is why I took the time to read the comment made by one of my constituents. People are concerned that the measures in this omnibus bill will affect their safety and air security across the country. They are rightfully asking what might be the consequences, whether their municipality will be consulted on these changes and whether these changes will affect their family's safety.
It is just a comment, but it shows how much my constituents and other Canadians want to discuss the measures hidden in this bill.
This bill amends dozens of unrelated acts without adequate parliamentary debate and oversight. It fails also to take meaningful action to create jobs and address weak economic growth.
The riding I represent is one of the poorest in Quebec. It has challenges related to a number of industries. The forestry industry, which was a fundamental backbone of the economy in the region, has been in crisis for several years. It is also an agricultural community, but the price of various agricultural commodities has been an issue in the past, which has also led to increased poverty.
Particularly for youth, but also for seniors, it is very difficult to get a job in the Pontiac riding. It is very difficult to keep a job, and the changes the current government made to EI have made it even more difficult. Essentially, due to those changes, the entire region of the Pontiac is being emptied of its best brains, skilled workers, and youth, because they are forced to go even further to get jobs. They are forced to prove that they have to go further. Therefore, communities like Low, Kazabazua, and even Danford Lake are having issues with retention. How are these communities going to last? Unfortunately, they are scratching their heads with regard to this budget and how it would help them.
What kind of investments are there in the forestry industry? There was a promise at one point to put millions of dollars into ensuring that the forestry industry could renew itself and have new technologies. The problem is that the amount is not enough, nor is there any guarantee for communities that are rural and poor that they will receive that money. With $225 million for the whole country, and it taking millions of dollars to renew just one particular industry in one particular town, that $225 million spread out across the country would do little or nothing to help the people in the Pontiac.
I would point out that I spoke in favour of and supported a bill in the House to ensure the consumption of Canadian wood products by Public Works. It seems reasonable that taxpayers should expect that the Canadian government would consume Canadian products when it is building Canadian infrastructure, and wood is a particularly good material for building a number of buildings.
I would also point out that Bill is an outright attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as refugee claimants.
As well, there is the implementation of a job credit that has already been panned by experts and the Parliamentary Budget Officer as wasteful and extraordinarily expensive. We are going to waste even more of taxpayers' money through this omnibus bill.
There is nothing in the bill to get, as I mentioned, the almost 300,000 more unemployed Canadians than before the recession back to work or to help replace the 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost under the current watch, mostly in southern Ontario but also in places like the Pontiac.
This is a question of choices. The Conservatives can choose to help the rich and help the largest corporations in this country that have the ear of the and the government, or they can choose to use the budget to help those who are in need. They can choose to give them the services they need and deliver those services and ensure that it is done efficiently. They can also choose to invest in the health, well-being, and security of Canadians.
However, the choices being made are the wrong ones. They are fundamentally not in the public interest. They are in the interest of a few, and it is unfortunate to see this lack of dedication to the well-being of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to speak on behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, the beautiful riding that I have proudly represented for three years, with respect to Bill , the second budget implementation act. It is another omnibus bill, and it is not called that for nothing, as it contains 460 pages and 400 clauses. I will therefore not be able to address every measure and its effect on the economy.
What is deplorable is that the measures sometimes have nothing to do with the economy. Everyone is in agreement on that point. Even the minister agrees that most of his budget implementation bill has nothing to do with the budget. I do not know why these measures were included in a budget implementation bill. There are several possible theories, but the most likely is that the Conservatives are looking to hide things.
When something is hidden among 460 other clauses, it becomes difficult for the average Canadian who obtains information through the media and the Debates of the House of Commons to know everything that is in the bill.
Therefore, although we openly support some of the measures, we are opposed to the bill as a whole, since the majority of the measures are detrimental and the bill is not the right way to go. We are also opposed to the way it was drafted. It is a repeat of many previous budget implementation bills. We have grown accustomed to Conservative government omnibus bills that contain numerous items. It is difficult to summarize them in 10 minutes, as I will attempt to do.
I wanted to mention the problems caused by this process that we have seen in the past and we still see today. I hope that they will have ended by the next parliamentary session, when we come back in the winter of 2015.
This bill is proof that the Conservatives could not care less about Parliament and parliamentarians' input in the legislative process. The Conservative government is using its majority to enact things without consulting Parliament properly. There is a pretense of discussions on amendments in committee, but we know very well that the only goal of the majority Conservative government is to enact as many things as quickly as possible, without debate, by limiting parliamentarians' input in bills as much as possible.
Since these are occasionally technical bills, the expertise on each side of the House of Commons could offer improvements, because the bills introduced by the government are rarely perfect. We could seek a consensus. However, we are not accustomed to a consensus with the Conservatives. That is not the way they govern our country, unfortunately, even if it could be much more effective and beneficial and increase Canadians' confidence in our institutions.
What is the Conservatives’ economic record since taking office? I will try to dispel the myth that the Conservatives have been trying to make us believe in for years. They claim to be building a strong economy, but evidence suggests otherwise.
Today, our trade deficit has reached more than $60 billion. This is a negative trade balance of more than $60 billion. However, when the Conservatives came to power, the trade surplus was $26 billion. Currently, the trade deficit is over $60 billion.
I am particularly concerned about the issue of youth unemployment, which is currently at 13.4%, more than double the average national rate. Something is obviously happening in this area, and measures must be taken to try and solve the problem. Clearly, the Conservatives have not addressed this problem in the budget.
There are currently 300,000 additional unemployed Canadians; 375,000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector. This was a very active and vibrant sector in and in the Eastern Townships. However, unfortunately, it has suffered the effects of Conservative mismanagement: 375,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost. This sector offers high-paying jobs and good working conditions. The lack of leadership from the current government on the employment file has likely caused great difficulties and serious challenges for the sector.
It should be noted that the sector faces serious challenges. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has only proposed small measures and is not providing the much-needed help the sector needs. We all agree that, because of today's globalization, our manufacturing sector is in direct competition with emerging countries that have very different conditions within their domestic market, which means that our businesses are competing with businesses from those countries.
Currently, it is important to support these businesses, and to support them in terms of innovation, as innovation plays a key role in helping the manufacturing sector and enabling it to remain competitive with businesses from emerging countries. This means that unique and highly innovative technologies are required to make it possible to compete with these countries, and to create quality jobs with quality work conditions. This is something that is very important for the riding of .
There are other things about the budget that I want to mention. I will try to sum up and let the people of Sherbrooke know what is in it.
There are changes affecting access to social assistance for refugee claimants. That is an important issue for Sherbrooke. I am very involved in several organizations that support and help newcomers to Canada and refugees. A significant proportion of the immigrant and refugee population is in Sherbrooke. Every year, over half of all newcomers are refugees.
That means they come from troubled countries. Sometimes, these people are escaping dangerous situations in their home countries, even threats to their lives. These people seek refuge in Canada. There is a reason it is called refugee status. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are attacking our refugees, and not for the first time. I think that is utterly deplorable. Many of these people are among society's most vulnerable. We should be doing more to support these people when they come to Canada, to help them manage and to provide financial help.
However, this bill includes a measure that was proposed by a Conservative backbencher: allowing the provinces to impose residency requirements on individuals with no permanent status and to deny basic social assistance to refugee claimants and people who do not have permanent resident status in Canada. This means that if a refugee comes to , the provincial government could, based on certain criteria, deny that person access to social assistance.
Basically, people might come here without a penny to their names and have to adapt to life in Canada. They might come here in the winter. Just this week, newcomers arrived from Africa. This is their first time in a country as cold as Canada.
It was 10 degrees below zero, and they had nothing. It is very important to support them. Conflicts are ravaging their home countries. We must absolutely help them when they arrive in Canada and not abandon them, as the Conservative government has done time and time again, and as it is doing once again with Bill C-43.
My time is up, so I would be pleased to answer any questions my colleagues might have.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the .
I thank the House for this opportunity to discuss Bill . The bill would implement important measures announced in economic action plan 2014. The measures in the bill would make a real difference in the lives of hard-working Canadians.
Life for all Canadians has never been better. We are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth, the economic envy of the post-recession world. However, we must also remain where we came from. We can never forget the great recession, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the downturn that erased $10 trillion in global market value and eradicated 62 million jobs. The great recession taught us one lesson: we can never take our affluence for granted. We must constantly and relentlessly take action to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, and that is exactly what our government is doing through Canada's economic action plan. We have recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but far more than that, we have created more than 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of the downturn. These are overwhelmingly full-time, high-paying private sector jobs. More than that even, more Canadians are working now than at any other time in our history.
All Canadians are wealthier for their work. A recent New York Times analysis found that after-tax, middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact, the Canadian middle class is among the richest in the developed world.
Yet despite our success, we cannot afford to be complacent. Canada refuses to be mediocre. That is why our measures take action across the economy. There are many measures contained in Bill , but unfortunately I cannot touch on all of them. Today I would like to highlight measures to create jobs and growth and support hard-working Canadian families.
Let me begin with creating jobs. Central to our efforts in this regard is making sure Canadians have the skills they need to get hired. In Canada, apprentices in skill trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and participate in technical training for periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. They face a challenge. There can be serious costs to complete the technical training required by their programs. That can include fees, tool and equipment costs, and living expenses. That is why we introduced the Canada apprenticeship loan in the first budget bill. This initiative will help apprentices get registered in Red Seal trades by providing access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.
The parameters of Canada's apprentice loan program are similar to those of the Canada student loan program. That is why we believe that both programs would benefit from the same tax treatment. Bill proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to extend the existing student loan interest credit—a non-refundable tax credit available for interest payments on loans approved under the Canada student loan program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on the Canada apprentice loan. We are proud to help Canadians gain the skills they need for the jobs they want.
To create even more good, paying jobs, Bill takes action to lower taxes for small businesses. Small businesses and the entrepreneurs who power them are the lifeblood of our economy. Under our government, Canada is open for business, and in 2013 leapt from sixth to second place in the Bloomberg rankings for the most attractive destination for business. According to KPMG, Canada's total business tax costs are the lowest in the G7, 46% lower than those in the United States. We will not rest on our laurels. Those hard-working entrepreneurs deserve more money in their pockets, money they can use to expand their businesses and create more jobs.
That is why today's legislation includes the new small business job credit. This new credit would effectively lower small business' employment insurance premiums from the current rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any firm that pays employers' EI premiums equal to or less than $15,000 in those years, would be eligible for the rebate. That means 90% of the employers making EI contributions in Canada, or about 780,000 in each year, would directly benefit from the credit. There is even better news for business owners. This credit would require no new paperwork. The Canada Revenue Agency would automatically calculate it on a business' return.
Overall, our small business job credit would reduce the EI premiums paid by small businesses by nearly 15%. We expect to save businesses over half a billion dollars over the next two years.
This job credit represents yet more action for our government to lower taxes for Canadians. Today, the overall tax burden is at its lowest level in over 50 years. An average family of four now pays $3,400 less in taxes as a result of actions taken by our government.
That figure does not even include our latest measures to cut taxes for hard-working Canadian families, and our strong action stands in stark contrast to the Liberals and the NDP. Unlike them, we will not raise taxes for Canadian families, drive the country into deeper deficit, and pile on debt.
There is a simple difference between our Conservative government and the opposition. They want more money in the pockets of Ottawa bureaucrats and less in the pockets of hard-working families. They need to raise taxes to pay for their reckless schemes, and that is not our Conservative approach. We believe in stronger families, more money in the pockets of those who care most about their kids, which is their moms and dads.
This past October we offered hard-working families even more tax relief, tax relief that would help literally every family with children in Canada. We increased and expanded the universal child care benefit, introduced the family tax cut, and raised the child care deduction expense limits. Before that in October, we announced our intention to double the children's fitness tax credit and make it refundable.
Bill confirms that our government would double the maximum amount of expenses that may be claimed under the credit from its current limit to$1,000 for the 2014 tax year and subsequent years. Parents would be able to take advantage of the new $1,000 maximum limit in the spring of 2015 when they file their tax returns for 2014. Making the credit refundable would increase the benefits to low-income families claiming the credit for 2015 and subsequent years.
This represents even more action by our government to cut taxes for low-income Canadians. In fact, since 2006, we have taken more than a million low-income Canadians off the tax roll entirely.
Let me conclude as I began. We live in fragile economic times. Canadians expect our government not to sit on its laurels. They expect us to take action, to create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity, not just for this generation but for our children and grandchildren. That is its top priority. Bill would do precisely that. It would deliver the actions Canadians expect from us and ensure that Canada continues to be the envy of the post-recession world.
As such, I would like to ask all hon. members to support the implementation of this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill and the benefits it would have for Canadian consumers and businesses.
Our government has taken decisive action on putting Canadian consumers first. We have cut taxes nearly 180 times, which is saving Canadian families nearly $3,400 per year on average. Our government has also committed to making it easier for small and medium-size businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. We are keeping taxes low, freezing EI rates for next year, cutting red tape and returning to balanced budgets. Canada is one of the most tax-competitive countries and has the best job creation among the G7, and we will continue down that path.
Budget 2014 continued with these commitments, including consumer-focused measures to ensure that Canadian families would get value for their hard-earned dollars and measures that would help small and medium-size businesses to thrive.
Specifically, economic action plan 2014 committed to introduce administrative monetary penalties for the violation of rules in the telecommunications sector; eliminated the practice of pay-to-pay billing so Canadian consumers would not have to pay extra to receive paper bills; clarified the prohibitions against violating Industry Canada's spectrum auction rules to ensure fair and competitive bidding that would achieve the greatest benefit for Canadians; modernized Canada's intellectual property framework to better align it with international practices and reduced the burden for Canadian businesses; and continued to ensure that Canadian businesses and investors would have the market access they needed to succeed in the global economy.
I would like to take a few moments to explain these important initiatives and the benefits they will have for Canadian consumers and small businesses.
Our government is committed to ensuring that companies in the telecom sector play by the rules. That is why we are introducing new enforcement measures that will increase consumer protection in this sector. Bill would amend the Telecommunications Act and the Radiocommunication Act to provide the CRTC and the industry minister with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties on companies and individuals that would violate the rules. Companies would face penalties of up to $10 million and up to $15 million for subsequent violations. These new measures would provide Canadian regulators with the needed tools to ensure companies would comply with the rules. They would protect Canadian consumers and support a competitive marketplace by promoting regulatory compliance and providing for appropriate remedies should violations occur.
Canadian consumers have been clear that they expect lower prices and better services from telecommunications providers. That is why our government committed to ending unfair pay-to-pay billing practices, putting the interests of Canadian consumers first.
More and more Canadians are finding a new charge appearing on their monthly bills, including their wireless bill. This fee is charged to those who receive their bill by mail. Increasingly, many Canadians are being charged for this new fee by companies from which they have been receiving service for decades.
In August, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre published a report in which it estimated that Canadians paid between $495 million and $734 million annually in fees for monthly paper bills and statements in the banking and communications services industries.
We believe Canadians should not have to pay more to receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill. As such, economic action plan 2014 commits to ending this unfair practice. Bill would end these pay-to-pay billing practices by adding an explicit provision to the Telecommunications Act that would prohibit any person who provided telecommunications services from charging a subscriber for a paper bill. Any company that broke the rules would face penalties of up to $15 million.
Canadians have also been clear that they want their government to take action to ensure the provision of more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada's wireless sector. I am proud to note that our government has consistently introduced measures to support a healthy, robust and competitive wireless industry.
For instance, we implemented a use it or lose it policy to ensure that wireless companies that did not use their spectrum licences would lose them. We have been taking important steps to increase the amount of wireless spectrum available to provide Canadians with the access they need on the devices they choose.
In January, the government unveiled details of the 2,500 megahertz auction, which would benefit Canadians in urban and rural areas. In February, we announced the results of the 700 megahertz auction, the most successful auction of spectrum in Canadian history, generating roughly $5.3 billion in revenue for taxpayers and putting high-quality spectrum in the hands of at least four wireless providers in each region of Canada.
Bill would further ensure that spectrum auctions would be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, in accordance with rules of conduct, to the benefit of all Canadians. In particular, the bill would amend the Radiocommunication Act to require that any person who would be subject to the spectrum auction rules must comply with those rules or risk the imposition of an administrative monetary penalty of up to $15 million.
These measures would increase regulatory compliance in the wireless sector and ensure that Canadian consumers would benefit from better service.
Our government also understands that reducing red tape for small and medium-sized businesses is central to Canada's economic growth. In budget 2014, our government committed to modernizing Canada's intellectual property framework by ratifying five international treaties. Earlier this year, our government passed the first three of the treaties relating to trademarks, the Madrid protocol, the Singapore treaty, and the Nice agreement.
Bill proposes amendments to the Patent Act and the industrial design act to ratify and accede to the remaining two treaties, the patent law treaty and the Geneva act of the Hague agreement.
Overall, the amendments in Bill C-43 would harmonize Canada's intellectual property regime with international practices, standardizing and simplifying administrative processes to lower costs and reduce red tape for small businesses. In particular, these amendments would allow a company to file for industrial design protection in multiple countries through one single application, filed in one language and for one fee. The resulting administrative and financial savings to Canadian businesses would be very significant.
The amendments would also harmonize administrative aspects of Canada's patent regime with international standards. This would result in a simpler application process and reduce the risk of errors.
Modernizing Canada's intellectual property regime and bringing it in line with international standards will continue the work to foster an environment in which businesses can grow and succeed in the global economy. These measures will increase Canada's openness to trade and investment and further reduce barriers to the international flow of goods and services.
Our government is also committed to making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to invest, innovate, grow and create jobs. Bill contains updates to the Business Development Bank of Canada, which will help small and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive and global environment.
Amendments to the Business Development Bank of Canada would help provide even more flexibility to SMEs that wish to grow beyond our borders. Changes would also establish a wider variety of consulting services for SMEs to access and help the BDC better leverage partnerships with third party organizations to improve its reach into the business community.
The BDC is the only bank in Canada solely dedicated to entrepreneurs and the legislative amendments in Bill would allow the BDC to expand its support for SMEs.
In conclusion, Bill C-43 proposes amendments that fulfill a number of the government's commitments to a stronger and more prosperous Canada. These initiatives, along with the other measures contained in the bill, will have significant benefits for Canadian consumers, families and small businesses.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-43. This is the 77th time the government has moved a time allocation motion. This time allocation motion is on a budget bill, which is very important. The government gave us two days to debate the bill at report stage and one day, today, for third reading stage. This is how much time we have had in Parliament to debate a bill that is more than 460 pages long, has more than 400 clauses and will amend a dozen of our country's laws.
We want to hold an intelligent debate on a budget that matters to Canadians. Ten minutes go by quickly, but I cannot ignore the comments made by our Conservative colleague, who said that the NDP wants to introduce a 45-day work year. Every time we ask a question about employment insurance, the government says that the NDP wants everyone to work only 45 days a year.
According to The Globe and Mail, the said that he would have to hire more than 400 employees to answer calls from seniors and workers, as a result of delays in processing employment insurance, old age security and guaranteed income supplement payments.
This same government wants to reduce employers' EI premiums by half a billion dollars, telling us that this will create jobs in Canada. However, Ms. Doucet, who runs a Christmas wreath company in a town in my riding, said that the EI reform was discouraging seasonal workers.
The government says that these cuts are justified. It says it wants to create jobs and help people work instead of being unemployed. The government thinks workers are lazy slackers. This is not the first time that I have criticized the government's actions in the House, and it will not be the last.
People have to wait up to 25 weeks to get their guaranteed income supplement, which helps the most vulnerable members of our society. I am talking about seniors whose only pension is old age security and who need a supplement. Can a person really live on $543 a month? These people are being made to wait 25 weeks.
This week and last week, the had the nerve to say that he had asked some Social Security Tribunal officers who were working on employment insurance files to work on old age security and guaranteed income supplement files. However, the tribunal already has a six-month backlog of employment insurance files.
Yesterday and today, the minister acknowledged this and said that 400 people would be hired. However, it takes 12 to 18 months to train a person on how to process an employment insurance or old age security file.
The government has even admitted that Service Canada offices received 10,000 complaints. The government closed offices and cut front-line staff.
In Pleasantville, Newfoundland and Labrador, 100 to 150 people are visiting the employment insurance office because they cannot reach anyone by telephone. Even if the government hired 400 people tomorrow morning to work at Service Canada, they would not be answering the telephone. The Conservatives have created a mess for Canadians. The government should be ashamed of tampering with a program and a responsibility they have toward seniors and workers, and they should be ashamed of laughing at them.
Our colleague in the House of Commons from Madawaska—Restigouche said the following in the newspapers. I will not name the MP that he quoted, but it appears he is from Acadie—Bathurst. The member for Madawaska—Restigouche said:
|| The campaign of terror waged by [the member for Acadie—Bathurst] and company did not achieve the expected results. They scared people, and everyone across the region sees that.
Yes, people in that region clearly see that they cannot get employment insurance benefits. They see that they have to wait six months for the Social Security Tribunal to hear their case. In my riding, seniors see that they cannot get the guaranteed income supplement and they have to live on $553 a month. People see that they need to apply for welfare.
Rather than allowing MPs in the House to express their views, as in a democratic country, on Bill , the Conservatives have imposed a time allocation motion so that we can only debate it for one day. This is shameful.
It is shameful to hear a government tell Canadians that the NDP is proposing, among other things, that people should work only 45 days a year. It is shameful that the government thinks that workers are lazy slackers. In fact, this is what they are actually saying in their speeches.
It is completely unacceptable for men and women who have worked all their lives and who want to retire. This is the same government that increased the retirement age from 65 to 67.
Yes, I am proud of belonging to the NDP and to say that we are going to bring back 65 as the age of eligibility to old age security. Yes, I am proud to say that I am with the NDP and not with the Conservatives who persecute workers, seniors and ordinary Canadians. They are going to cut $36 billion from the health care sector by 2017. Yes, I am proud of the NDP, which has said that this $36 billion is going to be returned to the health care sector.
We hope that Canadians are aware of what the Conservatives will do, if they ever get back into power.
The Conservatives are attacking the poorest and the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a shameful way to treat people who are just reaching retirement age after working all their lives.
This is the kind of thing that this bill does, in addition to decreasing contributions from employers. This is not something that will create 800,000 jobs, as the government would have us believe.
What do our entrepreneurs do when the Conservatives make cuts to employment insurance for seasonal workers? They go west, but that is artificial. Our national economy cannot be based on just one element, that is, only on oil wells.
The price of oil is going down. If there are layoffs in western Canada, what will happen to all the people who take the plane every week to go to jobs out west? The Conservatives boast about creating jobs, but those jobs have only been created in one place because the price of oil was going up. Jobs were created out west, but not here at home, in the Atlantic region, nor in the rural areas of the country. If they want people to stop needing employment insurance, they have to create jobs. This is absolutely not what is in this budget. The Conservatives should be ashamed of how they are leading the country.
It is to be hoped that Canadians will remember this when the next elections are held and that they will kick them out once and for all or for a long time.
Mr. Speaker, it is always very difficult to speak after my colleague from , but someone must do it, so I will look upon the task as a challenge.
I am pleased to be able to speak about this bill, but another gag order has been imposed, and we only have one day to debate the bill at this stage, which is very disappointing.
This is another omnibus budget implementation bill. This is the fifth time that an omnibus budget bill has been introduced. The first time, we thought that it was outrageous to put so many things in a huge document that was very difficult for my constituents and people in general to understand. Everything must be considered at the same time. We hoped that it would never happen again in Parliament.
Unfortunately, this is the fifth time that an omnibus budget implementation bill has been introduced. I would like to point out that Parliament has been forced to deal with a total of 2,190 pages of omnibus bills because of the Conservatives’ disregard for the legislative process. This omnibus bill is 460 pages long and contains over 400 clauses. It amends a dozen laws, and the debate is being rushed.
I dare any Canadian who is well versed in politics to try and follow what is going on in Parliament and every law that is being amended. In a large 460-page document, it is very difficult for people to see what is being done. There is so much content.
We have found that it is part of a Conservative ploy to hide a lot of changes in a huge document and then say afterwards that we voted against them. In fact, we vote against them because this enormous document contains too much. There may be good things in it, but the good things are packed in with a lot of bad things. The way they operate is therefore highly problematic.
On that note, let us get to the heart of the matter and talk about the content. Employment is an extremely important aspect of the economy. All members of the House will admit that it is probably the priority; we must create jobs in Canada and ensure that people are not unemployed.
However, 300,000 people have become unemployed since the last recession, and we need to find jobs to replace the 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost. That is huge. That is 700,000 people without a job. I am very concerned about this. Last summer, I did a lot of door-to-door campaigning, and I was shocked to see how many people in their late fifties and early sixties had lost their jobs in manufacturing. Unfortunately, no one wanted to hire them. Even when they had training in another field, they had applied for jobs and they were willing to accept almost any job, they were unable to find work and they had exhausted their retirement fund. What is in store for them?
In addition, the age of eligibility for Old Age Security is about to be raised to 67. I think we are headed in the wrong direction, and several of my constituents agree. The fact that they cannot find work despite their best efforts is very worrisome for these people who are sitting at home, about to lose their homes.
In this omnibus bill, the Conservatives proposed a tax credit as a solution, which the Parliamentary Budget Officer deemed a huge expense and a waste of resources. He did not have nice things to say about this. The employment tax credit will cost the government $550 million, which will be drawn from the employment insurance fund to create 800 jobs. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that this is a huge expense for very little return.
To add insult to injury, the Minister of Finance did not even analyze the program before going ahead with it. This is unacceptable. The Minister of Finance is there for a reason.
He is supposed to scrutinize spending and to assess the programs the government wants to implement. An assessment must be carried out. It is the least we can expect. We are about to vote on a bill that has not even been properly assessed by the Minister of Finance. I think Canadians have a major problem with that, especially since we know that only 800 jobs will be created at a cost of $550 million.
What we have to do is address recurring youth unemployment and structural youth underemployment. The unemployment rate for young people who are looking for jobs but unable to find one is 13.4%. This is a really high unemployment rate for this important segment of the population. These are people who want to work and who have a great deal of knowledge, but unfortunately are unable to find a job. However, at the same time, they are being told to donate their time as interns.
That is not what we can call a real economic plan. A real economic plan, a real budget, would provide for measures to put young people to work. A real economic plan would make proposals like those of the NDP to create a tax credit that will specifically encourage employers to hire young workers. These are the types of projects that will truly make a difference.
There are many other elements missing from this bill. The Conservatives claim to want to help consumers; they have said it over and over again. They eliminated the $2 fee for receiving paper invoices from telecommunications companies, but they neglected to include bank statements. Does this measure really include all of the bills that people receive? Definitely not. The government also ignored the question of establishing regulations governing ATMs, which sometimes charge $4 to $5 per transaction. That is money that could be in the pockets of Canadian families. Considering that Canadian household debt is at 166% of their income, we should all be working together to lower expenses for families on little things like this. The government needs to establish a regulatory framework that is not just voluntary but mandatory, so that it can deal with these fees, which are hurting families. There is nothing about that in this bill.
As my colleagues mentioned, the government decided to go forward with its plan to increase the retirement age to 67, despite strong public outcry. There is nothing about this in the bill.
We would also like clarification of the concept of net benefit to Canada. We are often faced with this concept, but the definition is very vague. Important trade deals with foreign companies that want to buy our Canadian resources or companies have been approved, but the concept of net benefit remains vague. Why not work on clarifying what net benefit to Canada means? We have seen situations where it was not clear at all. If we want to ensure that there will be economic benefits or spinoffs for Canadians and the economy, it is important to clarify what a net benefit is. However, the government is not doing that.
A number of my colleagues and I participated in the fundraising drive on the weekend. The need is truly great. Use of food banks in Canada has increased by 25%. People need help. They are turning to their government for help. What is it doing? It is attacking the most vulnerable people in our society. Instead of giving them a hand, it is cutting programs that help them and turning its back on them. The government is pretending that they do not exist and is not helping them.
That is not why I was elected. I was elected to make a difference and to help these people. That is what I will do by voting against Bill C-43.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the .
I am pleased to rise on Bill economic action plan 2014 act, no. 2. In my preparation for these remarks, I was struck by the importance of the date on which I am speaking. I am speaking for the second time on the budget from earlier this year. I spoke to it for the first time in this House on April 4. In my remarks, I praised the work of the late , because at that time, he had moved from being our long-serving Minister of Finance to being the MP for Whitby—Oshawa. That was on April 4. Sadly, six days later, we lost our friend Jim. I think this House and all Canadians recognize that what we are debating today is his last budget and his gift to Canada of securing our economic future.
When I was reviewing my remarks, I realized that today is the day the new member for , and since she has not yet taken her seat, I believe I can say that her name is , will be taking her seat, in about an hour. She will be taking her seat as a proud Conservative caucus member and as a former mayor of Whitby who has worked very passionately with people like and our and with this government.
Sometimes these significant dates and the tremendous public service of people like Jim and Pat need to be recognized in this House.
In my remarks given in this place on April 4, I highlighted several parts of the budget, particularly some measures for small and medium-sized enterprises; research and development innovation, such as at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; trade and some of our trade work; and our reinvestment in the Last Post Fund for veterans, something the Legion had been asking for, which would extend the century-long work of the Last Post Fund to modern-day veterans, veterans post-Korean War, who may have been indigent at the time they passed.
I think all members in this House are well served by the teams we have in our ridings. Today is also important to speak because I am fortunate to have Sheryl, Stacy, and Danielle from my riding here today in Ottawa at training. Without people like that serving our constituents, we would not be able to give the service we need to Canadians.
My remarks today are going to focus on some different parts of the budget and related amendments that are important to Canada and our prosperity. I want to focus on why some of these measures are here. Often my friends in the NDP like to talk about how many pages a budget implementation act has but do not actually read the pages.
We are looking at one of the most sophisticated economies in the world. With tax measures, measures to promote growth and job creation, and listening to families and promoting safe communities, there are going to be consequential regulations and amendments as part of that. If we dive into them, we can see that they actually echo the demands of Canadians.
The child fitness tax credit has been remarkably popular. It supports healthy activity for our young people and helps families bridge that gap as the costs of these sports and physical activities have gone up. This bill will implement our doubling of that fitness tax credit and will make it refundable as of next year.
I was very proud that the chose Whitby to make this announcement and that we were part of it in the Abilities Centre. It is a direct measure that has been benefiting families. We are extending it and making it better.
Consumers, particularly seniors in my riding, have asked me countless times why they have to pay to pay. They want to know why they have to pay for a paper bill if they want to get a paper bill. That provision is in here as a consumer measure. It is focused on giving choices to consumers, those who either pay online or the traditional way. It is also part of our multi-year project of making the wireless sector more competitive and more accountable.
There are also measures in this bill that will see administrative monetary penalties added to the Wireless Code and that will continue our work to bring cellphone costs down for Canadian families and businesses.
We see direct input from charities in this budget, building on the exceptional work done in the previous budget on the introduction of the first-time donor's super credit that encouraged Canadians to support the charitable sector. We would build on that to allow charitable groups, non-profits, and church groups to fund-raise and do their activities by computer, which would allow them to do more modern fundraising. We have been listening to these charities and acting.
We see NGOs' input reflected in here. I remember meeting Kady Séguin, from Publish What You Pay, in my extractive-sector outreach. Our G8 commitment, made by the in Scotland, to make resource companies around the world publish their payments in those countries is in here. That is listening. That is building on the work some of those NGOs are doing.
Business owners, particularly small-business owners, will see their demands in here, expressed through a number of groups, including CFIB. Our small business job credit, which would see a benefit for 90% of EI-dues-paying employers, would drop their EI payroll taxes by up to 15%, not only securing the jobs of today but building them for tomorrow. That is listening. That is in here.
We have heard from victims advocates across the country. The victims bill of rights is in this budget implementation bill. As well, there is something that many, including my friend, the leader of the Green Party, have advocated for. She has been advocating for the DNA missing persons database to try to give closure to some of these families. Victims groups have asked for that investment in the DNA data bank. That is in here. That is listening to victims. That is listening to groups across the country.
It is also an opportunity for small groups of residents, like those in my riding, to have an impact. When I was elected in 2012, I met with a group of people who were upset by some of the development around a small aerodrome in Greenbank. Large quantities of fill were being brought in. There was the expectation that because it was an aerodrome, there was no regulation permitted by the local and provincial levels of government. That was not the case. We have clarified that. Operations like the fill operation will only attract the federal jurisdiction if they have a direct impact on aeronautics. However, clearly, there is a need to clarify this area, so there is another provision. We have listened. A number of us have advocated amendments to the Aeronautics Act that would clarify the ability of the minister to set regulations on the development of these aerodromes, small ones scattered throughout the country, and to make regulations with respect to consultations on the development of these aerodromes.
The great thing about a budget that will bring Canada to a balanced budget in the next year, spending in priority areas, and offering tax relief to groups like families and small businesses is that in many ways, it goes back to my first remarks that the legacy of our friend Jim Flaherty will live on through the secure economy he has provided. Budgets like this one make sure that our economic fundamentals are sound.
It takes prudent management. Budgets do not balance themselves. It takes setting priorities. It takes establishing a plan. It takes building an environment friendly to job creation, innovation, and growth.
This will mark a turning point. Canada not only stands tall with our success domestically but serves as a beacon to our G7 counterparts. Canada will be the first G7 nation, for many years, to have a balanced budget. What is more impressive is that we balanced that budget while creating jobs, spending in priority areas, like record health transfers to provinces like mine, Ontario, and controlling the overall pace of the growth of government, recognizing that small businesses, families, and seniors cannot be leaned on time and again just for the sake of growing every department of government and the size and scope of government.
It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I recognize that Mr. Flaherty's legacy will be executed through this final budget, which will pass this House and secure a strong future for Canada.