I call the meeting to order.
We're a nice little crowd here around the table. We're here as the federal finance committee, pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, which is pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2017 budget.
As all the witnesses know, we're doing the pre-budget consultations, but we're also trying to emphasize how to achieve better economic growth in this country. I know a number of groups sent in briefs in early August. It seems a long while ago now. We have all those briefs, and they're still coming and being translated, but they're all on your electronic media or iPad, so if you see people on an iPad, they're likely looking at the briefs that have been presented.
Just before we start, so the witnesses here know who they're dealing with from the parliamentary side, I'll ask each of our members to introduce themselves and say where they come from.
I'm Wayne Easter. I'm a member of Parliament for Malpeque, Prince Edward Island, which is central Prince Edward Island, and I'm a member of the Liberal Party.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the invitation to appear here before you as part of the pre-budget consultations.
Airports and air travel are so important to trade and economic growth here in Atlantic Canada, so I'd like to touch on that, as well as discuss some of the challenges the airports in our regions face.
While we have a relatively modest population base in Atlantic Canada at only 2.3 million people, we welcome more than 5 million visitors to our region annually, which means tourism is an important sector and economic generator.
Our airports move nearly eight million passengers per year, and that's more than three times the population of the region. That number has grown by 21% over the last decade. We're not only moving a substantial number of passengers and cargo in and out of Atlantic Canada, but we're helping to grow our economy. Our airports generate over $3 billion in economic activity every year.
Today's businesses, as you know, compete in a fast-paced global economy, and while our companies no longer have to be located in large international centres to compete, they do require efficient access to regional, national, and international destinations. Our airport organizations remain committed to providing this vital service, and it is because of this that we have grown. With that growth, it is imperative that we continue to maintain, improve, and invest in infrastructure at our airports, and we will need partnerships with the federal and provincial governments to meet that challenge.
The creation of the national airports policy back in 1994 resulted in the transfer of financial responsibility for our airports from the Government of Canada to the community. This financial model has resulted in a net transfer of funds from aviation to the Government of Canada—for example, in 2015 it was $323 million in the form of airport rent—but only a small fraction of those funds contributed to government are going back into the aviation system. In fact, in 2015, only approximately 12%, or $38 million, was invested through the airports capital assistance program, and that's across the entire country.
Since 2000 the funding in this program has not changed, while the cost of doing business over those last 15 years has risen considerably. A lot has changed since 2000. Flying is no longer considered a luxury mode of transportation. It has increasingly become a necessity in order to conduct business across the country and connect people and goods to the global market. As well, a new market of fly-in, fly-out workers has contributed to the growth of aircraft movements at our regional and local airports here in Atlantic Canada.
The airport capital assistance program needs a dramatic increase in funding to support small airports across the country. The fact that small National Airports System airports do not qualify for airport capital assistance funding also presents a challenge. They are small regional airports with fewer than 600,000 passengers annually, and four are located here in our region. They have significant capital expenditures, and revenue collected from their traffic volumes is not sufficient to fully sustain their capital needs.
In addition to the support that is required for safety-related projects, airports also require economic development infrastructure funds. Infrastructure projects in Canada have focused on the rehabilitation of assets such as water, waste water, public transit, highways, roads, ports, ferries, harbours, parks, and trails. They're all worthy of investment, but we have to ask ourselves this: what about Canadian airport infrastructure? Are these assets, which stimulate billions of dollars in economic activity a year, important to our economic prosperity and also worthy of investment?
Instead of receiving investment, air transportation plays the unique role in Canada of subsidizing the government purse. Canada's airports, as I mentioned, pay $323 million a year in airport rent.
In 2015 in Atlantic Canada our Halifax Stanfield International Airport paid $6.2 million and the St. John's International Airport paid $2.4 million. This year, in 2016, five additional airports in our region will begin paying rent, creating an additional financial burden on these small airports.
We are recommending that the government eliminate rent for all airports with fewer than three million passengers and also put a cap on rent for other airports so that it no longer continues its upward climb. Airports are closed-loop systems; any reduction in rent would be passed on through lower airport charges and debt requirements.
As gateways to the communities they serve, Atlantic Canada's airports have an integral role in furthering the economic prosperity of this country. In order for them to remain competitive, federal policies and programs should aim to facilitate and foster growth in this important sector.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the committee. Thank you. I am grateful for the chance to appear before you this morning on behalf of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
Canada is a country with a wealth of resources and possibilities, but it is often impoverished by its own policy choices. There are a few federal actions that would assist Canada's businesses to meet their expansion, innovation, and prosperity goals and to contribute to economic growth in the country.
The most fundamental, perhaps, is the respect for jurisdictional lines and constitutional limitations. To this effect, we are delighted to see that an Atlantic Canadian from Newfoundland and Labrador has been appointed to the high court. As the first voice that rose in this region against putting fresh ideological imperatives before the Constitution, we welcome this development, and we hope for similar outcomes when it comes to taxing carbon.
The second and perhaps most important, in keeping with the sentiments of our , is that policies and regulations be adopted for the sake of the public good, avoiding politicking as much as possible, the case in point being perhaps the EI file in this region. Policies that make it easier for people to work, or, rather, not work, promoting a 14- to 16-week work cycle, when businesses and consumers operate on a 52-week cycle, is certainly detrimental to businesses, individuals, and the community as a whole.
Third, the notion that governments control economies the size of Canada's is simply pure fantasy. A $30-billion infusion into an economy the size of perhaps this region might get things moving, but trying to get the national economy moving, or perhaps preventing it from sliding back, with such careless spending is like trying to jump-start a jumbo jet with a AA battery. It just doesn't work. Economies are autonomous sets of relationships. We would do better to keep away from such grand designs to improve them. The best way to improve economies and foster growth is to promote the right conditions by removing as many barriers to growth as possible and allowing the private decisions of entrepreneurs, investors, and customers to choose what is best for them without state distortions.
Trying to cajole all innovation towards a single market sector, for example, such as the current attempts with clean tech and environmental development, leaves other areas wanting. It does not ultimately advance greater development or growth and leads to further collapses when policy-makers make mistakes—and we often do—or when market conditions change.
Last, perhaps in the interests of time, this Parliament would do well for this region and this country not to impede privately funded projects that have time and time again proven to foster tremendous growth through development and employment.
The provincial governments and federal government must not let themselves be controlled by interests that stop the development of private infrastructure that can provide jobs and economic growth for Canadians, in particular Atlantic region residents, who really need those things.
The Energy East pipeline coming from Alberta through New Brunswick is a vital necessity for our economies and must not be allowed to remain suspended interminably. If there is an immediate economic priority in this country, it ought to be the liberation of this economic factor, with its high-tech jobs, its research and innovation, its air and environmental cleanup capability, and its ability to foster greater economic independence for native and rural communities. Greater energy autonomy for Canada will also mean more affordable energy for those who are most in need.
I think Energy East sums up the core of the recommendations: to stick to the Constitution, to make public decisions with higher goals in mind than ideological dreams or electioneering, to let private enterprise have more economic oxygen through less intervention instead of more and more subsidies, to create wealth and more jobs through native and rural communities, and to avoid favouring any one economic sector to the detriment of others.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to members of the committee for the invitation, and welcome to Halifax.
When appearing before previous iterations of this committee, I would have been ready to talk about the need for measures to ensure a stable and efficient housing finance system in Canada. I'm not going to do that today, because it is not immediately on our agenda, but it is in the air. If we can come back to that, then it would be a very good discussion to have.
I would like to address questions that were put to us in the context of pre-budget consultations quite directly.
The pre-budget consultations asked three questions: How should the federal government help Canadians generally—and the unemployed and indigenous peoples and so on—to maximize their contributions to economic growth? How do we help businesses in all regions and all sectors do the same? How do we ensure that urban, rural, and remote communities make their best contributions to growth? Those are really one question posed three different ways: how do we best boost growth?
We used to call this the productivity agenda. Now we call it the innovation agenda. That's okay; whatever we call it, the generic description remains. We perform best when government finances are stable; when Canadian's job rates aren't being swamped by government indebtedness; when taxes are low and stable, and do not stifle growth; and when our social supports are consistent and generous, but not so generous as to build dependence and complacency.
I'll add open markets for goods and services, and free flows of labour and capital, and I would read in everything that Ms. Pasher said about the importance of airports to trade, people, and goods. Free flows of labour and capital and free exchange rates permit competitive markets to do their work, and individual Canadians can steer their efforts to where our work is most valuable.
This points more than anything else to the value or the importance of trade, especially for the Atlantic economy, where access to markets is crucial. We have two pending trade deals, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the trans-Pacific partnership. Each of these deals is at risk as they head into their respective ratification processes. Canadians and the government should be aggressively promoting them in every possible forum.
Trade is not only international; it is also domestic. Trade barriers across provinces are too common and too high. The Atlantic provinces are working collectively to harmonize and lower their barriers. Other provinces are making their own efforts. The federal government should aggressively support these initiatives, and it should use its jurisdictional powers to help them along and to lower the barriers that lie within the federal realm. This means a hard look at our agricultural and agrifood policies in particular. International and domestic restrictions on agricultural trade and supply management in Canada restrict growth and innovation across sectors and regions, and we can fix this.
When it comes to innovation and the innovation agenda, the most powerful tools rest firmly in the hands of the federal Department of Finance, and I am referring to the tax system. Canada has generous tax supports for research and development by way of generous deductions and credits, and even refundable credits. There are issues with the way we do it, such as favouring spending on labour as opposed to capital investment, which is needed for serious R and D, and favouring spending by small businesses as opposed to the larger or growing ones.
The biggest issue is that the supports we have are targeted on spending and on R and D, which is different from rewarding innovation. Innovation is what happens when ideas are adopted and commercialized in new ways.
We could do much better by rewarding innovation more than spending on R and D and by lowering the income tax rates applied to the fruits of innovation. The mechanism for doing so is known as the patent box, or the innovation box, and models exist in the U.K. and elsewhere in the EU.
The process is simple. Firms track the share of their incomes that can be traced to eligible intellectual property, such as patents, spending on R and D, and know-how. The income traced to eligible IP, intellectual property, has been taxed at a lower rate than other income.
Recently the provincial governments in Quebec and Saskatchewan put the innovation box squarely in their budget plans, and these are admirable initiatives. They would work even better if they were nested within a similar federal plan. A federal innovation box system would limit balkanization across provinces and across provincial tax systems. More to the point, it would strengthen Canada's international tax advantage and attract the most productive sort of foreign investment, namely spending on innovation, which generates spillovers that benefit all of us.
One key message is that there is a very short list of useful things that a federal budget can do, and supporting trade and innovation is firmly on that list.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I think my time is up, and I thank you very much for yours.
As a committee, you're asking for expert consultation to develop an economic strategy for 2017. You've asked Canadians what federal measures in relation to education and training would maximize our country's economic growth.
I, Kris Poduska, and my colleague Adam Sarty represent the voice of physics in our country, which is the Canadian Association of Physicists, and our organization has recommended boosting funding in two specific areas: first, in funding for merit-based fellowships to students and trainees through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, or NSERC, and their post-graduate and post-doctoral fellowship programs; and second, in funding for discovery-driven fundamental research, which is through NSERC discovery grants.
Now I'd like to explain why these two measures will help achieve your goals as well as ours.
First let me introduce you to the Canadian Association of Physicists.
With over 1,700 members, we're Canada's national association for physicists who work in industry, academia, and government. The CAP is recognized and respected for its science and technology expertise. We've testified before other House of Commons committees, including last year, at the request of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, for a study on the state of disruptive technologies.
Adam and I are both university professors. Adam is based at St. Mary's University here in Halifax, and I'm based at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. We're here today to help promote the importance of physics, both as a fundamental science and also as a necessary component of Canada's technology-driven innovation economy.
The reason that we're making these specific budget recommendations are that attracting and retaining Canada's best talent will develop a strong base, which is essential for building a resilient and innovative workforce that will help drive Canada's entrepreneurs and businesses.
Canada's international competitiveness and capacity for sustained innovation depend on balanced support of research, including discovery-driven fundamental research. This kind of support gives freedom as well as flexibility to researchers, so that we can really push the limits of existing knowledge. In doing so, we find unexpected and sometimes even unimaginable phenomena.
Discovery research is really critical for Canada to be competitive in identifying and developing technologies that are transformative. These are sometimes called disruptive technologies. Examples of these kinds of transformative technologies include the internal combustion engine, lasers, solid-state LED lighting, and GPS, the global positioning systems. The trick is that by the very nature of these kinds of technologies make it very difficult to anticipate when and how they're going to emerge. If Canada wants to be a leader in this field, we have to do two things: we have to able to generate new knowledge, and we also have to have the people who are able to identify what pieces of that new knowledge can work together to be transformative.
The most effective national strategy is to have discovery-focused funding that's both sufficient and stable to support the broadest possible base of researchers at all stages of their careers. Now, the reason we're making that recommendation this year is that Canada is losing ground on the world stage.
As an example, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has a scientific advisory board that suggests that national research and development funding should be at 3.5% of GDP. Canada has been very far below this level, and slipping. Our R and D funding fell from 2% to 1.6% of GDP in the years between 2005 and 2014.
This year there's a federal review of fundamental science that's part of the larger innovation agenda. This exercise is supposed to be targeted to help address this very issue. The recommendations from this review panel will be out later this year. Undoubtedly they will have budget items similar to what we're requesting in terms of money for training as well as for fundamental discovery-driven research. The greatest impacts will be realized if the budget can address the panel's recommendations.
In closing, I'd like to thank the committee for this opportunity. We'd be very happy to answer any questions you might have later on.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Patrick Sullivan. I'm the present CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
The Halifax Chamber of Commerce is a best-practice business advocacy organization that continuously strives to make Halifax an even more attractive city in which to live, work, and play.
The Halifax Chamber of Commerce has been around since 1750, whether it has been the chamber of commerce or the board of trade, so it has been a very long time. We represent more than 1,600 local businesses and more than 65,000 employees and act as a powerful voice in promoting local business interests.
Halifax is one of the most economically dynamic cities in the country. The Conference Board of Canada projects that Halifax will have the second-highest GDP growth in Canada in 2016, and this puts us on track to achieve the chamber's strategic goal of having Halifax among the top three highest-growth economies in Canada by 2018. With strong transportation links and emerging clusters in ocean technology and financial services, our city is well positioned to succeed in today's economy.
We certainly appreciate the opportunity to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance today and will address your questions in order.
The maritime region is facing a rapidly aging population and a serious decline in the size of our region's labour force. Ensuring that Canadians, particularly those from under-represented groups, have the skills they need to participate productively in the modern economy is a critical part of building the labour force in our region to succeed in the future.
The federal government plays an important role in skills training in Canada, and it's important to ensure that existing programs provide effective training for Canadians. As well, Nova Scotia has struggled to retain its youth and recent graduates in recent years, compounding our demographic challenges. To address this, the federal government could increase support for youth and recent graduates so they can take part in experiential education opportunities, such as internships or co-op programs. This would help better prepare them for the workplace and would increase labour force attachment and retention.
When we speak to our members, we hear that the overall tax burden is a constant source of frustration. In recent months, the federal government has taken action, such as planning to raise the CPP and introducing the concept of a price on carbon, both without consultation. Both of these will have a significant impact on business costs in the years to come. Going forward, we'll be looking for the federal government to take action to make business in Canada more competitive, not less.
Lowering corporate income tax rates or reinstating the planned decrease in the small-business tax rate would help in this regard. As well, reducing regulation, providing timely customer service, and consulting the business community early in the regulatory process would help make life easier for business.
Immigration is also an important avenue for the region to help manage its demographic transition. Fortunately, the federal government has taken recent action in this area and will provide the Atlantic region with a pool of over 2,000 more provincial nominees, which we certainly plan to take advantage of. More immigration will only be effective if they stay in the region, and while Nova Scotia's, particularly Halifax's, rate of retention has improved dramatically in the past few years, we can still do better. The federal government can help in this area by providing more funding for settlement services and by ensuring that immigrants have the skills and language training needed to succeed in the local labour market.
Finally, ensuring that Canada has the transportation and information technology infrastructure required to participate fully in the global economy is critical for economic growth. Investing in trade-enabling infrastructure should be a top priority of the federal government's infrastructure program, as should, as has been mentioned, concluding the major outstanding trade agreements to help open up new markets for businesses. Improving the ability of companies in our region to export their products and services around the world is a key economic goal for business and will help communities and Halifax.
That's it. Thank you very much.
Good morning, members of the committee. Congratulations to you all for celebrating your first electoral anniversary today.
My name is Melissa Sariffodeen. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Ladies Learning Code, which is a Canadian not-for-profit organization empowering women in the use of technical skills.
We run anything from a one-day workshop teaching a woman to make a website to a summer camp for kids. Most recently, we drove across the country in the computer lab teaching kids through pop-up workshops.
Research suggests there'll be a shortage of more than 200,000 ICT workers in Canada by 2020, and right now there's a huge under-representation of women and other groups in this field. As a nation, how will we thrive and prosper, both socially and economically, when only a small portion of Canadians have the skills we need in our increasingly digital world?
I'm here today to make the case for investing in digital skills and coding education. This is absolutely critical to future prosperity in our country. That success is undoubtedly compromised by the fact that only a small portion of Canadians actually have the skills necessary to fully participate, let alone innovate, in this increasingly digital economy.
Over five years ago, a group of women, myself included, hosted a workshop in Toronto on coding. It sold out in seven minutes. A month later we hosted another. It sold out in 30 seconds. After that, we hosted another, and another. This demand has propelled us from a single workshop for adult women to a national not-for-profit organization. We now run programs in more than 29 communities across the country, in places like Charlottetown, Cape Breton, Vancouver, and Quebec City. We've taught over 50,000 women and youth to code. We've had over 3,500 new volunteers who have taken our programs.
All this is because of a key few factors. One is that we have this really strong community-driven model, and in every city we're in we have individuals who understand their community. The programming we run in Cape Breton is different from what we use in Lethbridge, Vancouver, or Toronto.
Also, for every four learners in any of our programs, we have one technical volunteer. That person comes from industry—they might be a developer at Microsoft or Google—and they support women and youth in learning. What that means is that these individuals go back into their workplace with an understanding of how women learn, how beginners learn, and they take that with them as a professional development opportunity.
More and more, we also employ a pay-what-you-can model to ensure accessibility. Year over year, we've almost doubled our operating budget, and definitely our reach. We've had no government funding to date, aside from a small translation grant. It's all private sector funding from Google, Microsoft, Telus, Scotiabank. This underscores their desire to invest in an organization that is scrappy and lean like ours and is focused on impact and has built a mechanism that can scale up.
While these numbers might be impressive, what I'm most proud about is the impact we're having on Canadian women and youth. I think of Nancy, who came to us in 2012 with a music degree and no job. She learned to code with us and now runs our programs in Montreal. She is a developer on her way to a very lucrative and rewarding career. I think of Lauren, who's 11, from Calgary, who took our girls' program and was then inspired to create a company called Robots are fun!, which creates educator kits for teachers. She's not even in high school, but she is running a business effectively.
We believe that coding education is the next necessary step we need to take as a country to usher in a new era of Canadian innovation. I know Canada is uniquely positioned to rise to that occasion. We have the expertise, the infrastructure, the resources, and I think the political will to do what it takes to become a world leader in digital skills. At Ladies Learning Code we have the experience and the delivery model to scale up and do that.
Our funding ask to the Government of Canada is to help us offer our programming in more places, to do more programming in the places we're already in, and to expand the pilots we've been working on for other under-represented groups, such as indigenous communities, newcomers, and people with disabilities. Therefore I ask the Government of Canada—all of you here today—to help address our current challenges by setting out a bold and thoughtful plan to usher in a new era of Canadian innovation by investing in digital skills, in coding education, and in women and girls, so that we can give these under-represented groups an equal opportunity to build our future together.
Thank you so much. I welcome any questions.
It's wonderful to be in Halifax, and thank you all for being here.
One of the things that strikes this committee as we go across the country—and we have been in western Canada and we're now making our way through the Maritimes towards central Canada—is the constant refrain about skills, people without jobs, and jobs without people.
I was struck by how Ladies Learning Code could possibly constitute one of the solutions to this very confounding problem.
I want to ask a very general question. Perhaps we'll start with you, Mr. Sullivan, but I'd invite anyone who wants to weigh in.
You talked about immigration. That's obviously one of the solutions to this problem, certainly in this region, as we butt up against the one thing that doesn't lie—demographics. That imposes a sort of natural cap on growth.
Have you thought beyond immigration or within the immigration category about the kinds of solutions that the federal government could be part of, either in partnership with provincial governments or acting on its own? What are the solutions to this demographic issue in terms of training and attracting people, and how do we make sure that there continues to be a more vibrant labour force in this region?
Good morning, all, and thank you very much for all your presentations. We are learning a lot about Atlantic Canada throughout this session today.
I believe that the economic downturn, the oil price crisis in Alberta, is affecting everybody on this side of the world. In looking into how we move forward, we've seen many panellists come forward and many people ask for money. You seem to bring a different atmosphere to the discussion today, which from a business perspective makes a lot of sense.
I'd like you to comment on this, especially Marco, Finn, and Patrick, and maybe Melissa. If you can contribute to the conversation in a way that.... In my opinion, the government should not always be coming up with money when there is a crisis. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't. We believe that if we are to spend $30 billion, we need to be able to create 300,000 jobs. The math did work in the United States, and I think we should be on the same path.
Right now the government is taking some measures on a CPP increase or extension, on EI—which is a payroll tax—and on carbon taxes. I believe that now is the time for the government to step up and ease those taxation measures to give private businesses the opportunity to perform well in Canada and to make sure they find solutions to the job losses, the immigration issues, and all the economic problems we have.
What do you think the private sector can do in order to take this economy where it should be going?
We'll start with Marco.
We dispute the belief that it is the government's job to create jobs. When governments set out to create jobs, they essentially have to remove large amounts of money from the productive sectors of the economy.
As we have seen time and time again, governments are not necessarily the best managers of other people's money. The best managers of that money are the people who earn it. We believe that the more money we leave in people's pockets, the better it will be.
In spite of the gloomy picture that I painted a couple of seconds ago, we have scintillating points in this region. The start-ups are one example. We have a growing number of new high-tech, high-paying, extremely innovative businesses in New Brunswick, in P.E.I., and here in Nova Scotia. These are focuses of know-how and entrepreneurship that need some nurturing.
I'm not sure that it's the state that should nurture them, but we should establish a framework of rules that would allow for more investment, and certainly foreign investment, to come in and nurture them. If this committee could do something for this sector, it would be to set up the appropriate framework for it.
Mr. Chairman, the honourable member is threatening to draw out my libertarian side.
I agree with much of the premise and with many of Marco's comments. There are arguments for and against the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan and the liberalization of EI, but these expansions are certainly not growth-enhancing measures.
Beyond that, there are things that government can do. Mostly these have to do with ensuring that we have stable finances in the long haul. At the federal and provincial levels, that involves not spending a lot more than we take in. It would be very encouraging to see the federal government plotting a trajectory to get itself back to fiscal balance in rather short order.
The impetus for infrastructure spending grew out of a financial and economic crisis that is long since past. The message that interest rates are very low and that, therefore, it's a great time to borrow and to spend on infrastructure is tantalizing. However, it is a seriously misleading message, because infrastructure investments can only be worthwhile to us collectively as a society if the returns on those investments are, one, complementary to private sector activity and productivity growth and, two, exceed the carrying cost of the debt that's incurred.
The carrying cost of that debt is not just the interest that is required to be paid on the debt: it is the cost of public funds associated with taxation that necessarily is required to support that borrowing or to pay down borrowing in the future.
The message that we can borrow money at 1% or 2% rather fundamentally misrepresents the cost of current investment in public sector infrastructure. We should think about this very carefully when we make our spending allocations.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. My name is Ms. Andrea Stairs and I'm managing director for eBay Canada.
Launched more than 20 years ago, eBay has become one of the world's largest online marketplaces, with approximately one billion items and 164 million users around the world. Here in Canada, eBay is a top e-commerce destination, with more than eight million unique monthly visitors who spend more than $1 billion annually.
At the outset of consultations, the committee asked for views on federal actions that would promote Canadian business prosperity and economic growth. I'd like to describe for you the benefits of e-commerce and recommend a policy change that will empower Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to thrive in the global economy.
In addition to changing how consumers buy, e-commerce has changed the way we sell, and eBay has created a platform where anyone can become an entrepreneur, starting with a single listing. E-commerce is levelling the playing field for rural and urban retailers. You no longer need to live in a city to access enough buyers to make your business viable.
What excites me most is that eBay is the launching point for small businesses that want to go global. In fact, I am joined here today by eBay's 2015 exporter of the year, Kimberley Wotherspoon, of LumberMart in Dartmouth. By selling on eBay, Kimberly increased LumberMart's online sales by 1,000%, with 50% of those sales going to customers outside Canada.
Kimberley is one example among thousands on our platform. In fact, in 2015, 99% of Canadian commercial sellers on eBay exported. That compares to less than 12% of traditional Canadian small and medium-sized businesses who export. By selling to customers across the globe, these micro-multinationals are able to create jobs and drive other social benefits here at home.
While technology and platforms like eBay are making international trade more inclusive, small businesses are not able to realize their full exporting potential because of outdated government policies. We hear from our Canadian sellers that Canada's de minimis threshold causes significant shipping issues and border friction that complicate exporting.
For those unfamiliar with Canadian customs policy, the de minimis threshold is the value below which goods can be shipped into the country before duties and taxes are assessed. This is why we're proposing that the Standing Committee on Finance recommend that the Government of Canada increase the de minimis threshold from its current level of $20. This $20 threshold was originally set in the early 1980s, prior to the birth of e-commerce. In fact, had it simply been increased with inflation, Canada's de minimis threshold would now stand at almost $45. Instead, Canada's de minimis is the lowest in the industrialized world and among the lowest globally.
The low de minimis level causes major friction for Canadian small business. It negatively impacts their ability to access low-value international supply chains and creates red tape when purchases are returned from foreign buyers. In fact, a report from the C.D. Howe Institute found that an increase in the de minimis level from $20 to $80 would benefit Canadian businesses by more than $100 million in reduced red tape and other costs. Furthermore, Canada's low de minimis threshold does not support what the Canadian consumer wants: fairness and choice.
E-commerce gives rural Canadians or Canadians with physical limitations access to goods that are otherwise hard to find. It's easy to see why a recent Nanos poll found that 76% of Canadians were in favour of increasing the de minimis.
Finally, an increase of the de minimis would improve government efficiency. The report from the C.D. Howe Institute also found that the Government of Canada is spending $166 million to collect just $39 million in duties and taxes on goods valued between $20 and $80. As taxpayers, we should all be concerned that the costs in assessed duties dramatically exceed the revenues actually collected on low-value purchases.
In conclusion, as a platform for small business and a member of the Retail Council of Canada, eBay respectfully requests that the committee recommend an increase to Canada's outdated de minimis threshold.
I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee, for allowing us to have our voice and come here to Nova Scotia. That's very important for us.
We're happy to be here because consultation is very important to the 65,000 members—working men and women in every sector of our economy and every community in our province—who are represented under the umbrella of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.
We have issues that I'm going to talk about that fit under the three questions that were sent to us. These areas are helping Canadians, health care, and pharmacare.
We recommend that government restore the intent and integrity of the Canada Health Act and renegotiate a new health and social accord with the provinces and territories. This accord should provide stable annual increases in funding tied to improvements in, and the expansion of, public health care, to a minimum of 25% by 2025.
We do not support the privatization of health care through fees for service, public-private partnerships, or any other form of privatization.
Investments in health care should include a national pharmacare program, a national seniors strategy, a national mental health strategy, and improved access to health services in home and community settings.
It's also important that the five fundamental principles of universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability, and public administration form the foundation of this accord. We believe that the social outcomes of such an investment are significant, but so are economic outcomes such as job creation and economic activities.
In terms of early childhood education and care, one of the most important things that the federal government could do to improve the quality of life of Canadians is to ensure that families have access to quality and affordable early childhood education and care. Investing in a national child care strategy will help address the gender gap across the country, increase labour market participation among women, and create significant local economic activity.
Many studies have shown that early childhood education generates far more jobs than other sectors, returns an estimated $2 in benefits for every dollar invested, and can pay for itself in fiscal terms.
Research also shows us that aside from raising families out of poverty and stimulating the economy, early childhood education allows children to thrive regardless of their economic or social status.
With the rise in precarious work, inequality, low-wage jobs, and unemployment, we also need to strengthen legislation, policies, and programs that protect the interests of workers. Research has shown that higher unionization rates and wages lessen income and gender inequality and are better for our economy. When workers earn more, they pay more taxes and spend more in their communities. The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour recommends a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.
On infrastructure investment in strong public services, we recommend increased investment in public services and infrastructure. Public services in Canada have experienced deep cuts over the past decade. Strong public services form the backbone of communities and hence sustainability, allow the business community to flourish, and are grounded in good jobs with good wages that are spent in local communities.
Investment should also look at the green economy and jobs and a movement away from the P3 model and privatization as a means of delivering public services to Canadians.
The federation of labour also recommends improved funding for stronger labour market agreements. The upcoming budget should expand investment in active labour market policies in the areas of training and job search assistance. We would like to see the budget follow through on the government's full funding commitment for labour market development agreements and the Canada job fund agreements.
In addition, eligibility for accessing these programs should be expanded to include young workers and newcomers, and it should include investments in training for women to increase their participation in non-traditional work.
Another federal measure is pay equity. One of the ways the federal government could address the gender wage gap is through pay equity legislation. We recommend that the Liberal government act on the recommendations put forth by the House of Commons committee on pay equity for such legislation, which would oblige employers in the federal sector to take steps to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination. It's also good for our economy.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour recommends a review of the equalization program with a view to making it more responsive in times of an economic recession. Given the lag in the application of the current equalization formula, the government may want to revisit it to explore ways that would lessen the impact of commodity price fluctuations on employment, communities, and workers.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour finally recommends that the government implement universal qualification for employment insurance at 360 hours, increase benefits to 60% of normal pay using a worker's 12 best weeks, and review the social security tribunal, the SST.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and honourable members of the committee, and many thanks for this opportunity to present on behalf of Pallium Canada.
Pallium Canada is a non-profit organization that reaches across the country, and our goal is to improve capacity with respect to palliative care.
In June 2016, medical assistance in dying—or MAID, as it is referred to—was legalized in Canada. There's been a concerted effort by many entities to ensure that all Canadians have access to MAID.
During the debates that preceded the introduction of that legislation, the point was repeatedly emphasized that there should also be universal access to palliative care. We have, however, lagged far behind in making this happen. Access to palliative care is patchy across the country. The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, for example, has estimated that only 15%-30% of Canadians who need palliative care have access to it.
The request that we, Pallium Canada, have submitted to the finance committee will increase access to palliative care across the country.
It is often erroneously assumed that palliative care is delivered only by specialist palliative care physicians and nurses and that palliative care is activated only in the last days or weeks of life. These assumptions reduce capacity by relying on a small number of health care professionals to deliver all the palliative care that is needed for cancer diagnoses and for non-cancer diagnoses such as advanced lung, heart, liver, and kidney diseases, among others. Patients are subjected to needless suffering during their illnesses, and opportunities are missed for more timely discussions and planning for end-of-life care. Poor treatment choices are made, including unrealistic, burdensome, and costly treatments, and sometimes inappropriate use of precious health care resources.
I can sit here and share with you many studies that highlight the benefits for patients' families and the reduced cost to the health care system, but I'd like to share with you my own personal story, the story that brought me to palliative care. It is a story that for me illustrates the power of what we are doing.
In the early 1990s, I was working as a family physician in a small rural community in Manitoba, and one day a patient by the name of George and his wife came into my office. I'd never seen George before. He sat down and he said to me, “Dr. Pereira, I need help. I know I have advanced cancer, and I know I'll be dying in the next few months, but I'm with terrible, terrible pain, and I need help.”
Now, I had not received any palliative care education and, unfortunately to this day, there are many health care professionals from many different disciplines—family medicine, oncology, internal medicine, renal specialities, etc.—who have not received training.
I gave George the wrong advice, and the advice I gave him regarding his pain medication was woefully inadequate. I vividly remember the moment George stood up and took his wife by the hand. As he left the room, he turned to me and he said, “I hope one day doctors like you can help people like me.” That was the inspiration for Pallium Canada.
As a result, I went and got some training. It was difficult in those days to find some short training. I got it in Hamilton, flew back, and asked him for a second chance, which he graciously gave me, and so I cared for him for the last months of his life in that small community in Manitoba. What it taught me was that with a little bit of training, a family physician such as myself in a rural community or any other community, or a nurse or a pharmacist, can make a very big difference to these patients.
In 2001, after specializing in palliative care, we founded Pallium, and since then we've been reaching out to train more and more health care professionals to reduce inappropriate emergency room visits, to reduce inappropriate hospitalizations, to reduce costly treatments that are inappropriate, and, importantly, to improve the quality of life of patients. The main vehicle of our work has been a course we've called learning essential approaches to palliative care, or LEAP.
We bring experts from across the country together. We bring nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, doctors from different specialty areas, nurses from different specialty areas, and social workers to learn together and to work together. We bring experts from across the country to develop the material, to disseminate it, and to teach in their local regions.
With the foundational funding we have received from Health Canada in previous years, we have developed the LEAP courses and other complementary products, such as online learning management systems—one called Pallium Portal—and an app for point-of-care learning.
We have trained and certified over 500 facilitators across the country, and that's what gives us our scalability. We are proud of the return on investment and the value added we've achieved. From 2001 to 2003, for example, we delivered 27 courses. In the fiscal year 2014-15, we delivered 43 courses, and in this past fiscal year, we were able to deliver 205 courses across the country. That's almost one course every one and a half days. We have trained 8,000 health care professionals with these basic skill sets that make all the difference to people like George.
We have learned the power of collaboration. We have set up key partnerships in this very province. In P.E.I., we partnered with emergency services to train all their paramedics. We did that last year within four months. Early observations indicate reduced emergency department visits and costs when EMS services care for these patients and are called to see these patients in their homes.
In Ontario, we have partnered with the Ontario Renal Network to develop the LEAP kidney program and have started educating teams across the province to reduce the burden of advanced disease and unnecessary treatments.
In the Quebec City region and in Ontario, we have partnered with family medicine clinics to do training. We've partnered with home care agencies. In British Columbia, our LEAP long-term care course is being used by local teams to improve end-of-life care in those homes.
With additional funding, which is our request, we will be able to scale up our work, particularly to build the capacity to provide palliative care in the home and in the community. We will be able to further leverage the LEAP courses to catalyze systems-level change, innovation, and improvement through quality improvement interventions. We will be able to ensure that all our materials are in the two official languages. We will be able to continue reaching out to the indigenous peoples of Canada and strengthen cultural competencies in our programs. We will be able to invest in new technologies to develop the next generation of our online management system and apps and collect more data to further guide us in targeting our strategies.
We need to reach out—and this is important—beyond the health care sector. Imagine, for example, if young Canadians in high schools were equipped with some basic life skills related to palliative care and were able to volunteer in the area and engage themselves in end-of-life discussions. This represents a tremendous opportunity for a much-needed culture shift to occur. Imagine a compassionate neighbourhood watch program, where neighbours and communities help each other.
We can improve palliative care access in this country. We already have tried and tested methods and tools at hand. We now need to be bold and invest in the opportunities that present themselves at this moment in our history.
Thank you very much.
Good morning, Chair, and members of the committee.
I'd like to thank you on behalf of the president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dr. Gary Kachanoski. I am pleased to present on behalf of Dr. Kachanoski, who is leading convocation celebrations back in St. John's today. We would, indeed, love to host you in St. John's at some time.
As you noted, joining me are Mr. Glenn Blackwood, Memorial's vice-president for the Fisheries and Marine Institute. In the gallery is Dr. Charles Randell, president and CEO of C-CORE at Memorial University. I'll speak more about C-CORE.
The federal government has been our partner in many projects at Memorial. We are the only university in our province, and we have a special obligation to the people of the province, going back to our founding legislation in 1949. It builds on Memorial College, which was founded in honour of the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the First World War and then in the Second World War, so we attach great importance to our contribution to the needs of the province.
The funding partnership we've had with the federal government helps to drive innovation, as well as the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and our country. Without the research performed and the skills learned in our university—much of it funded by the Canadian government—companies would be hard pressed to develop the products and processes on which the nation prospers.
Canada's commitment to being a world leader in economic growth, innovation, clean technology, environmental stewardship, and climate change mitigation is embodied and advanced by the world-leading work of Memorial University across many academic disciplines—in particular, by the Fisheries and Marine Institute and its Holyrood marine base, as well as by C-CORE and its cold ocean oil spill response centre of excellence. With federal investment and collaboration in the amounts of $25 million and $35 million respectively, these projects will have a lasting impact on the economic and environmental well-being of our country for many years to come.
The Fisheries and Marine Institute is one of the most respected centres of marine learning and applied research in the world. It is Canada's most comprehensive centre for education, training, applied and advanced research, and industrial support for ocean industries. You really must come to St. John's, if you haven't been there, and do a tour of the Marine Institute and C-CORE. Seeing is believing. It has been described as the NASA of the north. Glenn is currently chair of the International Association of Maritime Universities. There are American admirals who are on the committee that Glenn chairs. It is the best in the world.
To meet the growing demands and shifting challenges and opportunities presented by marine, offshore, and ocean technology sectors, the Marine Institute has undertaken developing the Holyrood marine base in the town of Holyrood, approximately 50 kilometres from St. John's. There are no access roads. You can get out there in 25 or 30 minutes.
The first phase of the base opened in 2010, very much driven by Glenn and his team. It includes facilities that house the Centre for Applied Ocean Technology, ocean technology small business incubation space, and research, training, and support space. The Marine Institute is incredibly connected with industry, community, and government. It leverages about half its budget. It's very entrepreneurial.
The second phase of the Holyrood marine base is now getting under way and will increase its capacity exponentially. Phase IIA includes the construction of a breakwater and a marginal wharf—Glenn can tell you what a marginal wharf is, if you are interested. Phase IIB includes plans for a new oceanfront building. This expansion will allow Memorial to undertake critical at-sea, in-water, and subsea education, training, research, and innovation activities. The base will also be the cornerstone of the town of Holyrood's new cold ocean innovation and research park, which will greatly bolster the ocean technology cluster in Atlantic Canada.
Memorial is one of the few, if not the only, university in Canada that has a public engagement framework, a strategy for the whole university about how the university connects with industry, community, and government. This work is really in concert with and exemplary of that work.
Memorial is seeking support from the federal government in the amount of $25 million in budget 2017 for the completion of phase IIB of the Holyrood marine base.
C-CORE is a not-for-profit research, development, and innovation corporation that was established at Memorial in 1975 to address the challenges of developing Canada's offshore resources. It raises all its funds through projects with industry, governments, and community.
Incredibly entrepreneurial, the Marine Institute and C-CORE are being studied by leading researchers in Canada now as examples of what the Jenkins task force called for—bridging institutions to link universities with industry and governments and communities.
It is globally recognized for unparalleled harsh-environment expertise and world-leading capability in remote sensing, ice engineering, and geotechnical engineering. It is home to the federally funded LOOKNorth, a centre of excellence for commercialization and research fostering remote sensing innovations to support northern resource development. C-CORE, in its areas of expertise, is the best in the world, doing work with the European Space Agency and others. Charles can rattle them off. They come to us.
To meet the growing need for sound science and engineering solutions to support safe and responsible activity in cold ocean environments, C-CORE is working with industry, government, and community partners to develop the world's first ice-capable oil spill research and response centre of excellence. The Sedna Centre will be the only facility of its kind in the world and make Canada—not just Newfoundland and Labrador, not just Atlantic Canada, but Canada, the country—the world's foremost nation in ocean safety, research, training, and innovation. The centre will enable cutting-edge research, clean technology development, and training related to oil spill prevention, response, and recovery in all areas of our oceans. Charles could go into more detail if you would like during questions and answers.
In budget 2017, Memorial is seeking support from the federal government in the amount of $35 million to leverage private sector funds for the construction of the Sedna Centre. It was industry that came to Memorial, and C-CORE in particular, to develop this ability.
I'd like to turn things back over to the committee and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about either initiative, or about what Memorial is doing generally.
Thank you very much for your time.
I'm having a great time.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's really good to see you again and to have been invited to this committee. I'm used to being on the other side of the table, so I do this with some trepidation.
First of all, my name is Ron MacDonald and I am president of the remote communities and mines division of NRStor Canada. NRStor Canada is Canada's leading energy storage and microgrid development company. We've been in operation for about four and a half years.
The president of the main company is Annette Verschuren, who most of you probably know. She's an esteemed Canadian business leader and former president of Home Depot Canada and Home Depot Asia. She took this job on about four and a half years ago because she believes that it's important for business people to take a stand on sustainability issues.
My presentation today—I'll try to be very brief—is going to talk about indigenous communities in particular, and some remote mine sites. I want to start off by doing a couple of quotes. It's always good to put it into perspective.
The first quote is from the Honourable , Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development:
The Government of Canada is proud to support Indigenous peoples to become full economic partners in the development of our abundant energy resources.
The second quote would be from the Honourable :
Genuine partnerships with Indigenous communities in the clean energy and natural resource sectors [will] increase Indigenous participation in economic opportunities, as well as strengthen local economies.
I want to put into some context the issue of indigenous communities and their lack of power resources and the cost both to the community in terms of economic development and on the environmental side of it, as well as the Government of Canada, which has set a number of broad goals and objectives in dealing with Canada's indigenous communities.
To put it into some perspective, across Canada there are roughly 300 communities that rely entirely on diesel-generated power for their power in their communities. Of these, between 170 and 180 communities are indigenous.
To put it into some perspective, I'll talk about one community, one that is not the exception to the rule but is closer to the rule. I'm not going to name it. It's a community that currently gets a direct subsidy for their power, a direct payment from INAC that amounts to between $4 million and $5 million a year. It's a direct subsidy coming from the federal treasury.
This community suffers greatly from a lack of power stability. Their diesel generators go down a lot in the wintertime, and they're subject to appeals to the federal government for emergency dollars for repairs. This community is growing at between 3% and 5% a year. In 15 years, its power needs actually doubled. In the current situation in this community, they need to find a solution so that they can take control of their power situation. They are leaning towards renewables. They no longer want dirty diesel in their community. They don't want the diesel spills to become the norm. Because it's a coastal community, they don't want their fisheries to be impacted by diesel spills.
I'll talk about another series of 27 communities up in Nunavut that are 100% on diesel. They range from maybe 100 people to the capital of Iqaluit, which is around 4,000 people. We have a significant problem up there. These diesel generators are all about the same age; it's about 30 years since they were installed. The government, as we hear it from Nunavut, is looking at an infusion of between $250 million and $500 million to update these diesel generators.
As we all know, dealings with indigenous communities have changed a great deal in Canada over the last number of years. The federal government said that they want to be respectful in their relationships with indigenous communities and deal on a government-to-government basis. That will take a very long time for that process to find its right level.
One thing is absolutely certain in the communities we're dealing with: they want to reduce the use of diesel in their communities as much as possible. The issue is, how do you find the money to do this?
What we're looking at, in our estimation, over a 20-year period if nothing changes, with growth rates of between 3% and 6% in indigenous communities, and government not allowing these citizens and these indigenous communities to freeze in the dark, is a continuous drain on the federal treasury to burn dirty diesel through those smoke stacks in order to supply these communities.
The problem gets more complex. Some of these communities are directly funded by the federal government, but most are funded, or their power rates are subsidized, by provincial and territorial utilities.
To go back to Nunavut, keep in mind as a federal panel that 93% of the budget for Nunavut comes from a federal transfer, so you can figure out that QEC, which is the utility that's responsible for providing power in these communities, gets a direct subsidy from the federal government to continue to use dirty diesel, so we have a problem and we have an opportunity.
There are 250 to 300 communities, including 170 indigenous communities, with direct and indirect subsidies on an annual basis. That amounts to anywhere between—we can't figure out the true number, because it comes from a whole bunch of different sources—$8 billion and $12 billion over a 20-year period that is going to go into subsidizing these communities. That will not address their desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it will not address the requirement that they have stable power to create jobs in their communities.
Keep in mind that a lot of times subsidized power going into indigenous communities is for the household, and if a business comes in and needs to access power, which they all do, it doesn't mean that they get it at the subsidized rate. When you're dealing with these provincial utilities, the way that the rates are structured in the community is a disincentive for economic development in the community.
My company is NRStor. What do we do? We go in and build real and respectful partnerships with the community. We figure out what their power needs are and where they want to go. Do they want to go renewable, or what do they want to do? Do they want wind? Do they want solar? Is there a hydro resource that's close? Does it run a river? Is it biogen?
Then we work with them to develop an economic model so that they can take over responsibility and control of their power situation. We're not there to sell them anything. We're agnostic. We don't care if it's a wind turbine, or if it's a solar panel, or if it's biogen. We work on the economics of the case, and in every situation we will not sell anything to the community. It has to be a genuine partnership. When we engage in that partnership, we will put money in. We're an investment company.
I can tell you that we run a lot of models every day. In nearly every one of these communities, if the federal government reprofiles some of the monies they are spending on subsidy, then nearly every one of these communities could find a penetration level for renewable energy in their communities that makes economic sense and that would attract investment.
What am I talking about in all of this? I'm talking about going into these communities, building the model, working maybe with or against the utilities—it's a very difficult thing—and trying to coordinate with the federal government, which is spending a lot of money on a situation that gets worse by the day. We want those monies reprofiled. If it's $10 billion, federal and provincial, that's being spent, then you don't have to reprofile again. I will tell you that it will attract $2 billion to $4 billion in private sector investment. In the communities we're working in today, we're putting up at least 50% of the cost. When the federal government looks at all of these requirements—infrastructure development, greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and development in indigenous communities—you're not alone. The private sector is there. The economics make sense today because of a lowering cost of storage, which is making renewables more economic.
We will finance, and we're not the only ones. We'll take15-year to 20-year financing on it. It's no longer seven years, which it used to be five years ago when it was coming from the financial community to support green projects.
My value proposition to the committee today is that as a priority the government, working with the provinces and territories, identify all direct or indirect subsidies that support diesel power generation in indigenous communities and immediately create the policies to reprofile some of these monies to support the development of community-based renewable energy and energy storage projects, which will attract private sector investment.
The monies are there. The government has a choice. It can continue to do it in subsidy over a long period of time, which does nothing for economic development in the community and does nothing for the environmental imperatives to reduce greenhouse gas, or it can take a different path and free these monies up as equity participation in real partnerships in indigenous communities that will attract private sector investment.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you. That's a great question.
We've been building. Back in 2007 we created this School of Ocean Technology. At that point in time, companies would advertise in Canada in three newspaper ads for a certain period of time for remote-operated vehicle operators.
We brought in Bob Ballard, of Titanic fame. We partnered with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and we created the first ROV, and now we have a degree in underwater systems in Canada.
The students, our students, who historically were rural Newfoundlanders like myself, were mainly from Newfoundland and mainly working in Newfoundland. We've created a School of Ocean Technology on the ocean mapping side. Right now I have students from every province in Canada and all three territories. We're under contract to the Nunavut government, and in partnership with the Nunavut Arctic College, to do fisheries and marine training in the Arctic. We have instructors spread across those 27 communities, probably burning diesel, but it is truly a cachet to become Canada's marine institute.
We also have five maritime schools in Canada at the certification level, but not the degree or the master's. We built that in partnership with those five colleges so they can come in as well.
We simulate the ocean on 24 ship simulators with the world's largest flume tank. It simulates towing the bottom, or offshore structures, but we don't have access to the ocean, so Holyrood for us was to take the outside facilities for safety and marine training and to put it on the water in a sheltered bay in -1° water for a portion of the year. It's very cold water that Charles Randell can tell you about.
Our students now are from across Canada. We've had 120 graduates to date in the underwater vehicles degree program. They're working in Angola, they're working in the North Sea, and they're working intensively in the Gulf of Mexico. They make six figures and they live in Canada.
It's the positioning of Canada piece that we've been doing. This facility—I'll come to your question—will put the subsea infrastructure in place. We have millions of dollars worth of ROVs donated by Oceaneering, the Canadian office of the international company. We have a large number of donations of life-saving equipment to the school of ocean safety by Husky Energy and Hibernia Management & Development Company Ltd. We've had industry support to get to the $15 million to $20 million we've spent to date, and huge support from ACOA on proof of concept and getting the nucleus going. Now we're at the stage of major building.
Thank you very much for the question. That's very much our business model.
I spend most of my time in small aircraft going to a lot of remote communities, and not all the communities have the same capacity to develop these projects. We try to find the ones that have the capacity, and then we do the projects, make sure they can be replicated, and continue to build capacity in the community. These are long-term projects. I agree 100%.
The difficulty right now is that the access to apply for those subsidies does not exist. You need to be able to provide stability over a long time. Given the nature of the federal treasury and the consolidated revenue account, it's going to take a little bit of work to make this a reality.
I'm not saying that every community is ready; some communities will never be ready. Many communities, though, are very ready to move forward but lack the equity to get the projects done. The private sector, and we're not the only ones, is prepared to invest where the business case can be made.
Keep in mind that when a utility like Nalcor—I'm sitting down with a bunch of Newfoundlanders and I'm really pleased that I am—does a capital investment, they do it over a 40- or 45-year economic model. If you're looking at renewables to replace diesel, we're only talking 20-year models. It still means there have to be some funds there for equity participation by the indigenous community.
We're not a charity. We're not going to go in and do a project because it makes us feel good. We go into projects that actually make a difference, that actually give a return for investors. We know that in many of these cases we can get 8%, 10%, 12%, even as high as 15% returns over the long term, but the community needs access to equity. Our proposition is that if you're going to spend the money and burn it up the chimney, give it to the community if they come forward with a viable business plan and a partner from the private sector—so I agree.
The $500 million allocated in the last budget towards a child care program was a first step in what really needs to be a broader federal policy framework for working with the provinces and territories and indigenous peoples. We have lots of research over many years of child care advocacy that shows how expensive child care has become. Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, has the second-highest child care costs in the country, Ontario being the highest. This causes women either to stay home or work part time at precarious work. It keeps children out of regulated child care.
It's very important that there be a national child care and national monies invested. The studies, which come mostly from Quebec's child care program, show that an investment of $15 a day actually provides a return on investment, putting $1 or $2 back into the economy, so it can pay for itself in fiscal terms.
In social terms, it also raises families out of poverty. Allowing women to go back to work allows them to make more money, which they reinvest in the economy, because workers spend more money locally in the economy.
Research also shows us that early childhood education allows children to thrive regardless of their economic or social status, because there is a standard of child care there. By working with the provinces and having sustained operational funding, as well as sustained funding for setting up a policy framework, we can make something of high quality that's universally accessible. By building a system that's public or not-for-profit, we can create an equality across the country that doesn't exist right now. It will help raise families out of poverty.
Again, for many families, child care is incredibly expensive. It doesn't help our economy if people tend to stay home or if people can't afford to pay child care.
Thank you for your question.
Absolutely. When I gave my earlier presentation, I talked about a number of policy objectives by governments provincially and federally. COP21 is certainly one. As somebody who is now spending a lot of time in the High Arctic, I can tell you that when you speak to people who have lived there on the land all their lives, global warming is real. Its impact in the north is greater than anywhere in the south. There's no question about that. Where they used to have three months of winter roads, they now have seven or eight weeks to get the material in to get their stuff for the winter.
You're absolutely right. I just did some numbers. We think there's probably about 500 megawatts of diesel being burned in these communities. That's the generation capacity. Each megawatt of diesel generates 2,500 tonnes per year of greenhouse gases. If I look at this, it tells me in total what we think the megawatts out there are: it's 25,500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases that are going into a very pristine, fragile environment in our northern communities. It has way more impact there than it does down here in Halifax, or in Ottawa. I can absolutely tell you that.
The other imperative to try to move away from this is on the environmental front. I will say there's a federal/provincial task force on diesel reduction that's been working for over a year, and there are a number of interprovincial committees, but the time for action is right now. The indigenous communities in Canada are no longer content to have utilities and governments tell them what's going to be okay on their land, including extractive industries or whatever. They now say they have control of it, and we must agree.
In every community I go into, not one wants diesel. I go into Quebec. I go into the Makivik region up in Nunavik. There are 14 diesel-dependent communities on that land base. Every one of them wants to move, but it is a complex move. Dollars are important. That's why the federal government needs to be a coordinator here. The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to Canada's indigenous people.
I think for far too long they've found it too complicated to deal with the provincial or territorial government, the federal government, or a utility. The federal government needs to lead on this. For no other reason than for climate change, they definitely need to lead.
Maybe I could speak to that first, and Glenn can jump in if he likes.
The real emphasis at Memorial on public engagement emphasizes that idea in terms of research, teaching, and learning. We have a conventional view in Canada. It's still important that the findings in the lab by the researchers—students or faculty—need to be brought into commercialization. There's an outdated view that it's some kind of linear, systematic, rational process. All the research now is very clear that we live in an ecosystem where there's constant interaction and feedback loops among industry, government, NGOs, and researchers, so building the bridges.... This, again, is what the Jenkins panel emphasized.
Other universities are coming to Memorial to learn about the Marine Institute, to learn about C-CORE. I also run a centre of regional policy and development, the Harris Centre. They're bridges. They're part of the university.
Glenn, Charles, and I are not tenured faculty members who have to publish or perish. We have Ph.D.s. We do a bit of research. We do some of that. Our job, though, when we get up in the morning, is to make those connections. It's connecting from the inside out and the outside in. There was just a Conference Board report released two days ago that highlights the Harris Centre and the network in Canada, where we need more of this knowledge mobilization and brokering role.
For Glenn and Charles, their institutes, centres, or campuses don't get enough funding to operate unless they leverage that very directly applied work. Mr. Albas mentioned that there are only so many dollars to spend, and he's bang on.
The goal is to grow the economy so that we have more dollars. When we have anchor institutions like universities that are the basis of clusters with a focus on bridging, that is when we're going to drive the economy from the resource sector, but with the value added that builds on it. Sherbrooke, I know, is intent on that. At Memorial, because we're the only university in the province and we are a province with significant needs and expectations, necessity is the mother of invention. We're a leader in the world in many ways on this.
I don't know if Glenn wants to add to that quickly.
Welcome, everyone, again.
I'll start at Pallium Canada, because it's timely that you're here this morning. I'm one of the three MPs who represent the city of Vaughan in York Region. In my riding we are going to be building a Hospice Vaughan and we had a gala on Saturday night that attracted about 1,100 people. I sat with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Maida, whom you may or may not know. He is a palliative care doctor.
We've had some really great announcements. Land has been set aside by the conservation authority. The Province of Ontario has stepped in and offered to provide 50% of the operating requirement, so that's about $1 million a year, but the kink is that you still have to raise that other 50%, which is another $1 million, and that's not a number to just sneeze at.
We're fully on board, and I am myself trying to support it. I do recognize the cost savings, and this is for a 10-bed or a 10-unit hospice centre and research excellence facility.
Unfortunately, this morning my system is not working, so I haven't been able to look at your brief—I'll have to deal with this IT in a bit—so I have to ask, what is your direct ask? That's because the question I am asked, as a federal MP, is, “Francesco, how and where can you help the Hospice Vaughan, because it saves money for hospitals and saves money for the health care system?” What would be the ask? It is very granular, and it is funded at the provincial level in my case.
Where would you see the role for the federal government in this situation? Could you answer briefly, please?
Thank you very much for that question and for your work in Vaughan in promoting the hospice.
That was my work prior to Pallium Canada. It's a significant engagement with the community to enable that to occur. Having that kind of support in the work that will be undertaken is also part of broader cost savings.
From a Pallium perspective, our work is to develop and to support dissemination of broad-based interprofessional education and to build community capacity in order to provide appropriate care so that the very early goals of care, advanced care planning, embracing of families, and appropriate diagnosis of illness…so that appropriate settings of care can be applied to individuals and their families.
From a federal perspective, the work that we've been able to engage in to this point is to disseminate and build a standardized, consistent framework of education and training across multiple sectors of care and interprofessionally so that everyone is on the same page with the same understanding of providing care. Our work is very much looking to scale this model up from the impact that we've had to this point.
The one example I will give is with the training of paramedics across Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and now in Alberta, and making that change of practice from a dispatch or transfer to a hospital setting to provide much more cost-effective care in the home, and then again have those families supported so that they have a place to call when they have a crisis. As well, if that paramedic organization is affiliated with a long-term care setting that has had the same training, first, those calls will be much fewer, and if they do occur, they're coming from the same place of understanding.
For time's sake, I'd like to move on to another topic, and then we can follow up off-line.
Andrea, I've read the C.D. Howe brief that was put together regarding the de minimis threshold. It's obviously a very compelling story, with it currently at $20, and they go through three scenarios of $80, $100, and $200.
Similar to what Dan was saying, I've received a number of emails from local retailers. I'd like to maybe assuage their concerns in terms of doing this, because the merits on an economic efficiency basis just on the government side are obviously quite compelling. Obviously the world has changed in terms of technology and in terms of the Internet, but more importantly, if you're a rural resident versus an urban resident and living closer to the border, your access is different.
Perhaps you could speak to something that we can look at in addition to it being raised from $20 to $80—which I don't think is an unreasonable ask—that would smooth some of the concerns from the retailer side, whether it is subsequent tariff reductions or things such as that, so that we create a win-win situation for everybody instead of possibly a win and small loss situation.
Again, we are leveraging about 50% of total operational money, project money, activity, and training from the private sector. The private sector has been great in working on mapping the ocean, on acquiring the equipment to look at the deep ocean as we develop the offshore resources in Newfoundland and into the Arctic region. The big challenge we have is the physical infrastructure—the nation-building piece, if you will—the building that this will all operate out of.
We're not looking for operational funding. We're looking for the base so that we can create the building. We've built the breakwater marginal wharf and the first phase of this, a separate building that's fully tasked at the moment, all of that with the support from the Government of Canada on the conceptual piece and on the proof-of-concept piece. About $3 million of the first $15 million or $20 million we've spent has come through ACOA.
We've also spun off the small companies when commercial opportunities appeared. We created a company called Virtual Marine Technologies, which generates small-vessel simulators. GRi Simulations, one of the best in the world, does ROV simulations and is based in Mount Pearl with 20 employees. It was spun off. Rutter Technologies produces black boxes for ships, the equivalent of a black box in an airplane. That is a global company now, selling that product and others. We have been spinning off the companies.
We as an academic institution aren't going to be private, I guess, because of the mission and mandate, but the economic impact has been about 50% of our activities, and the ongoing operations will be generated by business partnerships.
Yes, we have. I'll speak specifically to the north, and I'll make one other comment on that because we do business all over Canada, although the north is my priority.
Let's look at economic development. I'm going to talk a little about the community of Sandy Lake. It's a great community. It's an indigenous community in northern Ontario. Sandy Lake has great leadership. It's about 2,400 people. It's growing at about 6% a year, so if you do your math, you see that about every 12 years it doubles.
It has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. It was the highest rate 10 years ago, and it's still one of the highest rates. It has a diabetic clinic. It also has, because there are a lot of kids there, a great arena. When they turn the lights on at that arena, they have a brownout over at the clinic.
They constantly have to make a decision about where their priority is in the community. I would always say it should be the kids. The kids are lacking in opportunity, but there's also a lack of economic opportunity, because if somebody goes in there and tries to operate a business, they're going to pay a much higher rate than the subsidized rate. The way the rate structures are, you cannot have economic development. It's straight, clean, and simple.
With a renewable system, just by its very nature, you build it out to more than the capacity. I'll give an example. If it's a solar system, then you're going to try to maximize the penetration of a renewable to displace the diesel. For the summer months and the shoulder seasons, the spring and the fall, you have excess generation capacity.
We've looked at and started to model what you could do with that. If it's already paid for by what we call a power purchase agreement with the utility, so that you already have your economics there, and you have excess capacity for eight to nine months a year, what would that mean to the community?
We started looking at that excess capacity that has to be built in and we looked at giving it to the community for free, because you're going to be in a community partnership. The community is going to have 51% ownership in any of these partnerships.
What would that do for economic development? It means that in the winter months they'll pay more, but in the summer, spring, and fall they pay a little bit or they pay nothing. That is an economic generator for those communities.
Some of the employment opportunities that would come from an investment that takes a lot of power are not possible. It is possible with these renewables, but it is not possible with diesel. It's impossible.
One of the other things that it does, and we looked at this, is grow Nutrition North. It's a federal policy. There's a big problem with nutrition in these northern communities. It's not just that they traditionally don't eat a lot of produce, but when you go into a northern store and you see a head of lettuce and it's $9.95 and it looks like it was kicked around as a soccer ball, and then you can get a two-litre bottle of Coke for $2.99, what are you going to take? I think the answer is fairly clear.
We started to ask, if you put renewable energy in, what are the other opportunities? There are things called vertical greenhouses, and they're incredible. The technologies are here today, and they work in the north if you have power that is affordable.
We see a lot of these secondary and tertiary economic opportunities that could be realized through getting rid of these diesels and all those things that you don't want for economic development, and it is real.
I have one last comment. In the province of Ontario, we also do compressed air. We have the first compressed air contract in southern Ontario, and our president has written an article, an op-ed piece, that says that if Ontario maximized storage in compressed air caverns around Ontario, they'd save over $11 billion in 20 years. That is economic development. That frees up government money to invest in another sector.
I talked about the building. One thing I didn't mention is under Canada's oceans action plan, back in 2006, we launched SmartBay, which was a Placentia Bay initiative. The study that was done on tanker safety in Canada identified this as one of the highest-risk regions of this country. Most of our oil and gas goes in and out of Placentia Bay. It is, I think, next to Vancouver in terms of total value of product coming in and going out. We wired Placentia Bay, basically, with buoys that upload to satellites every 15 minutes. If you go to smartbay.ca, you can see all this.
We've since expanded that around the island, and we've since expanded it into Halifax and the partnership up here, and with the pilotage authority into Saint John, New Brunswick. With Ocean Networks Canada, out of British Columbia, we're now looking at setting up a national oceans observing system to give better information and better decisions for tanker safety. Basically, all these tankers will be in direct communication through these buoys and through an AIS system with all the fishing vessels in Placentia Bay, one of the foggiest places in Canada.
This is not a tourism commercial. We have some of the most severe sea states. We have the famous ice that sank the Titanic, and there have been other catastrophes over a period of time. It is a harsh environment. A lot of what we do on the project side is generated by working with industry. They identify their challenges and we work on the solutions.
Yes, sir. Thank you for the opportunity to actually answer your question, because I realize I didn't.
Yes, we will take the $30 million from industry. For the facility, the estimate for the capital is $65 million. One of the reasons it's so expensive.... It is generally expected by the oil spill practitioners that this facility is needed in the world, so it will be built somewhere. The question is, is it going to be in Canada? Wherever it's built, there's going to be a whole industry built up around it. That's why we're so keen to have it here.
To answer your question, there are two other significant initiatives around oil spills going on, for the Arctic and for rivers. We're all talking to each other because this is a big problem and there's not one solution, so we're making sure that we're not duplicating efforts anywhere, that they will all be compatible, and that the information goes from research to application to actual use.
In terms of the coastlines, one of the reasons this facility is so expensive is that it has a removable beach—which is unique—so that we can simulate any of Canada's 200,000 kilometres of coastline to look at cleanup. We can look at effects on vegetation, effects on fish. This facility is primarily for salt water because there are going to be other much smaller facilities that can do the freshwater research, but when you need to scale up the equipment—if you have a skimmer that comes in on a transport truck normally, you can't do that in a lab-sized tank—that's where we'll go to this facility. We are all in concert, and yes, it is very applicable to freshwater and rivers as well.
Thank you for this opportunity.
I'm a member of Nova Scotians for Tax Fairness. I have a six-page brief; I've given several copies of it to your staff, but because it wasn't translated, it can't be in front of you until the translation is available.
There is a lot more detail in what we've presented than in what I will say. We recommend 12 ways to make the federal tax system more equitable and to raise additional revenue for progressive public programs. We applaud the government's sensible view that deficits are a way to stimulate the economy while funding nation-building change, but we believe such change is only sustainable if revenues are increased.
We make eight recommendations to increase revenue and fairness. Four of those are to change tax deductions to refundable tax credits. That's one of the four. Another is to raise the corporate income tax rate toward the level in the U.S., one of our main competitors and the one that we're always comparing ourselves with.
A third is to exclude companies that use aggressive tax evasion and avoidance techniques from competition for contracts to supply publicly funded goods and services. This, we think, would be a very important incentive to reduce tax avoidance and tax evasion.
The fourth was to implement the key recommendations presented by Canadians for Tax Fairness to raise $20 billion per year.
We also support two public finance ideas that are important to the Maritimes. The first of those is to reinforce the principle of equal citizenship by restoring equalization funding to historic levels of 1.36% of GDP and by establishing an arm's-length body to oversee the transfers.
The second one is to reinstate the 6% annual increase in the federal contribution to medicare in 2017 and beyond, recognize increased costs due to an aging population as part of the formula, and make universal pharmacare and other improvements conditions for expanded federal funding.
On carbon taxes, we applaud the government's decision to establish a nationally coordinated carbon pricing system. It is essential, in our view, to continue to raise carbon prices beyond 2022 to change industry and consumer behaviour. It's also essential to require provinces to compensate most households for increased energy costs and to invest in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
A carbon tax benefit similar to the child tax benefit, which the government has instituted this year, would be a good model for compensating low- and middle-income households as carbon prices rise.
Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to a progressive, forward-looking 2017 budget.
I am used to lecturing, so I have to cut 55 minutes down to two.
I'm not here as an individual. I'm here representing a group called the Face of Poverty Consultation. It's an area group that is a faith-based group trying to work for the elimination of poverty.
Thanks for the opportunity to speak, but our group is disappointed that once again there's been very limited notification of this consultation, as in previous consultations. With proper notice, we could have submitted a full-fledged brief, as we have done in the past.
However, we are pleased with a government that recognizes the important role of government in meeting Canadians' collective needs, and thereby also stimulating the economy. We face significant social, environmental, and infrastructure deficits because of decades of program cuts and a failure to introduce new programs, such as funding for pharmacare or dental care programs. This societal deficit was caused by the hysteria over the financial deficit, which was the result of tax cuts favouring corporations and the wealthy, and of misguided monetary policy.
Budgets are also about taxes, and the tax system has become increasingly regressive, raising the tax rate on low-income Canadians while cutting the tax rate for the wealthy. Much can be done to help our most vulnerable and to increase revenues for a more progressive tax system. For instance, we could, one, restore upper tax brackets and close tax loopholes such as the 50% inclusion rate for capital gains, and two, define taxable income as total income, as is done in Quebec.
Third, we could convert tax deductions to tax credits. Brian mentioned that. Deductions generate the greatest tax advantage to the highest income tax bracket. Credits carry the same potential savings for all taxpayers; therefore, the credits should be switched to deductions.
Fourth, we could remove the boutique tax credits, which few Canadians can fully access.
Five, we could make tax credits refundable. This is crucial. If your income is so low that you do not pay enough taxes to use all your credits, you should receive a refund for the difference
Six, we should pursue tax dodgers using tax havens, and seven, we should join with other nations to put a small tax on international currency transactions, the so-called Tobin tax.
Finally, some say it is immoral to impose debt on future generations. Much of government's expenditures are investments in people, with health, education, and social assistance, and in physical infrastructure. These benefit current and future taxpayers. It is immoral not to make these investments and thus deny everyone access to quality health care, education and training, adequate income support, and safe and efficient infrastructure.
Thank you very much. I'm here as an individual, but at the request of a Canadian senator who spent two or three hours listening to me rampage over what I have learned in the last few years about Canada's economy and the history of it, and further, what I started writing about the bad base of our taxation policy in Canada, on which I started ranting about 50 years ago.
Looking at the history of Canada, I look back at when I was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and it appears that the Great Depression had a lot to do with the creation of money by the financial sector, which caused the excesses of the 1920s, which we now see being repeated again.
I go back and look at the history of the golden years of Canada, the years when everybody seemed to be working. We did all the great things. We built the Trans-Canada Highway, seaways, hospitals, and everything. These were the golden years, but they stopped. When did they stop? They stopped when the financial interests again took control of the finances and the economy of Canada.
What's happened since then? Our manufacturing sector has diminished. We look at economic growth and see it has been up and down. We've had bubbles grow and burst, and we have seen a decrease in the distributive justice of our country.
We've seen a death spiral start. We've seen the growth of debt for Canadian homes and people and workers. We've seen personal savings go down and debts go up. All of these things have happened in the last half of my lifetime.
In the first half of my lifetime we got out of a depression, we paid for a war, and we did all these great things in Canada, but then the policies changed around the 1970s, and this wasn't just the policy of Canada.
I have been studying some of these things and hoping that the rest of the Government of Canada, the members of Parliament, would look at these various ideas and debate them and learn them, just as this senator suggested they should.
If I look back at the study and the rational thought that I've applied to these matters, I think that if MPs do not even make the effort to understand them, then I believe they will be negligent, and I would think that I would deem them as being traitors to our society.
Thank you. I'm here on behalf of the Retail Council of Canada.
My appearance was a late addition, but we will be presenting to this committee next week, from what I understand. My colleagues will be doing that, but I thought that since I'm here, I would give you a little teaser on what will be coming next week and maybe give it a little Atlantic spin.
We're here on the de minimis level. We respect the opinions of eBay, which presented here today. They're good members of ours, but on this issue we couldn't disagree more with their comments. If you want to look at the impact this could have on the economy, retail is the number one private sector employer in every single province in this country. There are over two million employees nationally, over 60,000 of them here in Nova Scotia alone. We're talking about an economy in a province like Nova Scotia that's over $12 billion annually in retail revenue.
It's a moving target with eBay. They used to talk about an $800 de minimis. That didn't fly. Up until late this summer, they were talking about a $200 de minimis, and now they have come here today talking about an $80 to $100 de minimis, so we're not quite sure where they're going to land next. We're sticking with $200 because that's the one they've used the most.
If you were to look at it, they talk about the customs duties, and that's one, but there's also provincial and federal tax revenue. We talked to every provincial finance minister this summer. We pointed out—I'm responsible for Atlantic Canada—that you're looking at shippable goods between $20 and $200 if we stick with their $200 de minimis level. For a province like New Brunswick, that would be about $2.05 billion in shippable goods that fall into that category. A lot of our members have crunched the numbers, and over time, if you were to allow this type of huge advantage to U.S. online retailers, you'd see about a 20% change in the spending habits of Canadians. That could result in a loss of about $40 million annually to the Province of New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, you'd be looking at $48 million annually. Even in your province, Mr. Chair, there would be a $1.42 million loss in HST revenue. That pays for a lot of roads, as well as the social services we all want and need.
The point is, why would government here in Canada provide a tax incentive for consumers to shop everywhere else but Canada? It seems like a no-brainer for us. Again, we're the largest private sector employer. Even our American retailers that have set up shop here in Canada are paying taxes. They're employing people. They're contributing to communities. Just look at the drought here on the south shore over the last summer. It was Walmart, it was Loblaws, it was Canadian Tire, American and Canadian retailers, all jumping to provide free water and supplies to folks down there whose wells had gone dry. These people contribute to communities because they're in these communities.
eBay is not in those communities. We are providing the people with the retail products they want and need. If it gets to a point where Costco can just build a bigger distribution centre in the northern U.S. and ship it on through, they will. It's a business decision. That means fewer Costcos or fewer retailers of other types here in Canada. It also has an impact on small independent retailers.
I'll end with this. Folks like the Bookmark in downtown Charlottetown or Proud Shoes out in Sherwood Parkdale have been active members on this file because they know that this would devastate their businesses. These are small businesses. Maritime Hobbies and Crafts , three blocks away from here, a small third generation hobby shop, would basically have to close up shop, because people could easily ship a board game from the U.S. into Canada. That puts them out of business.
I'll leave it at that. That's the teaser for next week. Thank you for your time.
I come from the region of Yarmouth County. I'll try to make this in two minutes, but as a Parkinson's patient—
The Chair: You can take a little more time.
Ms. Jacqueline Landry: Thank you.
Mr. Jim Cormier: I have a habit of going on.
Ms. Jacqueline Landry: I am a Parkinson's ambassador for the province of Nova Scotia. I'm representing Parkinson Canada. I also have juvenile onset Parkinson's disease with dystonia. I've been fighting this disease for 25 years.
I'll read from my presentation, because I got this brief quite late, as others have mentioned.
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disease of the brain that impacts almost every aspect of daily living, including movement, mood, speech, the ability to smell, eating and drinking, and sleep. It also can cause cognitive changes. There is no known cure for Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson Canada recommends that the Government of Canada immediately commit to developing a Canadian action plan for brain health, with the primary aim of improving the life experience, productivity, and prosperity of the over 100,000 Canadians—including me—who are living with Parkinson's, the four million Canadians who are living with brain conditions, and their families. I also have epilepsy, which is another brain condition, so I am part of the four million and part of the 100,000 living with brain conditions.
For planning purposes, Parkinson Canada has estimated core costs of a Canadian action plan for brain health over three years, from April 2017 to March 2020, by three areas of expenditure.
The first area of expenditure is the Canadian brain council and brain summits. The Canadian brain council, once established, would develop the Canadian action plan for brain health, including the development of a national dementia strategy in year one. The council would also convene a brain summit in 2017, and a second summit in late 2019 or early 2020, to obtain input from the widest range of stakeholders possible. The estimated cost for this is $3.5 million over three years.
The second area of expenditure is epidemiological research and data collection. The Canadian brain council would review the findings about research gaps and data needs for mapping connections and other sources. It would recommend, if the evidence supports it, expanded data collection, the feasibility of creating a new pan-Canadian data collection survey for brain conditions, and funding needs for targeted research on risk factors for brain conditions. Expenditures would likely occur in years two and three. The estimated cost would be $22 million over three years.
The third area of expenditure is investigator-driven basic brain research through CIHR, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Far too little is known about the causes, prevention, and treatment of most brain conditions. Thanks to research, innovative therapies are available for some brain conditions. Unfortunately, many others remain untreatable. Canada needs to invest more in basic brain research. Parkinson Canada believes that this is best done by increased annual funding to investigator-driven basic brain research through the CIHR at a rate of $150 million per year. The estimated cost would be $450 million over three years, and a total estimated cost would be $475.5 million over three years.
Thank you very much for your undivided attention.