My name is Sheila Taylor. I'm on the executive of the Saskatoon branch of the National Association of Federal Retirees. As you see, when you retire, the titles don't get any shorter.
In 1996 there was a book published called The Pig and the Python: How to Prosper from the Aging Baby Boom . It described the effect baby boomers are having as they moved through the track of the python. Well, we're nearing the end, but we're still alive and kicking.
On that note, I believe the government should appoint a minister responsible for seniors. We need to see our face represented in Parliament to make sure public policy decisions are always viewed with a seniors lens.
For budget 2018, in addition to the all-important retirement security, I believe the federal government should lead a national seniors strategy. It should build on home care and seniors housing investments that have been made so far. The strategy needs to include a national palliative and end-of-life care strategy, and better pharmacare for seniors. Medical marijuana is prohibitively expensive, and I speak from personal experience.
The strategy must also continue to tackle infrastructure investments with age-friendly communities, and universal design standards in mind to ensure that seniors' residential needs are met. Because it is coming.
We all know that death is inevitable and we keep hoping it will make an exception in our case, but it isn't going to. These actions, we believe, will lead to better productivity, and a stronger economy not just for seniors but for their families and all of Canadian society.
Thank you very much.
Thank you. I'm representing the ONE campaign.
Honourable members, about 130 million girls are out of school. If they were a country, they would be the 10th largest—let that sink in for a moment—behind Russia and just ahead of Mexico.
Canada contributes about 2¢ per Canadian per day to global education. According to the Education Commission, it is indispensable to double our contributions to education if we want to close the 130-million gap, and provide every girl with the opportunity to go to school.
This means that with just 2¢ more, Canada can lead the way. Today, we ask Canada to contribute to the financing of the Global Partnership for Education in 2018 as part of the solution, so it can help millions of girls in the poorest countries get the education they deserve.
I want to close by asking honourable members and the audience, where would we be without our education?
Thank you very much, Viktoriya.
We're right on time. Imagine that. That's unusual for us.
Turning now to the witnesses who are here for the official submissions, we appreciate you coming. We also appreciate those who were able to send a submission prior to mid-August. We have those on our iPads, so if you see us referring to our iPads, you'll know what that's about. We're looking at your brief to see if you're saying the same thing you said then.
Before we go to the witnesses, because we are on the road, I'll ask each of the members to introduce themselves so you know who you're talking to and where they're from.
I'm Wayne Easter, a member of the Liberal Party from Prince Edward Island.
Michael, do you want to start?
CINP is the formal organization of the Canadian nuclear physics community, to promote excellence in nuclear research and education. We represent 116 active researchers from coast to coast.
I am here to talk about Canada's fundamental science review, otherwise known as the Naylor report. This is a historic opportunity to reposition Canada as a global leader in research and innovation.
The Naylor report is comprehensive, recommending improvements in government support and oversight structure that would strengthen Canada’s impact in fundamental research and correct many problems to address more than a decade of decline. We commend the government on commissioning the report, because the intellectual infrastructure of Canada is a high priority in need of renewal. The recent appointment of Dr. Mona Nemer as Canada's chief science officer is an important first step in implementing the recommendations of the report, but this does not mean the job is completed.
Canada is losing ground in science and technology, compared to other countries. Over the past 15 years, Canada's research funding as a percentage of GDP has declined from 2% to 1.6%, while that of nearly all other major nations has grown. We have now fallen out of the top 30 nations in research spending, and we are considerably below the OECD average of 2.38%. Furthermore, there has been a shift away from the pursuit of investigator-led research, with a 35% drop in available real resources per researcher. In the handouts you'll get later, there is a plot from the Naylor report showing dramatically this decline in investigator-led research dollars, in constant $2,000.
The single most important recommendation of the Naylor report is that the Government of Canada should increase investment in investigator-led research to address this decline. Again, here I have a table from the report, showing the total budgetary implications of the full implementation of the report, and highlighted in yellow is the single most important item in this report, which is $400 million spread over four years for investigator-led direct project financing.
Why should we do this? Many fields of fundamental research, including the nuclear physics research pursued by CINP members, produce highly qualified personnel. These personnel are trained to design, build, and operate a wide variety of technical experiments and facilities, as well as devise complex algorithms to analyze data or perform detailed mathematical modelling. They have become experts in attacking problems by thinking outside the box, and they help develop the so-called disruptive technologies of tomorrow.
Most of the questions posed in your call would be answered if the Government of Canada were able to increase resources for fundamental research across all disciplines as an investment in the intellectual and innovative infrastructure of this country. This would allow researchers to train more young Canadians to be innovative, and better embed this innovative drive within the fabric of Canadian culture. It is only by increasing investment in Canada's discovery-driven research programs that we will be able to develop the innovative technologies, goods, and services that contribute to our economic prosperity.
If we fail to make these investments as recommended in the report, if we fail to support the next generation of scientists, the future and prosperity of Canada will be in peril, as our country will be stuck with yesterday’s knowledge and technologies, rather than grow with those of the 21st century. By investing in research, we invest in Canada's future.
To finish, we urge the Government of Canada to implement, as soon as possible and at the highest priority, the budgetary recommendations of the Naylor report, which in the long term will help Canadians and Canadian businesses to be more productive and competitive internationally. The future of Canada as a prosperous, innovative country depends on this.
I represent the Canadian Neutron Initiative, a pan-Canadian effort to propose a solution to an urgent policy problem. The initiative is presently supported by nine Canadian organizations and is led by the University of Saskatchewan and McMaster University.
Committee members, Canada needs a complete 21st century scientific tool kit for materials, research, and innovation. To help maintain a clean environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Canadian researchers study and develop materials that are needed to improve wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear plants, and hydroelectric dams, and to store renewable energy for release when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.
To help achieve a clean growth economy, Canadian engineers are developing light yet strong alloys for energy efficient planes and cars that can be powered by alternate fuels or batteries.
Canadian engineers are investigating how metals change during service, which helps government and industry manage aging pipelines, naval ships, and railroads to ensure safety and to support cost-effective decision-making on infrastructure renewal.
Canadian scientists are developing materials for diagnosing cancer and fighting cancer. Canadian scientists are developing more resilient crops to strengthen global food security. In all of these examples and many other research areas, Canadians depend on having the right tools to study and improve materials. After all, everything is made of materials. But here's the problem. Canada is about to lose a critical tool, a tool which is essential to the country's clean economy, safety, and health goals because it is an essential tool to advance our knowledge of materials in all the areas I just described.
The tool we are about to lose is neutron beams, with the imminent closure of the NRU reactor at Chalk River. Neutron beams gently probe inside materials and reveal nanoscale materials' details that cannot be seen with other scientific tools and that are important to understand how materials perform.
The value of neutron beams is recognized around the world. Other developed countries have invested $9 billion in capital so far this century in neutron beam facilities to support research on materials. Canadian Bertram Brockhouse was honoured with a Nobel Prize in 1994, recognizing the global social impacts of research with neutron beams, the method he pioneered.
Currently the value of neutron beams is being underscored by 2015 Nobel laureate Art McDonald, who has spoken in support of doing something about this imminent crisis.
In March, Canada will lose access to these irreplaceable tools when the NRU reactor at Chalk River closes. Researchers in over 30 Canadian universities, in government, and industry will be affected. Inaction creates the risk of crippling our ability to apply neutron beams to Canada's innovation agenda. Once lost, this capability will be very difficult to restore.
Our solution will ensure that Canadians can continue to access neutron beams for research, innovation, and development of young people for highly skilled careers. To maintain our capability over the next decade, we must now establish partnership with leading neutron beam facilities worldwide. We will also need to fully exploit our domestic asset, the McMaster nuclear reactor, which will be Canada's most powerful research reactor after NRU has closed. Both upgrading the McMaster reactor and accessing world-class facilities abroad will be needed to maintain and rejuvenate our national capability to apply neutron beams for materials research.
If in the future Canada contemplates investing in a new domestic research reactor for the long term, this rejuvenated community could help Canada maximize that investment by informing the inclusion of neutron beam capabilities that will attract collaborators and place Canada at the forefront of materials research for decades.
The Canadian neutron initiative offers a cost-effective solution to an urgent policy problem. The university-led program we propose will cover Canada's needs for neutron beams for 10 years. It will cost $24 million over the first three years, ramping up to about $19 million per year, less than a fifth of the cost to operate the NRU reactor today, currently stated as more than $100 million per year.
Our solution will keep a critical tool in our scientific tool kit so that Canadians can continue to contribute at the leading edges of clean economic growth, security enhancement, health, and fundamental scientific discovery for years ahead.
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here with you today.
My name is Ray Bouchard. I am the chair of EMILI, the Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative. I'm also the president and CEO of Enns Brothers, a John Deere dealership based in western Canada.
Enns Brothers is an ag equipment dealership with over 350 employees. We are involved in and supportive of many community-based activities across western Canada. EMILI is one of these.
EMILI is a CEO-led, not-for-profit headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. EMILI's mission is to develop the most advanced and productive ag economy in the world through combining our natural strengths as a country in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and agriculture. Our board consists of business leaders in our community, along with university and college presidents.
EMILI's regional focus is western Canada but with a pan-Canadian impact. We are a broad sector initiative combining over 70 industry and technology partners both in research and talent development as well as incubators, accelerators, associations, government, and academia from across Canada.
We welcome the committee's focus on the topic of productivity and competitiveness, and in particular your focus on what federal government measures would help Canadians and Canadian businesses to be more productive.
Productivity is a topic EMILI has been concerned with since its formation in 2015. This is particularly critical as the world shifts to embrace more automation and artificial intelligence. The opportunity for AI to drive more productive Canadian businesses and more productive Canadians is immense, but so are the risks for our industrial sectors that wait on the sidelines.
The nature of business is changing. Inefficiencies and gaps in production, processing, and markets are being driven out or minimized through the adoption of new technologies and tools.
Amazon's recent purchase of Whole Foods is an example of this in the agrifood sector. No one in the Canadian private sector wants to be the next business or industry to get “Ubered”. We know we can't prevent automation. We need to adapt and lead in this evolution of technology, but we can't do it alone. EMILI believes we need the federal government to support initiatives to allow our agrifood industries to become leaders and not laggards in this evolution of automation. EMILI is focused on the following six measures or actions to improve Canadian talent and business productivity.
First, generate awareness about the changing nature of technology and global business interests, especially in agriculture. This is an industry that is poised for tremendous growth.
Second, create a collaborative framework that connects all sectors of agriculture to technology solutions designed by Canadians. There is much activity in the AI space in Canada, recently enhanced by the additional investments in budget 2017, but these need to be business-led to allow us to move beyond an academic and research focus to an all-inclusive approach. As Leah Olson of Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada has said, the sector is willing and wanting to embrace technology. They need help in identifying who to talk to and what opportunities are available to them in Canada. When Canadian ag companies work with Canadian technology companies, we can both improve productivity at home, create good middle-class jobs, and new goods and services for global markets. We can be the owners of global productivity.
Third, we believe we need to provide funding to de-risk pilot projects, innovation development, and adoption. We need a co-investment model to incent the various sectors to work hand in hand rather than in silos. From a programming perspective, EMILI's commercialization and partnership model has adopted the model of SDTC, which I believe you are familiar with.
Fourth, we need to support IP formation, protection, and freedom to operate, working with AiX out of Ontario to help companies capture some of the $280 billion global IP market and expand global markets in both agri-food and technology products.
Fifth, we believe we need to scale successful candidates through venture. We believe a collaborative government and private sector venture strategy will be a key catalyst for success.
Government needs to adopt the first in and last out venture strategy to drive the Canadian private sector to invest at home. There's lots of money from Canadians that goes abroad. We need to keep these funds in Canada.
Canadian start-ups are left to fend for themselves and seek money from Silicon Valley, inevitably diluting Canadian interests. Venture funds need to be direct investment funds to keep our technology companies here in Canada so they are available to work on the retooling of traditional sectors and deliver on the benefits and productivity gains that are possible. If we lose these companies too early in their innovation growth cycle, the benefits for Canada never materialize.
We have the opportunity now to leverage the advantages we have in agriculture and technology, to be the seller rather than the purchaser of future ag AI innovation. EMILI has designed a $90-million venture fund along with the Province of Manitoba as a sidecar to our main commercialization platform.
Finally, there's working with provinces and territories to train students and existing workforces for future jobs, not just computer programmers but middle-class, digital economy jobs. We can't build an economy based on Ph.D.s. We need to train the retail outlets, processing units, agronomists, managers, and farmers in how to use the new tools to achieve the desired productivity gains. Experiential learning with platforms and retraining are a big part of this.
EMILI's co-investment ask of the federal government is $155 million over five years. This will leverage over $500 million in investments to collectively pursue the above measures, transform the agrifood sector in Canada, keep Canadian technology companies in our economy, improve Canadian productivity, and promote environmental sustainability.
Today, we are working with 18 agricultural companies ready to embrace AI and machine learning through our commercialization platform with many more undertaking internal research on how AI and machine learning can improve productivity of their workers and business lines or help to diversify operations and develop new processes, IP formation and additional product lines.
Canadian agriculture is poised to take the first mover position. Federal investments in the measures EMILI is focused on will enable Canada to become the world's leading producer of ag AI technology. In business, you want to be the producer, not the purchaser. We believe that we have this opportunity in Canada right now.
With the increased globalization of the economy, the term “competitiveness” has become ubiquitous. What does it actually mean? Mostly the term is synonymous with productivity and innovation. This is incorrect as they are three completely separate although interrelated forces that act on our economy.
To truly succeed in today's technology-driven global economy, Canada needs to develop and execute three distinct strategies: one for success in innovation, one for international competitiveness, and one for productivity. While we applaud the federal government's efforts around NAFTA, market access and free flow of products is a top priority. It is a moot point and one we cannot celebrate if our domestic economy erodes due to the policy decisions being put forward through the proposed tax on incorporated businesses across our country.
The tax changes the government has proposed are the most significant tax changes we have seen in 45 years. They have the potential to alter our current tax system in fundamental and negative ways.
I'm here representing over 1,400 businesses in Saskatoon. Over 90% of our members who were polled are against these proposed federal tax changes as they feel there will be significant and far-reaching negative impacts on themselves, their families, and their communities.
These impacts will not only expand across our country but across generations. We cannot be constantly changing the rules of the game, so government has one shot at this. You need to get this right by having a more comprehensive consultation that includes business. The short 75-day consultation period started in the middle of summer. The limited information and the controlled access to round tables are not enough.
These tax changes will affect all private business owners regardless of their level of income, size of business, or conformity with fiscal rules. Many, if not most, business owners will end up paying higher overall tax in the future if these proposals go ahead, sometimes even paying higher tax rates of taxation than other Canadians at the same income level. This has been confirmed by accounting professionals across Canada.
If the government is concerned with the growing number of Canadian-controlled private corporations and is trying to ensure delinquent business owners pay their fair share of taxes, they should be looking at targeted measures, not the broad sweeping changes they have proposed. Many small business owners have indicated that if these rules pass in their current form, they will shut down their businesses and turn to full-time employment, or they will move their businesses out of Canada. This could result in significant job losses in addition to leaving Canada lagging behind other countries in terms of small business ownership statistics.
It isn't fair to target small and medium-sized businesses, and it certainly isn't fair to put in place measures that could cost employees jobs. These changes will ultimately affect productivity, disposable income, and the investment around innovation across our country.
If our government is serious about productivity, innovation, and competitiveness, we urge you to rethink your proposed tax changes to ensure that we grow small businesses across Canada and continue to encourage entrepreneurship, to launch meaningful consultations with the business community to review tax policy without unfairly targeting independent businesses, and to consider, through a royal commission, a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system with a view towards fairness and simplification for all taxpayers and increasing competitiveness for all businesses.
I want to close by reading one of the many submissions that we received from our members:
“I grew up in Saskatchewan in a working poor single-mother family. I never received a college diploma or university degree. I didn't even finish high school. I started working as soon as I could. I vowed I would never be in the same position I grew up in. I worked non-stop doing various jobs, sometimes in unsafe conditions.
“Sixteen years ago, at the age of 26, I established my first business and invested every cent that I had saved—and not partied away like the majority of my peers—into a franchise operation hoping to purchase myself a stable job. With hard work and dedication, I managed to turn the one business into three small businesses and also operate a company that purchased housing so that my employees could have a safe place to live at a reasonable cost.
“As the owner of these businesses which run 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, I have gone into work at two in the morning to assist with power outages. I have laid in the hospital bed hours after giving birth doing schedules. I have carried my two-day-old baby to work doing fundraising for charities or company supports. I was ineligible for EI and wanted to breastfeed.
“I pay taxes in my business, and I pay personal taxes when I take money from my business to pay for things for my family of four children and a fifth on the way.
“I currently travel to Ontario several times a year and purchase—stockpile—groceries and bottles of water for my ailing father, who has poor well water, has osteoarthritis, and can't carry water bottles or other heavy items.
“Business owners make sacrifices to achieve. I am a leader. I take care of my people. I don't take sick leave. I don't take parental leave. I do take pride. I am not cheating. I am trying to build an example for my family and for others in my community that have given up hope.
“Please consider that changing these tax rules will limit my ability to pass on my achievements to my children. It will limit my ability to spend on extra benefits for my team members. It will limit my ability to expand my business and employ more people. Can you imagine how different my life would have been if I didn't become an entrepreneur, or the lives of my children, or the lives of my team members that I consistently help, or the community organizations I host at no charge in my business?”
Chair, members of the committee, Clerk, fellow witnesses, my name is Pam Schwann, and I am president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association. Bonjour.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear today.
The SMA is the voice of the Saskatchewan exploration and mining industry, representing over 40 member companies and employing over 30,500 people in Saskatchewan. Our mission is to advance a safe, sustainable, and globally competitive mining industry in Saskatchewan that benefits all the residents of the province.
A productive and competitive mining industry, which has underpinned Saskatchewan and Canada's economic successes over generations, can advance Canada's priority commitments of reconciliation with indigenous people, growing the middle class, and developing a lower carbon-intensive economy, all of this while providing revenues to government to support social and infrastructure development across Canada, with the very strong support of the public, as consistently demonstrated by provincial and national surveys, which might be contrary to the perception one gets from social media.
Saskatchewan mines provide over 30% of the world's annual potash consumption, with the world's two highest grade and largest uranium mines providing over 22% of global annual uranium production. Proportionally, mining is the largest private sector employer of indigenous people in Saskatchewan, and has been for over two decades. In northern Saskatchewan the mining operations provide much-needed high-quality and high-paying jobs, with indigenous peoples comprising approximately 48% of the workforce, which is about 1,400 people in northern Saskatchewan, with a direct annual payroll in 2016 of $102 million.
Additionally, indigenous-owned suppliers in northern mines provided over $316 million in goods and services to northern mines in 2016 alone. Since 1991, northern mine operations have paid $7.1 billion to northern employers and northern goods and services suppliers.
I want to repeat that northern Saskatchewan is a severely economically disadvantaged region of the country, very similar to areas of the Northwest Territories, where mining provides very valued employment and business opportunities that can be leveraged to other industries.
We believe mining can advance the government's commitments to the indigenous peoples, middle class, and the lower carbon-intensive economy by the following five recommendations: first, improving the regulatory framework to enable sustainable resource development, particularly with respect to the ongoing environmental assessment reviews and species at risk legislation; second, investing in the socio-economic capacity of indigenous communities; third, incentivizing investment through taxation tools; fourth, enhancing Saskatchewan's and Canada's trade and investment competitiveness; and fifth, promoting the role of Canadian clean energy in a low-carbon economy.
I want to go into some specifics of the first two recommendations, time permitting.
With respect to enabling a stronger regulatory framework that supports resource development, we need to ensure that regulatory agencies and relevant departments have the requisite capacity to perform and carry out responsibilities. We need to ensure that Canada's investment climate is not undermined by unnecessary interjurisdictional conflict and impractical assessment processes. We need to enhance indigenous participation in the role of the federal assessments in a manner that is consistent with Canada's constitutional and legal framework. We need to expeditiously develop and implement approaches to species protection and recovery that are consistent and complementary across federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and that provide a landscape approach rather than a species-by-species approach.
With respect to budget measure two which we've asked about, investing in socio-economic capacity of indigenous communities, as mining operations in Saskatchewan provide real opportunities for careers in economic development opportunities for indigenous communities, it is recommended that budget 2018 invest in and enhance foundational social investments—health, housing, water, education—that will contribute to better outcomes for indigenous people. They are our workforce of tomorrow and our business leaders of tomorrow, and we need to instill investments so they have capacity.
We need to increase funds for skills training and entrepreneurship to assist indigenous peoples in securing opportunities generated by the industry, and we need to allocate dedicated funds to the Canada infrastructure bank to facilitate northern infrastructure development.
With all due respect to the territories, my north is north of 56, not north of 60. There are many remote areas in northern Canada south of the territorial border that need assistance.
Finally, I need to flag my concern as an industry association representative about the legalization of cannabis and public safety, particularly with the timeline for implementation of July 1, 2018, when we don't have adequate testing mechanisms in place to ensure safe workplaces.
The last point I want to make is that we are undergoing a severe and prolonged downturn in both potash and uranium prices. Our companies have done everything they can to control costs. Every new cost right now counts. We just cannot pare down to the bone anymore. I ask you to consider that in your recommendations.
I am very pleased to be here with you today.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging that we're on Treaty No. 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis.
Last October I met with this committee in Fredericton, where we heard from farmers, fishers, and foresters about the value of research in their lives and in their communities. Today I'm very pleased to be with you in Saskatoon, a community that has leveraged higher education, research, and innovation to enhance the lives of people.
Most of you know Universities Canada. We've been active since 1911, and in every decade, Canada's universities have contributed to Canada's success. We represent 96 universities across the country.
We prepared a written submission and we're delighted to be with you today. It's great to be here in Saskatoon. The University of Saskatchewan is an outstanding example of the ways in which universities benefit all Canadians with research that saves lives, drives social innovation, and makes our communities stronger.
Universities improve quality of life by promoting prosperity, creating better opportunities, improving public transit, helping businesses to innovate, and advancing reconciliation.
I was thinking about this this morning. Whether it's the global challenges we read about in the paper of climate change, mass migration, changing trade rules, or the local issues you face when constituents come through the door of your constituency office, university research is helping. On such local issues as how you get to work, how to become more competitive or more profitable, or how to care for aging parents, the universities' research is leading the way.
I want to do a brief shout-out to the last couple of budgets.
Budget 2015 included transformative infrastructure investments that you're seeing roll out on campuses across the country, improving the learning environment for students and the research capacity of universities.
Last year's budget, budget 2016, included the CRC 150 competition, a competition for top-level talent. More than 200 world-leading scholars are trying to come to Canada. There's funding available for about 35 of them. Immigration changes are making it easier for students and top talent to come to Canada, and in the innovation clusters competition that's on right now, more than 20 universities are participating in 55 proposals that are business-led, making the connection between research, innovation, and prosperity.
Within your theme of enhancing Canadian productivity, I hope you'll see that universities are central. Let's start with the students, again, people you care about as MPs. One million Canadians are pursuing their first degree at universities on campuses across Canada. The experiences they have will determine Canada's prosperity for the next 50 years, which is why universities are working to provide research-enriched learning environments, work-integrated learning opportunities, and international outbound opportunities, a chance to study abroad.
Today's students get a 21st century education to prepare for the knowledge economy by learning from top researchers on campus, and we all know that innovation enhances productivity and that fundamental research is the fuel of innovation. Fundamental research generates knowledge contributing to breakthrough discoveries that lead to new products, services, and policy solutions.
You've heard a number of examples already this morning, and I know Jamie will provide more, but just think about Saskatoon 20 years ago, before Light Source existed. Think of the business that's been attracted to it. Think of the new solutions that have been developed. Think of the advances that have been made in agriculture, in health, and other fields. Think about the international vaccine centre lab built here, by virtue of which just one project is saving over $400 million for the swine industry in North America. Jamie can provide more examples, I'm sure.
Another example of university hubs as hubs of innovation comes from the Université de Sherbrooke.
Its innovation, partnership, and entrepreneurship strategy provides the right environment for business. It promotes collaboration with industry and entrepreneurship, as well as competitiveness and productivity.
Sherbrooke's partnership with global tech companies and research centres is pushing the limits of quantum-based research. Companies, including Google and Microsoft, strategically position universities to broaden their reach on the global stage.
We heard earlier about the very real impact of artificial intelligence on the agricultural sector. It's interesting to see that this was discovery-led, investigator-led research spanning 40 years, and now it's creating new jobs and transforming our country.
Let me get to my main conclusion, which is that Universities Canada recommends the federal government endorse full implementation of the Naylor report over a multi-year period, beginning in budget 2018, with a significant increase in support for discovery research through the federal granting agencies, and an inclusion of support for the associated industries for costs of research.
The Naylor report was authored by nine eminent Canadians who spent a year and a half looking at what the needs were. They found that investigator-led research had fallen 35%, that Canada had fallen out of the top 30 in the world in terms of research intensity, and that Canada was becoming less competitive and missing out on the economic benefits that research investments could bring.
Let me close by saying that we live in a time of closing borders and closing minds. We live in a time of disruptive technology. The changes that are happening in the U.K., in Europe, and in the U.S. are having immediate impacts on the nature of the Canadian research environment.
Now is the opportunity for Canada to lead. Now is the opportunity for Canada to shine. I ask this committee for its support in making strong, clear, and bold recommendations to the and your parliamentary colleagues.
Thanks very much.
You did not, and apparently, I'm not allowed to say such things because we need empirical evidence to support that, but trust me, it is.
Welcome to you all.
First of all, I too would like to acknowledge that we are on Treaty No. 6 territory and the homeland of the Métis. We pay respect to the first nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationships with one another.
My name is Jamie Miley. I am senior strategist of public affairs at the University of Saskatchewan. I bring greetings on behalf of the president and vice-chancellor Peter Stoicheff, who unfortunately is unable to be here today as he is travelling on business.
There are three points I'd like to convey from the U of S, a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. Some of this has been said before, but it bears repeating.
First of all, the Naylor recommendation that is most important to the university at this time is the call for greater federal support for major scientific infrastructure, as Paul already said. The current situation is that 40% of the funding for these critically important major scientific research facilities comes from the federal government, matched by 60% from the public and private sources. This allocation funding needs to be reversed to at least 60% from the federal government and up to 40% from other public or private sector contributors.
Given that our university alone, through its Canadian Light Source synchrotron and VIDO-InterVac infectious disease facilities, accounts for 23% of all CFI major science infrastructure funding, it's extremely important for us that this Naylor report recommendation be followed. These unique in-Canada synchrotron and infectious disease research facilities are enormous economic drivers. Not only did the creation and construction contribute to local economies and industries, but also these unique in-Canada facilities bring people from around the world to Saskatchewan. That's to say nothing of the economic spinoff that results from these discoveries and facilities.
The second point I would like to make is that we support federal review of federal funding for access to post-secondary education for indigenous students. The U of S has placed itself at the forefront in addressing the needs of our first nations people, in helping them find a place at our university where they can feel welcome, and in helping them to achieve their goals.
We understand that the 2018 budget will contain some short-term ways of addressing improvements to the PSSSP. Our president, Peter Stoicheff, chairs the Universities Canada education committee that is supporting the federal government's review of post-secondary funding for indigenous students. Because of the large number of indigenous students at our university and in this province, we feel that this review is extremely important.
Studies by a professor in our economics department have shown that the education gap costs the province and beyond billions of dollars. In his latest study released last week, Professor Eric Howe noted that just raising the indigenous high school diplomas to be the same proportion as for non-indigenous populations is a $21.9 billion benefit. This alone is equal to more than one-quarter of the highest value of provincial GDP recorded in Saskatchewan's history, and the largest payoff of all is for a university degree.
The third point I want to make is that the federal government's innovation agenda is an initiative that the U of S can help advance. The University of Saskatchewan is an economic powerhouse in this province. We contribute $1.3 billion to the provincial economy every year.
Consider this: In the 1970s, nearly half of the arable land was summer fallow. Through investments in science and innovation, our colleges in agriculture and engineering have developed new crops and seeding technologies that have turned that number into 100% use of these lands in any growing year. What does that mean? It means that since 1970, innovation alone has produced a net yield of nearly $50 billion.
The impact of that number is truly staggering. When you compare the amount of money that has been invested through provincial grants to the university, roughly in the neighbourhood of $9.5 billion in investment with a $50-billion return, I think we'd take that business deal any day of the week.
The strengthened connections with the federal government that is fostering links between university research and industry to help find solutions to local and global challenges are, indeed, valuable to the regions and to the country as a whole. The superclusters program is an excellent example of why we are optimistic about what can be achieved through this innovative initiative.
Thank you for taking the time to hear our views. At the University of Saskatchewan, we look forward to continuing to work with the federal government in building a more prosperous and globally competitive Canada.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank everyone for their presentations and for welcoming us here in Saskatoon. I am used to saying, “Welcome to the House of Commons”.
I am very pleased that everyone is taking part in this initiative to present their ideas on how we might improve the next federal budget.
I want to add to the Chair's comments. I want to commend not only the work of the University of Saskatchewan, but also that of Canadian Light Source. I had the pleasure of seeing it at the last minute during my last visit. I want to thank Mr. Norris and his team at the University of Saskatchewan for welcoming me. The centre is extraordinary. That brings me to the questions I wanted to ask.
Many of you raised the issue of the federal government's disinvestment in science and research. All of you mentioned it with regard either to the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics or materials research.
Mr. Root, I have a question for you. If I am not mistaken, you mentioned that your recommendation is to invest $24 million over three years to eventually end up with an annual investment of $19 million. You also said that that was a lot less money than is being invested in Chalk River. Did I understand you correctly?
I believe I understood the question.
Thank you for your question.
The stated reason that the NRU reactor is being shut down is a financial reason, because the cost of running the NRU reactor is in excess of $100 million a year. Shutting down the reactor is a bit of a shock to the scientific system and perhaps the impact on materials researchers who come to use the beams at the NRU reactor was not realized. What can we do to preserve that capability, while Canada takes a breath and thinks about the future, rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, by accident perhaps?
What we are proposing is that we ramp up a national program that uses access to other neutron sources temporarily, perhaps for 10 years, so that the scientists and the thought leaders can maintain a Canadian program and a Canadian community. This would enable science to continue and young people to be trained, rejuvenation of the community, and also have a pool of expertise that can inform future government decisions about possibly investing in a replacement for the NRU reactor. This is something that seems to be very far down the road, but if you lose that expertise now, you have a voice missing at the time you're thinking about that kind of investment.
There's a twofold benefit that we're trying to preserve and it's not just because we're old guys with a little bit of white in our beards and we want to keep doing the same old thing. There's a true belief that the knowledge you get from neutron beams research on materials benefits every part of Canadian society and delivers benefits to the world in health, safety, transportation, communication, and all sorts of things that affect the lives of everyone.
I believe I have four minutes remaining or I still have four questions to ask.
Mr. Huber, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Miley, and Mr. Bouchard, as far as investments are concerned, you all talked about the Naylor report and said that it was important for the federal government to increase spending by $400 million. That is very good and I understand why.
To support this point, can you explain to the committee how Canada has truly lost ground and why it is so important that we regain this ground in order to be part of the economy of the future? That is my first question.
My second question has to do with the arts. I am very pleased that the Naylor report also mentions a need for increased investment in research agencies. What role does the arts play in research and social sciences? Can you explain that to us?
Perhaps we could start with Mr. Davidson, followed by Mr. Miley and then Mr. Huber.
I also want to thank all the witnesses for being here with us and for their heartfelt presentations.
My first question is for the representative from the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. Miley.
First, I must admit that I was surprised to hear that the University of Saskatchewan campus was the most beautiful campus because I was sure that the Université de Sherbrooke campus was the most beautiful. Maybe I should visit the University of Saskatchewan just to confirm.
My question is on the indirect cost of research.
Last week, I asked a witness a question when we were in Ottawa. He said that the problem remains and that the indirect costs weren't always covered. Do you have any experience with that? What solutions could be proposed in the next budget to settle this issue?
It is all well and fine to invest in research, but if there is no infrastructure such as laboratories to support it, then what is the use?
I would like to hear about your experience in that regard.
This is my first time in Saskatoon.
That's enough French for the morning.
I have a couple of comments for Darla from the Chamber of Commerce. It was nice to meet you this morning in the elevator.
I wanted to let you know that there was a consultation period that we just finished on October 2. I come from a riding in the city of Vaughan. It has about 13,000 small, medium, and large businesses and manufacturers. I've met with a number of them. From my prior background working on Wall Street and Bay Street, although raised in a small town, and having met with a number of tax accountants, I'm fully versed in the potential unintended consequences, and I also understand that tax fairness is something which many Canadians care about. We need to get it right. We need to be judicious and diligent, and we are listening on that front.
I'm turning to the Naylor report. Three of the presenters this morning spoke about the Naylor report. I'd like you to quickly—and I mean in 30 seconds—re-emphasize how important fundamental research is to the Canadian economy in terms of our competitiveness versus our neighbours to the south or our neighbours on the other sides of the Pacific and the Atlantic. I'll throw that over first to Mr. Huber, please.
I'll make a couple of points.
One is that the relationship is non-linear. That's why we speak about the research ecosystem and why having a strong and healthy research ecosystem is so important.
I'll point to three quick examples that did not happen quickly in Canada but that really are transforming our economy.
The first is the discovery of pluripotent stem cells in Toronto on a Sunday afternoon in August 1960. It has led to the development of personalized medicine and has created a whole new economic sector in Toronto.
Think of the advances—I mention Geoffrey Hinton—in artificial intelligence, work also being done at the University of Alberta, in Montreal at McGill, and at Dalhousie University and others, whereby artificial intelligence is being applied to the agricultural sector. For many years, if you were only thinking about a narrow approach to research, that would not have been possible.
The third is the battery technology being developed out of Dalhousie, where Jeff Dahn has been recruited by Tesla, which is investing in Halifax.
Those are three very distinct areas in which fundamental research has led to a transformed economy in Canada. We can't predict where those breakthroughs will be, and that's why we need a strong research ecosystem.
Thank you for the question.
I want to note that eight of the 10 presenters have asked for money in this presentation. I'm not asking for any money for the mining industry. I'm primarily looking for a good regulatory system that will help us generate wealth. It's not that the other presenters don't deserve the funding they have requested, but you need to generate wealth somehow, and you do that through a primary industry such as mining.
I would describe our environment, particularly in Saskatchewan, as being really buttoned down. Our commodity prices are very low right now. We've gone from highs in potash of more than $800 a tonne to now $220 a tonne in eight years. Uranium prices have had a similar decline.
Companies across the board have done all the cutting they can do. We're in survival mode in many cases. We are the world-leading producer of potash in Saskatchewan, and also the only producer in Canada and the second-leading producer of uranium. Our competitors are global. In potash, they are Russia and Belarus. They don't have the same regulatory system or the same tax structure to deal with. With all of those costs, we have to somehow be more cost-competitive than they are.
Similarly on the uranium front, many African countries and Kyrgyzstan are primary uranium producers. They do not have the same regulatory framework. They do not have the same tax structure. Specifically, when I talk about new tax structures, I am talking about the carbon levy that's going to be coming.
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair, and for all the interest from across the committee.
The looming closure of Chalk River simply reinforces the significance of materials research as it's needed in Canada for our scientists, for our students, for industry, and we've offered a broad range of what that looks like.
Practically speaking, what we've tried to do is say the investment today, $100 million per annum, if we were to take roughly a fifth of that we could make enhanced investments at McMaster, also an aging facility, but one capable of meeting some of Canada's needs. Then, quite frankly, work diligently to develop some formalized and sustainable partnerships.
I'll offer an example. It's not simply that Chalk River is closing next year. There is a partnership with Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which at the exact same time is coming to an end. That relationship needs some immediate attention so we can begin to have conversations. That's quite open. It's a well-established relationship and collaborative set of arrangements. We're also looking at Europe. Honestly, we're taking a technical team over to Europe to have a look. Could we do some of that on a sustainable basis?
The key here is that we need to make sure there's access not simply for our scientists but also for our industry partners. These protocols take time, so the clearer, earlier signal we could have to move forward on these partnership connections as well as enhancing the infrastructure at McMaster, would send a very reassuring signal to our scientific community.
I was recently in Chalk River and had an opportunity to speak with some of the scientists, and there is a great uncertainty.
Thank you. My name is Pat Pitka and I'm the CFO at Ag-West Bio Inc. I'm accompanied by Boni Dorish, director of finance, administration and human resources. The comments we are making today are on behalf of Ag-West Bio Inc.
Ag-West Bio is a member-based, not-for-profit organization with over 100 members, including multinationals such as Bayer CropScience, Cargill, and PotashCorp; various government agencies and departments such as AAFC; and small and medium-sized organizations such as Bioriginal Food, Prairie Berries, and Prairie Plant Systems.
Ag-West Bio's strategies are to promote the development and adoption of emerging technologies, create connections and partnerships to build community, enable and accelerate commercialization, advocate for science and build trust, and build national and international awareness of the cluster. The agrifood sector presents great opportunities for the province and for the Prairies.
The prairie provinces contain about 85% of the arable land in Canada. The Prairies used to be known for wheat, oats, and barley production, which was grown, harvested, and shipped overseas. This has all changed, thanks to the innovation of our researchers and the technologies used by our farmers. Today, canola is a $27-billion crop, 50% of which is processed in the Prairies. Pulses, also known as legumes, are another example. These include crops like lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Lentils alone are a $2-billion crop, and 99% of the lentils produced in Canada are grown here in Saskatchewan and processed and exported to countries like Turkey and India. Continued research is leading to further improvements.
Our farmers are leading in the use of technology. An example is zero tillage, which preserves moisture, reduces soil erosion, and acts as a carbon sink. Thanks to zero till, Saskatchewan farmers are responsible for over 11 million tonnes of carbon sequestration a year, significantly reducing the impact of farming on the environment. New digital technologies are also having an impact. For example, drones are used to help farmers assess fertilizer and chemical requirements, thereby eliminating overuse of these products. Dot Technology Corporation, a company near Regina, is developing a new driverless tractor using GPS to guide the process. It is currently at the prototype stage, and field demonstrations have taken place. This will help farmers control labour costs.
New technologies keep our farmers competitive on the international market without government subsidies, which is a great achievement. Continued public investment in research is critical.
We support the federal innovation superclusters initiative. Key priorities in the agrifood sector should include: more value-added processing and commercialization to develop food and feed ingredients for our global customers; stimulate the creation, growth, and attraction of companies; support for emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, and robotic applications; and improved crop varieties for ever more discerning global markets. We are searching for the next canola. Investment in research and development is critical for the future of agriculture in the Prairies and in all of Canada.
An impact study completed by MNP of Vancouver found that for every dollar invested in R and D in the Prairies, there is a $6 return on that investment. This is something for governments to consider.
Regarding challenges for the future, preservation of the family farm is critical. The current environment and success in the Prairies has been achieved without large public corporations owning or operating the farms. We need tax changes that support the intergenerational transfer of the family farm without penalties. Right now, it is more advantageous for a farmer to sell to an outsider than to transfer the farm to his or her children. This must change if we are to preserve the family farm.
There is another issue the government should consider. We're talking about a new phrase called “freedom 85”. In an article published in the September 2017 issue of CPA Magazine, life expectancy has increased at the rate of one year in every five years. At this rate, half the children born in Canada in 2007 can expect to live to 104. This is good news and bad news. Collectively, we need to find ways to financially support a long life. The retirement age of 65 was set almost 50 years ago when life expectancy was 72. Unless you have a defined benefit plan from a government or major company, you'll have to invest a lot of money into your RRSP for your retirement years.
The government could consider some options, such as deferring the payment of old age security until a later year, maybe age 70. The second option would be to allow small business owners, including farmers, to make an extraordinary contribution to their RRSPs in years with unusual events, such as exceptional profit or the sale of their business.
Thank you for your consideration.
Thank you to all the members of the committee for the invitation to participate today. My name is Vince Engel, and I'm the western Canadian vice-president for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. Let me briefly tell you a little bit about who we are, just for some context, before I speak about our recommendations to improve productivity in the Canadian workforce and the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.
Our association represents Canada's mechanical insulators. We are tradesmen, expert in the insulation of mechanical systems in buildings—buildings just like this one—and in refineries, pulp mills, hotels, schools, and hospitals. Mechanical insulation restricts heat loss or gain in mechanical systems, ultimately increasing the efficiency of heating and cooling systems. Mechanical insulation reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves money, and puts people to work. Mechanical systems that require insulation are primarily ducts, pipes, and equipment such as boilers, furnaces, pumps, and fans.
Our skilled tradespeople are industry leaders in health and safety through the removal of hazardous waste, including asbestos. Our members also support fire prevention through the insulation of firestop materials. There are approximately 7,000 qualified, ticketed insulators in Canada. The mechanical insulation industry also includes Canada's mining and manufacturing sector in the production of insulation. Fibres used in modern insulation are made from raw materials mined right here in Canada.
Mechanical insulation is a practical, cost-effective solution for improving energy efficiency in buildings. In a report released last month, the Canada Green Building Council said that the country could reduce emissions by as much as 50% by 2030 if owners worked with governments and investors on energy consumption initiatives, including more efficient heating and cooling systems. The Government of Canada has made substantial investments in improving the energy efficiency of buildings to reduce their environmental footprint. These investments are essential to ensure the competitiveness of the Canadian industrial and commercial sectors. The Green Building Council's report also noted that energy-efficient retrofits to private sector buildings could save Canadian industry as much as $6.2 billion in business costs, resulting from reduced energy consumption. That's $6.2 billion that could be reinvested into Canada's economy to improve things like critical infrastructure, health care, and supporting small businesses, all of which improve the country's productivity and competitiveness.
Supporting heat and frost insulators goes hand in hand with these commitments. By working with construction trades like ours, the federal government has the opportunity to improve productivity and competitiveness within the trades and contribute to environmental objectives, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It's also important to ensure that the monies set aside for greening buildings is well spent so that work is not being unnecessarily repeated in the future. For Canada's mechanical insulators, this means making use of qualified, certified tradespeople on all federal building projects. Supporting skilled tradespeople who have been properly trained ensures that the work needed to upgrade buildings is done right the first time, ultimately saving on costs down the road. By requiring the use of properly trained and certified skilled tradesmen on work sites, the federal government can enable a productive workspace by ensuring that the work contracted is completed professionally and sustainably.
Our main asks of the committee are these. Continue financial investments in union-based training programs that support those in the skilled trades, including insulators, in the green economy. Ensure that any federal-provincial incentive programs for energy-efficient retrofits in the private sector include mechanical insulation. Finally, require the use of qualified, certified mechanical insulators on projects designed to support energy efficiency.
Thank you. That's my report.
My name is Keith Moen. I am the executive director of the NSBA, a dynamic business organization that I'll expand upon in a moment.
First, let me thank you all for coming to Saskatoon. Welcome back, Mr. Easter.
I also want to acknowledge the appreciation, admiration, and respect I have for anyone elected to public office. Thank you for your respective commitments to the public service for the betterment of our great nation.
The NSBA is a member-driven business organization that serves, promotes, and protects businesses throughout Saskatoon and beyond, through our lobbying and advocacy efforts. From its grassroots origins some 50 years ago by a handful of businesses, today's NSBA consists of a membership in excess of 700 companies, with members ranging from single owner-operator proprietorships to large multinational corporations that employ thousands. Although diverse, our membership mainly consists of a strong community of small to medium-sized businesses that are largely owner managed by entrepreneurs. We are known for our pragmatic, common-sense approach—not just to talk about it, but to actually get things done.
Our response to question one, in terms of benefits to Canada as a whole, is that we believe productivity would increase through funding for indigenous peoples and programs that are directed more toward action rather than toward more reports or studies. It's a multi-generational issue that needs to begin one step at a time, but it needs to be a step in the right direction.
Specifically, we would encourage the government to direct dollars into distance education that enables people to learn skills that can benefit their communities without having to leave those communities. We would encourage more emphasis on finance and business development education for band chiefs who are receiving federal money and implementing educational programs for their bands.
Education and workplace preparation, i.e., work readiness, is key for Saskatchewan, where more skilled labour is needed to keep up with the rates of business growth and retirement in the current workforce dynamic.
Our response to question two is for the federal government to have a growth-friendly tax policy, to implement a procurement model built on best value, and to have open borders based on fair trade enforcement, for example, a working agreement on internal trade. Let's make it easier to do business in Canada, not harder.
Another measure would be to have a patent or innovation box on tax returns to incentivize the commercialization of intellectual property, encourage entrepreneurship, and grow the economy while adding value to society.
Another measure would be the development of trade corridors outside of Canada's large metropolitan centres, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. We live in the heart of a commodity-based jurisdiction, which benefits not only our local economy but that of Canada. We have what the world needs—not just wants but needs—food, fuel, and fertilizer, all of which need to get to export markets. For many years, we've had a need for a perimeter highway around Saskatoon, which has only become more pronounced during our recent population and economic boom.
Last but certainly not least—in fact, it's the biggest point I want to stress here today—the proposed changes to tax planning and private corporations can and will hurt the competitiveness of Canadian businesses, especially relative to neighbouring jurisdictions that aren't raising taxes. I specifically raise this issue last to emphasize that we are a pragmatic organization that sees things holistically, and we are not a single-issue organization.
During the very brief consultation period, you've seen and heard many passionate and personal opinions on this topic—and, believe me, we have those as well—but we want to emphasize that the proposed changes do not stand up to reason or fact, and therefore have no value or net benefit to the government. If they are implemented, the law of diminishing returns will be in effect. Specifically, changes to the effective tax rate on passive income held within a corporation will not only stifle investment and job creation, but will reduce jobs as well, and the middle class will be negatively impacted as a result. This negative impact will be felt across all industries and sectors.
We support fairness and welcome changes that increase fairness, but the proposed changes fail in this regard. The analogy I have been using to stress this point is that the federal government is using an RPG to kill a fly, when a fly swatter would suffice.
We have heard the and other leaders in government, including members of this committee, say that the changes will not hurt the majority of small businesses, farmers, and incorporated professionals. However, tax professionals tell us otherwise, and we believe in and trust their expertise and facts.
In closing, we strongly encourage the federal government to take a holistic approach regarding taxation, which is to say a non-partisan apolitical stance for the betterment of the Canadian economy, because when it comes to economic development and growth, the solution lies in the private sector, not in government.
Good morning, Mr. Chairperson, and members of the committee.
My name is John Hopkins and I'm the chief executive officer of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce.
I want to begin my comments by expressing our shock and dismay about the manner in which the largest tax changes in 45 years were communicated. Tax cheats, not paying their fair share, tax evaders, and the list goes on: these accusations are being levelled at people who used to be the most respected professionals and business people in the land, farmers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and business owners on every single main street.
What is most appalling is that these accusations did not come from a fringe group but, rather, from the Government of Canada, a government that is supposed to represent all Canadians, including business people, most of whom are in the highly exalted middle class. These changes were released in the dead of summer with only 75 days to disseminate. However, these are not simple changes. They are complex and far reaching.
Our view, which incidentally is the view of virtually every chamber of commerce, board of trade, and every other major business association in the land, is that there needs to be meaningful, open, transparent consultations where everyone can be heard. During the 1960s, the Carter royal commission took four years to propose changes, but for these changes it's 75 days. Why the rush?
Recently we had the opportunity to meet with numerous chamber executives from all over our country and, without question, by far the most egregious challenges facing members of chambers of commerce and boards of trade are the corporate tax changes. Our approach to dealing with the discussion paper was to encourage our members to get professional tax advice. In addition, we asked members to let their voice be heard through an online forum. To date, we have had over 1,320 individuals fill out the form, which calls upon the government of Canada to take the current proposals off the table and to launch meaningful consultations.
Business owners are risk takers and in many cases put it all on the line, and during start-up there's typically limited or no profit with the potential for downturns at any moment. At the same time, business owners have no safety net. There is no social program if the business doesn't make a profit. They simply don't get paid. There is no earned vacation pay, no medical leave, no maternity leave, no overtime pay, no employer contribution to a pension plan, and no severance or health benefits that many middle-class employees receive, which in many cases are mandated and in some cases paid for by businesses but are mandated by law. Yet the discussion paper goes to great lengths to say that both are on the same level playing field.
The proposed income-sprinkling changes will have dramatic impacts on some business owners and their families, while the government continues to say this will only impact the highest income earners. We're less than convinced. In addition, the government's reasonableness tests are not clearly defined, particularly given the reality that in many cases a family business person may be in charge of multiple duties that may not have a market comparison.
The goal of most businesses is to increase the value of the business as an asset, which has proven to be exceedingly valuable to all Canadians in terms of job creation, capital investments, and tax revenues for all governments. One can and should question what impact these changes will have on the national economy. Passive income is the most disconcerting tax change. While we do not know exactly how this will be implemented, our discussions with numerous tax professionals have led us to believe that these changes could be very material and have far-reaching impacts.
Most prudent businesses will have or will be seeking to have an adequate level of reserves through economic slowdowns, capital purchase, expansion, new acquisition, and the list goes on. Will these reserves, which are typically invested in various financial instruments, now be deemed as passive income? What about those who are saving to expand or buy out competitors, or those who have reserves to ensure that they don't lay people off? If these changes go through and these types of dollars are now deemed passive income, what happens to the pool of capital across the nation?
On intergenerational transfers, we were absolutely flabbergasted that this common practice was not caught until late in the consultation period. The unintended consequences of that measure alone sent shockwaves through families and businesses. Are there others? Business owners, business groups, individuals, and even some of the government's own MPs are calling for the Government of Canada to hold meaningful consultations.
As a country we cannot and should not be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Please heed the call of Canadians and hold meaningful consultations.
Mr. Chair, committee members, thank you for having me here today representing Polytechnics Canada, and president of Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Larry Rosia.
As we enter into the fourth industrial revolution, Canada's future looks bright. We are well-positioned to harness new technologies, to adopt new production processes, and to develop a workforce that has the future-forward skills needed to succeed in this new world of work. However, as bright as the prospective future looks, our economy faces wide-ranging challenges. Two of these significant challenges are productivity and competitiveness. As I will outline today, polytechnics are one important economic development lever that addresses these persistent challenges, but are underutilized and under-leveraged in federal policy and programs.
Polytechnics are leaders in creating innovation-led inclusive growth and are leaders in the ways in which we contribute to made-in-Canada talent development. This is how Canada's polytechnics contribute to productivity and competitiveness most: innovation capacity and human capital development. Yet, we can do more, but only if the federal government can right-size, re-balance, and re-tool its support for polytechnic education and innovation.
Polytechnics build Canada's innovation capacity by helping firms bridge the commercialization gap. We move products from the laboratory and shop to markets and to people, and ultimately ensure that these products are creating revenue and income for Canadians.
As much as connecting people to products and makers to markets contributes to our productivity and competitiveness, in Canada we don't value the near to market end of the innovation spectrum as highly as we value basic research. Canada is great at supporting ideas, but we must be stronger in our support for the commercialization of those ideas.
Disappointingly, of the $3.1 billion the government spends annually on the higher education R and D, only 1.7% or $53 million is available to the entire sector of polytechnics in colleges, primarily through one program. The remainder goes to university-driven research, leaving important applied research successes to wither away or suffer from underutilization.
As you are aware, industry is critical to driving innovation. Institutions such as Saskatchewan Polytechnic are nimble, and have strong track records of working with industry on applied research projects. A lack of research funding and restrictive policies would prevent us from meeting the huge demand from companies for R and D projects that would lead to the commercialization of products and services, and would diversify and grow the provincial and national economies.
In 2016 alone, the college and community innovative program supported 2,815 firms across Canada. However, current funding levels cannot effectively meet the demand. Presently, the program is oversubscribed and faces a $13-million shortfall. The irony is that the message this sends to industry, that innovation is not that important particularly for the small businesses that want to work with us to solve their problems, contradicts the government's message.
To support innovation-led growth and productivity, we urge the committee to support our call for the federal government to right-size its funding to polytechnic innovation by doubling its current $53-million commitment.
On talent, we know the world of work is changing. It's critically important we invest in our people to support an innovative, productive, competitive, and inclusive new economy.
We have a number of recommendations on talent and skills. I want to focus in particular on the skilled trades. Canada's polytechnics produce highly skilled, multidisciplinary talent that grows both the knowledge economy and the know-how economy. Yet, we often forget that the knowledge economy and the know-how economy enable each other.
As the impact of technology increases, our skilled tradespeople are critical to the success of the new world of work. They are in fact automation enablers. The government's ambition to improve productivity and competitiveness, while reducing income inequality and growing Canada's middle class, requires smarter use of higher education's contribution to the economy and society.
Canada's polytechnics are ready to contribute, and today I urge the government to harness us better.
Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.
Good morning, Mr. Chair, and committee members. My name is Sean Wallace. I'm the economic development director for the town of Tisdale, a small agricultural community located in the northeast region of the province. I'm here representing the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association, SEDA. My comments this morning pertain to productivity and competitiveness in rural economies.
SEDA's membership includes a large cohort of economic developers, with a majority serving in small rural communities with populations under 10,000. Many of these communities are reliant on agriculture and resource development. The majority of businesses located in these communities service these sectors.
Rural Saskatchewan has many of the same core issues as does any small community in rural Canada when it comes to productivity and competitiveness. The ability to attract investment, mitigation of population decline and shifts, access to health care and education, aging and inadequate infrastructure, lack of transportation options, and opportunities for youth are usual themes. Rural communities also tend to have higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and underemployment. Of course, there are exceptions, and these exceptions are the communities that have taken advantage of their unique economies.
Unfortunately, when developing strategies and policies around productiveness and competitiveness, a single national strategy would be largely ineffective because they tend to be generic and focus on large population centres. What works in cities doesn't necessarily work in rural communities. Rural Canada can be complex when it comes to local economies, labour market participation, access to services, transportation, etc., and we require different strategies to address these complexities.
In terms of what would make Canadians more productive in rural Canada and the measures the federal government can take, I believe developing a modern strategy on rural economic development with the participation of provincial organizations like SEDA and rural economic developers would be a positive first step.
In terms of the federal measures that would make Canadian businesses more productive and competitive from a rural perspective, funding for innovation, encouraging careers in agriculture through education and training, and preserving tax incentives for farm operations and rural businesses to support the agriculture industry will help grow and maintain rural economies.
Last, I would be remiss if I did not mention taxes. We know that small business is the backbone of our economy, but in rural Canada, small business is our lifeblood, and a competitive tax regime is critical. Higher taxes mean higher prices for goods and services, which directly impacts our ability to compete.
The government's proposed tax changes would have a disproportionate impact on the agricultural industry. As far as small businesses go, a farmer is much more likely to rely on contributions from all family members. A farm is much more likely to stay within a family for multiple generations relative to other small businesses, and income splitting rules will cause uncertainty as to the tax compliance in these situations, and an increased risk of higher tax costs for family farms.
The proposed tax changes will drastically increase costs of inter vivos and will force families to wait until the parents' passing to transfer farm ownership to the child. They will greatly increase the costs of this transition. In either case, it will decrease the likelihood of a family farm staying within the family.
Also, economic development in rural communities is heavily dependent on private investment, and that is a fact. Rural communities are less likely to attract investment from public companies and foreign investors than urban centres. By removing these incentives from private corporations, and in turn giving the advantage to public companies and foreign investors, it disproportionately impacts rural communities. Much of this private investment comes from business owners in the community with excess incomes who use it to invest in new ventures, often in the form of passive investments that create employment. By taxing these investments at punitive rates, and encouraging the individuals to instead withdraw cash and invest in RRSPs, the ability for this capital to be reinvested in the community will be effectively eliminated. This will have a devastating impact on the economic growth in rural communities. I might say, it might also have a devastating effect on those who practise my profession in rural communities.
Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you for inviting me here today. I appreciate the opportunity to speak.
I want to start by agreeing with the previous comments by the witnesses regarding the private corporation proposed tax changes.
Thomson Jaspar and Associates is a mid-sized CPA firm in Saskatoon. We deal exclusively with small businesses, including farmers and professionals, providing services and advice to 1,200 private corporations.
We believe major modifications to the proposed private corporation income tax measures released on July 18, 2017 need to be implemented to ensure that Canadian small businesses do not suffer employee retraction and losses in productivity. Small businesses are a driving force behind innovation. The proposed changes remove the incentive to pursue small business, which will have a drastically negative impact on competitiveness in our global economy.
Our submission—and I apologize, we were invited to the committee on Friday—includes a copy of the letter we have written to the Department of Finance in response to the proposed small business corporation income tax changes and three examples that illustrate the negative impact the proposed tax changes will have on small business owners, physicians, and start-up companies. As well, we offer our firm's proposal, which I would like to outline now.
We believe income splitting should be allowed for private corporations to recognize that family capital is at risk and that family members contribute in non-measurable ways toward the success of a business. We also believe that all families across Canada should be entitled to a form of income sprinkling. Therefore, we propose the reintroduction of a modified version of the family tax cut, enabling all Canadians to benefit from income sprinkling.
To make up for the lost revenue of our proposed measure, we would suggest eliminating most stock option deduction benefits. We realize that stock options are a legitimate form of compensation in the high-tech start-up sector. The stock option benefit in this sector could be maintained while eliminating it for Bay Street corporate executives, the true 1% of high-income earning Canadians that the proposed tax measures are intended to target.
To prevent the conversion of dividends to capital gains, we propose a simpler alternative to the draft legislation accompanying the discussion paper. A different system could be adopted whereby long-term capital gains, for example, on assets held for five years or longer, are taxed at the current 50% inclusion rate, but short-term capital gains, held for less than five years, would be taxed at a higher inclusion rate of 75%. If this were to be implemented, the personal income tax rates on dividends and short-term capital gains would be comparable, eliminating any benefit from converting dividends to capital gains.
We believe these suggestions would provide three benefits. The first would be increased revenue for the treasury. Taxpayers had been expecting such an increase in the last federal budget and we believe were prepared to accept such an increase. The draft legislation in this area would not be needed, and therefore simplification of the Income Tax Act would be the second benefit.
The third benefit would be the elimination of the unintended income tax consequences that the draft legislation has on farm and family business succession planning. It has been well documented that the draft legislation would negatively impact succession planning, because the income tax resulting from a sale to a third party would be more favourable than if the farm or business were sold to a family members. Our proposal eliminates the need for the draft legislation in this area, and therefore eliminates this major area of concern amongst income tax practitioners.
Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you to everybody for coming to present to us in the pre-budget consultation process.
First, I wanted to thank Mr. Gorniak for his recommendations. I think they're very constructive when it comes to looking at the tax discussions and the changes that are being proposed. You're one of the few witnesses who have come forward and offered solutions rather than criticizing what's going on.
I was really surprised at the North Saskatoon Business Association which came out with the first recommendation involving aboriginal people. Being an aboriginal, I certainly recognize some of the challenges that you're up against. One is getting aboriginal people involved and working in the industry. I have four large mines in my riding and they've done really well in tracking aboriginal people, but some organizations are suggesting there are probably well over 150,000 unemployed aboriginal people. We really have a challenge in trying to get aboriginal people to migrate where the jobs and activities are.
Other committees have recommended better wraparound services focusing on mobility issues, some of the literacy challenges the indigenous people have, better training, and transition housing. I wonder if you could talk about the needs in that whole area and the requirements that would help us move forward on that front.
Sure, I'd be happy to and will defer to my colleague, Brenda Wasylow, if need be, if she has comments as well.
We're thinking in terms of education and training, provided that the work readiness is there. As we've evolved technologically, we see many people working off their phones, from their home offices, their laptops. There's absolutely no reason, aside from the work readiness training and education component, that the same scenario could not be replicated in first nations.
That's the vision we see and that's where we think there is opportunity for inclusion among first nations and indigenous people. Again, it's a multi-generational thing. We don't think that will happen next year or the next decade, but nonetheless, as I said, it's the first step we would like to see. Of course that would require infrastructure, which is expensive, as you know, and opportunity as well.
That's it for my comments.
Brenda, do you have anything to add?
I want to thank the whole panel today for a very educational, wonderful session. You've done a very good job today as far as soliciting good feedback.
I'd like to start with Mr. Pitka of Ag-West Bio.
To comment, sir, you're totally right when it comes to the demographic challenges we have. Obviously, the previous government sought to extend old age security benefits in recognition of those things. Obviously, the government had a mandate to roll those back. This is not a problem that is going away, and good on you, sir, for presenting some suggestions.
Mr. Engel, thank you for your submission today. Certainly, if we want to have safe installations, I think you raise a very good point, but it also maintains the integrity of the tax system, because often, the professionals you're using bill and pay GST, etc., so it's a very good suggestion.
To Polytechnics Canada, last night, just so you know, I drove by the local institute here quite late, and they all looked like they were working, just burning the midnight oil. I appreciate what you guys do.
My real concern has to do with small business taxation, and I'd like to ask a few different people about it.
First of all, when it comes to passive investments and how the government, in its proposal, has said that it wants to steer people to active investment, my understanding is that companies, if they have active investments, they make them. It's already in their benefit, in terms of depreciation, to make those capital investments for production and all those other reasons.
If the government goes ahead with these rules, I'm worried about the undercapitalization of businesses. I'm worried about some businesses rolling to cash and then having inflation burn, because the government is basically making it very prohibitive. I'm also worried about the role of financial intermediaries. For example, we like to link savers with people who can borrow, whether we're talking about the bond market, whether we're talking about new issuance of stock, etc. I'm worried about the corrosion of the fiscal framework, so to speak, between financial intermediaries.
Do you have anything to contribute in terms of those concerns?
I'll start with Mr. Gorniak, please.
I talked to chambers of commerce across the country recently, and this is probably the most egregious change. This could have huge impacts. It's hard to put a dollar value, but some of them I've seen are $3 billion. That's a $3-billion tax change in 75 days.
To come back to something else quickly, what we really need is a new plan. Perhaps, as Mr. Easter talked about previously, it's a white paper where we actually get some tax professionals in the room to talk about what we are really trying to do, and have an open, transparent consultative process.
On passive income, we have a lot of concerns. To echo what's already been said, what are you going to do during the down times if you don't have the money to keep your staff? Well, you're going to lay off more people. What about plans to acquire different businesses? How is that going to work?
How is it fair? I'm not an accountant, so these guys are probably way better at this than I am, but this is the scenario that was run by me. If I have a private corporation and I buy an apartment building, I'm going to be taxed at a much higher rate, but if I have 10 people and we join together and form a public company, there are different rules. Why are we not talking about the whole piece as opposed to just attacking private corporations? That's really what it is. It's an attack on private corporations. That's the way it's being seen from coast to coast to coast.
That's a great question, thank you.
We have been pushing for insulation energy audits in federal buildings. It takes a very short time for a qualified person to go in and take a look around the mechanical room in a building like this and very quickly identify insulation deficiencies that are costing money. It's a simple matter, really. It could be a checklist that's provided to building managers to go and take a quick look at their insulation. If they see some of the red flags, they can have an expert appraiser come in and do an audit.
I have a couple of examples of audits that we've done. We did one at the London courthouse. The Ontario government gave us a building and let us go in, and we did a quick audit. It was a fairly new building but, all the same, we found mechanical insulation upgrades that would save $10,000 to $14,000 a year in that building. The cost of installing the insulation would be estimated between $6,000 and $9,000, depending on the contractor and the cost of the materials. It works out to a payback of nine months. At the same time, we reduce greenhouse gases by about 61 tonnes a year from that one building. We save a lot of money and energy.
That's one of the things the federal government could do. The tax credit is also a great idea for building owners who want to put in the small initial investment of doing an audit on their mechanical insulation and then doing some repairs and replacing of missing or damaged insulation. If there is some kind of a tax credit incentive for that, we think that would be another big step.
The biggest trouble we see is unqualified people doing the insulation.
There are a couple of problems with what you call the underground economy. First, people who aren't qualified just set to work. They look at how the other guy is doing it and do the same. At the end of the day, the insulation is not as efficient as it should be. That insulation is going to be operating in that building for 30 years, and if it's not operating up to par, the meter is running on the energy that's being lost.
One of the other big problems we see, to tell the truth, is value engineering. It may be a term some of you are familiar with. In the construction industry, when you get to the end of a job and there are only a few tradesmen left on site and the money is getting tight—usually it's the insulators and the painters who are last—where are you going to cut back? You can't cut back on the paint because it's visible. The insulation is hidden behind the walls and in the boiler room, and nobody really sees it.
A good example of this, which you may recall, was the Olympic village fiasco a few years ago. They got to the end of that project, and they ran out of money and said, “Cut the insulation.”
Then you have, concealed in the walls, a hot water pipe and a cold water pipe, and neither is insulated. The cold water is sweating; the hot water is providing the heat, and all of a sudden you have mould. Before they moved the first person into the Olympic village, they created a boon for insulators and drywallers, who went in there, ripped off all that drywall, and did the insulation properly. That made headlines all over the world. That's one example of the undervalued attention that's paid to insulation. We think it's under everybody's radar, and we're trying to raise awareness.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome. Thank you for your presentations.
There have been a lot of good conversations, and I'll get to one or two questions after I finish my little diatribe.
The consultative period did end October 2. I've heard some very substantive remarks from the participants here today, and I thank you for them. I know that in a lot of instances there are some unintended consequences as a result of the proposed consultative paper that was issued. I have met with a number of tax experts and spent half of Labour Day with one of them, so I understand it.
It is a consultative paper, and we are listening. That's what any government's duty is: to listen. I think our government has raised the bar on listening and consulting over the last two years, much higher than the prior government.
In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge there are about 13,000 businesses. I've heard from many of them. I understand full well what it takes to run an SME and to be successful, and the sacrifices that are undertaken by business owners to achieve success. That should be celebrated, and we should be proud of that.
Moving to Polytechnics Canada, your recommendation is to double, from $53 million to $106 million, over a number of years. Where would you see that benefit going?
I know for example that BCIT would fall under the umbrella of polytechnics. I am originally from British Columbia and I have family there, so I'm very familiar with BCIT and the trades.
Could you talk about where the benefit would go from that recommendation and how it would assist in closing what I would call a labour supply issue in terms of the skilled trades? The skilled trades are anything from being a mechanical engineer to a bricklayer. Could you just tackle that in 30 seconds, please?
I've heard you this morning, as well as my colleague Mr. Sorbara, talk about how the consultation period on the tax changes has come and gone; it ended yesterday. The fact that the majority of our panellists this morning have devoted most of their presentations to this topic, I think speaks to the inadequacy of that 75-day period. I'm going to continue on this theme because it's so extremely important to so many Canadians.
John Forgeron is a constituent of mine who, at age 34, quit a high-paying and secure job, mortgaged his home to the max, borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from friends and relatives, basically risked the financial stability of his family and, indeed, had the potential to test family connections by borrowing lots of money from these family members, and went into business. Ultimately, he was quite successful in his business.
He feels insulted and attacked by the very language employed in the tax change proposals. In one of the round tables I held in my constituency, he said that he is exploring setting up in Ontario near the U.S. border in order to better support and grow his U.S. business. He is now looking at Denver, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. The return does not justify putting capital at risk in Canada with the proposed tax changes.
I would like Mr. Hopkins, first, to comment on capital flight.
Yes, we have. The short answer is yes. The specific example I can give you is a follow-up to the brain drain to the United States.
Our small business owners are still trying to grasp what's happening here. However, the example I have for you is a meeting that happened in my office with a physician. I have an OB/GYN client who works 80 hours a week and has three small children. The husband stays at home with the children now because you can't get standby child care at three in the morning. One of the issues we're hearing from a lot of female physicians is that their husbands are now stay-at-home dads.
The proposed tax changes with regard to income splitting will affect this family to the tune of $22,000 per year. She has just come out of university and has 13 years of schooling, with $300,000 of student loan debt. Now there's an extra $22,000 a year that's going to be added on top of this.
We had our meeting. We went over the facts. They left that meeting and immediately started to explore the United States. As of last month, in the state of California alone, there were 587 OB/GYN positions available, with $250,000 to $500,000 signing bonuses. Goodbye student loan debt. Physicians in the U.S. are paid more.
In the mid-1990s, prior to professional incorporation, Canada was losing 600 to 700 physicians per year. Professional incorporation came in in 2000. By 2006, that has slowed to 122.
If we fast forward, studies in the United States are showing that by the year 2025, the U.S. is going to have a shortage of 62,000 to 95,000 doctors. There are 83,000 doctors in all of Canada. This is scary stuff in terms of what's going to happen to health care should these proposed rule changes go through.
The brain drain is real. We saw the survey from the New Brunswick doctors I believe, three weeks ago. It said that 65% of them said they're going to move to the United States. It is very real.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
First, I want to thank all the witnesses who are here today. I appreciated the passion with which they made their respective presentations.
This is my first time joining the Standing Committee on Finance on a Canadian tour. However, this is my third time in Saskatoon. I love this city and the people of Saskatchewan.
I have some questions for Mr. Pitka and Ms. Dorish.
The importance of the agri-food industry and the benefits of the research conducted by that industry cannot be overstated. Not only must we be sure to take our place on global markets, but we must certainly do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as you said in your presentations. This is important, especially considering the significant changes occurring in your sector.
Could you elaborate on the importance of investment in research and development in your sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Why is it important? We want to ensure that the next budget includes federal government investment in this sector.
I'm not sure what the question is, but I'll say a couple of things. The building code is under review right now. We are lobbying to get stricter, with more thicknesses of insulation and more uses of insulation in new builds. For new federal buildings, schools, and hospitals, we've been promoting the upgrading of the insulation code in the specifications.
There also needs to be a review of the code for retrofits in federal buildings. Special attention, we believe, should be paid to insulation, because over the course of a building's lifetime, maintenance happens in the boiler room, for example, and pieces of insulation are removed so work can be done on the equipment. Many times, that insulation is just put to the side, ends up in the garbage, and is never replaced. Over a period of time, these all accumulate.
There have been studies and surveys done, and they show that in many buildings 20% to 30% of the mechanical insulation is not working right because it has been either damaged or removed. I think we need some attention paid to the building codes and to insulation in particular. We need to realize that the cost of energy has increased so much. Insulation is more valued. Traditionally, it's undervalued by a lot.
I hope that answers your question.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's been a while since we've been in the same room.
I want to be very clear that I'm speaking as a concerned independent farmer. You will see at the bottom of the piece of paper that I've distributed, which is my response to , which has been circulated to a number of media outlets and journalists, that I am a past chairman of the Canola Council of Canada, and at one time, I chaired the audit committee of the publicly traded companies, Agricore United and United Grain Growers.
First of all, you should know that I'm a proud Canadian. This is not about being a Liberal or a Conservative. It's about right and wrong and it's all about taxes.
I'm really quite appalled at the tone of the rhetoric in the document. I'm shocked that it doesn't appear that financial experts were consulted along the way. This is of such magnitude that it's more important to get it right than it is to do it in a hurray. If you had consulted with financial experts, then the Department of Finance, the Liberal MPs, and the financial experts would all be interpreting the proposal in the same manner and they're clearly not. How can such a huge disconnect exist?
It goes further than that. When you look at these unintended consequences, how could these unintended consequences not be addressed prior to a document going public? One has to ask the question, are these actually objectives?
When we look at specific examples, as they affect farms across our country and small businesses, a 40% tax when passing to your child on capital gains versus 24% tax when going to a third party, what kind of government promotes a program...puts it out there? I know it's just a proposal and it'll change, but why didn't you have the integrity to put the proper proposal in front of us in the first place? It encourages you to sell your land to a third party instead of your own kid. What is the objective of that? Why do public companies have an advantage over private companies? What is your objective—to decimate small communities, every community?
On passive income, we spend decades working with our accountants, and financial experts, and certified financial planners, so that we can prepare for our retirement. As was said by John Hopkins, for many of us, and I'm in that boat.... My son quit his full-time job, with its benefits and packages. You can read all about a mother's letter, which was my wife's letter, at #SandeeYouzwa. I've done a number of interviews on this subject, as well as podcasts with Charles Adler and John Gormley. They're all there. My son gave up his job to come home to the farm. My retirement income was supposed to be renting out the land and collecting that rental income.
This throws accountants under the bus. Every succession plan in any small company is in jeopardy. How can you possibly contemplate taking up to 73% tax on that value? It's ludicrous. It's ridiculous.
I'll give you two solutions. I'm not familiar with the chairman's white paper, but I think it's talking about the same kind of solution that I'm referring to, which is to start over with a meaningful consultation involving financial experts, so that the financial experts, the Department of Finance, and the Liberal MPs are all interpreting the proposed tax reform policy the same way. We have something right now, where and —who I had a 10-minute phone call from—are suddenly starting to say, “Well, capital gains exemption, that will be exempt. That will protect it. We're not doing this. We're not doing that.”
Why don't you put the real package in front of us then, so we can have a meaningful dialogue? You've wasted the financial experts' time, capital, and resources for the last 75 days. You've insulted them and you've wasted their time, energy, and resources. I'm appalled by it all. I can't believe it's happening in our great nation of Canada.
I implore you to start over with a meaningful consultation with financial experts, the Department of Finance, and the Liberal MPs. Your other option is to drop the whole thing.
In western Canada, we export over 90% of what we produce. Having a low corporate tax is the one advantage we have, and you want to start attacking that. We are the farthest from tidewater of anybody. We have high costs, and we have transportation issues, and you want to hammer us on that one. You say you want to grow our economy, but it sounds to me as if you want to shut it down. I don't know what you're trying to create, but it's not the Canada I want to be a part of.
I thank you for the opportunity to vent a little. As you can tell, I'm rather passionate about this issue. I've put a life's work into it, and I can speak louder as an independent than I can as part of an organization.