The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak today on what is proving to be one of the least popular budget bills in modern Canadian parliamentary history, although I regret not having the opportunity to address the ill-conceived Canada infrastructure bank directly, since it has been embedded in one of those omnibus bills and legislation. I will therefore dedicate my remarks to talking a bit about another Liberal boondoggle.
Bill is a continuation of the decline we have seen the government taking Canada on since it was first elected. Why is this a surprise? It is the Liberal way to tell Canadians one thing at election time and then do something completely different while it is in power.
I remember the election campaign. The Liberals promised a small deficit of $10 billion to fund infrastructure. Many Canadians voted for a modest deficit, taking the at his word, in contrast to the fiscal responsibility promoted by my own party and also, quite frankly, by the NDP.
It did not take long for the concept of a modest deficit to fall by the wayside, and since then it has spiralled out of control. The last economic update did not even offer a plan for balancing the budget. No plan at all. It is unbelievable.
What is worse is the conduct of the in regard to his own affairs. In case anybody has forgotten, let me remind the House.
First, the minister failed to put his assets from his family firm Morneau Shepell, a human resources and pension management firm, in a blind trust, despite saying he would do so. These assets consisted of millions of shares, which are worth approximately $21 million in current stock prices.
Second, the minister continued to receive dividends on these shares, dated from the time he was elected. At a dividend rate of about 6.5¢ a share, the minister was roughly earning $65,000 a month over the past two years. For comparison, according to Statistics Canada, the median wage of an individual worker in the province of Ontario, the area I represent, is just over $44,000 per year. That is $20,000 less per year than our was earning per month from dividends alone. That is on top of his salary as a cabinet minister. Said another way, the average Ontario worker makes $20,000 less over the course of a year than the minister made per month. Now, there is a clear message for the middle class.
Third, we also learned that while the minister was calling small business owners tax cheats, he apparently forgot to disclose that he owned a private corporation, with a sole purpose of owning a villa in the south of France. I guess it is a small villa, maybe a “villette”. Why own a corporation to own a villa? To avoid paying inheritance tax, of course, the same tax the minister has proposed to the farmers of my riding when they transfer their family farms to the next generation of Canadians. We should be proud that the next generation of Canadians wants to farm our great country.
Fourth, we also learned that Morneau Shepell, the minister's aforementioned family business, had an $8 million contract to manage the pension and benefits of the Bank of Canada. What minister is responsible for the Bank of Canada? Why, the .
To summarize, the minister continued to hold shares in a company he regulated, while the company signed a contract with a department for which he was responsible. It is really quite astounding. One would think that this minister would have been fired for this clear conflict of interest. The Ethics Commissioner, to her credit, has fined the minister for this breach. However, the continues to defend him and allow this attack on our farmers to continue while not dealing with his own minister.
Bill would simply continue the out-of-control spending of the Liberal government and would further hike taxes on everyone it has claimed to help. The Liberals are adding debt at the twice the rate that promised and the minister's own numbers project debt for every year in the future. Unfortunately for Canadians, someone has to pay for this Liberal spending spree, and it is middle-class Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of the middle class pay more tax today under the Liberals than under the previous government.
Regarding some of the specifics of the bill, the Liberals are now going to tax our beer. Breweries in my riding, whether it be Creemore Springs, Side Launch Brewing Company, Collingwood Brewery, or Northwinds Brewery, all create jobs. They attract tourists who are eager to sample their products, and they already pay enough tax.
However, it is not enough for the Liberals, who look at successful entrepreneurs as tax cheats and a source of revenue. In fact, the Liberals are so desperate for money that they are also targeting type 1 diabetics. They have now decided to deny type 1 diabetics their tax credits. Individuals who need help are going to help the Liberals get back into the black, I guess.
The Canada Revenue Agency itself confirmed that with respect to insulin therapy, new direction was given at the beginning of May regarding applications under the disability tax credit. This change in direction was unannounced, and it has caused huge confusion and suffering for those suffering from type 1 diabetes. It has resulted in hundreds of diabetics receiving less funding by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.
What is worse is that the minister has the power to stop it today, but she and her fellow cabinet colleagues, her government, her colleagues on the other side of the House, have not reverted the directive. It is simple. A directive from her to her department will reverse the changes and allow those type 1 diabetics to receive their tax credits until further consultation could be done. I raised this in the House last Friday, but to my knowledge, the minister has yet to act.
Another item that would be created with this omnibus bill, Bill , is another infrastructure bank support. We saw in the omnibus bill, Bill , the creation of the Canada infrastructure bank. It is a $35-billion boondoggle. François Beaudoin, the former CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada and witness at the Gomery inquiry into Liberal corruption, stated that this new bank is easily open to “political interference”. However, in the rush to create that fund, the Liberals ignored everyone.
This time there is a commitment to support another infrastructure bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, for an immediate investment of $256 million, and a further authorization in the future for the potential of another $480 million. The Liberals will have bought 1% of this bank. What do taxpayers get back? Nothing. We commit money as Canadians so that other countries can get cheaper loans and build their infrastructure. By bringing Canada into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Liberals would be sending hundreds of millions of Canadian taxpayer dollars to foreigners with no control over how the money would be spent or whether or not Canadian companies would benefit, let alone Canadian citizens.
As I have said previously, I am very confident in saying that Canadians want investments in our infrastructure here in Canada. Whether it be in my riding, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Adjala-Tosorontio, Angus, or Alliston, we know that infrastructure is needed. Canadian citizens need it so that they can make their businesses more successful, and so that they can make sure their children get to school safely.
I was happy to be a part of a previous government that understood that we worked with our allies, the United States and Japan, and did not support this bank. We could not then, and the Liberals cannot now, ensure that the bank would follow environmental, social, and human rights standards that we expect of our institutions. Therefore, while they preach about human rights and environmental policy standards here at home and to others abroad, they are prepared to turn a blind eye when it suits their needs.
Bill is a continuation of a shameful decline in our government finances. I will be voting against it, and I encourage all members on both sides of the House to vote against the bill, which is one that invests in others outside of our nation's borders and not in Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to support Bill , the budget implementation act, 2017, no. 2.
On October 27, the hon. introduced Bill C-63, and we have taken the next steps to ensure we maintain the job and economic growth of the past two years. I will explain why I think Bill C-63 presents our government and the House with a way forward to provide for current and future generations.
The record growth that we have witnessed over the past two years is clear proof that this government's plan is working. Last Friday, Statistics Canada published their most recent labour force survey for October 2018. Our economy generated half a million jobs from the time we formed our government two years ago until this past weekend.
The majority of these jobs are full-time. In October, 90,000 full-time jobs were created in Canada. I am particularly proud to note that Quebec, which is home to my riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, is leading the way when it comes to job creation in Canada. In October alone, 33,000 new full-time jobs were created in Quebec. What is more, Quebec's unemployment rate is now lower than the national rate.
This government's economic plan is working because we remained focused on Canadians' priorities, those that will have the biggest impact on our economic growth, namely investing in our families, lowering taxes for the middle class, and supporting the success of our SMEs.
I am also proud to say that employment was up in October, particularly for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Youth, I am honoured to see that our plan to help young people is also working. Programs, such as Canada summer jobs, are working. They are giving 35,000 more young Canadians across the country work experience every summer.
The strength of our economy shows that more young people than ever are finding jobs and kick-starting their careers. We are helping young Canadians get the skills they need to succeed through new investments in innovation and job training. In September, we announced a $73-million investment to create 60,000 new student work placements over five years in co-operation with universities, colleges, and polytechnics.
To see that our investments in young Canadians are working is enough, in my view, to support the measures of the second budget implementation act as part of this government's broader economic strategy. However, our plan does not stop with our young people.
This government's strategy is comprehensive and focused on areas that matter most for our middle class. That is why our first-ever act as government was to lower taxes on the middle class and increase them on Canada's top 1%. It is why we introduced the more generous and tax-free Canada child benefit, and most recently indexed it to the cost of living as it continues to rise. For the same reasons we recently committed to lowering the tax rate for small businesses in Canada to 9% over the next 15 months. Because of these bold policies, Canada is now the fastest growing economy in the G7. We have the most competitive small business tax rate and the lowest overall tax costs for small businesses. With nearly 99% of companies in Canada being small businesses, it is important to ensure that we build an economic system that works for them, allowing them to grow and flourish for years to come. However, there is always more work to be done, and better is indeed always possible.
Therefore, to continue on the incredible success that we have seen in the last two years, we must work to implement key portions of the 2017 budget. Bill would do just that. Allow me to highlight some key points that will mean the most to my community of Vaudreuil—Soulanges.
The budget implementation bill no. 2 takes steps to implement our innovation and skills plan, which focuses some of our investments where they matter most in helping Canadians navigate the changing landscape of the 21st century economy. By doing so, we will create a labour force that works for Canadians.
Bill seeks to implement a $1 billion innovation and skills plan as part of budget 2017, with $600 million toward new financing for clean tech firms. This is welcome news and goes beyond the bold steps this government has already taken to protect our environment and grow a green economy in 2017 and beyond.
We have already tripled investments in clean tech since forming government only two years ago. This goes hand in hand with the government's commitment to a clean growth economy, including the $2 billion low-carbon economy fund and the $21.9 billion in green infrastructure outlined in budget 2017. By prioritizing clean growth, the proposed budget implementation bill pushes our government's plans for a green economy further than ever before.
By seeking a balance for our economy, Bill will keep our support on track for the middle class and those working hard to join it. It aims for balance in other areas of our economy as well. The budget implementation bill seeks to put in place measures to ensure that Canadian workers will have greater flexibility in achieving a healthy work-life balance, helping those with families and sick loved ones to spend more time at home when they need to.
I am lucky to be the father of two beautiful children, Ellie and Anderson. I am lucky to serve my community and build a better country for my children at the same time. I am also lucky to have an incredible partner in helping meet these challenges and finding that balance between my responsibilities as an MP and as a father.
This is challenging. It is a challenge that many Canadians, including those in my community, know all too well. More Canadian families than ever before must find new and innovative ways to strike that balance as parents who work to support their children and who spend time with them at home.
That is why this government extended parental leave in Canada from 12 to 18 months at 33% of the parent's income. The budget implementation bill takes the next steps in our plan and would give Canadians more flexibility in federally regulated industries to have a better work-life balance, allowing more room to take vacation and holidays when they need them, to take care of a family member, and to prepare to grieve after losing a loved one.
Canadians deserve the opportunity to live and work in a way that best accommodates their aspirations, their families, and their choices. It is our duty as MPs to help them any way we can.
Bill contains significant measures that are necessary to securing the future Canadians expect. Those measures include strengthening our green economy, more flexibility for federally regulated employees, and the implementation of certain measures in budget 2017.
I encourage all members of the House who share these values to support Bill C-63 and, in so doing, support the middle class, our small businesses, and our economy.
I encourage those who are still unsure to take a look at our government's economic update. We have the lowest overall tax rates for small businesses and the fastest economic growth in the G7. We have cut taxes for the middle class and provided support to middle-class families. Wages are up and child poverty is down. We have invested in our economy, and we have helped create over 500,000 jobs in the past two years.
Our plan is working. Now it is time for all of us to support Bill C-63.
Mr. Speaker, this summer and fall, there was bad news for Canadians all over, from this government.
We first had the spectacle of the government going out and talking about raising taxes for small businesses, the business community. The Liberals themselves have admitted that the business community is the driving force of our economy. This created a huge amount of uncertainty in the business community. We heard time after time how extremely angry the business community was getting over this so-called proposed tax. The government's own caucus members revolted and they gradually tinkered with the proposal, but it has still left an extremely bad taste among the business community.
Then we had the spectacle of the who took advantage of a loophole. We now understand he is the only minister on that side who took advantage of the loophole in not declaring all of his shares according to what is required by law and by practice.
What is important to note is that it was the who did it. The finance minister is the individual who gives confidence to the market, who gives confidence to the economy. He is an important individual with respect to Canada's economy. If he himself cannot just follow the basic rules of accountability set out in Parliament, and uses a loophole, that has sent out a terrible impression. The government has lost a huge amount of confidence among Canadians.
Lo and behold, we now have the paradise papers coming out. The day before yesterday, we saw a picture of the and his chief Liberal fundraiser Mr. Bronfman hugging each other. What does that picture say? On one side, the Prime Minister wants to raise taxes on the business community, while on the other side, his chief Liberal fundraiser is hiding money so he does not have to pay taxes in this country. One is raising taxes on business and the other is trying to avoid paying taxes. Guess what. They are the best of friends. Is that the kind of message we want to send out to Canadians and people around the world as to the state of Canada's economy?
The Liberal member before me talked about what the government is doing. The Liberals forget the fact that our Conservative government laid the foundation for where our economy is going.
We did have some good news. There was a small deficit. Instead of reducing the deficit, the Liberals increased their spending. They have now put us on a course where we do not know what our grandchildren will be paying in the future for the Liberals' spending. One would think that, with their own children, the Liberals would at least be prudent. Have they been? No, they have not been prudent. They keep spending money that they do not have, with a deficit. They could have given Canadians a huge amount of confidence.
The point is this. Canadians are worried about the actions being taken by the Liberal government. They are very worried about their future. Contrary to the “sunny ways”, Canadians are now worried about where the government is going. The Liberals do a little tinkering here and a little tinkering there, and then they say they are going to raise taxes and stop the credit for diabetics, until there is a backlash and we see them running away. Why can we not have a sound economic direction coming from the government?
When the Liberals were in opposition, they said they would do this and do that. The said on the world stage that Canada is back, but he has forgotten the fact that for 10 years we were all working very hard. The minister himself knows very well how hard we worked to get Canada on the world stage, and yet they go there and say that nothing had happened.
I just heard the minister of youth say the Liberals put money toward skills development. Hello. Excuse me. He just needs to look at the record and he will see who started that program.
It was the former Conservative government that started that program. The government is taking advantage of what the former Conservative government did and to mask that by saying it is the advocate of all of those thing. No, that is not the way it is.
Let us talk for a minute about the direction the government is going in. We should talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The bank was designed by China to increase its own influence in that part of the region. It is part of China's foreign policy. We do not have any problem with China's foreign policy, but why should the Canadian taxpayers be paying to promote China's foreign policy? Why should we be paying into this bank, which is primarily based in, and set up by, China? We have an Asian Development Bank that we are partners with and are on its board of directors. It does the same thing. I do not see any reason why we, as a member of the Asian Development Bank, suddenly have to give taxpayers' money to promote some other country's foreign affairs interests. That is another wrong decision by the Liberal government.
As we stand and look around, I am sorry to say that Canadians do not feel comfortable with the government's direction. We hear this time after time from business people and everyone else.
Now, the government is talking about the middle class. I just read a CBC article that discusses who is in the middle class. It says that the middle class are making almost $80,000. As my colleague just said, the average income in his riding is $35,000. Where the hell is the middle class the Liberal government is talking about coming from? People making $80,000 are the middle class. I am sorry, but that is not the situation of many Canadians.
The point coming from this budget is that instead of sunny ways, we are getting darker days coming forward. I do not know where the economy is going. We on this side of the House stand at every opportunity to point out to the Liberals what they are doing, what Canadians want, and why they are on the wrong track.
This budget will not in any way provide any kind of comfort to Canadians who are working very hard. Canadians pay their taxes. Ask Canadians, and they will pay their taxes. However, the friends of the Liberals, as we have found out from the paradise papers, are not paying their taxes. They are trying to hide from paying taxes. Who are these rich friends? Who do they belong to? They do not belong to the NDP Party. They do not belong to the Conservative Party. They belong to the Liberal Party, the party of the rich. It is the rich who are trying not to pay their fair taxes.
Let us look at one very simple thing. The chief Liberal Party fundraiser, Mr. Bronfman, is now the best friend of the . He hosts Liberal fundraising dinners for him. He calls his buddies, the rich guys, and tells them to come. Then they lobby the government, so they can find the loopholes to avoid paying taxes.
Is that the kind of government we want, where government officials and their friends use their influence to create those loopholes not to pay taxes? A prime example is the and his use of loopholes, and now Mr. Bronfman and all the others are using loopholes. They said they did not break any laws. It is not about breaking laws; it is about accountability and being honest. They are all taking advantage of what is available in Canada.
I say this to the other side: sunny days are over for Canadians. We will hold the government accountable, and in 2019 Canadians will speak.
Madam Speaker, today I have the great honour and pleasure to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act, 2017, no. 2.
In recent days, we have seen that there is a great deal of interest in the budget, and for good reason. In 2015, Canadians made a choice. They could choose between a government that would continue to slash investments in Canadians or a government that would invest in Canadians.
We made the very well-thought-out decision to invest in Canadians. From the outset, we cut taxes for the middle class and we raised them for the wealthiest 1% in Canada. The choice was crystal clear: we chose to take this money and reinvest it in the middle class.
Furthermore, in our election platform we promised to provide a significantly higher Canada child benefit.
The increase in the Canada child benefit is having a major effect on the Canadian population. The investment is providing middle-class Canadians and Canadians who have a hard time making ends meet with more money to invest in their children and their families.
In my riding of Sudbury alone, we are seeing 7,100 payments a month, benefiting over 12,270 children. The total investment coming into my riding every month as a result is more than $4 million, and that is repeated across Canada. We are seeing this on a monthly basis. The effect is significant, because with the old system the Conservatives had put in place, everyone received the same amount of money. In my riding we would only have received $1.3 million of investment a month under it. We are now seeing $4 million. It also has an effect on small businesses.
People can play sports now because they have more money. They are able to invest in their children's education and activities. Just putting bread on the table, ensuring a healthy lifestyle, is important. I am really proud that we are seeing that on a daily basis.
As we conveyed this month, we also want to continue investing in small business.
Small business is the backbone of our economy. That is why a few weeks back the announced reductions in the taxes on small business from 10.5% to 10% next year and 9% in 2019. That will be the lowest tax rate on small business in the G7. Many other countries do not have this low rate of tax.
The reason we want a low rate is very simple: we want small business to continue to invest, grow, and expand their businesses across municipalities, provinces, and nationally. It is key for our economy that we allow small business owners to continue investing and growing, because it results in middle-class jobs that stimulate the economy.
We are seeing the effects of the increased Canada child benefit and reduced taxes on the middle class. The middle class are reinvesting money in our economy. Over the last few years, we have seen 450,000 new jobs created in Canada alone. The unemployment rate has been dropping since, and is actually at its lowest level since 2008. In my riding of Sudbury as well, we are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in years, even though we have the mining sector in my area, which is not doing that well. However, we are pulling through and the economy is doing well. We are looking forward to the mining sector coming back up, and the effect it will have on our economy in the natural resource industry in Sudbury and northern Ontario.
I am also quite proud of the fact that we have invested in veterans. The previous government had cut services and benefits for veterans drastically in the hope of trying to balance its budget. We believe in reinvesting. We have done that by starting over and bringing back a lot of the veterans' services offices, investing in caregivers for veterans, and investing in the possibility of veterans furthering their education. This is going to have a profound effect on veterans, and we are not done. We will continue to invest in our veterans in Canada.
Another thing I kept hearing about on the campaign trail was infrastructure and housing, and how there had been lack of investment and direction by the previous government over 10 years. It did nothing on the housing side, which had become almost a crisis situation in Canada. We are investing a record amount of capital to ensure that the housing services industry in Canada for the people who need it the most is operating properly and efficiently. That is why $11 billion was announced in the last budget, which is in addition to the money already invested in the 2016 budget. We are continuing to invest in housing in Canada, and that has played a major role in the social determinants of health, which has a major and important impact across Canada.
In that housing envelope, it is key that we are also investing in off-reserve housing for indigenous individuals. I am seeing that in my riding of Sudbury. People had come to me pleading that we continue the investments in housing in Sudbury. The the last budget addressed that properly. The envelope for off-reserve housing alone was increased to $225 million.
When we talk about indigenous peoples, an additional $3.4 billion was tabled in the 2016 budget. Where will this money go? It will go to infrastructure and health. We know there is a complete lack of investment in these sectors. The indigenous population is increasing and we need to invest in them. That is why I was so proud that we are doing what we said we would do on the campaign trail and investing in the infrastructure and health of indigenous communities. This is not just a one-time thing: it has to be a continuing investment over the next generation. I hope it will continue.
Another important investment made was with respect to youth employment. We promised to increase youth employment across Canada, and youth unemployment is now at an all-time low in Canada. In my riding alone, we have seen over 280 jobs for youth created in 2017 alone. On top of that, we want to ensure that the necessary conditions for youth employment are done properly. That is why we eliminated unpaid internships. Basically, if someone is going to be doing internships, they have to be rewarded properly for the work they do.
During the election campaign, we promised to invest in the economy, in infrastructure, and in first nations and veterans, and we are keeping our promises to Canadians.
I would also like to mention the major investment we are making in superclusters. Canada is currently holding a competition to choose five Canadian groups to receive an investment of more than $900 million over the next few years. By investing in five different engines of growth in Canada's economy, we hope to double the jobs they create.
Our party wants to create more jobs for Canadians and improve the quality of life for Canada's middle class. We are going to continue working on this goal. That is why the supercluster program will really have a positive effect. We want to help Canadian groups in the agriculture, mining, forestry, and fisheries sectors. We have received more than 50 funding applications from groups in these sectors. There are now nine groups across Canada in the running for the funding announced in the budget.
These are the things that will transform Canada and create the jobs we so sorely need. Our goal is to create that wealth. That is why I am very proud to support Bill , to ensure a brighter future for all Canadians.
Madam Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak on Bill , the budget implementation act.
During the last election, the criss-crossed the country, running on a platform entitled, “Real Change: A new plan for a strong middle class”. Given that Bill would directly impact the middle class, as the policies and actions of the government over the last two years have, it is a fair time in this debate to ask how the middle class is faring under the Liberal government.
To begin with, the taxes of the middle class are going up. I know the mantra of the government is to say that it has cut taxes for the middle class while increasing taxes for the wealthy, except that is plainly false. According to one study recently issued by the Fraser Institute, 81% of middle-class Canadians have seen their taxes go up, on average, by $840 a year. For every tax reduction that the government has announced, supposedly targeted at the middle class, those cuts have been offset by tax increases elsewhere. In other words, this is a government that gives with one hand and takes with the other. What the bottom line means for the pocketbook of the vast majority of middle-class Canadians is that their taxes have gone up, not down. So much for a plan to strengthen the middle class. Instead of a plan to strengthen the middle class, what we really have seen from the government is a plan to nickel and dime middle-class Canadians.
The , who portrays himself as such a champion of middle-class Canadians and ran on a platform that was centred on the middle class, has led a government that has done such things as eliminate the public transit tax credit. I do not think there are many multi-millionaire CEOs who get around on public transit. Perhaps there are some and for those who do, the public transit tax credit pretty much meant nothing to them, but for the tens of thousands of Canadians who go to work each and every day by public transit, the public transit tax credit meant something to them, something that the Liberal government has taken away. So much again for a plan to strengthen the middle class.
Then there was the mean-spirited attempt by the government to tax employee discounts. In other words, the government decided to go after waiters and retail workers who might have gotten a discount on a pair of jeans or maybe a cheeseburger at the end of a long shift. I guess that is what the means by being compassionate. I guess what the Prime Minister means by standing up for the middle class is going after retail workers, going after waiters, and going against the most vulnerable members of our society.
Of course, we now learn that the has a new target, namely, diabetic Canadians, because the government is making it harder for diabetic Canadians to take advantage of a disability tax credit. Before the Liberal government was elected, about 80% of applicants received that tax credit. Today, it is the exact opposite: about 80% of Canadians are denied that tax credit. The average cost to a diabetic Canadian annually, in terms of cost for care and so on, is about $15,000. I know that for the silver-spooned Prime Minister and his multi-millionaire , $15,000 is chump change.
However, for the vast majority of Canadians, $15,000 is a lot, and $15,000 on anything can make the difference between putting food on the table and paying down a mortgage to stay in one's home. Instead of helping those diabetic Canadians who incur, on average, $15,000 in expenses annually, and instead of helping to make their lives as littler easier, the government is making it more difficult for them to receive that tax credit. It is absolutely shameful. It is just disgusting.
Of course, in the last few months, the announced that he was going after another group of middle-class Canadians, namely small business owners and farmers. He insulted them. He called them tax cheats. The Prime Minister's solution to deal with these middle-class tax cheats, as he called them, was to, without consultation, try to ram through some of the largest changes to the Income Tax Act in more than 40 years, which in turn would result in massive tax increases on small business owners and farmers, mostly a middle-class group of people that the Prime Minister calls tax cheats.
Well, as it turns out, the real tax cheats are not hard-working, middle-class small business owners who create jobs and take risks. No, the real tax cheats are the friends and cronies, including none other than Stephen Bronfman, who was the Prime Minister's leadership campaign chairman. He was the chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party. We know from the paradise papers that he has been funnelling millions of dollars to tax-free offshore accounts in such places as the Cayman Islands. If the Prime Minister is looking for tax cheats, he should not look to the middle-class small businesses and farmers, but he should look among his own friends. I think he would find plenty of tax cheats among them, including his chief fundraiser.
What is the deal in terms of hiking taxes on middle-class Canadians, shaking down waiters and retail workers, declaring war on small business owners and farmers? There is really a very simple explanation, which is that over the last two years, the current government's spending has been absolutely out of control.
We all remember when the made the commitment to Canadians that he would run short-term deficits of no more than $10 billion in the first year and no more than $10 billion in the second year, but not to worry, because Canada would return to a balanced budget in 2019. However, what we have seen from the government instead is a deficit in the first year that was more than twice what the Prime Minister promised. This year, it is going to again be twice as large. Instead of a plan to return to a balanced budget, we see no plan at all. Indeed, there is no end in sight to the writ red ink. The government is projected to add as much as $70 billion in new debt by the end of its term in 2019. Talk about fiscal vandalism. As a result, the government has tried to find revenue wherever it can.
The Liberals have been looking to shake down and squeeze hard-working middle-class Canadians. The offered Canadians a new plan to strengthen the middle class, but what he has actually delivered is a plan to shake down middle-class Canadians. Bill is all about that. Sadly, it should come as no surprise. We have seen a who has not kept his word, who breaks promises, who says one thing and does another, and who genuinely believes there is one standard for middle-class Canadians and another standard for Liberal elites, himself and his . It is why he was so busy working overtime to target middle-class small-business owners, while doing absolutely nothing to increase taxes on big multinational publicly traded companies.
Bill C-63 deserves to be defeated.
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is going to vote against the budget implementation bill, mainly because of the way it was introduced. Bill is a 318-page omnibus bill. It amends 19 acts and creates a new one. Some of the measures are budgetary, but others have absolutely nothing to do with the budget. What is more, they are all mixed in with such a hodgepodge of technical measures that we cannot debate the bill properly. Here is what the had to say about omnibus bills during the election campaign, and I quote:
Stephen Harper has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will...bring an end to this undemocratic practice.
What a great promise. Yes, this is an undemocratic practice, and I am not the one who said it. Members can read it for themselves on page 30 of the Liberal Party's election platform. However, we are starting to get used to the government's shell games.
Every time the Liberals introduce a new bill, it is the things they do not say that we need to be careful of. For example, six months ago, they hid a measure in their last mammoth bill, Bill , that would do no less than give investors in the Canada infrastructure bank the power to disregard Quebec's laws. There was no agricultural zoning, no environmental protections, and no municipal zoning. Under the bill, Toronto bankers were considered agents of the federal crown and could do whatever they wanted in Quebec.
Six months before that, the Liberals sought to give Toronto bankers another gift with Bill , another mammoth bill. On that occasion, the government was seeking to allow bankers to circumvent Quebec's consumer protection legislation. To heck with consumers and the little people who are getting ripped off, we know that the government reports to Bay Street.
Today, we are being presented another omnibus budget implementation bill. Once again, the government has a nasty surprise for us. On page 277 of the document and on the following pages, we see that the government is amending the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. With this apparently innocuous, or at least highly technical, amendment, it is establishing the legislative architecture for imposing a federal tax on cannabis.
We all know that cannabis will be legal in eight months. From that point on, the federal government will no longer have a role to play. All it will have to do is pocket the tax it is setting up in this bill. Healthcare services, prevention, drug treatment and public safety will all be under Quebec’s jurisdiction. It will be very expensive.
In other words, the government is creating a problem, telling the provinces to deal with it and making money all at the same time. Quebec and the other provinces are saying that they need more time. We understand that the is really intent on rolling his joint in front of the cameras on Canada Day 2018, but the government’s attitude toward Quebec is nothing less than scandalous. It is shovelling problems into Quebec’s and the other provinces’ yards, and has the gall to make money as a result.
The government cannot hide behind the fact that Quebec can impose further taxes if it so desires. It does not work that way. There is a maximum price beyond which black market cannabis will be less expensive for consumers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said so. He issued a warning. If the government tries to make marijuana a cash cow, it might very well foster organized crime. In Bill , the government is opening the door to this possibility.
The Bloc Québécois recently introduced a bill to prevent outlaw motorcycle clubs from acting like rock stars, waving their banners, intimidating citizens and making a show of force. However, the Liberals and the other parties did not even want to read the bill, and rejected it out of hand. I am therefore not surprised that the government is not concerned about organized crime. However, with Bill , it will be giving organized crime yet another break.
The provinces will have to lower taxes and forgo revenues so that the Hell’s Angels’ cannabis is not a better deal than cannabis sold legally. For that reason alone, I encourage all hon. members to oppose the bill. It is scandalous.
However, there is more. The main reason why we are disappointed with Bill is because of what it does not contain. There is nothing at all in the bill to solve the problem of tax havens.
Madam Speaker, you may not have noticed, but we are celebrating an anniversary today: it has been exactly four months since the government signed the OECD’s multilateral convention to prevent tax evasion and tax havens.
Canada signed the BEPS Project agreement on July 7, but it has not yet ratified it, because Canadian law, essentially the Income Tax Act, does not meet the agreement’s requirements. Today, four months later, how many measures from the international agreement are included in Bill ? Not a single one.
We are extremely disappointed, but not particularly surprised. I have been a member of the House for two years now. Almost every day, I see the exceptionally powerful lobbying of the five major Canadian banks on Bay Street in Toronto. The , himself a major shareholder of Morneau Shepell, uses tax havens, is involved in financial schemes and advises people to use tax havens to divert money from Canada.
For example, his company advised the Bahamas on how to better attract Canadian insurance companies. It is written on the website of the Minister of Finance’s company. It is also written that he advised Barbados, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands in methods of fostering access for his client companies.
In terms of economic policy, there is not much difference with the previous government. The is a great communicator, but the fact remains that this is an old government that is more interested in finances than in Canadians. The financial lobby runs Ottawa when it comes to economic matters. This is nothing new. Paul Martin had a shipping company registered in Barbados so he would not have to pay income tax.
If you look at the Income Tax Act, the Bank Act or the Canada infrastructure bank, you can see that Canada’s economic development is wholly based on the interests of the financial lobby in Toronto. After Barbados in the 1990s, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government legalized 22 more tax havens in 2009 by signing tax information exchange agreements.
Last spring, the Liberals added the Cook Islands to the list. That is the history of Canada. The financial community has the government’s ear, and, really, who is governing who? The keeps repeating that we are investing historic amounts, “zillions and zillions”, in the fight against tax evasion and that the net is tightening. I am all for prosecuting fraud, but the problem lies elsewhere. Essentially, the use of tax havens is perfectly legal in Canada. That is the real problem. As legislators, that is the problem that concerns us here in the House.
When the minister says that the net is tightening on those who abuse the system, she is mistaken. It is still wide open. For example, Canada accounts for 2% of global GDP, and yet, last summer, the IMF reported that three Canadian banks, the Royal Bank, Scotiabank and the CIBC, represent 80% of all banking assets in Barbados, Grenada and the Bahamas. In the eight other tax havens that make up the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, Canadian banks own 60% of banking assets. That is considerable.
Canada is not an economic superpower, but it is a superpower in tax havens. Nothing in Bill addresses this problem. Every Canadian has to pay the income tax that these freeloaders are not. The middle class that the government is so fond of talking about will be footing the bill. The regulatory framework was written specifically to allow banks and multinationals to avoid paying income tax in Canada.
I say “regulatory framework” because the problem is in the regulations. No tax treaty condones the use of tax havens. Even the treaty with Barbados does not cover the empty shells that enjoy tax breaks in that country. As for the other tax havens, Canada has not signed tax treaties with them. When you look at the Income Tax Act, it does not condone tax havens, either. When Parliament passed the act and adopted the treaties, it never condoned tax havens. Members of Parliament did their job and prohibited them. It is the government that failed in its task. In obscure regulations, it contravened Parliament’s decisions. It decreed by regulation that the act and the treaties adopted by Parliament do not apply, and that bank profits can be exempted by having them go through the West Indies.
For this reason, and because of what this mammoth contains and does not contain, we will be opposing it.
Madam Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity today to speak in this debate about Bill , the second act implementing the budget tabled last March in this place. It is a big bill. It is 329 pages and would amend 19 pieces of legislation. It is unfortunate that in recent years budget implementation bills have become so enormous, and the government has allowed so little time for their debate and study, that we cannot possibly discuss them effectively.
This bill changes labour laws. It lays the foundation for Canada's membership in the Asian infrastructure bank. I know there have been points of order raised about whether the bill can be legally considered an omnibus bill under the new Standing Order 69.1. I will not comment on that, but its sheer size is concerning.
One would think that in all those pages, there would be a lot of good news for Canadians. There are a few bits of sunshine there, particularly in provisions that would change the labour code to make the workplace a more flexible place and put in place some protections for unpaid interns. We in the NDP would like to see some of these provisions go a bit further, but in general, we salute any measures that recognize the difficulties workers face these days. These changes are certainly a step in the right direction.
There are some other things I was happy to see, such as support for geothermal projects, although it is tepid, as my colleague from said. There is a reduction in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
There are some good issues raised in the bill, but really, there could have been so much more good news in such a huge bill. We are very disappointed about what is actually missing.
Before the budget was tabled last March, the NDP sent the a letter outlining some of the things we thought could and should be done to really help average Canadians, really help the middle class and those wanting to join it.
I would like to talk a bit about the items that are missing from the budget. These are truly missed opportunities to help Canadians. First is pharmacare. I know the parliamentary budget officer came out with a report only recently that showed that we could save over $4 billion a year in Canada if we instituted a universal pharmacare program that offered free prescription drugs to all Canadians. That is right. We could save billions of dollars while providing free prescription drugs. Canadians would be wealthier and healthier.
The did not have access to that report, so perhaps that is why he did not include it in the budget, but there were other, earlier reports, just as credible, that estimated even larger savings, more than $11 billion a year, under the same program. The Liberals voted against an NDP motion last month that simply called for talks with the provinces to begin within a year to look at how such a program could be structured. I am hoping this is not a case of the government not wanting to give credit to the NDP for such a good idea, which would make life better for all Canadians, and that by next spring they will quietly slip universal pharmacare into the 2018 budget. Better late than never.
Another item the Liberals forgot to include in the 2017 budget, and the 2016 budget for that matter, was their promise to do away with the CEO stock option tax loophole. That would have saved Canadians over $750 million a year. The Liberals promised that in the last election. They decided not to go after CEOs. Instead, this summer they went after small businesses across the country. They are going after the small fry, the minnows, instead of the big fish.
Speaking of big fish, we also asked the to enact legislation in the budget to close down offshore tax havens. Now the paradise papers have shown us why they might not have wanted to do that. It was to protect the Liberals who are using these offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in Canada.
It is a little ironic to hear the Conservatives asking the finance minister about Morneau Shepell's tax shelter in Barbados, when it was their government that signed the tax treaty with Barbados to allow Morneau Shepell to avoid paying its fair share. However, the inaction on the part of the Liberals is just as disappointing. In fact, they keep on creating offshore tax havens. They just signed a new treaty with the Cook lslands.
We also asked the to institute a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal workers. This would have been a great signal to the country that the federal government recognizes that many hard-working Canadians cannot possibly live on the minimum wages they receive for their work. Now the move for a $15-an-hour minimum wage has been taken up by the governments of B.C. and Alberta, and hopefully that good policy will spread across this country. Hopefully, the federal government will make that move for federal workers in next year's budget.
We also asked the minister about the eco-energy retrofit program. I would like to spend some time on that subject. It is one that is close to my heart. I actually tabled a private member's motion that called on the government to reintroduce the eco-energy retrofit program, because it is one of those government initiatives that is actually a win-win-win-win for the government, the economy, homeowners, and the environment.
This popular program ran from 2007 to 2012 and helped hundreds of thousands of Canadians retrofit their homes, lowering their energy bills by 20%. It created thousands of good local jobs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by three tonnes per year for each house.
While the program cost the federal government $900 million over five years, it leveraged more than $4 billion in retrofit investments by Canadian families. The government got five times the economic impact from its investment. When homeowners invest in new windows, insulation, and other energy-saving projects, when they shop at building supply stores in their own communities, that money circulates through their communities and across the country.
When I talk to the Canadian Home Builders' Association here or in my riding, they remind me of the huge positive impact that program had on their members and homeowners everywhere. They really noticed the negative impact when the program was, unfortunately, cancelled.
The government wants infrastructure investment. It wants to reduce carbon emissions. It wants to help the middle class. The eco-energy retrofit program would be a perfect way to do all of that, a proven way, something the federal government could get started on right away, because it has been done before. I know it was the Conservative government that did it before, and the NDP have been reminding the Liberals that it is a good idea, but it is really too good an idea to let partisan politics get in the way.
I could go on, but I think I will stop here. Suffice it to say that Bill , like the budget itself, has been a huge missed opportunity for the government and for all Canadians. We will all have to wait until next year for an improvement, but it will be more than a day late and a dollar short.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour today to rise to speak on Bill , which would amend the Budget Implementation Act.
Before I get started, I want to give a quick shout-out to my mother. It is her 70th birthday and I am far from home. I say, “Thanks, mom”.
A year ago, I tabled a bill, Bill , for a national cycling strategy. In our country, we have seen soaring health care and infrastructure costs and we need to address our greenhouse gases. In the spirit of Bill C-312, I biked across my riding this summer. My riding is 8,500 square kilometres that consists of 10 nations, seven municipalities, and three regional districts. I had an opportunity to engage people in communities. I visited over 28 communities and had over 20 town halls. My speech today is really a reflection of what people wanted to see in the budget, what they want to see happen in their communities, and what they did not see.
The government likes to talk about a robust economy, job creation, and a growing economy, but that is not being seen in my riding of Courtenay—Alberni. In fact, it is the opposite. Raw log exports have gone up tenfold in 10 years in the Alberni Valley, for example. Port Alberni has been identified as the city in British Columbia with the highest poverty rate. A third of children are living in poverty.
My riding needs a marine economy that works for it. We need to rehabilitate the sockeye salmon fishery. It was in a critical stage last summer and the decline of the stock has cost the local economy millions of dollars, but the multiplier effect is in the tens of millions of dollars. We need urgent investments in stock enhancement, rehabilitation, and salmon protection. The government likes to tout its oceans protection plan, but in its coastal restoration fund, it forgot places like the Somass River, which is critical for the sockeye in British Columbia. It is the third-highest returning river basin in coastal British Columbia.
There are great opportunities to create jobs in the port, which is the only deep-sea port on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Port Alberni Port Authority has put forward some excellent projects that we hope the government will consider. They would create thousands of jobs in my riding. This is a place that had the highest median income in Canada in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and now has one of the lowest median incomes in Canada. The people of the Alberni Valley sent buckets of money to Ottawa when times were good. They are hoping they will get the same return, and they are not seeing that when they need it the most.
There are excellent opportunities in the aerospace sector. In my riding, there is a global leader, Coulson Aviation, which is selling firefighting expertise and technology around the world. It is that Canadian story, where it is not doing business here in Canada because of regulation and because the government is not doing local procurement. We need government to act on opportunities within our communities.
My riding has a great university, the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences, which is helping to unlock the potential of the 1.2 million Canadians who are out of work or injured in the workplace. We need to make this a priority. This would grow the GDP in our country, help empower people, give people hope who need it the most, and get workers back to work who have been injured in the workplace.
Seniors in my riding and across the country are demanding support for pharmacare, health care, affordable housing, and home care. My riding has an aging population, one of the highest median ages in the country. It is an urgent situation and we need support for initiatives and these important needs. Affordable housing is a huge issue in my riding as well. The spillover from Vancouver is going to Vancouver Island, Victoria, and Nanaimo. It is now going to rural communities, where housing affordability is becoming the biggest issue. The government made an announcement that it is investing $11.2 billion over 10 years in affordable housing, but when we look at it closely, it is $20 million in the first year and $300 million by the next election. That is giving people false hope about the government's real commitment and real change to grow the middle class and help those who are not in it. This is urgent.
There are situations that are of serious and immediate concern. We have an opioid crisis, a fentanyl crisis, that is impacting our communities. In Port Alberni, for example, the Port Alberni Shelter Society, which is a group of people who are relying on local funds to open an overdose protection centre, needs urgent funds from Ottawa to keep that going. It is calling upon Ottawa to make sure this is identified as a national health emergency so that we can help combat that crisis.
We have great people in our communities who are working with people on the street. I have cited case studies here in the House about the cost-effectiveness of putting a roof over someone's head versus having someone live on the street. We know it makes sense.
People are concerned in my riding. They are concerned about the economy. They are concerned about social development and infrastructure. They are concerned about climate change. Floods, forest fires, storms, and seasonal changes are having a significant impact on our environment and our economy.
One thing that I noted on my journey, when going to the remote indigenous communities in my riding, was the people who are earning $235 a month on income assistance in rural communities with 70% unemployment. That is unacceptable. In many of these communities, people have to travel to the grocery store, which is 45 minutes to an hour and a half away. Therefore, for people living in Hesquiat, it is $50 each way to go to the grocery store just to buy groceries. That leaves them $135 to get by on for clothing, medicine, and to survive. This is taking place here in Canada.
Fortunately, on October 1, John Horgan and the B.C. provincial government implemented an increase of $100. However, people are still left with $335 to pay for the water taxi to get to the grocery store, and we know they are not buying fresh food because they cannot afford it. This is at the same time that the Nuu-chah-nulth communities have been in court for over a decade. They had won their court case for the right to catch and sell fish, but the Government of Canada appealed that decision. It appealed that decision twice, not once, and twice it was thrown out by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Instead of doing what it promised to do, which was to work on a nation-to-nation basis, it appealed and fought first nations in court. This is the same government that says that its most important relationship is with indigenous people, yet it is fighting them in court.
People earning $335 a month are not looking for a handout, they are looking to do business with Canada and be a partner in Canada. That is the word from my friend Curtis Dick. My friend Ken Watts quoted his father the late George Watts, who said that they are just looking for “their rightful place in this country”. These are communities that cannot access the fish that are swimming right by their villages. They can be part of this great story of Canada. They just want to feed their families. They want to grow an economy that works for everybody, and be a partner in this nation. They run on the principles of isaak, and that is respect. That is how they have approached Canada.
Canada needs to come back to the nations with the same respect. They need to get to the negotiating table and invest money. However, in this budget there is no money to give back to the nations. They have spent $12 million instead of investing in programs because their food, economic security, and rights are a priority for them. Why will the government not, as an urgent priority, at least get the money they have spent in court back to the nations and stop spending taxpayers' money? Canada must have spent tens of millions of dollars fighting the very people with whom it says it has its most important relationship. As a priority and a way of life, the people of Nuu-chah-nulth live by “hishuk ish tsawalk”, which means “everything is one”. In their traditional territories, which they call their ha-houlthee, they treat everyone as one, and everything is interconnected. When the Leviathan II went down, these same people were pulling $5 and $10 out of their jars to buy gas to go and look for people from another country who were missing, because we are all interconnected.
It is time for Canada to do the right thing, to invest in ending poverty in these nations, and end these discriminatory policies of the past. I hope the government is listening today.
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the budget implementation act. The bill is supposed to be the Liberal government's plan going forward for managing the country's finances and for implementing policies that will make Canada a better, stronger, and more cohesive society. However, Canadians who elected the Liberal government to achieve that will be sorely disappointed. In fact, the bill would do the exact opposite.
Members may recall that when the ran for election, he promised Canadians many different things. He has failed to deliver on many of those. For example, he promised Canadians that he would run a prudent government, that he would run only small deficits of about $10 billion. We know that promise is out the window. We know the Prime Minister promised solemnly that he would balance the budget within his term of government. Over a period of four years, he would run a few what he called small deficits and then he would return to balance. We now know the Prime Minister has no plan whatsoever to return to balanced budgets.
The budget implementation act would normally be a bit of a pointer, a signpost to the future, indicating that on such and such a date the government expected to be back to balance and to manage the finances of our country in a way that would not burden future generations with huge debt. We all know that when we run a deficit, at the end of the year, we are short some money. This money is either going to come from taxpayers or it is going to come from borrowing. Sadly, the government is committed to doing both. It is going to borrow heavily to finance its deficits and it is increasing taxes on so many different things, contrary to the promises the Liberals made to Canadians. Now we are at the end of the year and the government is even further in debt. Every year a deficit is run, the debt grows larger. That is what the budget implementation act would do. It shows Canadians, quite starkly, that the government does not know how to manage its finances.
The is now saying to future generations of Canadians, our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, that the government will spend widely today on itself and it will let future generations pay all that money back. By the way, he does not have a plan to balance budgets any time soon. It might be 10, 20 or 30 years out, but those kids can bet their boots that when they grow up, when take over the reins of power and when take their rightful place within Canada, they will have a huge debt hanging over their heads and they will have to repay it somehow, with interest.
That is the story of this budget implementation act. The act effectively would solidify the and his government as being spendthrifts and tax-and-spend Liberals. We have often hear the phrase tax-and-spend Liberals. It is true. It is in the DNA of the Liberals to tax Canadians to death and spend their money on their own priorities rather than on the priorities of Canadians.
This is an example of taxing to death. Since the was elected, he has increased taxes on hydro, gasoline, home heating, and health and dental benefits. Recently, he went after employee discounts. Imagine a McDonald's worker late at night, finishing off a shift, having a Big Mac and some fries. Now the Prime Minister is stepping in with his and saying that the burger will be taxed because it is an employee discount.
It goes on. The Liberals have eliminated income splitting for couples. Shame on them. This was a way of recognizing that Canadian couples deserved the kind of treatment afforded to single people.
The Liberals eliminated post-secondary tax credits, which helped parents educate their children so they would have good-paying jobs when they came out of university or trade school. They are even going after diabetics. Members will recall in the last few weeks that the government was caught with its finger in the cookie jar so to speak. It was disclosed that it is going after diabetics by taking away their ability to apply for the disability tax credit. The following week, it was disclosed that the Liberals were going after the mentally ill. We know that for half a year, they have been going after small business.
The promised solemnly that he would go after the rich fat cats and stand up for the middle class. Clearly, the middle class does not include small business people, diabetics, those who receive employee discounts, or the mentally ill. It is a scandal what the and his government are doing. They are breaking promise after promise to stand up for the middle class.
Today, 80% of middle-class Canadians pay more tax than they did before the Liberals came to power. It works out to about $840 more each year that middle-class Canadians pay in tax. The will not acknowledge that during question period. He hides behind talking points. He talks about the middle class and those working hard to join it. He never defined the middle class, which certainly does not include diabetics, those who receive employee discounts, the mentally ill, or the autistic. It does not include small business people, like the pizza shop owners in my community of Abbotsford. They have kids who work hard in those pizza shops, trying to make a living. At the end of the day, the government told them that it wanted to tax them even more. If they left money in their company, it would tax it at a rate of up to 73%. Imagine, 73% of tax on hard-working small businesses.
Then there is the scandal of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB. Instead of investing billions of dollars in building our own infrastructure, whether it be roads, bridges, urban transit, our ports, airports, inland ports, and seaports, the recently announced that Canada would join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is a Chinese-led bank that will invest exclusively in Asia, not in Canada. There are no investments in Canada. They are all in Asia. He said that it would create jobs in Canada.
I would like to see the 's plan for using the AIIB to make infrastructure investments in Canada and to create jobs. There is no guarantee that will happen. In fact, today Canadians already have the right to bid on jobs that are funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The reason Canadian companies do not get those jobs is because many of those bidding processes are ripe with corruption. Therefore, Canadians have difficulty competing in that marketplace. This will not change with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Half a billion dollars of Canadian taxpayer money is what the Prime Minister has put into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This money will be spent in Asia, not creating jobs at home, not building infrastructure here.
We know the is immensely fond of China. This basic dictatorship that is China he has lauded, because it is efficient. It gets things done. Imagine that. He should be lauding Canada and how we are getting things done, and we are doing it by respecting human rights and the highest environmental standards.
Then we can talk about the broken promises on electoral reform. Remember that process?
The promised that the last election would be the last one under the first past the post system. He broke that promise. He held consultations across Canada that were a sham, and then he dropped it all. The misled Canadians, and come 2019, Canadians will hold him accountable.
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to support Bill , a second act to implement certain provisions of the 2017 budget.
We have come a long way since we were elected in 2015. I am proud of the record of our government, which is now more than halfway through its term in office. When I was the president of the Regroupement des gens d'affaires de Boisbriand, I remember that the economic conditions were bleak and sluggish. Now that the 2008 economic crisis is behind us, let us be proud of our economic numbers. Canada weathered the 2008 economic crisis better than any other G7 country, and that is something Canadians can be proud of.
During the last election campaign, we proposed an ambitious plan for Canadians. This plan was based on solid evidence and a belief that the entire economy would benefit if we invested in the middle class, in our workforce, and in training for our young people and workers. The numbers now speak for themselves and show that this inclusive plan is working.
Statistics Canada’s labour force survey of October 2017 shows that our economy created more than 500,000 new jobs since we came to power. The Canadian economy is growing faster than it has in more than a decade, and the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest point since 2008. There is more good news: the most dramatic rise in employment was in Quebec, with 18,000 net new jobs in October 2017, mainly in the manufacturing sector.
Our plan is working. Today, more Canadians are employed, and the situation will continue to improve thanks to a plan that works. I would like to mention a few measures that directly affect the people in my riding, Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. They include a tax break for 9 million middle-class Canadians, the introduction of the new Canada child tax benefit, and the improvement of the Canada pension plan, to ensure that future generations of workers can enjoy a dignified retirement.
Since its introduction in July 2016, the Canada child benefit has put more non-taxable dollars in the pockets of thousands of Canadian families. When the Canada child tax benefit was established, the additional money in parents’ pockets had an immediate effect on consumer confidence and economic growth. The increased confidence this money gives families had an immediate impact on economic growth. This is excellent news.
The credit also benefits all children, unlike the tax credits for child fitness and children’s arts proposed by the previous government. In Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, 10,300 families are receiving more money thanks to the Canada child tax benefit. Also, 18,870 children directly benefit from a $530 monthly payment per family. This amount is non-taxable.
These numbers speak for themselves. The Canada child tax benefit has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, and we are moving forward with improvements to our government’s key measure. That is why we intend to increase the Canada child tax benefit annually to keep up with the cost of living starting in July 2018, two years earlier than planned.
I will give an example: for a single-parent family with two children and a yearly income of $35,000, this increase represents an additional non-taxable $560 next year, which can be used for books, skating lessons, or warm clothing for the winter.
Another of our government’s key measures in Bill C-63 is obviously the lower income tax rate for small and medium-size businesses. Once again, no sooner said than done. As promised in our 2015 election platform, we are delivering on our commitment to lower the income tax rate for small and medium-size businesses.
That rate, which was 11% in 2015, will drop to 9% in 2019. That is excellent news for the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles businesses and business people who were more than willing to participate in a pre-budget round table with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance when he was in my riding in January 2016.
This great news will give our dynamic businesses more breathing room, allowing them to make capital investments, do renovations, buy new equipment, and even hire more staff.
A number of high-profile Quebeckers also welcomed the news. Here is what Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, had to say:
The tax cut announced by the Minister of Finance this morning is excellent news for small and medium-sized businesses in all sectors. Our economy is strong, and this announcement will make it even stronger. It is important to keep stimulating investment and making our businesses more competitive. Small businesses are the economic backbone of Canada and metropolitan Montreal. Reducing the tax rate will have a positive impact on our economy as a whole.
I fully support that statement because, when I travel around the four cities in my riding, business people tell me that this measure will help them.
Finally, budget 2017 puts the skilled, talented, and creative people of Canada at the heart of a more innovative economy of the future, an economy that will create jobs for the middle class of today and tomorrow.
For our government, relying on innovation also means relying on the know-how of Quebec and Canadian society. The role of elected officials is now to focus on the economy of the future, invest in their fellow citizens, and give the workers of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles the tools they need to succeed in this economy. It also means educating businesses to help them benefit from new free trade agreements like CETA.
Many measures have been taken to put Canada in a leadership position within the global economy. First, we invested $225 million over four years to identify and address skills gaps in the economy and help Canadians to be as prepared as possible for the economy of the future. Next, we created a new strategic innovation fund that will serve to attract, support, and grow Canadian companies in dynamic and emerging sectors, such as agrifood, which is a very strong sector in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, digital technology, green technologies, and advanced manufacturing, thanks to an investment of $1.26 billion over five years. We also offered greater support to superclusters of companies that innovate in key sectors such as digital technology and green technology and that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth, thanks to an investment of up to $950 million over five years starting in in 2017-18.
I have always been proud to say that the greatest strength of Canada and of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles lies in its skilled, hard-working, and creative workforce. I am very proud of the measures in budget 2017 and their positive impact on my community.
I am confident that our plan will help our country prosper, both now and in the years ahead.
Madam Speaker, in the last election the current looked Canadians in the eye and promised that, if elected, the Liberal Party would run budgetary deficits of $10 billion per year for the first three years and then return Canada's books to balance in 2019. What a far cry from the reality we are living in today. The government's spending is completely out of control. It is running deficits two and three times larger than initially promised, and it has absolutely no plan to get back to balance. This is not what Canadians voted for.
Our Conservative government left office with back-to-back surplus budgets, a growing economy, and a record that included the best recovery from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We on this side of the aisle are proud of that.
During the election campaign, the Liberal Party promised that its $10 billion deficits would be spent primarily on two things: infrastructure and tax cuts for the middle class, oh, and for those working hard to join it. I am afraid that my colleagues in the Liberal Party might be suffering from collective amnesia, because not only have they spent far more than they promised, but they have done the exact opposite of what they promised.
First, let me talk about the government's poor record on infrastructure investment.
Bill includes half a billion dollars spent by the government on infrastructure in Asia. Yes, members heard me correctly: not Canadian infrastructure but Asian infrastructure. Bill C-63 provides Canada with a less than 1% stake in the Chinese- controlled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The projects in which this bank will invest are determined by the interests of the Chinese government. Considering the sort of virtuous signalling we have seen from the government during the NAFTA negotiations, it comes as a bit of a shock that it would be willing to hand over half a billion dollars to China to spend as it wishes. Do not take my world for it. The following is taken from the Toronto Star about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank:
The United States opposes the institution, warning that it would provide loans to developing countries without requiring any caveats about the environment, labour rights or anti-corruption reforms, as are typically included...from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
I would have thought that the Liberals, who spend so much time on their image, would like to be seen as standing up for the environment, standing up for labour rights, and standing against government corruption, but I guess when push comes to shove they focus on their own best interests.
I understand that trade with China is a priority for the Liberals. The has made that clear by his several cash-for-access fundraisers attended by high-ranking Chinese officials. However, is it really worth forking over this sort of money with no guarantees?
There is all this talk about Chinese infrastructure, but what about Canada? This week we learned that there are massive delays in federal infrastructure spending. Billions of dollars are being carried over year after year in unspent funds as the Liberal government cannot figure out how to get shovels in the ground and get projects under way.
It seems clear to me that it is becoming increasingly clear to Canadians that the Liberal government is spending more time trying to build bridges, fix roads, and prepare water pipes in China than it is here at home in Canada. Again, this is not what Canadians voted for in the last election.
One other thing that Canadians did not vote for in the last election was the Liberal government's attack on middle-class Canadians, the very people it claims to want to help.
We all know that small business in Canada employs 70% of private sector workers. In Canada, 55% of businesses have fewer than four employees. An attack on small business is an attack on ordinary hard-working Canadians. Where would the jobs be if it were not for small business?
This summer in an attempt to quietly sneak by Canadians, the Liberals introduced a number of tax measures that would have had devastating effects on Canada's farmers and small business owners. The backbone of our economy, small business owners, were targeted as tax cheats.
For weeks and months after the plans were made public, my office was inundated with calls, emails, and visits from my constituents, who could not believe that the Liberal government would be increasing their taxes so high that they might have to fire staff, close up shop, or relocate their businesses to other countries. I am sure my colleagues in the House all were recipients of those emails and phone calls.
I heard from one constituent who lives in Elmira. He runs a financial service practice in the greater Waterloo region. He shared with me this email, which states that, for the first 12 years of his self-employed life, it was a real struggle. Trying to run a business and balancing a young family of four children, it was not easy. In 2011, after a particularly bad day, he considered packing it all in, but he didn't. He continued to persevere and try new ways to build his practice. In the summer of 2012, he took the biggest risk ever and he bought a practice from another adviser. That meant taking on a $250,000 debt to do that. He also incorporated at that time, on his accountant's advice. He then took an even bigger risk, hiring two staff members to help him run a more efficient practice. In 2015, he had paid off the $250,000 loan, bought another practice for $500,000, and hired another staff member. He feels he's paid his fair share of taxes, both corporately and personally, over the years. Now he is being told that small business owners are wrongfully using the tax system, unfairly and perhaps crookedly. That is not right, he says.
I also heard from a veterinarian operating a clinic for large animals. His clinic not only employs Canadians but also sponsors four local fairs, two soccer teams, a baseball team, two hockey teams, three plowing matches, two 4-H clubs, a dance studio, and a local volunteer fire department. He sent me an email, which states that, as a veterinarian, he has worked hard over many years to reach the pinnacle of his profession. He's spent many years in university studying veterinary medicine and many more years building his practice and working very hard to serve his clients and their animals. The government referring to his use of the tax laws as a manipulation of loopholes makes him feel ashamed of the success he has strived to achieve. He asks if he is expected to apologize for the success and the rewards he has earned. He says this is divisive, inflammatory, and flies directly in the face of the Canadian dream many of us share: that from hard work comes success.
I heard from a farm family in Elmira who are afraid of what these changes will mean for a farm that has been in the family for generations. The owner wrote as follows:
These proposed changes, will add uncertainty and complexity to farmers and small business owners across the country. I am particularly concerned with the impact these changes would have on succession planning. It is unacceptable that the government of Canada would make it easier and more beneficial from a tax perspective for a farmer to sell their farm business to a stranger, rather than their own child or grandchild. This type of policy threatens the tradition of the Canadian family farm.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention my friend Mike from Tri-Mach. I was glad the , the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, visited Mike last month to share our positive Conservative plan to lower taxes on the middle class and small business. Tri-Mach employs more than 100 Canadians and has been considering—