Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 279

CONTENTS

Monday, April 16, 2018




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148 
l
NUMBER 279 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

Opportunity for Workers with Disabilities Act

     moved that Bill C-395, An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, work is a basic human need. Its wages feed, clothe, and shelter us. It offers the pride and purpose of doing something valuable for others. Work makes us a living. It also helps us to make a life. That is why almost a million Canadians with disabilities work—including about 300,000 with severe disabilities, according to Statistics Canada—but the system effectively bans many more from working. It is called the “welfare wall”, and here is how it works.
    When people with disabilities earn a paycheque, governments sharply claw back supports for income, housing, medications, and other help. These clawbacks, plus taxes, mean that often people are poorer when they work more. They are stuck behind the welfare wall.
    For example, if a person with disabilities who is earning the minimum wage in Saskatchewan goes from working part time to working full time, he would see his take-home pay drop from $21,600 to $21,500 on an annual basis. That is right: he is working double the hours and making less money at the end of the year.
    Just read the social assistance website in New Brunswick:
    For example, a single mother with one child may receive $861 each month. If she has no income at all, she would receive the full $861. If she has income of $300 a month, then she would receive $561 in social assistance.
    Therefore, she makes $300 and immediately loses $300. It is like a tax rate of 100%, and that does not include other taxes, such as income taxes, payroll taxes, and gas taxes to drive to work, or clawbacks of non-cash benefits such as housing and medication. When all of these different work penalties are added together, many have a negative wage for working.
    Mark Wafer, who hired 200 workers with disabilities at his Tim Hortons shops, once asked an official with the Ontario government, “What is the best way to get off disability assistance?” She replied, “Die”.
    That is not just the experience of an entrepreneur talking to government; that is the insight of Canada's former chief statistician, Dr. Munir Sheikh, who wrote:
    ... in Canada, many inappropriate tax-transfer policies have helped to condemn people to being trapped behind low-income and poverty walls and, rather than improving social mobility, may have worsened it: we refer to it as the Zero Dollar Linda model following the work of social policy expert John Stapleton, who examined the incentives that caused a Toronto woman, Linda Chamberlain, to return to social assistance after a successful attempt to rejoin the workforce.
    Chamberlain's story is a tragic one. “After three decades of battling schizophrenia and homelessness and poverty, Chamberlain finally got a job”, wrote Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter. As a reward, the government boosted Linda's rent almost 500% and cut her disability payment, making her $260 a month poorer because she worked. Therefore, she had no choice but to quit and remain in poverty on social assistance, ironically at greater cost to the system.
    Linda is not alone. Statistics Canada surveyed people with disabilities who were not in the labour force even though they indicated they could work or had worked in the past. I quote Statistics Canada's findings: roughly 94,000 people reported that if they were employed, they felt they would lose additional support. About 82,000 people reported that they expected their income to drop if they worked.
    It is time to knock down this welfare wall. It is time to allow people to earn a living. It is time to pass Bill C-395, the opportunity for workers with disabilities act.
    This legislation would require governments to permit these workers to keep more in wages than they lose in clawbacks and taxes. It would do this through measurement, action, and enforcement.
    First is measurement. The bill would require Finance Canada to calculate how much governments take away in taxes and clawbacks of income, housing, medication, and other help for each thousand dollars a worker with disabilities earns. This calculation would only use publicly available tax and benefit rules, not personal financial information.
    Second is action. If the calculation shows people were losing more than they gained from work, within 30 days the finance minister would have to identify and report to Parliament changes to tax and benefit programs that would fix the problem. He might adjust federal disability tax credits, the CPP disability plan, or any other federal measure to make work pay.
    Third is enforcement. Provinces must already meet numerous existing federal conditions in exchange for billions of dollars in federal transfer payments. This legislation would add one more condition that would require provincial taxes and benefits to always allow people with disabilities to gain more than they lose from work. To be clear, the federal government would not dictate how provincial policies work; rather, it would instill one simple principle: do not punish people with disabilities for working. Provinces would have total liberty in how they instill this principle.
    For example, in British Columbia, people used to lose their drug coverage if they got a job and left welfare. That is not the case anymore. Economist Kevin Milligan, who advised the governing party on its platform, wrote, B.C. “replaced an 'all or nothing' program for social assistance recipients with one that is income-tested and more gently smoothed out as incomes rise. This had the effect of removing a very tall 'welfare wall' that provided a disincentive to work for people on benefits.” Similar solutions can allow other Canadians to get jobs without losing life-saving medications.
    Respecting the bill and allowing people with disabilities to work could save taxpayers money. Data from the Ontario government showed that if one person on disability assistance gets a $17-an-hour job, the government saves $14,000 in benefits and collects an extra $1,000 in taxes. Imagine what we would save if we knocked down the welfare wall and freed tens of thousands of workers with disabilities to earn a living and escape poverty.
    Speaking of poverty, the best anti-poverty plan is a job. If an individual is of working age but lives in a household where no one works, that person has a 50% likelihood of living in poverty today. However, if an individual works full-time year-round, that person will only have a 3% chance of being poor.
    The same is true for people with disabilities, who generally have a higher poverty rate. However, people with disabilities who are employed are only 8% likely to be below the poverty line. Let me give the House a startling example.
    Let us put two people side by side, one who has a disability and a job and the other who has no disability and no job. The second person is more than twice as likely to be below the poverty line, which shows that it is joblessness more than disability that causes poverty, and it is not just material poverty.
    While we are always told how dangerous it is to overwork, we often forget the greater danger to health and happiness of not working at all. Allow me to quote former British Medical Journal editor Dr. Richard Smith, who said, “Unemployment raises the chance that a man will die in the next decade by about a third. The men are most likely to die from suicide, cancer, and accidents and violence. ... Separation, divorce, and family violence are also linked with unemployment.”

  (1110)  

     He went on, “But it is mental health that is most harmed by unemployment. The unemployed experience anxiety, depression, neurotic disorders, poor self-esteem, and disturbed sleep patterns, and they are more likely than the employed not only to kill themselves but also to injure themselves deliberately.”
     Dr. Diette, a Washington and Lee University economist, wanted to determine if unemployment causes bad mental health or if it is just the other way around. He studied the mental health of people who had never before experienced serious psychological distress. Those who went on to lose their jobs later became at least 125% more likely to suffer such psychological distress than those who kept working.
     Elsewhere, researchers tested 1,000 laid-off Danish shipyard workers for psychiatric symptoms during a three-year follow-up period. He found these workers suffered worse mental health results than other workers who kept their jobs at a different shipyard. Here we have a very large sample size of people in the same country and in the same industry. Those who were not working went on to suffer far worse mental health than their counterparts who continued to have jobs.
    Some would say, “Of course unemployment harms health and happiness. People without jobs are stressed about money”, but that is only part of the story. University of Zurich economist Dr. Winkelmann found that life satisfaction for unemployed German men was significantly lower on a scale of 1 to 10 than for working German men, even when their total incomes were the same. How can this be? We are always told that work is a necessary but miserable slog, and we would all be happier retiring at 30. Trendy TED talkers are always talking about this amazing future when robots will do all the work for us, yet evidence proves that people are happier and healthier working, even when money is no issue.
    Why is that?
    First, it is because work makes us valuable to others. Tibet's Nobel Prize-winning spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the American Enterprise Institute president wrote together that virtually all the world's religions teach us that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the centre of a happy life. In one shocking experiment, researchers found that senior citizens who did not feel useful to others were nearly three times as likely to die prematurely as those who did feel useful. That is especially true for people with disabilities, whose skills and contributions are often undervalued by ignorant attitudes and small-minded people.
    Second, work connects us to one another. A workday is a constant flow of exchanges of goods, services, emails, phone calls, handshakes, questions and answers that link us together, and in each of these exchanges a worker is important to someone else. That is especially true of people who might be isolated and lonely. Their work colleagues form a social network, and even a family. A worker matters to his colleagues. He has a name, and as the Cheers jingle taught us so many years ago, sometimes we want to go where everybody knows our name.
    Third, work puts us in control of our lives, which is a basic human need. “One of the most prevalent fears people have is losing control”, wrote psychologist Dr. Elliot Cohen. Welfare surrenders our control to a system in which politicians we do not know make decisions that shape our lives. Through work, however, we take control of our lives. We do, rather than being done to. We become active players, not passive observers. We are the independent authors of our lives.
    For these reasons, work is a blessing, not a burden. A system that robs people of this blessing is not only foolish but inhumane. Therefore, let us knock down this welfare wall and open up opportunity for people with disabilities to earn a great living and live a great life.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned Mark Wafer, who is from Whitby, my riding. I had an opportunity to hear Mark speak a number of times about the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities not for the benefit of the company, because they get some kind of arbitrary credit, but because individuals with disabilities often work harder. They are not often late for work. They are dedicated individuals. Therefore, I appreciate the comments my colleague made.
    However, we will be introducing in Canada a disabilities act with the Minister of Sport and Persons With Disabilities and our parliamentary secretary. We have done over 6,000 consultations. I did one in Whitby at the Abilities Centre. We heard a lot from individuals who said, quite frankly, that they would like to have a job and would like to not have the clawbacks. I wonder if and how my colleague is working with the minister and our team to ensure this particular idea of an incentive is embedded in the legislation we are developing.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, and I will address the two questions in reverse order. I have reached out to the current public services minister, who was the disabilities minister, to discuss this bill. She was very receptive. However, she was obviously unable to commit to government support, or opposition. I am looking forward to seeing the government's bill with respect to making workplaces more inviting to people with disabilities. I am sure there will be many good measures included in that bill.
    The member also pointed to Mark Walker's success at employing people with disabilities, to great profitable success in the six Tim Hortons that Mark Walker owns. All of the performance metrics were higher because of, not in spite of, the fact that about 200 of his employees have disabilities. The service at the window was faster at the Tim Hortons that Mark Walker runs than it was on Camp Day when all of us politicians go to work at Tim Hortons. It was actually about half of the service time when persons with disabilities were doing the work than when the bigwigs like us were standing there trying to figure out how to do it. In the United States, Randy Lewis of the huge Walgreens distribution centre and the ruthlessly profitable business that it runs, became one of the most profitable in the company's entire ecosystem when 1,000 people with disabilities went to work there.
    Again and again, we underestimate people. This bill gives them a chance to prove all of their worth to contribute and be their best.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as everyone probably knows, there are costs associated with working, such as the cost of transportation and, for working parents, the cost of child care. Does my colleague believe our tax system should be set up to ensure that working never costs more than not working and that working is always worthwhile, regardless of an individual's personal circumstances? Unfortunately, sometimes that is not the case.
    Does my colleague believe that basic principle of taxation should inform all our policies?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. First of all, I would like to make it clear that the government should never punish people who work. It should never take back more than a dollar for each dollar a person earns.
    The system we have in Canada right now can make things better or worse, depending on the province and the individual situation. In some cases, people end up worse off when they decide to work, increase their hours, or get a raise. I think we can all agree that nobody should ever be in a situation where the effective tax rate exceeds 100%. That does happen in some cases in this country. The finance minister should do the math to make sure nobody ends up being penalized for working.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-395, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act.
    The bill raises an important question: what can we do to encourage people who are not currently in the workforce to enter and remain in it? In the context of this legislation, how do we ensure that measures are put in place to encourage persons with disabilities to work, if they so wish?

[English]

    Canada's future progress depends on making sure that every Canadian has an equal and fair chance at success. We need to ensure that the benefits of a growing economy are felt by more and more people with good, well-paying jobs for the middle class and everyone working hard to join it. The number of Canadians in low-wage jobs is high by international standards. Many of these workers struggle to support their families and afford basics like healthy food and clothes for growing kids.

  (1125)  

[Translation]

    That is why budget 2018 introduces the new Canada workers benefit, for example. This measure, which replaces the working income tax benefit, will help low-income workers keep more of their income. With this benefit, the government is also proposing an increase in the disability supplement in order to provide more assistance to Canadians who wish to enter the labour face and face financial barriers because of their disability. The Canada workers benefit will help lift approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty by 2020. It will encourage more people to join the workforce.

[English]

    Whether this extra money is used for things such as helping to cover the family grocery bills or buying warm clothes for the winter, the improved benefits will help low-income working Canadians to make ends meet.
    Furthermore, starting in 2019, the government will also make it easier for people to access the benefits they have earned by making changes that will allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the Canada workers benefit for any tax filer who has not claimed it. Allowing the Canada Revenue Agency to automatically provide the benefit to eligible filers will be especially helpful for people with reduced mobility, people who live far from service locations, and people who do not have internet access. As a result, everyone who can benefit from the Canada workers benefit will receive it when they file their taxes, and an estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers will receive the new Canada workers benefit for the 2019 tax year because of these changes. Combined with previous enhancements, our government is investing almost $1 billion in new funding per year to help low-income workers get ahead.
    In addition to the new Canada workers benefit, the federal government has provided the refundable medical expense supplement to improve work incentives for Canadians with disabilities. This supplement helps to offset the loss of coverage for medical and disability-related expenses when individuals move from social assistance to the paid labour force.
    The intention of ensuring that a financial work incentive exists for Canadians with disabilities is strongly supported. That is why the government is taking action to achieve improvements in labour market outcomes for persons with disabilities. However, while it is obviously desirable to ensure that social assistance programs preserve an incentive to work, the provision of social assistance for the working age populations, including for persons with disabilities, is primarily a provincial and territorial area of responsibility. Of course, the federal government has an interest in ensuring that its policies preserve work incentives and has collaborated with the provinces in this area. In recognition of the important role played by provinces and territories in providing basic income support, our government has worked with them to make province-specific changes to the design of the working income tax benefit to better harmonize with their own programs. Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nunavut have already taken advantage of this opportunity. Moving forward, our government will continue to work with interested provinces and territories to harmonize benefits under the new Canada workers benefit and to help support the transition from social assistance and into work.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Another noteworthy measure in budget 2018 is a new pre-apprenticeship program that would help under-represented groups in the economy, including women, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and newcomers, explore the trades, gain work experience, and develop the skills needed to succeed.
    After 20 years experience in teaching and professional development, I can say that the future is bright and there will be jobs for these people. This program will benefit many people, especially those who need it the most.
    As the hon. member probably knows, the government is also committed to providing Canadians more information on the practices of federally regulated employers. This transparency will contribute not only to shedding light on leaders in matters of pay equity, but also to putting pressure on employers responsible for the wage gaps that affect women, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities.
    We are also introducing in the House a new bill on accessibility, which will seek to improve accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities in sectors under federal jurisdiction by removing the barriers these people currently face.

[English]

    The new legislation will build on a series of Accessible Canada consultations that we held across the country.

[Translation]

    As a government, we understand the importance of helping Canadians remove the obstacles to economic development. That is why fairness and equality are at the forefront of budget 2018, which contains new investments to help those who need it most.
    I urge the member from Carleton to support these measures and the upcoming accessibility bill because they are good for Canadians with disabilities and millions of other Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Carleton for introducing Bill C-395. I believe that this bill addresses a gap in the tax system known as the “welfare wall”, a fairly well-known economic principle. It occurs when those who are receiving social assistance or people with disabilities, as we are talking about here, want to enter the workforce but will lose money to taxes or benefit clawbacks by doing so.
    I do not think that this is a result of any level of government acting in bad faith; rather, I think it is an indication of the complexity of our tax system. It is becoming so complex that, despite our best efforts, we have introduced unintended effects into the system that penalize people who want to re-enter the labour market.
    I will vote in favour of the bill at second reading so that we can study it at committee. I have questions about some aspects of the bill, such as whether the financial implications for different levels of government are those suggested. I believe that will be the case, but we will be able to do a more in-depth analysis at committee.
    This is an example of the left and the right being able to work together because we have a common interest. I believe that we have the greater good at heart. We want to help people who want to work, in this case, once again, people with a disability. Support for the bill introduced by the member for Carleton has come from progressives and Conservatives, including a former representative of the Canadian Tax Foundation, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, Jack Mintz, and Ian Lee, who will never be taken for progressives, as well as the Canadian Association for Supported Employment. The entire political spectrum is represented on this long list of supporters, which clearly indicates that we have a social consensus.
    I am saddened by the government's attitude. If I am not mistaken, my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, said that the government will not encourage support for this bill, at least at second reading, which I find very disappointing. The bill by the member for Carleton is clear. It would amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. The various levels of government are subject to conditions with respect to social transfers and health transfers, and these conditions help address any problems that may arise or any issues regarding how different governments use the transfers. When the federal government is able to punish persons with disabilities who want to return to the job market, this will be addressed at the federal level, and it must also be addressed at the provincial level. I am saddened that the speech I just heard had nothing to do with the bill itself, and instead had to do with government measures, since at the end of the day, this bill is worthy of consideration.
    If the bill passes, there will be three requirements. The first has to do with the Minister of Finance.

  (1135)  

[English]

    Finance Canada will be asked to calculate the level of taxation and the loss of benefits that would be incurred by the person with a disability in going back on the job market and having a job and wages. Following that, if the earned income is lowered by the effect of taxation and the loss of benefits, then Finance Canada would have to modify or amend in some form the working income tax disability supplement. The same would be asked of the provinces through that modification and the agreement between the federal government and the provincial governments for the social transfer. It is that simple. That is all that is asked here.

[Translation]

    I do not see why the government would not study this new measure, which would complement what it proposed in its last budget. At the end of the day, I worry that the government is telling us it can do better than this bill. Personally, I really doubt it.
    I introduced Bill C-274 in the House of Commons to fix a specific problem with the transfer of SMEs and family farms. I managed to secure the support of many members. The Conservative Party was on board, as were the independent members and, in theory, 15 to 20 Liberal members. Then the Minister of Finance released a cost estimate for the bill. The tax specialists I had been dealing with had estimated that my bill would cost between $75 million and $100 million.
    During the final week of debate, however, the government pulled a rabbit out of its hat and claimed the bill would cost between $800 million and $1.2 billion in lost revenue. That scared off a lot of Liberal backbenchers. Several of those who had initially supported the bill and acknowledged the existence of the problem my bill was trying to fix decided to vote against it.
    The Department of Finance misled the members of the Liberal Party, because in a report on the fiscal impact of my bill that was published two months after the vote, the Parliamentary Budget Officer put the fiscal revenue shortfall at about $150 million, not $800 million to $1.2 billion as the finance department led the House to believe.
    The government tends to completely ignore positive legislation brought forward by the opposition, especially on fiscal matters. It is trying to undermine the members of the House by systematically refusing all opposition-led tax bills, whether they are proposed by the official opposition or other opposition parties.
    In our consideration of Bill C-395, however, we are working on the particular issue of Canadians who are struggling to get over the welfare wall.

  (1140)  

[English]

    The welfare wall exists, and we need to attack it where we can, federally and provincially. It makes no sense.
    My colleague, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, actually showed that this is a principle that should be applied everywhere in our tax system. It should be applied, because it makes sense in terms of creating incentives for people with disabilities or people on social assistance or people who want to find an opportunity to work. We need to give them every single opportunity to do so.
    Creating walls and keeping a state of affairs where people going to work actually lose money and benefits because they are going to work makes no sense. It is our duty as parliamentarians, it is our duty as people who have been elected by our constituents, to ensure that we correct these problems. The bill tabled by the member for Carleton aims to do exactly that.
    I will be asking the government to look at this bill and to send it to committee to ensure that the objectives targeted by this bill would be achieved. This would actually be a positive contribution by this Parliament. It would ensure that people who want to gain some dignity by going back to work and being able to contribute socially in their communities would not be penalized and would not suffer from the shortcomings of our own legislation when we adopt tax measures provincially and federally.
    I encourage all members of Parliament in this House to vote in favour of this bill and to send it to committee to try to see what we can do for people with disabilities who want to gain dignity by joining the job market.
    Mr. Speaker, I support Bill C-395, the opportunity for workers with disabilities act, put forward by my colleague, the member for Carleton. I want to thank him for his steadfast and exceptional advocacy for accountability to taxpayers and for economic freedom, security, and opportunity for all Canadians, especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged. His bill could benefit many Canadians who have different barriers than others in their day-to-day lives.
    The bill would mandate Finance Canada to calculate how much people with disabilities currently lose in taxes and clawbacks as a result of each additional income of $1,000 they earn, up to $30,000, on a province-by-province basis. If there are cases where clawbacks are higher than the employment income, the finance minister can review possible changes to the federal tax and benefits system so people with disabilities are not worse off or get paid simply less because they are working. The finance minister would then consult with each province to fix the problem. Of course, the federal government puts conditions on provincial programs and services all the time.
     I support Bill C-395 because every Canadian has value and every Canadian with disabilities who wants to work and is able to do so should be able to maximize his or her opportunities without penalties or barriers from government. Meaningful work is important for well-being, a sense of dignity, for a fulfilling life, and it should be a public policy priority to support people with disabilities who want and are able to work.
     Unfortunately, Canadians with disabilities often struggle to secure employment or when they do, government policies stop them from being able to fully benefit from their efforts and endeavours.
     According to a 2012 Statistics Canada report on persons with disabilities and employment, the last report done on this subject, the employment rate of Canadians aged 25 to 64 who have a physical or mental disability was 49%, compared to a 79% rate of those without a disability.
     In my home province of Alberta, people with disabilities who do work often lose $1.15 for every new dollar they earn under the current system. The assured income for the severely handicapped, or AISH, is Alberta's program supported by the Canada social transfer. This separate supplement income program acknowledges the unique financial costs and significant barriers that only this exceptional group of people face.
     Currently, an Albertan living with a disability can receive a standard living allowance of almost $1,600 monthly through AISH. Like many provincial income programs for the disabled, the financial benefit decreases as earned income increases. Of course, an individual living with a disability who is able to work full-time may not receive the same level of support as someone who cannot work at all or who struggles to be accommodated by prospective employers.
     Right now in Alberta persons with disabilities in the AISH program can only earn a certain amount before their payments are reduced. Under Alberta's AISH employment income exemption calculation, a single person on the AISH program can only earn up to a maximum of $800 before his or her payments are clawed back monthly. Once a person earns just over $2,700 monthly, he or she no longer receive an AISH benefit at all. That is a salary of $32,000 a year with no additional benefits. However, the reality is that people with disabilities often have an additional set and scope of costs and requirements for survival, never mind to thrive, in their daily lives and for their whole lives that people without disabilities can not imagine.
    Canadians with the same income who are not disabled already struggle to make ends meet. People with disabilities who can and want to be included in the workforce should not lose benefits that are specifically designed to support their disabilities.
    A notable exception about Alberta's program, through recent improvements by both the former PC government and the current NDP one, is that it is actually significantly more generous when compared to other provinces.
    Ontario, for example, has the Ontario disability support program where a single person with a disability can earn a maximum financial benefit of only just over $1,100 monthly. The benefit is based on family status, providing more if a disabled person has dependants.
    British Columbia has the person with disability program under B.C. employment and assistance, which is also based on family status. A single person can only receive just over $1,100 per month.
    This scenario means there is virtually no financial incentive for disabled people to work. The more they work the less money or benefits they receive, even if they have a low-paying job. If there is no benefit for disabled people to work because they may get paid more if they do not, then what incentive is there for them to go to work and why should they be punished for wanting to contribute to society and for doing something that is fulfilling and meaningful and fulfilling?
     The current system therefore presents a unique problem. In “The Dignity Deficit”, Arthur Brooks says, “We feel a sense of dignity when our own lives produce value for ourselves and others. Put simply, to feel dignified, one must be needed by others.”
    Involuntary unemployment can be extremely damaging to a person who wants to work. Studies conclude that compared with people who are employed, unemployed people can experience mental health issues, which is not just highly correlated but tied directly to their lack of work. Many struggle with depression and have lesser physical well-being generally. Unemployed people are more likely to cope by drinking, smoking, and using drugs.

  (1145)  

     It is often assumed that these physical and mental challenges are the cause of unemployment, but there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the relationship is also the other way around and that for people with disabilities, those who are able to work, are more healthy mentally and emotionally, benefiting from a sense of self-worth from gainful employment, than people with disabilities who can work but do not.
     Brooks says, “Involuntary unemployment saps one’s sense of dignity.” Receiving employment insurance or disability benefits does not actually help disabled people who want to work. It is backward and perverse for a government system to disincentivize it or claw back fundamental supports for those who do.
    I am passionate about this issue in part because of my personal experience with people with disabilities. In university, I volunteered with the Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Association at the Whitemud Equine Learning Centre in Edmonton. I got to know adults and children with cognitive, developmental, mental, and physical challenges, originating from birth, from tragic accidents, and from diseases and illnesses. They and their families and guardians had a major impact on me. Many of them would not be able to work. They depended completely on a network of family, friends, public and private support systems, and programs. However, there were those who could work, and did, and who made all kinds of contributions through work and volunteerism. They should not be penalized for meaningful employment or profitable entrepreneurialism, and for their efforts to advance and support themselves. All of them, those who could work and those who could not, also contributed to my life, my perspective, and my well-being in ways I am sure they never knew.
    In Lakeland, the Vegreville Association for Living in Dignity is a not-for-profit association that helps support people with developmental disabilities to have opportunities for success and personal growth by promoting the development of communication and cognitive and motor skills through participation in work and in many initiatives and events in the community.
    VALID has long-standing partnerships with businesses for employment positions, and with charities for volunteer activities in Vegreville. For more than 20 years, VALID's program with the immigration case processing centre secured work placements for three to five, and sometimes more, disabled people every year. These opportunities will soon be taken away from workers with disabilities in CPC Vegreville because despite an outpouring and herculean effort to stop it by employees and their families, union reps, and elected representatives at all levels and of all parties in Alberta, and right across the country, the Liberals are closing the office in September 2018.
     That closure will eliminate hundreds of much-needed jobs in Vegreville, with wide-ranging and significant economic and social consequences for the town and region. The Liberal closure will end decades of consistent and predictable employment opportunities for adults living with disabilities in and around the town and end all fundraising by the employee champions for local charities and not-for-profit associations that help the disadvantaged, needy, and vulnerable through their contributions to workplace charitable campaigns.
    The immigration department said that the new office in Vegreville would accommodate 312 employees, only a maximum addition of 32 positions. Vegreville could have expanded for them and for more jobs or placements for people with disabilities.
     It is a huge loss that was imposed with no consultation and no economic impact assessment. The cost study the Liberals hid for a year showed it would cost millions more. Nothing ever actually prevented them from opening an office in Edmonton. They have never proven the case why the Vegreville office has to be closed, not to the whole team of employees who consistently outperform targets and backstop other offices, not to the 76% of employees there who are women, and not to the people with disabilities who will no longer have opportunities for worthwhile and meaningful work there.
    Canadians with disabilities should be able to exercise their talents, abilities, and ambition to pursue and attain employment and entrepreneurial opportunities when they can and want to. Governments should not penalize them for doing so. The aim of Canadian public policy should be to enable and empower people with disabilities to enjoy meaningful work without barriers and to thrive, not take away incentive from their drive to work and pursue their goals.
    That is why I support Bill C-395, and all members should support it. It is a focused, specific, and necessary initiative to actually deliver in policy on all the words and intentions elected representatives often share about compassion and about supporting diversity, abilities, and inclusions. The Conservatives mean those words, are acting on those words, and I am sure the Liberals will support it.

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to join in the debate on the opportunities for workers with disabilities act. I would like to take a moment to share with this place an example of why I believe this is a needed and helpful measure for many who are disabled.
    Most provincial disability programs are obviously capped at a certain amount. For the sake of an example, and this is not the example I am using from British Columbia, let us say an individual's provincial disability assistance is $1,200. Unless one has the benefit of being subsidized, rent for housing takes a very good portion, if not almost all, of that monthly amount. For many who are disabled there is simply not enough funds left over to pay utilities, buy groceries, toiletries, and other basic items. For many, the only other option is to find some work, and this is where it gets interesting.
    Any income generated independently of social assistance support in some regions may be deducted dollar for dollar. That means if an individual were to earn an extra $800 working part-time, once that additional income is deducted dollar for dollar, the net income is the same $1,200. In other words, that individual is no better off working at all. That is what gets to the heart of this legislation. In order for someone on disability to come out ahead, that individual would have to earn at least $1,300 or more, getting into the range of almost full-time, which for many who are on disability may not be practical or even an attainable solution.
    Fortunately, most provinces have developed some income earning exemptions for those on disability. In my home province this is now $1,000 for a single person on disability. Most would agree that is a positive. We all know that having a job provides more than much-needed additional income. It provides a sense of value and it helps restore confidence.
    A retired public servant who has spent many years working with disabled citizens once shared with me some interesting observations. From his perspective, the importance of learning what one can do with a disability as opposed to what can no longer be done is an important part of moving forward.
    His other observation was that time was of the essence. The sooner a person is able to return to the workforce in some way, the odds are more likely that person will remain actively engaged in the workplace. Being engaged and productive and finding ways we can achieve that is something government policy should always encourage.
    Knowing that in some regions a person with a disability can be adversely impacted by returning to the workplace in any way goes against the principles that help promote a positive and potentially more productive lifestyle. For those of us who are not disabled, our net take-home pay will generally always ensure we come out ahead. This principle should be no different for those who are disabled.
    When I think of the observations from that retired civil servant, what the bill proposes would help to ensure that the framework would be in place. That is a positive and it is one of the reasons why I support the bill.
    I would like to thank and commend the member for Carleton for bringing forward this important legislation. I am not sure of the member's original reasons for getting involved in this area, but he has been a champion for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He has been a champion locally for people with disabilities. I am sure it is in part due to his exposure to some people that he has been able to realize he adds unique contributions to this place and his contributions are forwarded by the same. I give him full credit as he continues to stand up for people with disabilities to ensure they can participate meaningfully.
    I would like to beg the House's indulgence for a moment on a related subject that is also of concern and is all too often overlooked. To be clear, the bill would create new opportunities to help disabled Canadians. However, from my experience, and perhaps from the experience of other members here, there are those citizens who have barriers, be they mental or physical, that prevent them from securing employment. In some cases, these people are not able to secure disability status. It could be because of a lack of capacity, or as is common in my region a doctor shortage, and that can make it extremely difficult for a marginalized person to receive the required medical certification to qualify for disability status.

  (1155)  

    That is not something we can directly fix with a private member's bill from this place. Health care, as we know, is a provincially delivered service. However, one thing we have done in this place is to make Canada a less attractive location for new doctors. Recent tax changes, including to personal income tax rates, will result in many doctors having a reduced net take-home pay. That is not helpful in physician recruitment, and it is definitely not helpful for retaining those physicians. I mention these things because I believe it is important to recognize the role of doctors and physicians in establishing disabled status.
     Getting back to the bill, I would like to thank all members in this place for taking the time to hear my comments today. I believe it is fundamentally important to find ways we can help disabled Canadians, and this bill is one of the steps we can take together. I would hope that the members here, as well as our colleagues who are trying to travel to Ottawa through ice storms and whatnot, will consider these arguments and support the initiative of the member for Carleton. This is an important step for ensuring that every single Canadian from coast to coast to coast has the same benefit and the same principle to participate meaningfully in the workplace, earn some more income, feel the pride of being more self-sufficient, and not be subject to government clawbacks, which oftentimes make very little sense to the people who are subject to them, or to many of us in this chamber.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have an opportunity to speak to this bill, which is important to understanding the situation many people face on a daily basis. For instance, some couples, when one of them has a disability and is not currently working, have to crunch the numbers before accepting a job. A number of considerations come into play when deciding whether it is worth it to go to work. Transportation costs, for one, are a factor that must considered and so are day care costs, if the couple has children, since staying at home saves on this expense. A number of factors come into play in the calculation. Furthermore, many benefits are lost once a certain income bracket is reached. For instance, the amount of family allowance payments goes down as income goes up. This can have a significant impact considering all the benefits. In Quebec, the public drug insurance plan covers people who are not working. People who work are obligated to join the drug plan offered by their employer, and that plan is sometimes a lot more expensive than the government plan. Choosing to go to work can have significant financial consequences.
    When you add up all the money people do not have to spend when they are not working but do have to spend when they are, and then you factor in lost benefits, the tax rate, and rising costs of various services they need, unfortunately for a lot of people, it is not worth having a job. That is just so sad.
    Right now, we have an unprecedented labour shortage. In Abitibi—Témiscamingue, people are tearing their hair out trying to come up with ways to find workers. Many of these jobs require minimal skills, and employers are even hiring people who are not qualified at all. For many of these jobs, the only requirement is willingness to work. The situation is so dire that employers have no choice. Right now in Abitibi—Témiscamingue, businesses are closing and restaurants are cutting back their hours because they cannot find workers.
    We need to figure out how to help everyone with the ability and the desire to work find those opportunities because the labour shortage is having a major impact on regional economies like mine. A bill like this one would guarantee that people with disabilities benefit from making that decision to work. I think that is so important.
    Employers are left with no choice. They have to resort to non-traditional labour pools. When people do the math and realize it is not worth it to go to work, then we lose out on potential employees. Countless studies have shown how effective persons with disabilities are at work.
    I will be pleased to continue my speech when we resume debate on this bill.

  (1200)  

    The time allotted for debate has expired. The hon. member will have six minutes for her speech when the House resumes debate on the bill.
    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1

Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (for the Minister of Finance)  
     moved that Bill C-74, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-74 on behalf of the Government of Canada, as well as our government's planned investments to strengthen the middle class and maintain the strength and sustainable growth of the Canadian economy. Budget 2018, entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, represents the next stage in our plan to invest in people and the communities where they live in order to provide the best opportunities for success to the middle class and all Canadians.
    The bill we are talking about today, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1, is the next step in the plan that our government launched over two years ago. When we took office, we jumped into action by helping develop a confident middle class that stimulates economic growth and that is currently benefiting from more opportunities for success than ever. Giving Canadians the opportunity to reach their full potential is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for our economy. The decision to invest in the middle class is the right decision. Targeted investments combined with the hard work of Canadians across the country have helped create good, well-paying jobs and will continue to strengthen the economy over the long term.
    Canada’s economy is strong and growing, and the government's finances are continuously improving. Since 2016, Canada has been leading the G7 in economic growth. It has the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 country, by far. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio has been firmly placed on a downward track, and based on our projections, the deficit-to-GDP ratio should also drop to 0.5% in 2022-23. Our government knows that its plan is working because Canadians are working. Over the past two years, the Canadian economy has grown and generated 600,000 new jobs, most of which are full time. Today, we have the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 40 years. These jobs have made it possible for Canadians to better meet their families' needs and better plan for their retirement.
    However, we know that there is still work to be done. We must ensure that the economy reflects the diversity of our county, a country where all Canadians can contribute to and benefit from the nation's prosperity in a significant way. Bill C-74 contains worthwhile measures. I would like to take a few moments to present a few of them, since they are an important part of our government's plan to help the middle class and all those who are striving to reach their full potential. The government believes that Canada's biggest strength is our diversity. In order to succeed in a rapidly changing world, our economy must reflect our diversity and give every Canadian real and fair opportunities to succeed.
    Regarding gender equality, we know that although Canadian women today are among the best educated in the world, they earn less than men, are less likely to participate in the labour market than men, and are more likely to work part time. We believe it is time for a change. Closing these gaps and giving women equal opportunities to succeed will encourage a more inclusive dialogue on the questions that will shape our future. We know that it will also improve the quality of life of our families and communities while stimulating the economy. Simply put, when women have the support and opportunities to fully contribute to Canada's economy, all Canadians do better.
    For example, the Canada child benefit is an important government initiative aimed at making a positive change for the millions of Canadian families with children. Close to 3.3 million families with children are receiving more than $23 billion in annual Canada child benefit payments. A single mom of two children aged five and eight with a net income of $35,000 in 2016 will have received $11,125 in tax-free Canada child benefit payments in the 2017-2018 benefit year. Naturally, this $11,125 is absolutely tax free. That is $3,500 more than she would have received under the previous child benefit system.
     Last year, single mothers earning less than $60,000 a year received $9,000 in benefit payments on average to help make things like healthy food and summer programs for their kids more affordable. Thanks to this increased support, the Canada child benefit is helping to lift hundreds of thousands of Canadian children out of poverty. Child poverty has been reduced by 40% compared with 2013.

  (1205)  

    By better supporting those families that need it most, including those led by single mothers, the Canada child benefit helps them give their children a good start in life by providing a safe place to live, music lessons, affordable sports camps, and all the day-to-day necessities to which every child has a right.
    With Bill C-74, our government will enhance the Canada child benefit in order to ensure that the benefit is indexed to the cost of living effective July 2018, which is two years earlier than initially scheduled.
     We realize that some people, especially indigenous people living in northern and remote communities, have often faced barriers when it comes to accessing essential government services and federal benefits such as the Canada child benefit. With Bill C-74, our government will take steps to ensure that anyone who is eligible for support receives it.
     Through Bill C-74, the government proposes to expand outreach efforts to all indigenous communities on reserves and in northern and remote areas, and to conduct pilot outreach projects for urban indigenous communities so that indigenous peoples have better access to a full range of federal social benefits, including the Canada child benefit.

  (1210)  

[English]

    Now I would like to talk about the Canada worker's benefit. Canadians working hard to join the middle class deserve to have their hard work rewarded with greater opportunities for success. We know that these Canadians are working to build a better life for themselves and their families. Low-income Canadians are sometimes working two or three jobs so that they can give themselves and their children a better chance at success. That is why budget 2018 introduced the new Canada workers benefit, the CWB. Building on the former working income tax benefit, the CWB would put more money into the pockets of low-income workers. The CWB would encourage more people to join and remain in the workforce by letting them take home more money while they work.
     Through Bill C-74, the government would increase the overall support provided by the CWB for the 2019 and subsequent taxation years. In particular, the government proposes to increase maximum benefits under the CWB by up to $170 in 2019, and increase the income level at which the benefit is entirely phased out. As a result, low-income workers earning $15,000 could receive up to almost $500 from the CWB in 2019 than they could receive this year under the current working income tax benefit. That is $500 to invest in the things that are important to them, and to make ends meet.
    The government would also propose changes to improve access to the CWB to allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the CWB for anyone who has not claimed it starting in 2019.
    Due to these enhancements and intended actions to improve take-up in 2019, the government estimates that more than two million working Canadians would benefit, many of whom were not benefiting from the working income tax benefit. This would help lift approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty.
    With regard to small businesses, the government is also committed to providing direct support to the small businesses that create the jobs that Canadians depend on. Small businesses are a critical part of our economy, and the government is taking action to help them grow, invest, and create good, well-paying jobs. To that end, Bill C-74, proposes to lower the small business tax rate to 10% from 10.5%, effective January 1, 2018, and to 9%, effective January 1, 2019. This means up to $7,500 in federal corporate tax savings per year to help entrepreneurs and innovators do what they do best: create jobs. Lowering small business taxes should encourage new capital investment in businesses. These investments, whether in better machinery, more efficient technology or new hires, make businesses more productive and competitive.
    Bill C-74 also proposes measures to ensure that the tax system encourages corporate owners, including small business owners, to use low corporate tax rates to support their business and not for significant personal tax advantages. The first measure would reduce the ability to access the small business tax rate for small businesses with significant income from passive investments. For those earning less than $50,000 of passive investment income each year, there will be no change in the tax treatment. Also, the tax applicable to investment income remains unchanged. Refundable taxes and dividend tax rates would remain the same.
    A second measure corrects a flaw that allows larger private corporations to gain an unintended tax advantage. The measure would better align the refund of taxes paid on passive income with the payment of dividends sourced from passive income. Together, these two changes would impact less than 3% of all private corporations and provide a simpler and more targeted approach. Ninety per cent of the tax impact would be borne by households in the top 1%.
    We listened and the design of these proposals is based directly on the feedback that we received during the consultations on our tax proposals. Thanks to this input, we have put forward an approach that is simpler and better targeted than what was outlined last summer. At the same time, we are doing more to help typical small businesses grow by enabling them to retain more earnings for investment and job creation through a lower small business tax rate.
    To help Canadians succeed today and in the economy of tomorrow, the government is making long-term investments to grow the economy in a way that ensures good jobs, healthy communities, and clean air and water. Canadians understand that pollution is not free nor should it be. That is why putting a price on carbon pollution is central to the government's plan to fight climate change and grow the economy.
    In Canada and abroad, the impacts of climate change are evident, including coastal erosion, thawing, permafrost, and increases in heat waves, droughts, and flooding. Our shared quality of life and our present and future prosperity are deeply connected to the environment in which we live.
    Today, through Bill C-74, the government is taking action in order to reduce emissions by introducing the greenhouse gas pollution pricing act. Pricing carbon pollution is the most effective way to reduce emissions. It creates incentives for businesses and households to innovate and pollute less.
     I would like to underline that our approach to putting a price on carbon pollution has been collaborative from the beginning. As a first step, the government worked with most provinces and territories and indigenous partners to adopt the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change in December 2016. The framework includes a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution, with the aim of having carbon pricing in place in all provinces and territories this year. The plan provides provinces and territories with the flexibility to choose between two systems: an explicit price-based system or a cap-and-trade system. Right now, a price on carbon pollution is in place in four provinces—Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta—covering over 80% of the Canadian population. All other provinces have committed to adopting some form of carbon pollution pricing this year.
     Four out of five Canadians live in jurisdictions that already have a price on carbon pollution, as I have mentioned, and right now those provinces are leading Canada in job creation. With that goal in mind, the government is moving ahead to ensure that a legal framework is in place for the proposed federal carbon pollution pricing system. In jurisdictions that fall short of the federal standard, the federal carbon pollution pricing system would apply on January 1, 2019, starting at a price of $20 per tonne of emissions. The direct revenue from the carbon charges on pollution under the federal system would go back to the province or territory of origin.
     On an annual basis, the provincial and territorial systems in place would be assessed by the Government of Canada against the federal standard. By putting a price on carbon pollution, Canada is joining 67 other jurisdictions that have already taken this important step to curb greenhouse gas pollution. Together, those jurisdictions represent about half of the global economy and more than a quarter of global GHG emissions, according to the World Bank's November 2017 report, “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2017”.
    Putting a price on carbon pollution would help put Canada on a course to meet our 2030 emissions target, in combination with other complementary clean growth measures under Canada's clean growth and climate action plan. It makes sense not only for our shared environment, but also to strengthen our growing economy.

  (1215)  

[Translation]

    This bill represents the next steps in the government's plan to put people first by giving them the help they need now, all while investing in the years and decades to come.
    In order to remain competitive and successful in the global economy, every Canadian must have the opportunity to contribute to our prosperity and to benefit from it. As we continue to grow and strengthen the middle class, we are making significant progress in terms of equality of opportunity, to ensure that the next generation of Canadians can share in a prosperous middle class; a more innovative, creative, and competitive knowledge-based economy; and environmental protections.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, before I comment on my colleague's speech, I would like to draw attention to the fact that all of us in this House today are standing with the families of the Humboldt Broncos team, the unspeakable tragedy that occurred just days ago. We want them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support that has occurred.
    In relation to the comments of my colleague, he failed to mention that the government is actually raising taxes on more than 90% of middle-class families. He also failed to mention that we are paying $26 billion in interest alone to carry the national debt, which will rise to $33 billion in just a few years. This year alone another $18 billion is being added to that national debt.
    Could my colleague inform this House as to when the budget will be balanced? We were promised during the campaign that the budget would be balanced by 2019. Now we understand that it could be as late as 2045. I wonder if my colleague could enlighten this House as to when the budget will actually be balanced.

  (1220)  

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, I want to echo my colleague's sentiments about the recent tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the community as a whole. I think all members of the House share these sentiments.
    As for the member's question about taxation, it is important to bear in mind that one of the first things we did as a government was to lower taxes on the middle class, in the $45,000 to $80,000 bracket, while increasing taxes on the wealthiest 1%, in order to give the middle class more money to make investments and meet their many day-to-day obligations. Actually, if I am not mistaken, that was the first thing we did.
    However, we did not stop there. We introduced the Canada child benefit, which is more progressive than the family benefits program introduced by the Conservatives. It is more generous to those who need it most, and it is tax free. It provides support directly to Canadian families who need it the most. The Canada child benefit allows nine out of 10 families to keep more money in their pockets, money that is tax free. As I was saying in my speech, this measure has lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. It has reduced child poverty in Canada by 40% relative to 2013 levels.
    As far as the deficit is concerned, as I said very clearly, the ratio of our debt to the size of our economy is the best in the G7 and is trending downward, as is the ratio of our deficit to the size of our economy. These were precisely the results we were looking for when we decided to grow our economy by investing in the middle class and in infrastructure.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the budget implementation act seems to be very much in the realm of the Bay Street mentality with which the government approaches issues. It does not close any of the tax loopholes that are incredibly egregious, giving hundreds of millions of dollars to some of Canada's wealthiest citizens. It does not do anything to shut down the overseas tax havens. We have seen the government sign more and more of these tax treaties with these egregious overseas tax havens, letting tens of billions of dollars leave the country.
    What the budget implementation act does is ask regular Canadians to wait. They are being asked to wait for pharmacare, until perhaps after the next election or perhaps another decade. Who knows? They are being asked to wait for pay equity, when Canadian women have already waited for decades and decades. For Canadians in my neck of the woods, in New Westminster—Burnaby, who have seen the acute housing and homelessness crisis we are facing, this budget implementation act and the budget basically say to wait as well.
    My question is very simple. Since the government seems to be so incredibly generous with its Bay Street friends, why is it always asking Canadians to wait for the essential services they need and that they are asking for?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as far as tax havens are concerned, it is important to mention that nearly $1 billion were invested in the Canada Revenue Agency over the past two years so the CRA could have investigators on the ground conducting audits and getting results for Canadians. That did not make it to the list of priorities for the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, who did not even talk about it, as the then-minister, Mr. Blackburn, told us just last summer.
    We invested $1 billion to conduct the necessary investigations in order to bring to justice those who send their revenue to tax havens. That is what the Minister of National Revenue is working hard to do at the head of the CRA.
    The member said our government waited, but we did not wait when it came to indexing the Canada child benefit to make sure it met the middle class's growing needs and continued to reduce inequality in this country. We did not wait when it came to increasing the Canada workers benefit, formerly the working income tax benefit, by almost 165%, a move that will lift tens of thousands of low-income Canadians out of poverty.
    In my opinion, our government is progressive to the core and is working hard to help those who need it most.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, over this past weekend, I had a round table, an open discussion, about budget 2018 in the riding of Whitby. My hon. colleague had an opportunity to visit the riding a little while ago. In Durham region, of which Whitby is a part, over the last couple of years, we have seen unemployment decrease to the lowest it has been in 15 years. When I was knocking on doors, it was about 11% or 12%, and now it is down to 5.6%. Members in my riding are excited about that. They are excited about the fact that we have been reducing the small business tax rate, we have indexed the CCB, and we have introduced the Canada working income tax benefit.
    One of the things that people were questioning and a bit concerned about is what we have done for seniors. I wonder if the hon. member could address some of the concerns that the residents of Whitby have had.
    Mr. Speaker, it is true that I was in the member for Whitby's region. I was impressed by the dynamism of the local entrepreneurs and also the community members I met, who are very involved and shared their concerns with me. It is a region that is very dynamic. With regard to making sure that this growth is sustained, though it was not part of the member's question, I would like to highlight the investments in 2018 in science. They are historic and will make sure that we continue to innovate in this country and create well-paying jobs for Canadians as Canadian scientists are hard at work finding the bright ideas of the future.
    In terms of seniors, it is important to remember that one of the things we have done as a government is to increase the guaranteed income supplement by 10%. That is helping close to a million seniors with a little less than $1,000 per year every year. That is something we should be proud of. That is on top of the national housing strategy we have put forward, which will help provide more housing for senior citizens across this country. These concerns have found an echo in the actions of this government, and I could go on for longer.
    Mr. Speaker, in regard to the national carbon tax and imposing one upon provinces that may not be in agreement with the government's aims, the courts previously found, in the Vander Zalm ruling regarding the HST, that a province not only needed to be consulted, but there needed to be agreement by the province in order for the feds to collect a tax that would normally be collected by the province. It was under the good governance clause that it was allowed.
    Does the member or his government have an opinion from the Minister of Justice's officials that he can share outlining the constitutionality of a nationally imposed federal carbon tax? Our Constitution would allow an environmental program to be tabled by the Minister of Environment, but a tax by a federal minister of finance basically engaging in energy regulation, I believe is ultra vires and outside its constitutionality. Does the member have any evidence that he can table, or will his government be tabling such an opinion, so that members can know this has been thought through? He said in his speech “a legal framework” for the imposition of this national carbon tax? Is it legal?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, obviously we would not introduce a bill if we did not believe it to be legal.
    Here is where I disagree with my esteemed colleague: we see this as a price on carbon pollution. My colleague calls it a tax, but it is actually a price on carbon pollution. I think this shows how the Conservatives' vision contrasts with ours. Members on this side of the House believe it is important to grow our economy in a way that protects and preserves our environment. I would also like to remind him that this type of system is in place in four Canadian provinces so far, four provinces that account for 80% of the population.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there are only two questions that Parliament must ask when presented with a budget: what does it cost us, and what do we get for it as Canadians?
    Let us start with the cost of this budget. Costs are borne out through government in three ways: spending, debt, and taxes. Debt and taxes are the symptoms; spending is the cause. Whatever Parliament agrees to allow the government to spend, it must ultimately tax or borrow from the citizens and from bondholders.
    The Liberal government loves to spend. The stats show that it has been increasing spending at an annual rate of roughly 6.5% to 7% per year, which is three times the combined rate of inflation and population growth. In other words, spending is growing three times as fast as the need. That spending, of course, requires a source. The government has been plundering taxpayers and borrowing to pay for that spending ever since it took office.
    Let me talk briefly about the government's approach to spending. In an adjoining piece of legislation to this budget bill, the government will attempt to change the way in which Parliament approves the executive branch's expenditure of money. We, as Canadians, live in the British parliamentary system, which for roughly 800 years has meant that the power of the purse rests with the elected officials and that the crown cannot spend what Parliament does not approve. That principle originated in the fields of Great Britain at the time that King John signed the Magna Carta.
    Typically governments have come forward before the House of Commons with detailed spending plans, item by item, agency by agency, department by department, and purpose by purpose, saying “Here is what we want to spend. Here is what it is for.” Then, Parliament has scrutinized that spending and passed it, and that government has been restricted by the specificity that it put in that legislation. In other words, it can only spend the money on the things it said it would, and only in the amounts that it said it would spend.
    Instead, this year the government wants to do something that has only once been done in Canadian history, and then only during a crisis, and that is for Parliament to approve $7 billion of discretionary spending, which ministers on the government's Treasury Board can spend whatever they want on, as long as it stays under that $7-billion limit.
    As I said, normally that $7 billion would be carefully earmarked in the main estimates that come before the House, and we as parliamentarians would approve or reject it. If it were approved, then the government would have to spend each dollar where it said it would. However, not this time.
    The government has changed the system in a way that allows the government to have a big bundle of cash for a group of politicians sitting on the Treasury Board to allocate as they wish. As it stands, based on the system of financial reporting, the results of that spending will only come out in subsequent public accounts.
     The public accounts for the fiscal year we have just entered will not come out until the fall of 2019. As members all know, we will be in an election at that time, and therefore those accounts cannot be tabled in the House until after the election. What the government is asking us to do is approve $7 billion of discretionary spending, and it will get back to us after the election on how it spent it.
    One example of the attitude of the government to spending money was what the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance was saying. He was bragging that the government has spent an extra $1 billion on tax collectors. Normally, most governments blush when they talk about the resources they put into tax collecting departments. The Liberal government openly brags about it.
     We all know that tax collection is necessary for any functional country. We also know that given their druthers, the Canadian people would like to see lower taxes and lower costs, and less money spent on bureaucrats hounding our small businesses and workers, as has become the customary practice of the government. We have seen tax collectors go after the tips of waitresses, shoe salesmen's discounts, and the disability tax credit for people suffering with diabetes.

  (1230)  

    However, the government brags openly about its expenditure on those same tax collectors, which is the Liberal approach to spending: Spend more. Spend now. Spend faster. What does that bring? It brings debt, which is the next pillar of the current Liberal government's plan. It is more debt.
    The Liberals ran in the last election on a $10-billion deficit, which meant they would increase the national debt by a mere $10 billion a year. In the first two budgets, that deficit was twice what they promised. This time, it will be three times what they promised. Not only that, they promised that the deficit would be gone by 2019, which is next year. Now they say that will not happen for another quarter century. During that time, Canada's national government will add almost half a trillion dollars in additional debt. That assumes that the government introduces no additional spending in the upcoming pre-election budget next year—an unlikely story. It also assumes that direct program spending will only go up by about 1.5% over the next five years, when the government has been increasing that spending at a rate of about 5.5% since it took office. Therefore, we are expected to believe that the Prime Minister is a new man, that he has changed, and that he will not increase spending at 5.5% but only 1.5%. Who believes that the Prime Minister has even the intention of changing his ways, when his words have not suggested that he believes restraint is necessary?
    Originally the government told us that its plan, its anchor, was that the deficit must never be more than $10 billion. Now the Liberals have shattered that promise. The Liberals said their anchor was that they would not add more than $25 billion total. Well, they have already done almost double that in new debt since taking office. They released that anchor as well.
    However, the new anchor that the Liberals say will guide them in their spending is that the debt-to-GDP ratio will decline. That is, the debt will never be allowed to grow faster than the economy. Now, there are problems with using that measurement as an anchor, which I will list. One, the debt-to-GDP ratio of the Government of Canada is an incomplete measure of the country's ability to withstand indebtedness.
     The Canadian government is supported by taxpayers. Those taxpayers have to support other levels of government which also have debt. Alberta is adding almost $10 billion to its debt this year, which means that one-fifth of every expenditure that the Government of Alberta makes is paid for by borrowing. Ontario has doubled its debt in the last 10 years alone, and it is the most indebted subnational government in North America. Atlantic provinces are similarly indebted. Their aging populations will retire in disproportionately large numbers, meaning fewer taxpayers and more people needing health care at a time when their provinces are already struggling with large debt interest payments to lenders. Therefore, the same taxpayers that the federal government are relying on to support the federal debt also have provincial debts that are growing exponentially. Finally, those taxpayers have personal debts, which happen to be among the largest in the OECD. Right now, the average Canadian household has $1.70 in personal debt for every dollar in disposable income.
    If we take the personal debt, the corporate debt, and the government debt of the entire economy, it is three times the size of GDP, which is a larger ratio than Greece, Spain, or other basket cases on debt around the world. This is according to Gluskin Sheff, which is a major financial firm that performed that calculation just a month and a half ago. Therefore, if we take all the debt that the Canadian economy is supporting, we are in a worse financial position today than is Greece.

  (1235)  

    The government just assumes that all of its good luck will continue. Oil prices have doubled. The American economy is roaring. The world economy has picked up. Interest rates have been at historic lows. The real estate bubble in Toronto and Vancouver has created a short-term and unsustainable employment boom and revenue for the government it cannot count on. All of these events are temporary. They are out of the government's control, and they could be gone just as quickly as they appeared.
    If we are running massive, promise-shattering deficits today, while lady luck is smiling, how will we pay the bills when she starts to frown? The government has not prepared for those eventualities. In fact, its arbitrary debt-to-GDP ratio anchor creates a whole series of perverse policy incentives.
     The debt is the numerator in that measurement, and the GDP is the denominator. If we were hit with a financial crisis that caused the GDP to shrink, to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio, as the government claims is its promise, it would actually have to cut spending dramatically in the middle of a recession, which is exactly the opposite of what it claims should be done during such economic times. It would have to cut spending to reduce the size of government faster than the economy overall was reducing in size, and it would have to do so in a way that would allow it to run budget surpluses in order to pay down the debt at a faster rate than the economy was shrinking.
    Who in the House would really think it was responsible to prepare for a rainy day by suggesting that if a financial crisis were a problem and an external threat were to arise, the solution, according to the government's plan, would be to cut spending and dramatically reduce the government's ability to respond? That is effectively what the government's current anchor would require it to do to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio in the event that a crisis came along and shrunk the GDP. Nevertheless, that is the anchor it chooses to rely upon as it goes forward.
    That brings me to taxes, because, as we know, today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes. The government cannot ultimately spend any money that it does not tax, either by taking it out of the pockets of people today or by forcing them to pay interest on debt tomorrow. That interest, by the way, is going to rise by one-third over the next five years under the government's plan, from about $25 billion to $32 billion. That is an increase of $7 billion or $8 billion in the amount Canadian taxpayers will give wealthy bondholders. That is another wealth transfer, by the way, from the working class to the super-rich. That always happens through higher taxes.
    What do we know about the government's record already on taxes? According to the Fraser Institute, which conducted an objective and scientific analysis of the taxes paid by middle-class Canadians, 80% are already paying higher taxes under this government, on average $800 more. With other projected tax increases, those the government has already legislated or committed to, it will be about 90% of Canadian taxpayers, and they will pay, on average, over $2,000 more in taxes once the government's full plan is implemented.
    Taxpayers are already contributing more to feed the government's insatiable, uncontrollable spending. However, the government is just getting started. It has an additional carbon tax it wants everyone to pay. That tax is laid out in a 206-page section of the budget bill we are now debating. Let us step back a minute and ask ourselves what we were told about this carbon tax.

  (1240)  

    First, we were told that it would be revenue neutral, that the government would cut taxes as much as it raised them. While people might pay more for gas, groceries, electricity, and other basic essentials, they would get an income tax break or perhaps a consumption tax break. As a result, it would be a strictly neutral transaction shifting taxes from what we earn to what we burn. That was the promise. However, nowhere in these 206 pages of legislation on the federal carbon tax is there any mention of a tax reduction to offset the new burden to be paid by Canadian taxpayers for the carbon tax.
    Second, we were told that the carbon tax would be simple. There would be a wholesale levy, and then the marketplace would do its work. The government would put a price on something we do not want, and people would therefore consume less of it, that being carbon-intensive goods, and the problem would solve itself. We would not need all this bureaucracy: regulators, administrators, rules, and accountants to administer the tax on the end of the small business or household. That would all be behind us.
    We now have the legislation, and it is 206 pages long. There are permits. There are credits that could be traded between provinces, and there are different rates of taxation for different kinds of carbon products, all of which will have to be sorted out through endless paperwork by high-priced accountants and lawyers who will then administer this scheme.
    This carbon tax, as established by this legislation, would benefit some. It would benefit those who are wealthy and well-connected and who have the ability to get their hands on the resulting revenue.
    Ontario already has a carbon tax, and while it takes one-third more of the income of a low-income household than that of a rich household, it provides benefits to people who can afford to buy a $150,000 electric Tesla. If someone is a millionaire and can buy a Tesla, that person will get $15,000 as a bonus, but a low-income single mom trying to keep the lights on or pay for gas to get to work will pay more so that the rich guy can have his fancy electric car. It is another wealth transfer to the privileged elite using government as the delivery mechanism to move money from those who earned it to the privileged few who did not.

  (1245)  

    Herein lies the worst part of the carbon tax, and it is the cover-up, the carbon tax cover-up. For the last two years, I have asked the Liberal government what it would cost the average family to pay the $50-a-tonne carbon tax. The good news is that the government has that information. I know, because I submitted access to information requests for which it released the information. However, it released the information with some black ink over the numbers. We are not allowed to know the numbers. We know there is a cost, and we know that the government knows the cost, but it does not want us to know the cost.
    This is the first time in my parliamentary career that a government has imposed a tax without telling people what it will cost them. The basic principle of parliamentary democracy is that the commoners must approve any tax the common people must pay, but we cannot approve what we do not know. If the government is so proud of its carbon tax, why does it not tell people what it will cost them?
     Finally, the government will not tell us how much greenhouse gases will be reduced. We do not know the cost and we do not know the benefit, yet we are supposed to judge the cost-to-benefit analysis.
    This budget costs too much and will achieve too little, so I am moving a motion to amend the budget bill. I move:
    That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-74, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures, since the Bill: (a) fails to address the cost of the government's carbon tax to the average Canadian Family; (b) neglects to implement, or to even mention, the government's promise of a balanced budget; and (c) will continue on the path of adding debt at twice the rate foreshadowed by the Minister of Finance.

  (1250)  

    The motion seems to be in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Whitby.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member took me back to my fourth grade days when he mentioned that debt was the numerator and GDP was the denominator and that if, for example, we got into a fiscal crisis, we would need to cut services to maintain our debt-to-GDP ratio.
     I am wondering if my hon. colleague remembers the days before the last election, when that is exactly what his government did. It cut services and essential programs needed by Canadians to create a fictional surplus before the last election. During the election, his government then ran on an austerity budget at a time when the economy was stagnant, such that at this time, we would not see Canada as the fastest-growing country in the G7, we would not see the job creation we have seen so far, and we would not see the economy booming as we do.
    I am wondering if the hon. colleague can speak to that.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly can, as a matter of fact. She said we would not have seen Canada as the fastest job-creation jurisdiction in the G7 if Conservative policies were in place. Actually, that is exactly what we saw. When the great global recession struck here in Canada, we had the best job record anywhere in the G7. In fact, we were the last country to go into deficit and the last country to go into recession, and we were the first to come out of recession. That was the result of careful planning in the good times.
    In the years leading up to that great global recession, which originated outside our borders, our previous finance minister, Jim Flaherty, paid off $40 billion in debt so that we had a cushion and could absorb those external shocks. We then quickly recovered and turned that short-term, externally caused deficit into a surplus so that when the next worldwide shock struck, the 70% drop in oil prices in late 2014, we were once again insulated against its effects, and we were able to move forward with a solid economic position. That is a good reminder that when times are good, we should squirrel away everything we can so that we are prepared for the bad times that may come ahead.
    Mr. Speaker, I like the hon. member, and he is certainly very articulate, but I really have to ask where he was over the past decade, particularly under the Harper government. We saw the worst deficits in our nation's history under the Conservatives, and we saw the highest family debt load in Canadian history. It has gotten worse under the Liberals.
    He mentioned in his speech the question of transferring money to the privileged few. This was a practice started by the Harper government, and it has been amplified by the Liberals, particularly when we look at overseas tax havens. We lose anywhere from $10 billion to $40 billion each and every year. No one knows how much, because the Liberals, up until a few weeks ago, refused to give the figures to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, as the Conservatives did before them. We lose billions and billions of dollars a year that could go to job creation, building social programs, and providing the things Canadians really need. What we have seen is the Liberals continuing the practice of signing these tax treaties with notorious tax havens.
    My question for the hon. member is very simple. Does he think it is bad, as I do, that the Liberals are continuing the practice of signing these agreements with overseas tax havens and allowing tens of billions of dollars to leave the country untaxed, when they could be serving to build job creation, build a better economy, and build programs for Canadians?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I like the member as well. He talks about the Liberal approach to tax fairness. In the last election, the Prime Minister said that he would go after wealthy tax cheats. It was not until after the election that we found out whom he meant. He meant pizza shop owners, farmers, and welders who own small businesses. He meant waitresses who might get a discount on a sandwich during their break at the restaurant. He meant diabetics, from whom his government attempted to take away the disability tax credit. Those were the wealthy tax cheats the Prime Minister had in mind.
    That reminds us that whenever government gets big, costly, and expensive, it is always the working class that pays the bills. That is because capital and higher income people are more mobile. They have the ability to reap the benefits of big government without absorbing the cost. Of course, workers do not have the same ability. They cannot hire a fancy accountant or move their money offshore. They cannot get on a plane and just move somewhere else to work for another company around the world somewhere. As a result, when all the bills come due for big government programs, it is always working people who end up shouldering the burdens.
    The solution to that is to contain government and allow people to keep more of what they earn to expand free enterprise, a system based on voluntary exchange, where one can get ahead only by offering something to someone else that is worth more to that person than it costs to pay for it. That system of voluntary exchange and free markets has lifted literally billions of people around the world out of poverty. It is the number one determinant of economic success, and it is the greatest invention for the creation of material prosperity and the defeat of poverty ever conceived by any human being.
    I am sure the hon. member from the NDP would agree with that.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate this member's contribution to the debate today. Absolutely, government debt is at a high when we add in the provinces. However, we also add our demographics, and it becomes incumbent upon any responsible government to make sure it is not taking on more debt than it needs, particularly since there is no war, recession, or public safety concern.
    Could the member extrapolate a little on the issue of carbon pricing or carbon taxes? When the carbon tax was brought in, the cement industry in my province of British Columbia was hit extremely hard. Since Washington state and Alberta did not have a carbon tax, and Washington state still does not have one, that industry has been hit particularly hard, and now taxpayers are permanently subsidizing millions of dollars every year, which was supposed to be temporary, just to keep the cement industry going.
    I would appreciate if the member could extrapolate more on how carbon taxes actually end up pushing people's behaviour in odd ways.
    Mr. Speaker, the member from British Columbia is a great champion for entrepreneurship. He understands that entrepreneurship is about allowing people to produce prosperity for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is one of the points of distinction between this side and that side. As he correctly points out, governments tax industries and people into submission. As Reagan put it, “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
    We see it over and over again. Let us just consider the current example of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The government has wrapped the project in so much bureaucratic red tape that the proponent has suggested that the project may no longer be economically viable and they may cancel it altogether. Now the government is saying, “It is okay. We will just take taxpayers' money to prop up what we have been holding down.” One wonders why it did not just get out of the way in the first place and let this ecologically friendly, safe, and secure project go ahead without so much burden.
    Again, the government imposes taxes, regulations, and other costs until businesses finally cannot operate. Then it says that it needs to spend more money to prop up all these failing businesses. We saw it impose massive new taxes on small businesses, or at least attempt to, in the fall, before we stopped it. Simultaneously, it is saying that we need billions of dollars of corporate welfare to save businesses from collapse. Why not just get out of the way in the first place, so that enterprise can rely on investment and sales to generate its revenues and pay its bills, rather than constantly forcing businesses to hire lobbyists, suck up to politicians, and turn to government?

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will talk about the size and scope of Bill C-74. I would like to start with the size. I have been here for a few years, and a number of my colleagues have been as well, and we recall the worst years of the Harper government, when massive 300- and 400-page bricks would be dropped in the middle of the House of Commons.
    Those omnibus bills, as part of the budget implementation act, were designed to hit sometimes a couple of dozen areas and various pieces of legislation. It was a deliberate tactic, which was anti-democratic and designed to hide from the Canadian public what was actually in the budget implementation act. Of course, we spoke very loudly about that, as did many Canadians, seeing it as a fundamentally anti-democratic approach to government, with 300 or 400 pages touching 24 or 25 different pieces of legislation. What it did was hide the intent of the budget in a very real way.
    At that time, we were the official opposition, but the Liberals, as the third party, also rose in this House and repeatedly condemned the Harper government for putting in place anti-democratic omnibus legislation. My colleagues will recall Liberal members standing up and saying that having 300 or 400 pages of legislation that is dumped in one brick hitting 24 or 25 different pieces of legislation is fundamentally anti-democratic. It does not allow Canadians to know what is really in the budget implementation act, and it does not provide the kind of clarity and transparency that hopefully we would all seek to see in a budget implementation act, which is perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation brought forward by Parliamentarians, who are elected by the people of this country to come together and discuss transparently and democratically the nation's business. This piece of legislation is one of the most important.
    Thus, my colleagues can understand my complete dismay when the Liberals, just a couple of weeks ago, tabled their budget implementation act. We have had previous budget implementation acts of 300, 350, 400, and sometimes as many as 450 pages of legislation tackling 27, 28, even 29 different pieces of legislation.
    The Liberals made commitments of sunny ways and a new approach to transparency. We all recall, back in 2015, the Prime Minister making those commitments, that the Liberals would take a completely different approach to governance, that they would have respect for democracy and bring in a different type of electoral process, putting away first past the post. The Liberals also said very clearly, many times, that they were going to do away with omnibus legislation.
    However, what did the Liberals table? They tabled the largest omnibus bill in Canadian history, 556 pages, amending not just 28, 29, or 30 different acts, but 44 separate pieces of legislation. It is nearly 100 pages longer than any of the omnibus legislation we have seen in the past, which the Liberals used to criticize and attack. We are 100 pages beyond what the Conservatives used to do, 100 pages beyond the Harper record. We have the biggest, fattest, and least transparent budget implementation act in Canadian history.
    There is no other way to put it. This is a profound betrayal of everything the Liberals said they stood for in 2015, every commitment they made to Canadians at that time, and every speech the Prime Minister and other Liberal MPs made in the House of Commons saying that they were going to do away with omnibus legislation. The size of this is beyond belief. We have never seen anything like it, 550 pages. It is beyond anything the Harper government imagined or was able to table. It is that much worse.

  (1305)  

    It will come as no surprise to you, Mr. Speaker, that in the coming days we will be endeavouring to put the case to you, because, as Speaker of the House of Commons, on behalf of all Canadians, you have the ability to divide or carve up this omnibus legislation and create stand-alone bills that can be voted on separately. That power, which has been given to you, Mr. Speaker, is sacrosanct and so important. When the government is refusing to heed Canadians' calls, when it is refusing to be transparent and democratic, then the Speaker of the House of Commons has the ability to intervene, and we will be asking and laying out the case in the coming days for you to do just that. It is fundamentally important.
    That is the start of what is probably one of the most cynical budget implementation acts we have ever seen, cynical in its size and in its scope. Before I go into those details, let us talk about what the current situation is for the vast majority of Canadians, because this is very germane to the debate we are going to be having over the next few days. Far from having sunny days and sunny ways, as the Prime Minister likes to say, as he goes around the globe to various meetings, Canadians are actually struggling to make ends meet in a way that is perhaps unprecedented, beyond the depressions and recessions we have seen in the past. We now have a new reality that the government should have taken account of.
    The new reality is that the average Canadian family now has, inflation-adjusted, the worst family debt load in any period in Canadian history. The average Canadian family is struggling under a worse debt load than it had under the Great Depression or under recessions. It is struggling under a massive debt load far beyond its annual earnings. That debt load is making it difficult for so many families in this country to make ends meet.
    The average Canadian family is now surviving on temporary or part-time work. Despite the fact that the finance minister will stand in the House and say how things are rosy out there, the jobs that are being created tend to be temporary in nature. They do not allow for the family-sustaining type of employment that the NDP has always promoted and that we believe very strongly in achieving. However, that takes investments, forethought, and planning, which we do not see from the government.
    When we look at the situation of the average Canadian family, as the price of housing goes up and rents go up, the homelessness and the housing prices are beyond belief. The debt load is considerable and growing. For most Canadians, temporary or part-time work, or cobbling together a series of part-time jobs, is the alternative they have economically.
    That is the context of the budget, the context that the government should have paid close attention to. Instead, the Liberals tabled the largest and most fundamentally anti-democratic omnibus piece of legislation in Canadian history, 100 pages beyond anything Mr. Harper did, and they did so in such a timid way that even the scope of the budget itself has been eroded.
    It is profoundly cynical as a budget implementation act because it goes far below where the budget was, which was already very timid, so we are looking at an extremely timid budget implementation act in terms of what it seeks to achieve. At the same time, it is fundamentally anti-democratic in the size of what has been dumped into this omnibus legislation.
    What could have been in this budget implementation act and should have been in the budget? We talked about this a number of times. I spoke at a press conference with Jagmeet Singh, the national NDP leader, a very charismatic and energetic guy, and we gave some direction to the federal government as to what it should put in the budget. One of the most important items was tackling what is a profoundly unfair tax system. I also intervened in a letter to the finance minister with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, who is an extremely effective member of Parliament, and we spoke about gender equality.

  (1310)  

    When we look at what is in the budget, we see absolutely nothing that touches on the issue of tax fairness. Tens of billions of dollars is going offshore that the government refuses to cap or take action on in any way. In fact, on the current government's watch, more of these very egregious tax treaties, which are basically no-tax treaties, are being signed with notorious tax havens like Antigua, Barbuda, Grenada, and the Cook Islands. The Conservatives signed them all the time. However, the Liberals are signing even more.
     The Liberals did nothing to tackle the issue of the stock options loophole, which is a nefarious loophole that in the latest year we have figures for helped 75 wealthy corporate CEOs pocket $6 million each, for a grand total cost to Canadian taxpayers of half a billion dollars. That was $6 million each, on average, for 75 of Canada's wealthiest corporate CEOs who used the stock option loophole. Jagmeet Singh and I directed our comments to the finance minister and the Prime Minister stating that it needs to end. The Liberals could have chosen to end the stock option loophole and take action on the issue of tax havens. However, they did neither. They are allowing that privilege, the transfer of wealth that we are seeing, and a growing inequality in this country, such that now a third of the Canadian population has as much wealth as two Canadian billionaires, something that came out just a few months ago and continues to reverberate with regular Canadians because they see the inequality in the tax system. They see a tax system that is built to be profoundly unequal, and of course they are reacting, because the Liberals and the Prime Minister promised in the last campaign to take action against the proliferation of tax havens and the profoundly unfair tax system that makes sure that tradespeople, small business owners, nurses, or truck drivers pay their fair share of taxes, yet someone who is running one of Canada's biggest and most profitable corporations does not have to worry about that.
    As members know, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has now estimated the real marginal income tax rate for Canada's biggest corporations at less than 10%. It is at 9.8% on average. There are a lot of corporations that are not paying any tax at all. However, the average tax rate is now 9.8%, which is far lower than for regular individuals, who are working hard each and every day to put food on the table, seeing an erosion of their services, and participating in a tax system that is absolutely and profoundly unfair.
    That is what could have been in this budget implementation act. However, there is no sign of that at all.
    We would expect that there would be provisions from the budget in the budget implementation act. This is something I would like to tackle now.
    When we talk about the scope of the budget implementation act, there are two things that come to mind immediately. The first is the issue of pharmacare. I have spoken in this House many times about constituents, as have my colleagues. All of us have raised specific cases as to why it is important to have pharmacare in this country. First off, as a country we pay too much, and many Canadians are left to choose between putting food on the table or paying for their medication. Jim, whom I have cited a number of times, is outside here, just off Wellington Street, and begs every day for the $580 he needs every month to pay for the medication that keeps him alive. Because there is no pharmacare, Jim and so many others like him are forced into that awful choice.
    We, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and every expert who has analyzed this issue have said that bringing in pharmacare makes sense from a whole range of perspectives. Overall, it actually saves money for Canadians. It allows us to bring down the costs of medications. It reduces costs for some small businesses that pay up to $6 billion a year for medical plans that allow their employees to have access to medications.

  (1315)  

    Therefore, for all of those reasons, it made sense to bring in pharmacare. We certainly heard in the weeks coming up to the budget a refrain that the Liberal government was going to bring in pharmacare, so we should watch out, because this budget was going to steal the NDP's thunder. We are happy to have our ideas stolen; we just do not like to have them gawking at our ideas, because gawking does not mean they are implementing them, which is what they should be doing. They should be implementing pharmacare right now. That is what they should be doing.
    We saw in the budget that instead of doing anything practical to address the issue of pharmacare, the Liberals promised a study, and that was it. There was nothing more. As a result, the scope of the budget implementation act is a mighty failure when it comes to actually putting in place programs that matter.
    We then come to the issue of gender parity. My colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith has been a very articulate spokesperson on this issue. We raised it with the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister prior to the budget. There were some words in the budget about moving forward on pay equity. We saw that. We read that. Yes, the government was going to implement pay equity, finally, after decades.
    Then, as I madly perused the 556 pages of the most massive and most bloated omnibus legislation in Canadian history, I looked for something that indicated that the Liberals would implement pay equity, but there was nothing, not a word. The Liberals promised it in the budget, and they have already broken their promise with the budget implementation act a couple of weeks later. It is unbelievable. It was an issue that the Liberals admitted it was time to take action on. In the transfer from the budget to the budget implementation act, it is not as if they were trying to scale it down. At 556 pages, they were dumping everything they could into it, but they decided not to dump in pay equity, which was actually in the budget and could be in the budget implementation act as a respectful and democratic way of processing the commitment that was made in the budget, but there was absolutely nothing. It is another broken promise, another fail. It is appalling to me.
    Therefore, looking at the scope of the budget implementation act, not only do we see all sorts of things thrown into the BIA that should not be there and that we will be requesting that you remove, Mr. Speaker, so that we can have the appropriate democratic process even though the government does not seem to want to respect that, but there are also things that should be there that are simply not. That is the real failure of this budget implementation act.
    It is so cynical in its nature. Everything that the Liberals said they stood for in 2015 they no longer stand for. We all saw those promises about making Parliament work, making it more transparent and democratic. On every commitment that they made to the public in 2015, we are seeing exactly the opposite in the greatest, most bloated omnibus legislation in Canadian history, not tabled by the Harper Conservatives, as bad as they were, but tabled by this Prime Minister's Liberal government. What a failure for those Canadians who have been waiting for decades for pay equity. What a failure for those Canadians who have been waiting for decades for pharmacare so that they do not have to beg to raise enough money to pay for their medication or do not have to choose between paying the rent and paying for their medication. On behalf of all those Canadians across the country who were hoping to see a different approach from the current government, I can say we are all profoundly disappointed by this budget implementation act. As a result, we will be voting against Bill C-74.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, to be fair, I know that when the Liberals ran, their platform was different from that of the opposition parties. It was different in that we committed to invest in Canadians. We made that commitment because we believed that this investment was important and worthwhile. We know what Canadians are about, and we know that this investment is going to pay off.
    Those investments have paid off. In fact, over 600,000 jobs have been created since November 2015. Canada has the best balance sheet in the G7, with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio. It is projected to soon be at the lowest point in almost 40 years.
     We will index the CCB this July. That is what the budget implementation bill will do. We know that when the CCB was first introduced, nine out of 10 families benefited, raising over 300,000 children out of poverty. In the budget implementation bill, the Canada workers benefit is going to raise approximately 70,000 Canadians out of poverty. We have reduced small business tax. There are many things that our budget will do, because we want to invest in Canadians, we believe in Canadians, and we are very proud of the results.
    I recognize that the opposition party took a different approach. However, in terms of the budget implementation bill, I would like to ask the hon. member about one thing in particular. I would like to hear his comments on the new gender results framework. How does the member feel about that framework? Does he believe that this is important for Canadians? Does the member see the merit in implementing it the budget implementation bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the answer is quite simple. It is the actions brought forward in the budget implementation bill that will actually make a difference for Canadian women. It is not there, nor are the commitments around pay equity that were made, and these were commitments made in the budget. We are not talking about a broken Liberal promise from five years ago, 10 years ago, or 15 years ago; we are talking about a few weeks ago.
    A commitment was made in the budget, but it is not contained in the budget implementation bill. For all of the Canadian women who have been fighting for pay equity and for all of them who have said that they have waited long enough, both Liberal and Conservative governments have been responsible for that broken promise.
    There would have been the light of hope, when the budget came out, that the budget implementation bill would contain those provisions, but it did not. There is not a word. It is a tragically broken promise.
    What makes this such a cynical budget implementation bill is that a commitment made just a few weeks ago is already being broken by the Liberal government.
    Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the member on his enumeration of the many failed and broken promises of the Liberal government in relation to its platform and all of its great plans. Suddenly, all of those promises are being broken.
    My question relates particularly to the carbon tax. If I am not mistaken, my colleague and his party do support a carbon tax. We know that the government knows what the carbon tax will cost, but it has not been willing to divulge that information.
    I wonder if my colleague and his party have done any substantive studies on what this carbon tax will actually cost the average Canadian family.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is the problem of transparency that we have seen with both the government of the member's prime minister, Mr. Harper, and the current government. There is a lack of transparency.
    That is why the provisions that are contained within this budget implementation bill are so inappropriate. It should be a stand-alone bill. Perhaps the member will be raising this as well with the Speaker. I have certainly indicated that we will be raising the idea that it should be carved off for that exact reason, so that we can do the appropriate study and have the appropriate vote around that issue.
     The environment is something that I feel profoundly strongly about. We have seen failure from the current government, as we saw failure from the previous government. I think younger Canadians certainly get it, because we are seeing more and more of them saying “A pox on both the old parties. They simply do not take into consideration the intense impacts of climate change.”
     The fact is that climate change is costing our economy billions of dollars more every year. The federal government needs to make provisions. Our national government, working with the provinces, has to put measures into place. The current government has completely failed on that. In fact, it is actually going backwards, as the previous government did.
    To have that debate, we need transparency. We need to hive off those provisions of the omnibus budget bill so that we can have that debate in Parliament.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was very surprised to see that this budget implementation bill amends the Parliament of Canada Act. That is one of the measures that I fought for, particularly at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee. These are recommendations that I made. They seek to recognize motherhood and new parenthood as valid reasons for members to be absent from the House without penalty. Unfortunately, the government included those recommendations in an omnibus budget bill, when they have nothing to do with the budget.
    Past amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act were always made in an open and transparent manner. They were never made surreptitiously. Since members must abide by the measures set out in that act, they cannot be amended in secret. To amend the Parliament of Canada Act in a way that is not open and transparent would be an insult to Canadians' intelligence.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the transgression that the Liberal government dared to commit in the budget, namely planning to quietly amend the Parliament of Canada Act as part of an omnibus bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for her intervention. I know her region well, and she is doing a great job of representing it. She is always tremendously passionate about representing her constituents effectively. The concerns she has raised in the House are issues that the people in her region care deeply about. I want to commend her for being such an excellent representative in the House.
    My colleague asked a very good question: why did the Liberals cram so much into this monster bill, after criticizing the Harper Conservatives for doing the exact same thing?
    What the Liberals are doing now is even worse. Certain measures that should have been included in this bill to implement the budget are missing, and several elements that are included should be removed. As my colleague suggested, this bill ought to be split up so that each element can be considered separately.
    We will be back shortly to discuss the possibility of burying this monster bill and drafting fair, well-targeted legislation. That would make the House much more democratic.

  (1330)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when we talk about an economic vision for this nation, one concern for me is the Liberals' love of the mega cluster, the supercluster. If they put as much money as possible into two or three big giants, we will have a much broader economy. However, Canada is a very diverse region. Rural regions need specific economic development dollars, yet it has all been put on the desk of the Minister of Innovation. Particularly in my region of northern Ontario, we have the undermining of FedNor programs and the lack of understanding of how we build rural, blue collar, resource-based economies throughout rural parts of Canada.
    What does my hon. colleague think of this Liberal vision where by picking a few winners that is going to create a more sustainable economy?
    Mr. Speaker, very quickly, I would like to praise the member for Timmins—James Bay. He is an amazing and very articulate spokesperson for rural areas across the country and northern Ontario in particular. He speaks up effectively and is one of the leading parliamentarians in the House.
    The member raises a very important question. Do we centralize all of our economic considerations around a few companies or do we look to broadening economic development right across the country?
    I think members would agree that economic development needs to take place right across the country, not just in a few areas. We need a government with the leadership and the ability to understand all the regions of the country, which is not what we see from the government.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with my hon. colleague from the riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

[Translation]

    It gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill C-74, the budget implementation act, 2018, No.1, which is intended to strengthen the middle class and make sure all Canadians have the skills and opportunities they need to succeed.

[English]

    Budget 2018, appropriately entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, is a statement that continues to build upon the solid foundation laid out in our government's prior two budgets.
    Our economy is strong and the future for our country and for all Canadians is bright. Our progress as a government over the last two and a half years is something of which we can all be proud.
    Hard-working Canadians, including those in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, are taking risks, investing in their communities and their businesses. Due to their efforts over 500,000 net new jobs have been created, an overwhelming majority of which are full time.

[Translation]

    Our unemployment rate is below 6%, the lowest in 40 years, and thanks to the middle-class tax cut, nine million Canadians are paying less tax. Over a period of five years, that will add up to more than $20 billion in tax relief for Canadian families.

[English]

    Our government has ambitiously completed historical and progressive trade deals, including CETA, which will create thousands of good middle-class jobs for Canadians, will strengthen economic relations, and will allow Canadian companies unlimited access to over 500 million consumers.

[Translation]

    Putting the interests of the middle class at the centre of our trade discussions ensures that Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy will reap tangible benefits.

[English]

    We have also put in place an infrastructure plan that invests billions in public transit so commuters in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge can get home sooner to their families. This we can see is real tangible progress for all Canadians.

[Translation]

    Our vision strengthens Canada's social fabric and balances the desire for a strong economy, while introducing long-term measures for a healthy environment. This includes pan-Canadian pricing for carbon pollution, an important measure in Bill C-74. Each province will determine how to spend the money generated from carbon pricing. This is the right approach.

  (1335)  

[English]

    I do wish to stress that all the measures in Budget 2018 and laid out in Bill C-74, in my view, only further strengthen our fiscal position.
    As an economist and someone with over two decades of experience in the private sector, I have seen and experienced the ups and downs of the global economy, including the 2008 global financial crisis and before that the technology bubble. I know how important it is to maintain a strong fiscal framework.

[Translation]

    I am proud to say that our plan includes a gradual reduction in the federal debt-to-GDP ratio. According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada has the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in all G7 countries.

[English]

    We have looked at Bill C-74 on a larger scale, so why not look at how the measures we have laid out in this bill would directly affect Canadians in their day-to-day life.
     Let us examine the Canada child benefit.
     In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, the CCB is assisting thousands of families. The numbers speak for themselves. In one year alone, CCB payments benefited 19,400 children in my wonderful riding, with approximately 10,400 payments and an average tax-free payment of $5,400. This is approximately $59 million that is delivered tax free to families in Vaughan—Woodbridge and to 337 other ridings in Canada. This is money which will assist families with paying for their kids' sports, clothes, or can help save for their children's future.

[Translation]

    Bill C-74 indexes the Canada child benefit beginning in July 2018, that is, two years earlier than originally planned, to help families deal with the high cost of raising children.
    It is estimated that this measure will provide an additional $2.1 billion to families in Ontario alone until 2022-23. That is the kind of leadership Canadians expect from our government.
    At this time, the CCB is helping lift millions of families and hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty across the country.

[English]

    These measures are not only putting more money in the pockets of numerous Canadians families, but they will also positively affect business owners across the country.
    In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, the city of Vaughan is home to over 11,000 small and medium-size businesses, employing more than 208,000 people. I am proud to say the city of Vaughan is the largest employment area in the whole York Region.
    My riding is home to many businesses, from the large, multinational companies like FedEx and Home Depot, to many family-run firms, including Vision Enterprises, Quality Cheese Inc., Decor-Rest Furniture Manufacturers, to family-run bakeries, which I frequent all too often. When I am home, my family and I enjoy visiting our favourites like Sweet Boutique, La Strada Bakery, and St. Phillips Bakery to just name a few.

[Translation]

    With Bill C-74, we will strengthen our businesses by lowering the small business tax rate to 10% effective January 1, 2018, and to 9% effective January 1, 2019.

[English]

    Once fully implemented, those hard-working small business owners will see a tax reduction of up to $7,500 annually. This measure is a cumulative tax reduction of nearly $3 billion over the next five years in the pockets of hard-working Canadians across the country.

[Translation]

    Our government initiated extensive consultations to make sure that entrepreneurs can continue to invest in and grow their business, but also to ensure that all Canadians are paying their fair share of taxes and that the economy is working for everyone.

[English]

    I know this is crucially important for the many successful private business owners in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge who are involved in various industries, from advanced manufacturing, high tech, construction, and the food and beverage sector. I have met with many of these hard-working large, medium, and small business owners, some employing 10 workers and others employing thousands. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and to be their voice in Ottawa.
    Our government will ensure that business owners can continue to invest in their businesses and also increase flexibility for owners to build a cushion of savings for personal circumstances, such as maternity leave or retirement.

  (1340)  

[Translation]

    However, we will restrict tax deferments for passive investments in private corporations. Once a private corporation has amassed significant passive investments, it will no longer be subject to the small business tax rate. This measure will affect less than 3%, or about 50,000, of Canadian-controlled private corporations.

[English]

    As I noted in my introduction, our government is committed to helping all Canadians succeed, and we are putting money in the pockets of those who need it most.
    In budget 2018, our government makes a significant investment in boosting the earnings of low-income workers with a near $1 billion investment in the Canada workers benefit. The investment will lift 70,000 Canadians out of poverty and, as important, encourage more people to join the workforce.
    With the legislative changes that will automatically enrol Canadians, an estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers will receive the new CWB for the 2019 tax year. For example, an individual in my riding who is earning $20,000 annually, which is not a large sum for a lot of people, and some people make that stretch a long way, will receive an additional $500 from this measure, where previously no boost was received.

[Translation]

    As the son of parents who immigrated to Canada with nothing but the desire to work and create a better future for their family, I know that the Canada workers benefit will improve the living conditions of thousands of Canadian workers.

[English]

    I have touched merely upon a few things that Bill C-74 introduces. The indexation of the Canada child benefit, the Canada workers benefit, and support for small businesses are all measures that will benefit millions of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast.
    These measures will lift tens of thousands out of poverty, help families in raising their kids, encourage more folks to enter the labour force, and allow business owners to invest more money to grow their businesses. These are real, tangible, positive outcomes that will better the lives of Canadian families, business owners, and our economy. I am proud of budget 2018 and what is in Bill C-74.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals always committed to pushing back against omnibus legislation. The member will recall from previous Parliaments that the Conservatives introduced 300- or 400-page pieces of omnibus legislation. The Liberals always decried that, said it was inappropriate, that we should not have all of these measures dumped into one bill. Certainly during the election campaign in 2015, we all recall that the Prime Minister committing to showing more transparency in Parliament, avoiding the egregious type of omnibus legislation we had under the Conservatives. However, lo and behold, we now have the largest omnibus bill in Canadian history, with 556 pages amending more than 44 pieces of legislation. It is bigger, fatter, more bloated than any omnibus legislation we have had before.
    How does the member feel about the betrayal of a solemn commitment made during the election campaign by the Prime Minister on behalf of all Liberal candidates, saying that the Liberals will not do this anti-democratic, non-transparent dumping of omnibus legislation, and then having the Liberals do the worst omnibus bill ever?
    Mr. Speaker, the measures contained in Bill C-74 are real. They impact people in my community and communities across this country, whether it is the indexation of the CCB, implementing the Canada workers benefit, whether it is putting a price on carbon. I could go on and on. Whether it is encouraging women to enter the labour force in greater numbers, closing the wage gap, all of these measures, many of them contained in Bill C-74, are real measures which impact real people every day. They are working hard and trying to save for their families and their future. I am proud to be part of a government that has put forth these measures as making a real difference in people's lives, not some theoretical justification.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I asked a similar question of the parliamentary secretary a few minutes ago, but there were no answers forthcoming, so I want to see if my colleague could answer some concerns that have been raised.
    First of all, my colleague failed to mention that 90% of middle-class families are paying more taxes now than they were two and a half years ago. He also failed to mention the increasing amount of interest we are paying on our national debt. It is $26 billion this year, and up to $33 billion by 2021. This is a huge cost in our national budget.
    During the last election, the Liberal Party promised that by 2019, one year from now, we would be back to balanced budgets. All of the current estimates indicate that under the government's leadership, the earliest we will balance a budget is 2045. I wonder if my colleague could tell the House when the budget will be balanced.
    Mr. Speaker, we are undertaking the necessary investments to grow our economy today and for tomorrow. We are undertaking the necessary investments to invest in families through the Canada child benefit and in businesses much like the five superclusters. One of the superclusters is located near my colleague's riding who is asking the question. Through their hard work and our assistance, Canadians know we have created over 500,000 jobs, with an unemployment rate at less than 6%. It is a 40-year record for participation rates, and a debt-to-GDP ratio which is declining and the lowest in the G7.
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the last question, it is all about how we do the math. What the Conservatives are not doing is not considering that there is a child benefit that people are getting back. Members are not including that in their math. They are also not talking about the fact that we are lowering the corporate tax rate to 9%. Those are meaningful things that Canadians get to see.
    The member talks about the workers benefit that the government is bringing in under this budget. I am curious if he can expand on why he sees that as being important to getting people to work, encouraging people to seek out opportunities so they can continue to strive for and achieve meaningful jobs.
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to see my colleague and friend from Kingston and the Islands this morning and his passion. His comments are exactly correct. The CWB will encourage and pull more people into the labour force. We need people entering the labour force. We have a demographic binge where a lot of people are retiring, and we need people coming into the labour force. This will allow low-income workers to benefit and to work hard, as well as remove people from the welfare trap, as one may want to call it in economic terms. This is something that is very important for our government and is going to benefit Canadians for years to come.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss Bill C-74 and the measures in budget 2018. This budget implementation act is the government's latest phase in growing and strengthening the middle class, promoting equality, and investing in the economy of the future. It is important to take a step back to see how Canadians have fared over these past couple of years. The government's plan to grow the middle class is working. Our plan is working because Canadians are working.
    Over the last two years, hard-working Canadians have created nearly 600,000 new jobs, most of them full time. Unemployment rates are near the lowest levels that we have seen in over 40 years. Since 2016, Canada has led all other G7 countries in economic growth. As a result, we are able to continue to invest in the things that matter to Canadians while making steady improvements to the government's bottom line. Two weeks ago, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced that the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada have come to an agreement on the investing in Canada infrastructure plan announced in budget 2016. Speaking as a representative from British Columbia, under the agreement, British Columbia will receive $4.1 billion from 2018 to 2028, making significant investments in our communities' public, recreational, green, and rural infrastructure. Let me also reassure my hon. colleagues that the government is being diligent in making sure that Canada remains the best place to invest, create jobs, and do business. Our future prosperity depends on making sure that every Canadian has an equal and fair chance at success.
     For many Canadians, being a parent and raising a family is the most important part of their lives. Employment insurance maternity and parental benefits offer vital income support to parents during the critical period in early childhood when they need to take time off from work to care for their children. Through budget 2018, our government is proposing a new EI parental sharing benefit to support equality in the home and workplace, by providing up to eight additional weeks of benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. This “use it or lose it“ incentive encourages a second parent in two-parent families to share the work of raising their children more equally. This new EI parental sharing benefit would allow greater flexibility for new mothers and fathers who want to return to work sooner if they so choose, knowing that their families have the support they need; supporting all two-parent families, including adoptive parents and same-sex couples; and allowing parents to share more family and home responsibilities, leading to fairer, less discriminatory hiring practices for women, because men and women have the option to stay at home with their children equally. We need to ensure that the benefits of a growing economy are felt by more and more people.
    At this point, I would like to turn to our support for veterans. In my riding and across the country, we are grateful to the men and women who have served and are serving in uniform. It is our responsibility to ensure that they get the services and support they are owed. In West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, we have nine Legions, and nine remarkable ceremonies on Remembrance Day. These continue to grow in terms of attendance and reflect the deep regard of Canadians for veterans. We know it is our duty to uphold the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. We need to listen to and take action to support our veterans who have served with valour, dignity, and sacrifice. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canada's veterans and their families. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to them, and I am pleased to offer comments outlining our commitment.
     On December 20, 2017, the government unveiled its pension for life plan, a program designed to reduce the complexity of support programs available to veterans and their families. It proposes a broader range of benefits, including financial stability to Canada's veterans, with a particular focus on support for veterans with the most severe disabilities. Taking a closer look, the three new benefits that provide recognition, income support, and stability to Canada's veterans who experience a service-related injury or illness look like this. The pension for life plan would provide, under pain and suffering compensation, a monthly tax-free payment for life of up to $1,150 for ill and injured veterans. The plan also proposes, for additional pain and suffering compensation, a monthly tax-free payment for life of up to $1,500 for veterans whose injuries greatly impact their quality of life. The plan also proposes to provide an income replacement benefit, that is, monthly income replacement at 90% of a veteran's pre-release salary.

  (1350)  

    These new elements represent an additional investment of almost $3.6 billion to support Canada's veterans. These new services and benefits would impact lives significantly. Pension for life would mean that a 25-year-old retired corporal who is 100% disabled would receive more than $5,800 in monthly support. For a 50-year-old retired major who is 100% disabled, monthly support would be almost $9,000.
    The bill before us includes amendments to the Pension Act and the Veterans Well-being Act to put measures of the pension for life plan into effect. It would also provide income replacement at 90% of pre-release salary for veterans who are facing barriers returning to work after military service.
    The government recognizes that psychiatric service dogs play an important role in helping Canadians cope with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder. Through this bill, the government proposes to expand the medical expense tax credit to recognize costs for these animals for 2018 and future tax years. This measure would directly benefit veterans and others in the disability community who rely on psychiatric service dogs. This measure also complements the work of organizations that support them, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, and Paws Fur Thought, which provide service dogs to veterans and first responders with invisible disabilities.
    In conclusion, to face the challenges of today and tomorrow, we will need the hard work, health, and creativity of all Canadians, including our veterans and seniors. One of the ways to help make that happen is by strengthening the programs that make the biggest difference in people's lives and by making those benefits easier to get.
    Since 2016, the government has put in place substantial improvements to the benefits and services available for veterans. For example, the government has raised financial supports for veterans and caregivers, introduced new education and training benefits, and expanded a range of services available to the families of medically released veterans. When combined with existing services and benefits to help veterans in a wide range of areas, including education, employment, caregiver support, and physical and mental health, the Government of Canada's investments since 2016 add up to nearly $10 billion. These investments are the right thing to do to honour our nation's veterans, seniors, and all Canadians.
    For that reason, I urge my colleagues to support the budget implementation act.

  (1355)  

    We have time for one question before we go to statements by members.
    The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
    Mr. Speaker, the government has failed in the budget and the budget implementation act to take action against tax havens. We are talking about $10 billion to $30 billion a year that goes offshore and basically allows Canada's wealthiest citizens and biggest corporations to get off tax free, yet the government does not seem willing to take any action at all on that. It actually restricted the Parliamentary Budget Officer from getting the information that office needs to tell us about the massive tax gap. As a result, Canadians are asked to wait for things like pharmacare and pay equity.
    Why is the government's priorities always with Bay Street rather than main street?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we have all sat here day in, day out, and listened to the leadership of the minister talking about the proactive stance that our government is taking with regard to tax havens and the success she has already met with. Furthermore, going a little broader, it is important to recognize that Canada is the first country in the world to support an ombudsperson to ensure accountability for responsible enterprise when Canadian companies are doing business abroad.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary will have three minutes and 50 seconds coming to her when we resume after question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my very deepest sympathy to the families directly affected by last week's tragic events, to the community of Humboldt, and to all Saskatchewanians.
    Having spent my childhood, adolescence, and early adult life in that wonderful province, I was extremely saddened. In a province that is so community oriented and where personal relationships among community members are so strong, there is clearly great sorrow. However, these strong bonds that exist between neighbours and communities have and will be a source of strength as Saskatchewanians struggle to come to grips with the impacts of the accident.
    All Canadians mourn with the families, with Humboldt, and with Saskatchewan. On behalf of my constituents, my family, and myself, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families, the community, and to all Saskatchewanians.

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I was absolutely heartbroken by the news of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. Although I did not personally know any of the players or coaches, like many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, I, too, have spent countless hours on the bus, first as a player and then as a coach. It is what we have to do in rural communities when we choose to play sports or participate in events.
    At the beginning of a season when parents bring their children to the rink to join our team, they are placing their trust in us as coaches and as an organization to protect their children. Their children become our children. They become our family. Just as we would with our own children, we agonize over every detail to ensure the safety of their children on and off the ice.
    My heart has been filled with incredible sadness since first hearing this news. The scenario has been played out in our minds over and over again. This indeed is among our worst nightmares.
    Since the news of the accident broke, former players, coaches, and volunteers have all reached out to me. Their reaction is the same. We are all numb.
     I can imagine what was going on just before the accident: an iconic sports movie playing on the video, a poker game in the back, coaches sitting quietly thinking about the previous game and the night's lineup, and the quiet conversations of hopes and dreams.
    As a father, I cannot even begin to imagine the pain the families are experiencing. The community of Humboldt, the surviving players, and the families of the deceased will need our nation's prayers, strength, and support for a very long time. Long after the cameras and the media go away, these communities and these families will need us all as a nation to continue to lift them up. This pain will endure long after the ice from this season has melted. Hearts will continue to break long after the final buzzer goes off.
    On behalf of all families in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George and our proud hockey teams, the BC Major Midget League, Cariboo Cougars, the WHL Prince George Cougars, the British Columbia junior hockey league, and the Prince George Spruce Kings, our thoughts and prayers are with those we have lost, those who are still fighting, the community of Humboldt, and the Humboldt Broncos organization.
    We ask that we all take a moment to say a prayer for the families involved as well as for the first responders involved in this unbelievable tragedy. This will undoubtedly have an immeasurable impact on them as well. We ask that beyond today we continue as a nation to embrace and lift these families up and hold them in our hearts.

  (1400)  

Anne-Marie Eagles

    Mr. Speaker, a loving mother, wife, educator, and caring friend of many, Anne-Marie Eagles passed away last month after a long battle with cancer.
    Anne-Marie was strong in her faith and had a love of life that she shared oh so well with oh so many.

[Translation]

    As a dedicated teacher and guidance counsellor, Anne-Marie loved to encourage her students to achieve their dreams and give them the means to do so. In recent weeks, a number of students have shared stories about how Mrs. Eagles has had a lasting impact on their lives.

[English]

    The outpouring of support at her passing reminds us of the tremendous impact that a simple warm smile and sincerity for the well-being of others can have on a community.
    Together we honour the life and legacy of this beloved and inspiring woman and send our thoughts and prayers to her husband Mike, sons Matt and Chris, and to the entire Eagles and Allain families.

Vaisakhi

    [Member spoke in Punjabi]
    [English]
     Mr. Speaker, I wish everyone a very joyous Vaisakhi from the NDP and from our national leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh. May the festival of Vaisakhi fill everyone with hope and happiness.

[Translation]

    This festival is a celebration of human rights and serves as a reminder that we are all connected, and that everyone must be free from prejudice, oppression, and discrimination, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or identity.
    [Member spoke in Punjabi]

[English]

Airports

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to welcome to Ottawa the Canadian Airports Council. CAC is the voice for more than 100 airports across Canada and they work to ensure that Canada is a leader in safe, high-quality, and economically prosperous air transport. Serving as gateways to the world, our airports generate nearly 200,000 jobs and contribute $35 billion in GDP to our nation's economy.
     In my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, under the direction of airport manager Sam Samaddar, Kelowna International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Canada, serving nearly two million passengers annually and contributing more than $800 million in total economic output to the province of British Columbia.
     I invite all members in this House to join the Canadian Airports Council tomorrow night at a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Chateau Laurier to recognize our airports' contributions to our communities and the Canadian economy.
     If members have an airport in their riding, I will see them tomorrow at the Chateau.

  (1405)  

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, today I stand in my Team Canada jersey remembering the young men and woman we lost to the horrific tragedy in Humboldt.
    As a parent, I know what it's like to send my children on a bus destined for camp, school, or a sports tournament. This story touches the lives of all Canadians. It is about the families and all of the lives that have been impacted and affected. It is about the people who welcomed these young men into their homes as billets. It is about hockey moms and dads. It is about the volunteers who do their best to keep our kids safe on trips away from home.
    Through the outpouring of support on Jersey Day and the hashtags #SticksOutForHumboldt and #HumboldtStrong, I know that this has deeply touched individuals across the country.
    On behalf of the residents of Elgin—Middlesex—London, we offer our sincere condolences to Humboldt and everyone affected. May God watch over them in the coming days.

Project Wellness

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is a place that is filled with incredible and kind-hearted individuals, whose deeds are done without acknowledgement and for the benefit of others. I am proud to say that my riding of Pitt Meadows —Maple Ridge is home to many of these hidden heroes, such as George Klassen and his late wife, Sheila. They started their non-profit organization, Project Wellness, in 2006, providing clean water, education, medicine, and food to orphans in Malawi.
     Last week I was invited to George's 80th birthday. Words cannot express how inspiring it was to hear his experiences. Since 2006, George has built a total of 39 wells, has taken almost 500 orphans under his care, and continues to successfully drill clean water wells. In a week's time, at the young age of 80, he is leaving to drill the first of five new wells in 2018.
     I wish George good luck. He is an inspiration to me and our community. On behalf of all of Parliament, I wish him safe travels. Maybe one day I will be out there drilling a well alongside him.

Trans Mountain Expansion Project

    Mr. Speaker, the environment and the economy must go hand in hand to ensure the long-term prosperity of all Canadians. With this in mind, and following rigorous reviews, our government approved the Trans Mountain expansion project. Working with our indigenous partners, we have completed the deepest consultations with rights holders ever on a major project in this country. Forty-three first nations have negotiated benefit agreements with the project, 33 of those in B.C.
    Despite clear federal jurisdiction, repeated attempts have been made to undermine the project over the past months. We say enough is enough. As such, we have begun financial discussions with Kinder Morgan in order to remove the uncertainty surrounding this vital project. We are also pursuing legislative options that will assert the federal jurisdiction the courts have already told us we clearly have.
    The Trans Mountain expansion project is in the national interest. It will be built.

[Translation]

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, all Canadians over 50 remember where they were when Paul Henderson scored his famous goal. Today, all Canadians remember where they were when they heard about the Broncos tragedy.
    On April 6, 16 Canadians died in a bus accident in Saskatchewan. These young people were members of the Humboldt Broncos team. Players, coaches, staff members, and even an announcer were among the victims. In such tragic and difficult times, we all feel united as Canadians.
    Whether it is the families of Lebourgneuf, in my riding, who put hockey sticks on their doorsteps, Canadian members of the military in Iraq, me, as I left my hockey stick at the door of the House of Commons, or the Muslim men who brought their sticks to the largest mosque in the country, all Canadians have been affected and wanted to express their condolences.
    Hockey is not just any sport, it is our national sport. When we are playing or watching a game, there is no language, race, religion, or nationality. Now and forever, we are Canadians, and we will always be Broncos.

  (1410)  

[English]

Vaisakhi

    Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday, people of Sikh faith both in Canada and around the world celebrated Vaisakhi, marking the founding of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
    During this celebration of prayer, reflection, and unity, our thoughts turn to community. We are reminded of the ways our vibrant Sikh community helps to enrich our national fabric. All across Canada, Sikhs reaffirm the values of equality, social justice, and most importantly, selfless service.
    Each year, thousands of Sikh Canadians take part in selfless service, also known as Seva, through free community kitchens, food drives, equality initiatives, and youth outreach programs. These programs, often run through local gurdwaras, such as the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Brampton West, provide crucial support to their local communities. I applaud these programs for highlighting values that we share not only as Sikhs, but also as Canadians.
    To all those celebrating in Brampton West, across Canada, and around the world, happy Vaisakhi.
    [Member spoke in Punjabi ]

Rusty Staub

    Mr. Speaker, known to fans as “Le Grand Orange” because of his bright orange hair, Rusty Staub was one of the original Montreal Expos, far and away their first star.
    Arriving in Montreal for the 1969 season, Staub helped establish the fledgling team and the professional sport of baseball in the hearts of Montrealers.

[Translation]

    On March 29, the opening day of the 2018 baseball season, “Le Grand Orange” passed away and the Montreal baseball community lost one of its superstars. On the field, he was one of the Expos' best hitters. Off the field, he wasted no time integrating into the Montreal and Quebec culture, even taking French courses to better communicate with local media, French fans, and, above all, young people. As a result of his efforts, “Le Grand Orange” left an indelible mark on the hearts of Expos fans.

[English]

    It is with great sadness that we say a final goodbye to Canada's first baseball superstar.
    Mr. Speaker, through you I say to Rusty, rest in peace. There are some kids up there that need you.

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, it has been 10 days and the collective soul of our nation is still coming to grips with the tragedy that took place at that rural Saskatchewan intersection involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.
    Despite the confusion, the anger, and the anguish, over the past 10 days Canadians have come together beautifully with an outpouring of love and support for those who perished, those who survived, and for their families. It has been incredible to see the compassion that Canadians have shown our neighbours in their time of pain.
    Tributes like Jersey Day, hockey sticks, athletic tape, and head-sets placed on our porches, from Timbits Hockey to the National Hockey League and all levels in between, Canadians have wrapped Humboldt and the Broncos in their arms to mourn and to give comfort to those who need it.
    Hockey is Canada. Canada is hockey. Humboldt is Canada. Humboldt is hockey.
    This game, this beautiful game, will see the puck drop again in Humboldt, and when it does, all of Canada, and indeed all members of the House, will be cheering for Humboldt and our Broncos.

[Translation]

National Volunteer Week

    Mr. Speaker, this week is National Volunteer Week, and I am delighted to rise to congratulate all those who volunteer in their communities.
    I would like to highlight the work of Simone Langevin, who passed away on March 27. She volunteered with the Relais communautaire de Laval for 12 years and was named volunteer of the year in 2017 for her dedicated contribution to her community. Like her, we can be part of a group that is greater than the sum of its parts and that ultimately benefits society as a whole.
    I would like to thank all those who give of themselves to their communities. No matter the cause they choose, people who give their time are a treasure because they truly believe in what they are doing.

[English]

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the NDP to mourn the loss of life in the horrific bus accident 10 days ago. We also pay tribute to the heroic work of Saskatchewan's first responders and extend condolences to everyone touched by this tragedy.
    Hockey brings people together as a touchstone of Canadian identity, and nowhere more so than in Saskatchewan. While our province has been too small to support an NHL team, Saskatchewan has produced by far the most NHL players per capita of any province or state in the world.
    But the young people who were killed were not just great hockey players; they were pillars of the Humboldt community. They embodied a spirit of public service that inspires all Canadians, one that we should strive to emulate here in this Parliament.

  (1415)  

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, on April 6 Canada experienced a national tragedy after a collision in Saskatchewan claimed the lives of 16 people and forever changed the lives of many others. Sturgeon River—Parkland's own Conner Lukan and Parker Tobin passed away in this terrible crash. Conner and Parker grew up in Sturgeon River—Parkland and both played for the Humboldt Broncos. They are survived by their friends, family members, and teammates, whose lives they touched.
    I would like to thank the first responders, whose actions on the scene saved lives, and also the nurses and physicians who have spent countless hours attending to the needs of the victims and their families. They have the thanks of a grateful nation.
    For Lorne and Robin, Ed and Rhonda, no words I say can ease the pain of their loss. However, I want them to know that the thoughts and prayers of the people of Sturgeon River—Parkland and our nation are with them, and that they are in our hearts. God bless.

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, as a former Junior A hockey coach and the father of a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League graduate, I can speak first-hand to the near sanctity of the team bus. Aspiring young Canadians spend days, weekends, even weeks on what serves as the team's rec room, lunchroom, bedroom, and library. It is their sanctuary. However, when the bus pulls out of the home rink parking lot, parents and billets alike think more in terms of “I hope the team gets a win and brings back some points.” I know I can never recall thinking, “I hope they all make it back.”
    That unspoken confidence in the team bus has been shattered, and the collective heart of a hockey nation has been broken. We mourn together.
    We know that the first responders, who inherently and willingly accepted a high degree of danger and risk when they signed on to the job, could never have imagined the horror and tragedy of that night.
    The Humboldt Broncos website posted, “They woke up that morning with hopes to win the game but instead they united a nation.”
    To the family and friends of all involved, know that our country shares your grief, today and always.

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

[Tributes]
    As members of Parliament, we gather in this chamber to represent the people of Canada and to express their views and their wishes.

[Translation]

    Today, on their behalf, we honour the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured in the tragic Humboldt Broncos accident.

[English]

    In the name of all Canadians, and in tribute to the Humboldt Broncos, I ask all members to rise in unity and observe a moment of silence.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, almost 10 months ago, an openly anti-pipeline government took office in British Columbia. We have been urging the Prime Minister to take action ever since, but now the Trans Mountain pipeline conflict has escalated into a crisis. Every time the resource transportation issue comes up, the government's response is the same: delays and obstruction.
    Why does the Prime Minister always wait until the eleventh hour to do something about issues that are vital to economic development?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, may I begin to speak as a Manitoban and as a prairie hockey dad? On behalf of my family and all Manitobans, I offer our sincere condolences to the people of Humboldt and of Saskatchewan. This is a tragedy that we all feel personally in our families and in our communities.
    The Prime Minister was very clear yesterday on the government's position of ensuring that the pipeline be built. He offered ways in which the government intends to act. He has instructed the Minister of Finance to engage in financial discussions with Kinder Morgan. He is discussing with his government legislative ways to reassert federal jurisdiction.
    This pipeline will be built.
    Mr. Speaker, the reason the stakes are so high for Trans Mountain is because of the government's disastrous energy policy from start to finish.
     It vetoed northern gateway, something that had gone through an independent, evidence-based analysis. It killed energy east. It has driven out $87 billion worth of investment in the energy sector. It has brought in Bill C-69, which has further shaken confidence in Canada's economy.
    Why is that the Trans Mountain project had to become a crisis before the Prime Minister finally took action?
    Mr. Speaker, the government approved the Line 3 replacement project. It is already under way with construction in Alberta and Saskatchewan. There will be further construction in the coming weeks in Manitoba.
    We are in support of the Keystone XL project. We have approved the TMX project. This will result in tens of thousands of jobs being created for Canadians. It will give us an opportunity to expand our export markets. As members know, 99% of the export of oil and gas in Canada goes to one country, the United States.
     At the same time, we are investing unprecedented—

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, today, in committee, the Prime Minister's national security adviser completely debunked the conspiracy whereby the Indian government was behind the invitation of a convicted terrorist to an event in India hosted by the Prime Minister.
    Will the Prime Minister stand and withdraw the false accusations he made here in the House on February 27 and issue an apology to the Government of India?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure there will be further opportunities to respond to similar questions.
    Since this is my first opportunity as a member of Parliament from Saskatchewan, may I express my deep condolences to those who have suffered loss in the terrible tragedy that has befallen the Humboldt Broncos and join with all of those in the House who are expressing prayers for the speedy recovery of all those who have been injured?
     The demonstration of solidarity in the House of Commons today is extremely important to the premier and the province and all the people of Saskatchewan, a province that both the Leader of the Opposition and I share.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. minister for his sincere words. I know I speak on behalf of all members of the Conservative Party and all Canadians who have come together over this tragedy. I appreciate the non-partisan sentiments that have brought us all together in tribute to the victims of the crash.
    On February 27, the Prime Minister advanced the theory that Jaspal Atwal's presence at a Government of Canada event in India was orchestrated by rogue elements within the Indian government. Today, the Prime Minister's national security adviser said that the Prime Minister's theory is false.
    Will the Prime Minister stand and withdraw the false accusations he made on February 27 in this House and issue an apology to the Government of India?
    Mr. Speaker, I note that the national security adviser was very clear in the remarks that he made today before the standing committee. I also note that on numerous occasions, when asked similar questions in the House, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that he agrees with his national security adviser.
    Mr. Speaker, the information that has come out of the committee hearing today indicates the government's theory that it was elements of the Indian government that were responsible for Mr. Atwal's presence was completely false, and that the theory being perpetrated was the responsibility of the Prime Minister's Office. Did the Prime Minister approve the release of the false information about his India trip?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman seems to be following a misguided path here, because he says in one breath that he agrees with and accepts the evidence that has been given by the national security adviser. That is good. That is exactly what the Prime Minister said.

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on leaving his meeting with the premiers of British Columbia and Alberta, the Prime Minister said he wants to impose a solution on the provinces to try to resolve the dispute over Trans Mountain.
    Whether the federal government likes it or not, that solution violates one of the provinces' environmental legislation. In an open letter, the Government of Quebec reminded Ottawa that no project located partially or entirely on a province's territory is exempt from the environmental legislation adopted by that province's legislature.
    What of the co-operative federalism that the Liberals promised?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our federal-provincial co-operation and we always have been. Let us be clear: this project is in the national interest. That is why we are moving forward with it. This type of project falls under federal jurisdiction. Let us be clear: the Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter, as everyone knows.
    This project is in the national interest and we will continue to move ahead with it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals approved the Trans Mountain project by relying on the environmental assessment process of the Harper government, which they used to denounce. They now use it because it suits them. Ramming a project down the province's throat is not co-operative federalism.
    Yesterday the Prime Minister said he will pursue legislative options to reinforce the federal jurisdiction regarding energy projects, which, he said, “we know we clearly have.”
    However, it is not clear. Will the government partner with B.C. and first nations in Alberta to seek greater clarity from the Supreme Court of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, the Trans Mountain expansion project was approved by the British Columbia government, and there was an environmental assessment process in British Columbia that led to the approval.
    Second, we did not use the same rules as the Harper administration. We used different ones, which led to incredible consultation, historic consultation, with indigenous peoples up and down the line. After months of consultation and tens of thousands of conversations, we approved this in Canada's interests.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, the ultimatum over the Kinder Morgan pipeline will not be solved by jumping to the deadline of a Texas oil company, because the issue of social licence for indigenous Canadians remains unresolved.
    In the minister's own briefing notes, the government admits that its response to the legitimate indigenous questions are “paternalistic, unrealistic, and inadequate”. That is Colonialism 101.
    Did the Prime Minister really think he was going to stop the Kinder Morgan impasse by deliberately excluding indigenous leadership from Alberta and British Columbia from the talks?
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, major projects such as this are by their very nature controversial, and they divide communities. There are many people in British Columbia who think this is a very important project for Canada. As a matter of fact, it even divides political parties. Perhaps the member would want to organize a meeting with the NDP premiers of Alberta and British Columbia to see what kind of consensus he can arrange.
    Mr. Speaker, I refer him to his notes about being paternalistic and inadequate. I am very pleased that the Premiers of British Columbia and Alberta tabled the question as to why they were deliberately excluding indigenous Canadians. That is the question. The Liberals are asking Canadians to assume the financial risks for Kinder Morgan, but there is also a significant social risk.
    Just how far are the Liberals willing to go to run roughshod over indigenous rights to do the work of a Texas-based oil company?
    Mr. Speaker, the member knows that the Government of Canada has engaged in unprecedented consultation with indigenous communities. Up and down the line, we know that 44 indigenous communities have signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan, 33 of them are in British Columbia. Others have been involved with us in establishing a monitoring committee co-developed between the government and indigenous communities for the first time in Canadian history.
    Mr. Speaker, on April 6, in B.C., the Prime Minister claimed Trans Mountain would be safe, jobs would be created, and it would be built. Forty-eight hours later, Kinder Morgan said that it would not if roadblocks were not gone by May 31.
    On April 9, the Canadian Pipeline Association said that the energy sector was in crisis mode. That same day, the natural resources minister said that it was not a crisis. Ministers met urgently, spouted empty words, and ran away. The PM took a day off while the finance minister met the Alberta premiers then went to Peru.
    Yesterday he met with both premiers for the first time and announced nothing. He had failed. When will the Trans Mountain expansion be built?
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Leader of the Opposition, in front of a national audience, decided to speak before the Premier of Alberta and before the Prime Minister of Canada. He has powers of intuition beyond the normal. He was in tune with exactly what the premier and the Prime Minister were going to say so well, but he spoke before they did.
     We are looking for the Leader of the Opposition's vision of the energy future for Canada, not seeking to speak—
    The hon. member for Lakeland.
    Mr. Speaker, at least my leader did not run away from the media.
    The Prime Minister's failure is more more than the pipeline. It is a crisis of confidence in Canada's economic and investment reputation. It tells the world Canada is closed for business, destroys competitiveness, and risks the future. It is the latest in a pattern of capital fleeing Canada under the Prime Minister and it is just the tip of the iceberg.
    Hundreds of thousands of jobs in all sectors, billions for the economy, for social programs for all, hundreds of millions for more than 40 first nations and national unity are at risk. It has been a year and a half since the Prime Minister said that it was in the national interest. When will Trans Mountain be built?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. friend says running away from the media. Last week, Country 93.3 in Fort McMurray, The Globe and Mail, CBC Radio in Vancouver, 660 News in Calgary, the Calgary Herald, Bloomberg Media, CBC/Radio Alberta, the Toronto Star, 770 news in Calgary, the Canadian Press, Radio/Canada in Edmonton, the Daily Oil Bulletin, Le Devoir, Global News, CKNW Vancouver, Global News TV in Edmonton, I had ample opportunity to talk about the government's position to the media and to the country.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Prime Minister and his government detest and despise Canadian oil. That is the truth. I would remind you that with regard to Alberta oil, on January 12, 2017, in Calgary, the Prime Minister said that “we need to phase them out.” It is unacceptable for a Prime Minister of Canada to say that. Today, the Prime Minister is saying that there is nothing to worry about and that the western pipeline will go forward, but it is not, because the person supposed to sell the project is doing a bad job.
    Can the Prime Minister acknowledge that he does not believe in Alberta oil?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have said time and time again, this project is in the national interest. We cannot make that any clearer. That is why we are going to move it forward and ensure that it is built. We are currently talking to our partners. I can also say that Harper's Conservatives were unable to accomplish anything on this file for 10 years. They did not even initiate discussions with indigenous peoples. They did not develop environmental strategies. We believe in developing both the economy and the environment.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister will agree with me. This is a very serious subject. Not as serious as the rivalry between the Canadiens and the Nordiques, of course. We know that.
    However, what I want to say to the minister is very serious. Sadly, this government's record so far is one of failure after failure. First there was northern gateway, which the Liberal government said no to. Then there was energy east, which was cancelled by the company because of the Liberals' policies. Now the issue is Trans Mountain, and the outcome is uncertain.
    Does the minister realize that when his boss, the Prime Minister, says we need to phase out Alberta oil, he is sending a terrible message not only to Canadians, but to the world?
    Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat that our government is moving ahead on this project. It is in the national interest. It is important for our country. It is important not only for Alberta, but for Canada as a whole. By contrast, the Harper Conservatives did not get anything done during their 10 years in office. We are moving ahead on this project. The question is not if, but when. We are working with our partners to make sure that we are going to move forward on this project, which is so important for Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, nine weeks ago, when talking about Trans Mountain pipeline and our motion supporting it, the natural resources minister said “There is simply no need for a motion today that attempts to manufacture a crisis where one does not exist....”
    Well, there is a crisis. If that minister spent half the time recognizing the crisis going on in the energy sector as he does compiling the list of interviews that he clearly spent a whole bunch of time doing, he would know that this is a crisis not only on pipelines but jobs. It is the Liberals' abdication of responsibility to the energy sector that has caused this. When—
    The hon. Minister of Natural Resources.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not talk to the press enough and I talk to the press too much.
     All the time we look at ways to embolden and enhance the oil and gas sector and the future of the energy sector in Canada. As a matter of fact, it was only a week ago when the Prime Minister and I were in Fort McMurray, talking to workers and CEOs within the energy sector, understanding the importance of certainty for investment, the importance of investment in the sector internationally, that Canada was a place where people could have confidence. That is why we are determined to see this project, in the national interest, will be built.
    Mr. Speaker, we have been warning the Liberal government that its policies are hurting Canada's energy sector, killing competitiveness and jobs. Its carbon tax, its tanker ban, and its disastrous approval process has killed projects like Petronas LNG, northern gateway, energy east. Now we see Trans Mountain dying a slow death. Investment and jobs are leaving Canada as we speak.
     When will the Liberals get their heads out of the sand and realize their policies are disastrous for Canada's energy sector?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, approved pipelines, job creation for the people of Alberta, for the people of western Canada, compared to the 10-year record of the Harper Conservative government of not one kilometre of pipeline built to tidewater, no consultation with indigenous people, court cases that said the Harper government had failed in its constitutional responsibilities, no conversation with the importance of energy and the environment being part of the conversation, why would we want to mimic that record of failure?
    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, in B.C., the Prime Minister said that it was essential for social licence for any project like the Kinder Morgan pipeline. When he okayed Kinder Morgan, using Harper's deeply flawed process and over the objections of cities and first nations, he went back on his word.
    He also promised provinces a co-operative relationship, but instead is pushing Kinder Morgan through, in spite of the alarm raised by B.C. over oil tanker traffic increases and increased oil spill risk. Why did the Liberal government break its promise?
    Mr. Speaker, the member talks about the same process that was used by the Harper government. As I said a moment ago, we changed the process. We added layers of consultation with indigenous peoples, because the Federal Court of Appeal said that the Harper government did not consult enough. We sent an expert panel that went up and down the line. There are now 44 indigenous communities that will benefit, 33 of them in British Columbia.
     We know that projects like this do not achieve consensus everywhere. We do know that this is in the national interest.
    Mr. Speaker, last year the people of British Columbia elected a government truly committed to our coast. More than two years ago, the Liberal government promised to completely redo Stephen Harper's failed assessment of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project. However, because the Liberals broke that promise, the people of B.C. have taken to the streets and to the courts to defend our beautiful coast and our legal rights.
     However, it is not just the Prime Minister who is betraying that commitment. Every single Liberal MP elected from B.C. broke that promise too. My question is simple. Is there just one B.C. Liberal MP who has the courage to stand up to the Prime Minister? Is there just one who will stand with British Columbians—
    The hon. Minister of Natural Resources.
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite forgot to mention the $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. He did not mention it because, for whatever reason, he is not prepared to admit that this government has established and will establish a world-class system to protect our coasts. Why is that not part of the conversation? This is a coast that the member and his riding know all too well is essential not only to British Columbiana but to all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, for months now, we have been demanding that the Prime Minister take action to get Trans Mountain built, but all we have gotten are slogans and platitudes. This crisis is about more than a pipeline. It is about the confidence that job-creating businesses have in Canada. This crisis will take more than just a layover on his way to Paris to get the problem solved.
    When will it get built?
    Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to having the pipeline built. We intervened in motions at the National Energy Board when there were attempts to unnecessarily delay the project, and we happened to be successful in that motion. We will be continually alert to attempts to delay because we know that delay adds to uncertainty and uncertainty adds to costs. What the Prime Minister said yesterday was that we would not tolerate unnecessary delays and that we would add certainty.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to demonstrate that he either does not want the Trans Mountain pipeline to be built or really does not care if it even proceeds. Instead, he continues to make matters worse by imposing policies that harm the Canadian energy sector, like the carbon tax and new regulations that penalize Canadian oil experts.
     The failure of the Prime Minister to take leadership has caused this crisis. When will the Liberals finally take this crisis seriously?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I just do not understand where the preamble comes from. Members opposite talk about “just words”. If they were tuning in to what the Prime Minister said yesterday, or maybe they tuned off after the Leader of the Opposition was finished, not waiting for the Premier of Alberta, not waiting for the Prime Minister of Canada, he would have heard not only words but commitment in significant and substantial ways, because this pipeline will be built.
    Mr. Speaker, it has been five months since the Prime Minister approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, but Kinder Morgan is still unable to get its shovels into the ground. The Prime Minister has failed to show the leadership required to solve an interprovincial dispute. The blame for this project's failing to move forward falls squarely at his feet.
     When will the Prime Minister stop promising this pipeline and start delivering it?
    Actually it was not five months ago, Mr. Speaker, when the pipeline was approved; it was more than a year ago. Ever since the pipeline was approved, the Prime Minister in his speeches, regardless of where they are delivered, whether in Nanaimo, in Vancouver, in Edmonton, in Fort McMurray, in Calgary, in Winnipeg, in St. John's, Newfoundland, in Fredericton, has the same message. The message is that we have the capacity and the commitment in this government to make sure that we are stewards of the environment, that we are creating good jobs for the energy sector in Canada, while—
    The hon. member for Peace River—Westlock.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says he wants the Trans Mountain pipeline built, but like every promise he makes, it is all talk and no action. Let us be clear. Since the government has taken power, 125,000 jobs have been lost in the Canadian oil patch. That is devastating for local communities and families. We are six weeks away from losing this project and all the jobs that go with it.
    When will the pipeline be built?
    Mr. Speaker, the member quotes 125,000 jobs lost. He does not quote that half of them have been regained. As often is the case in having a discussion with members opposite, we do not get the full picture. For example, how often do we hear them talk about the jobs that have been created by approving Line 3? How many times do we hear them talking about the pipelines we have approved in northern Alberta? Why do they not talk about this government's commitment to work with the private sector to make sure that Canada is at the leading edge of using the resources we have and the—
    The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is now promising to remove the uncertainty around the Kinder Morgan pipeline, yet 28 months into their mandate, the Liberals have yet to deliver their promised strengthened environmental and project review laws. Industry, legal experts, and indigenous leaders alike all agree that this fast-tracked omnibus bill will create even greater uncertainty and fails to make significant reforms.
    Will the government finally agree to divide this bill and enable constructive dialogue and to deliver the promised strengthened environmental and energy laws?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has brought forward in Bill C-69 better rules for the review of major projects that will protect our environment, fish, and waterways; will restore public trust and respect indigenous rights; and will strengthen our economy and encourage investment. Reforms to these laws were important because of the gutting of environmental assessment procedures undertaken in 2012 under the previous Conservative government. We are committed to changing the way decisions on projects are made so that they are guided by science, evidence, and indigenous traditional knowledge.
    Mr. Speaker, after they said yes to Kinder Morgan, the Liberals' logic is hard to follow. On the one hand, they present a new environmental assessment process designed to regain public trust. On the other hand, they cannot tell us which projects will be subject to this process. The process is useless if nothing is assessed. The Minister of the Environment is already giving a free pass to some potentially high-polluting projects.
    What is the point of an environmental assessment process if the projects that pose a danger to our environment are not even assessed?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the environment and the economy go together. We proposed improved regulations that will protect the environment, restore public trust, and respect the rights of indigenous peoples. These better regulations provide for one assessment per project, to reduce overlap and support a clearer and more effective process.

  (1450)  

[English]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, I was proud to table our committee's study on Canada's seniors, tabled in the House a few weeks ago. Our government has shown that it is committed to improving income security and to promoting social inclusion for seniors.
    Could the minister responsible for seniors tell this House what the next steps are for Canadian seniors?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for Cambridge as well as all members of the HUMA committee for their outstanding work on behalf of seniors. I would also like to thank the member for Nickel Belt for tabling the motion that led to this report, as well as all members of the Liberal caucus on seniors.
    I will also say that we are looking forward to working with the National Seniors Council to review and respond to the important work of the committee.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, on February 22, the Prime Minister told Canadians that one of his MPs had invited Mr. Atwal in India. Then, on February 27, he claimed that this was a conspiracy by rogue members of the Indian government.
    Today, Mr. Jean, the national security adviser, revealed that he never mentioned the Indian government in his briefing.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and withdraw his comments?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has always supported his national security adviser. Whether by accident or by design, the opposition continues to pursue a faulty and misleading line of argument. To provide the opposition with full information, both classified and unclassified, an offer has been outstanding for more than three weeks now to provide that full briefing to the Leader of the Opposition.
    When will that briefing be scheduled by the Leader of the Opposition?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I think this morning's briefing was fairly clear. Nevertheless, according to the testimony given by the national security adviser this morning, Canadians still do not know the truth about the Atwal affair. Mr. Jean denies saying that there was a conspiracy orchestrated by rogue elements within the Indian government. We do not need a classified briefing to find that out. He said it this morning. Our relations with India, a country that is so important for our companies' exports, remain fragile because of the Prime Minister's actions.
    When will the Prime Minister show some leadership and apologize to the Indian government?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the speculation about some so-called conspiracy theory largely came from the opposition. That is the problem when one is operating on misinformation and disinformation and a willful ignorance of the facts.
    The offer has been made to provide the opposition with a full classified briefing, and so far, they have refused to schedule that meeting. They should schedule the meeting so that the Leader of the Opposition can be fully briefed.
    Mr. Speaker, on February 22, in India, the Prime Minister acknowledged that one of his MPs invited Jaspal Atwal to his events. On February 27 in this place, the Prime Minister acknowledged claims by his security adviser that the Indian government's conspiracy was a possible route to the invitation as well. Today the minister is suggesting that it is us making this claim, when he, in this House, refused to talk about classified information. If an invitation from his own MP is classified, why do we need a special investigation if it is all unclassified?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman fails to understand the difference between classified and unclassified information. He is in desperate need of a briefing to explain the distinction.
    The offer has been made to the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition should accept that invitation, and maybe the Leader of the Opposition would then avoid headlines like “Conservatives Duped by False Story”.
    Mr. Speaker, today the minister has suggested that the opposition is on a misguided path. Well, the tour guide on that misguided path is the Prime Minister and this minister.
    I would put it back to him. If a Liberal MP invited Mr. Atwal, a convicted terrorist, to the Prime Minister's events, and they cancelled that, and that is the only possible explanation for the India scandal, why do we need a classified briefing?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, maybe the obvious fact is that the Leader of the Opposition, and the opposition generally, is not fully informed of all the facts they need to know to fully understand the situation, and indeed, to avoid mistakes like they made last week in getting sucked into a totally false story.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, while the repeated use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces is unquestionably a war crime, the air strikes last week were not only contrary to international law but similar strikes last year failed to end the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. The government has clearly expressed its support for these air strikes, but there is no evidence of any plan for what is next or any diplomatic effort to try to end this crisis.
    Where is Canada in pushing for an international solution to the Syrian crisis?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear in our condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against people in eastern Ghouta, and we have been working hard with international allies to pursue accountability for what are war crimes. This includes $9 million for the verification, investigation, and fact-finding activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN. We are also providing over $290 million to support NGOs, UN partners, and the Red Cross to deliver life-saving assistance in Syria.
    The murderous Assad regime must end the deliberate targeting of civilians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is not just chemical weapons that Assad is using against civilians, against his people. Other tactics include cluster munition attacks, torture, enforced disappearances, the blocking of humanitarian assistance, starvation, and displacement.
    Does the government intend to contribute to the diplomatic efforts being made to put an end to the terrible suffering of the Syrian people, bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, and increase humanitarian aid?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear in our strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta and any violence committed against the people of Syria. Canada continues to work with its international allies to pursue accountability for these war crimes. This includes $9 million for the investigation activities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN. Let us be clear. Assad's murderous regime must stop deliberating targeting these people.

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, this is national grain week, and many farmers from western Canada will be in Ottawa this week. The grain transportation crisis will definitely be on the agenda. By failing to take action, the Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food have cost farmers and the Canadian economy billions of dollars. Waiting for crises to resolve themselves has become the trademark of the Liberal government. The Prime Minister has tarnished Canada's reputation when it comes to grain exports.
    Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food inform the members of the House of the government's intentions regarding the proposed amendments to Bill C-49?
    Mr. Speaker, as you know, I have written to both railways to get grain moving faster, and considerable progress has been made since that time. We will continue to work on this.
    As for the amendments proposed in the Senate regarding Bill C-49, we received all of them. We are studying them carefully and will share our position with the House very soon, I hope. I hope to have the Conservatives' support so that we can get this legislation through as soon as possible.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have said again and again that Bill C-49 will resolve the rail backlog. They refuse to divide Bill C-49. They refuse to use an order in council to force the railway companies to move our farmers' grain to market.
    The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food finally unveiled the truth in Winnipeg recently, saying that “if Bill C-49 passes, it won't solve the issue right away”.
    How will he respond to the amendments to Bill C-49? Will it be another refusal to act for farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, we care very deeply about the movement of grain in this country. It is an extremely important commodity.
     I have written, with the agriculture minister, to the railways to get them to increase the flow of grain to our ports. They are certainly doing that as well. I have also spoken to them about the 90% of the other commodities they carry that are so important for Canadians: forestry products, potash, containers, coal, minerals, and all those other products as well.

  (1500)  

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the minister's corrupt surf clam decision had nothing to do with reconciliation. Rather, it had all to do with blatantly lining the pockets of Liberal families and Liberal family insiders.
    The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador was in Ottawa late last week raising serious questions about job losses, economic impacts, and the corrupt bid process.
    Can the Prime Minister please explain why lining the pockets of Liberal family members and Liberal insiders is more important than the families of Grand Bank?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, our decision to increase indigenous participation in fishing is consistent with our government's commitment to forging a renewed relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. Enhancing access to the surf clam fishery broadens the distribution of benefits from this public resource and is a powerful step toward reconciliation with indigenous fisheries.
    I know it is hard for the previous government to admit it, but it completely neglected the first nations. In this public process, we put indigenous peoples first, and we are going to continue to do that in order to ensure that this resource benefits all Canadians.

[English]

Sport and Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, as a former youth probation officer and little league, football, and basketball coach, I have seen the amazing power of sports to change lives.
    Following the incredible successes of Canadians at the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and now at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, could the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities please, like Rusty Staub, knock this softball out of the park? What is the importance of these games for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, our athletes' tremendous achievements at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games are a source of pride for Canada and reflect the strength of our sport system.

[Translation]

    The Commonwealth Games are a springboard to the Olympics and Paralympics.

[English]

    We are so proud of our athletes for their podium and personal best successes. They are bringing home 82 medals, and they are an inspiration for all Canadians.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, this weekend, armed rebel factions conducted two coordinated attacks against UN bases in Mali. It came a week after two peacekeepers were killed in Mali. These were targeted attacks by a variety of terror groups operating with impunity in Mali, and increasingly UN peacekeepers are the target.
    Will the Liberal government finally admit that the Mali mission is not a peacekeeping mission? Will it bring this deployment to the House for debate and a vote?
    Mr. Speaker, regardless of where our Canadian Armed Forces personnel serve, whether in Iraq or on UN peacekeeping missions, we are going to make sure they have the appropriate mandate, the appropriate equipment, and the right rules of engagement that will be set out by the chief of defence staff to make sure they have the right of self-defence and, more importantly, for the protection of civilians.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Kathryn Spirit caught fire last Tuesday, and 75 firefighters were called to the scene. These firefighters saw thick black smoke billowing from the blaze, and they are extremely worried about what they might have breathed in. I have other questions to ask.
    Were all the contaminants removed from the ship as planned? What was the cause of the fire? What will the consequences be? The ship ought to be dismantled safely.
    Will the government agree to my request to launch an investigation into this fire?
    Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the risks that abandoned vessels pose to shoreline communities and the marine environment. For the sake of clarification, a small fire occurred in the machine room of the Kathryn Spirit during work to dismantle the vessel on April 10. No one was injured, and, to be clear, no pollution was observed.
    The Coast Guard has remained and will remain in constant communication with stakeholders regarding the decontamination of the Kathryn Spirit. We will continue to monitor the vessel closely so that the local community is kept abreast of developments, and we are going to fix this problem once and for all.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, like most Canadians, my Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel constituents are filling out their tax returns. Doing so will give them access to valuable benefits and credits our government introduced, such as the Canada child benefit and the Canada caregiver credit. This year, our government has improved services to tax filers.
    Can the Minister of National Revenue tell the House about the major improvements that have been implemented to make it easier for Canadians to file their tax returns electronically?

  (1505)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, improving services at the agency is our top priority. We have done so for nearly 90% of Canadians who choose to file online with services such as Auto-fill My Return and NETFILE. The express notice of assessment service lets Canadians using certified tax software receive and print their notice of assessment immediately after filing.
    I would like to remind all members and all Canadians to file their tax returns by April 30 to ensure that they access the benefits to which they are entitled.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own people, and our allies have struck to try to take this capability away.
     Next month, despite being one of the world's worst offenders of international law regarding the possession and use of illegal weapons, Syria will chair the UN Conference on Disarmament. There can be no equivocating about whether or not this is acceptable.
    Canada has boycotted this conference in the past when it was chaired by other rogue states. Will the government condemn this appointment and boycott this meeting?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way knows how strongly this government condemns the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on people in eastern Ghouta. We have supported the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime's ability to launch chemical weapon attacks against its own people.
    We continue to work closely with our allies in the international community on this and many other issues that concern the Syrian regime and security for the people of Syria. We are providing vital support to the fact-finding mission in Syria and humanitarian efforts.
    We condemn the Assad regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, for repeated violations of human rights.

[Translation]

Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made a very bad decision to resolve the dispute between Alberta and British Columbia. In so doing, he essentially threw social licence, indigenous rights, and the provinces' power to decide what happens in their territory out the window. From now on, Ottawa makes all the decisions. Enough of this co-operative federalism malarkey; we all know that Ottawa knows best. British Columbia was no more interested in Kinder Morgan than Quebec was in energy east.
    Is that so hard to understand?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that the relationship between our federal government and the Province of Quebec has always been one of utmost respect. We know it is important to respect provincial areas of jurisdiction. That is what we have been doing since day one.
    However, I want to make it clear that the decision to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline was a matter of federal jurisdiction. It is important to know who is responsible for which file. By the way, I would like to compliment my colleague on the very nice shirt he is wearing today.
    Mr. Speaker, respect, respect.
    If Quebec passes legislation on environmental protection or land development, Ottawa can then ignore those laws passed by our elected officials, all in the name of national interest. No, thank you. In Quebec, imposing a pipeline in the name of national interest is out of the question. That is why we support British Columbia.
    Since when does acting in the national interest mean going against the interests of First Nations, the interests of Quebec, and the interests of the provinces?
    Respect, respect.
    Mr. Speaker, to quote Premier Couillard, “Our friends in Alberta are very aware of the ways in which their resources can be developed to benefit the entire country. It would be like telling me that I cannot export my hydroelectricity. I would not be very happy. That is what people need to understand.”
    We here in the government understand where Alberta is coming from.

  (1510)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during question period, the Minister of Natural Resources misled the House by indicating that the previous Conservative government was not able to complete any pipelines.
     I would like to seek unanimous consent to table the list of the four major pipelines that were built under the previous Conservative government, including the approval of northern gateway, a pipeline to tidewater—
    Some hon members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I have to hear the answer and I have to ask the question. Can the members come to order?
    Does the hon. leader of the opposition have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: No.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Main Estimates, 2018-19

    A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 2019 was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, on behalf of 87 departments and agencies, the departmental plans for 2018-19.

Federal Tax Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a document on behalf of the Minister of Finance, in both official languages, entitled “Report on Federal Tax Expenditures”.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Citizenship and Immigration 

    Mr. Speaker, Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the government's response to the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Building an Inclusive Canada: Bringing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in Step with Modern Values”.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 24 petitions.

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash

    Mr. Speaker, ever since about five o'clock in the afternoon a week ago last Friday, hearts have been aching in Saskatchewan. Tears have been flowing. Shock and trauma have gripped an entire province. Prayers have been uttered by the faithful of every possible creed, as the cruel reality settled in that a terrible highway crash had devastated the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.
    Twenty-nine souls were on the Broncos bus on that drive northeast to Nipawin to meet the Hawks in the SJHL playoff game on April 6. Twenty-three of them were great young hockey players aged 16 to 21. Two were coaches, plus the trainer, the statistician, the play-by-play broadcaster, and the bus driver. Sixteen lives were lost, including 10 players. For the other 13, their lives have been profoundly changed. They were young people, for the most part. They were fit, strong, smart, and talented, working hard to pursue their passion for hockey, living the dream. They were the pride of their families and their hometowns, the pride of the families with which they were billeted away from home, their teachers and mentors, and the Broncos organization, who tried so hard to look after them.
    The pain hit hard in Humboldt and in nearby Saskatoon, in eight other Saskatchewan towns, in Winnipeg, and in eight communities across Alberta. However, the anguish knew no bounds. It swept the entire province and the country. After all, this is Canada. Despite the calendar, it is still mostly winter. Hockey playoffs are in full swing virtually everywhere, and hockey, in large measure, shapes our lives. There is hardly a family anywhere in Canada that would be unfamiliar with those buses, which take thousands of our kids somewhere almost every day to play hockey or some other sport they love.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    Humboldt's pain is being felt by communities across Canada, where buses full of young people going to play hockey or practice another sport they love are a part of everyday life. This tragedy has hit all our communities hard.

[English]

    This was a tragedy that really struck home. For most of us it was personal, hitting right where we live. It extended into the United States and Europe and rippled around the world from Uganda to Australia and back to the high Arctic. It engaged people like Drake, golf champion Brooke Henderson, Her Majesty the Queen, and thousands and maybe millions more.
    Everyone wanted to connect and help with prayers and gestures of solidarity. We left our sticks out on the doorstep. We wore jerseys; we still are. There were editorials and heart-wrenching cartoons. Tons of people raised money and gave money. They played road hockey, pond hockey, floor hockey, and regular hockey. They started marathons. They sold stickers and badges. Some wrote songs and poems. Others sent flowers to vigils, memorials, and funerals, which are still ongoing. Thousands of people are attending to be together, to share and support. There are cards, letters, posters, banners, videos, and miles of green and yellow ribbons on virtually everyone's lapel. There are messages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. From the smallest novice, atom, or peewee team to the top brass of the NHL, the entire hockey community worldwide brought awareness, compassion, and understanding about how big and how painful this situation was, and is.
     The outpouring of interest and concern is likely unparalleled. It is a way to show that we care. It is basic human kindness. That, too, is what defines us. Everyone affected is thankful for that.
    Together, we thank the first responders, RCMP officers, firefighters, and paramedics from Nipawin, Tisdale, Melfort, Zenon Park, and other places who were on the scene of that horrific crash, doing probably the hardest work of all. We thank the emergency medical teams in the local hospitals, the STARS air ambulance crews who flew the victims there, and the medical staff at the Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. We thank the trauma teams, the grief counsellors, and the victim services people, who continue to provide aid and comfort, and will for a long time. We thank the teachers, the school boards, and the community volunteers who work with young people especially to help them come to terms with what has happened.
    We hold in our hearts all the bereaved and troubled families and friends of the victims, the city of Humboldt, and the entire Broncos organization.
    To the injured and the suffering, Brayden, Bryce, Derek, Graysen, Jacob, Kaleb, Layne, Matthieu, Morgan, Nick, Ryan, Tyler, and Xavier, we pray for their healing and recovery, and for hope to replace despair.
    For those we cannot see again, gone far too soon, we pledge always to remember their zest for life, their skill and talent, the joy they brought into the lives of so many others, and the potential they represented of the very best of Canada.
    Rest in peace and abiding love, Tyler Bieber, from Humboldt; Logan Boulet, from Lethbridge; Dayna Brons, from Lake Lenore; Mark Cross, from Strasbourg; Glen Doerksen, from Carrot River; Darcy Haugan, from Humboldt; Adam Herold, from Montmartre; Brody Hinz, from Humboldt; Logan Hunter, from St. Albert; Jaxon Joseph, from Edmonton; Jacob Leicht, from Humboldt; Conner Lukan, from Slave Lake; Logan Schatz, from Allan; Evan Thomas, from Saskatoon; Parker Tobin, from Stony Plain; and Stephen Wack, from St. Albert. They will forever be heroes in our eyes and in our hearts. The goodness of their lives, and the kindness of so many people now sharing their loss, will help the grieving country find strength and rekindle hope.
    I extend deep condolences from the government, the Parliament, and the people of Canada.

  (1520)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, last week, a group of people gathered to mark a loss of life of near-unprecedented magnitude in Canada. These people gathered in the cold just before the start of the NHL playoffs, an event that most Canadian families usually do not want to miss.

[English]

    They brought hockey sticks, not to play with this time, but to hold quietly and say a prayer. This did not happen in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, or even in the town next door. It was more than 5,000 kilometres away, in the community of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador. From the heart of our beautiful Canadian prairies to the outermost limits of our nation at the edge of the continent, the tragedy that took 16 lives and shattered hundreds more has connected us all in a way we never expected.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Anyone who drives Canada's highways knows the vastness of our country. The feverish pitch of activity in many countries contrasts with Canada's highways and rural roads, the farm fields, small villages, and remote communities.

[English]

    I am proud to live in the great province of Saskatchewan. We have hundreds of small communities, all spread out. It has always struck me how, despite the hundreds and hundreds of small towns over a space larger than most European countries, people always seem to know someone from one of those towns, no matter where they live. A friend could mention that he is from Hanley, and everyone will know where that is. I once asked a friend of mine how he always seemed to know where so many of these small towns are. They surely could not have taught every town and village in geography class in Saskatchewan. “It's simple,” he said. “I played hockey. I've probably been to more than half of them.”
    It is always a tragedy to lose a loved one. Far too many Canadians lose their lives on our roads and highways every year, but to have lost so many young people, all taken at once, has sent shockwaves through our entire province and our country.
    We may be spread out all over to the four corners of our province, but there are many things that connect us together. There are so many reasons why we always seem to know somebody from every corner of Saskatchewan. There are not too many degrees of separation. It is almost like the whole province is one big small town. Everybody feels connected. People support each other, whether they are from Meadow Lake, Nipawin, Estevan, Fort Qu'Appelle, or Humboldt. We care about the people from our province. We cheer them on. We rally together, and we do it with pride.
    Hockey has been one of those great unifiers that pull communities together. With that community spirit, sport is one of the greatest unifiers of all. On game night, everyone heads down to the arena for the match. Getting a rink burger is even considered a romantic date. It is where one hears all the town news, gets all the good gossip, and finds out the big events for the weekend. There are friendly rivalries, memories of legendary games and players, and the fall fundraiser to pay for new boards or new stands.
    For the kids who play on these teams, these will be some of the best days of their lives. They develop friendships on the ice and on the bus that become lifelong bonds. Laughing in hotel rooms and holding up championship trophies, they learn to depend on each other and to trust each other. They tap their goalie on the helmet and say something nice, even after he lets in a goal. They learn the valuable lessons of sportsmanship: how to win, how to lose, how to communicate, and how to listen. They learn that hard work pays off. Best of all, they learn what it means to be a teammate.
    So many young boys and girls have ridden the bus down those long stretches of highways, in good weather and bad. So many parents have followed along. So many families have opened their doors to billet young kids playing out their dreams. That is why this tragedy has shaken us all so much.
    However, in times of crisis, in times of tragedy, a Canadian in Humboldt, Saskatchewan becomes the neighbour of a Canadian in Newfoundland, British Columbia, or the territories. For days, Canadians have been leaving hockey sticks outside their front doors in a show of mourning for the lives lost in the Humboldt Broncos family. In our hockey-obsessed country, a stick left against a garage door or on a front porch is as normal a sight as the school bus pulling up to the curb in the morning, as comforting as mom calling the kids in for dinner. Last week, those sticks became a symbol of a nation coming together to grieve and to support the families and friends of the Humboldt Broncos.

[Translation]

    We simply cannot imagine what the family and friends of the 16 people who lost their lives in this terrible accident are going through. It is a tragedy that defies understanding. It is a moment in time that brought our country to a standstill and from which we are just now starting to recover.

[English]

    From a small town in Saskatchewan has flowed a river of grief, one that has washed over thousands of families across the country. Everybody back home knew somebody touched by this tragedy: their doctor's cousin, their sister's co-worker, their son's neighbour.
    To the community of Humboldt and to the towns across Canada from which the victims came just to play the game they love, we say we grieve with them and we will remember them. No matter where they live, no matter how quiet the nights seem, no matter how small the town feels, we are all their neighbours now.
    To those still recovering in hospital, we are thinking of you and sending our prayers for strength for the challenges that lay ahead. That powerful photo of Derek, Graysen, and Nick holding hands in the hospital has become a powerful image. As Premier Scott Moe said, “Saskatchewan, these are our boys.”
    The entire country will be there to help support the victims and their families and to keep the game going and win the next one for the Broncos. For those we lost, Dayna, Parker, Darcy, Brodie, Logan, Jaxon, Adam, Mark, Tyler, Stephen, Logan, Conner, Glen, Evan, Jacob, and Logan, may God rest their souls. For them, we will keep the stands full, we will keep the rink lights on, and we will keep the sticks by the door.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, today with heavy hearts we rise to mourn the lives of those we lost in the tragedy that struck the Humboldt Broncos last week. We wrestle with tears and our voices tremble as we remember the names of those who were taken from their families and communities: Tyler Bieber, Logan Boulet, Dayna Brons, Mark Cross, Glen Doerksen, Darcy Haugan, Adam Herold, Brody Hinz, Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Jacob Leicht, Conner Lukan, Logan Schatz, Parker Tobin, Evan Thomas, and Stephen Wack.
    Hockey is a powerful force that binds Canadians together. For anyone who has travelled with players on their way to a game, be it for hockey, basketball, soccer, or baseball, there is a palpable sense of excitement on board the bus, a buzz around the possibilities presented by the upcoming 60 minutes of hockey.

[Translation]

    However, on April 6, that sense of excitement ended in tragedy. Now, the puck will never drop to open the Bronco's playoff game, but their commitment to their teammates and their love of hockey will never be forgotten.
    This event has profoundly shaken our country. Canadians responded as only they know how, with empathy and solidarity, by wearing hockey jerseys, leaving hockey sticks on their front porches, and expressing their love for all those affected by this devastating accident. This reminds us of how tight-knit the hockey community is in Canada and our need to feel connected in moments like this to help make sense of what happened and find a way to eventually move forward together.

[English]

    On behalf of New Democrats, I want to thank the first responders who arrived on the scene and cared and continue to care for all those affected by this tragedy. Their work is a terrible burden that most of us will never know.
    I also want to wish the survivors of the crash and their family and friends the strength to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.
    To the parents, friends, and family who have lost 16 remarkable Canadians, as well as those still recovering from their injuries, I want to extend my most sincere condolences for their loss. Their town, their province, and their country are here for them. I encourage them and I encourage us all to, in Jacob Leicht's mother's words, to be a part of something bigger. From hurt can come good.

[Translation]

    Is there unanimous consent for the member for Rivière-du-Nord to add his remarks?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Speaker, I too rise to talk about the Humboldt tragedy. I am rising to speak when, like millions of our fellow Canadians, I am speechless and at a loss for words.
    Humboldt, Alma, Truro, Yellowknife, Val-d'Or, Sudbury. All of these communities are home to young hockey players. Young hockey players and the men and women who support them, train them, and care for them, that is the story of all of our towns, cities, and regions. That is what living in the north is all about. Hockey is what makes winter fun and what brings our communities together come winter.
    It is a dream come true for many young people to travel from town to town to play the sport they love. It is a source of great joy and pleasure. It is supposed to be fun, not tragic.
    The tragedy that struck Humboldt has affected us all. We all know young people who play on teams like the Broncos. This tragedy could have befallen any of us, any community, but it happened to Humboldt. The Broncos are the ones who were taken from us, and our thoughts are with them.
    They were taken too soon, and it is not fair. It is never fair. On behalf of myself, the members of the Groupe parlementaire québécois, and, I would venture to say, on behalf of all Quebeckers, I offer my sincerest condolences to the families and loved ones of the Humboldt Broncos, to the community, and to the people of Saskatchewan. I wish the survivors a speedy recovery. Our hearts go out to you.

  (1535)  

    Does the hon. member for Manicouagan have the unanimous consent of the House to speak?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak in response to the statement by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois; the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, whose jersey I am wearing today; the city of Baie-Comeau and its mayor, Yves Montigny; and myself, as member of Parliament for Manicouagan, I would like to offer our support as well as our deepest sympathies to the families affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, and to all the communities in mourning.
    In rural and remote communities like ours, young hockey players and the team's support staff inevitably spend long hours on winding, and sometimes dangerous, roads as they live out their passion. We are proud and happy when our children and our team set out to achieve their dreams, but we are all aware that there is a risk involved. We all want to take them in our arms, both to comfort them and to congratulate them upon their return home. As a government and as elected officials, we must ensure that our children are safe, so that parents can welcome their children home safe and sound.
    We are still reeling from this unspeakable tragedy, one that did, however, give rise to a tremendous feeling of solidarity among young people. As an example, primary school children from the village of Ragueneau on the north shore made cards and sent hockey sticks this morning to the primary school in Humboldt, which is located 3,387 kilometres away.
    Flags in Baie-Comeau have been flying at half-mast for the past week. In my region and across Quebec, people are doing whatever they can to support those directly or indirectly affected by the immeasurable loss suffered by the Broncos team, because the fact is, we are all affected. Our children are our heroes.
    On behalf of everyone on the north shore, the Bloc Québécois, and all Quebeckers, I want to offer our deepest sympathies to all communities affected, and I wish a speedy recovery to everyone who was injured. Our hearts go out to them. We will never forget them.

[English]

    Is there unanimous consent of the House for the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to add her comments?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to join my colleagues in offering our condolences to the families, loved ones, and communities in Saskatchewan, as well as across Canada.

[English]

    I stand here today in a minor hockey jersey from one of our local teams, the Peninsula Eagles, because we know that right across this country, as my other colleagues have said, there is not a community that is not touched, saddened, grieved, in tears over the terrible tragedy that occurred at that Saskatchewan crossroads.
    I want to thank the hon. Minister of Public Safety, a son of Saskatchewan, who spoke so beautifully and encompassed a lot of what I thought I might want to say. He said it better. As well, the hon. Leader of the Opposition, also from Saskatchewan, brought beautiful imagery that brings to mind what it is like to watch one's kids grow up playing hockey with their friends, and the lessons they learn. I watch my grandkids now. As my grandkids in Toronto take to the ice on weekend mornings, grandkids in Vancouver do the same. Right across this country, it is something that brings us together. I think that is why the senseless, horrific loss of 16 bright young lives and the serious injuries to their teammates have hit us so hard.
    All we can say once again as Canadians is that we are with the Humboldt Broncos, those they play with, those they love, and those they billet with. As the young men in hospital go through their recovery, God be with them. I commend the bravery and the words of Ryan Straschnitzki, who now is facing life paralyzed and is saying he is going to keep playing hockey. We can bet our bottom dollar he is going to win the Paralympics.
    God bless Humboldt. God bless all of Canada, which rose in one voice with one heart to say that this is a tragedy that touches us all. We grieve as one community, one Canada.

  (1540)  

    I thank all hon. members who have spoken for expressing so eloquently and touchingly the sentiments we all share.
     Heaven's hockey team just got stronger.

Committees of the House

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in relation to Bill C-354, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendment.
    I would like to thank the committee members, the clerks, and the analysts for working so hard to make this happen, and in particular the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing the bill and being so accommodating with the committee members.

Procedure and House Affairs  

     Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my condolences from the people of Yukon to the people of Humboldt. Northerners grieve with them at this time.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 59th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I move that the 59th report be concurred in today.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: No.

[English]

Petitions

Animal Welfare  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present a petition that deals with the issue of animal testing.
    The petitioners are from throughout the GTA, including Toronto, Mississauga, and Ajax. They ask the government to look at our current laws in relation to animal cruelty and compare them to what is done in the European Union, where half of the global cosmetic market exists and where they have prohibited the importation and sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Norway, India, and Israel have acted similarly.
    The petitioners call on the House to act to ensure that we ban the use of animal testing for the purpose of cosmetics.

  (1545)  

Pharmacare  

    Mr. Speaker, before I start, the good people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing share in the grief of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Families, friends, and communities within my riding are really troubled by what happened. They wanted me to express their sincere condolences to the families, friends, and communities.
    It is always a pleasure for me to rise and table a petition on behalf of the good people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing. This petition is signed by people from Elliot Lake who call for universal pharmacare in Canada.
     The petitioners point out that one in five people are unable to fill their prescriptions due to financial reasons. They feel that people should not have to struggle to pay for the prescription drugs they need. They say that Canada is the only country in the world with a universal medicare system that does not include prescription drugs.

[Translation]

    The petitioners also point out that the estimated savings are in the billions of dollars and add that a universal pharmacare program would be a wise investment. That is why they are calling on the government to work with the provinces on implementing such a program within the framework of our health care system.

[English]

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, before I table this petition, I would also like to bring condolences from the people of Courtenay—Alberni to my colleague in the Conservative Party from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, to her constituents, to the people of Humboldt, and to the people of Saskatchewan, from Vancouver Islanders, from our junior hockey team in the Alberni Valley, the Comox Valley Glacier Kings and the Oceanside Generals. People in our riding have put hockey sticks outside their doors and have been holding vigils throughout our communities to send strength and stand in solidarity.
    Today, I table a petition that calls on the Government of Canada to support Motion No. 151 to create a national strategy to combat ocean plastics and to work with all levels of government to develop the strategy. It is an important issue to the people of coastal British Columbia.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions.
     The first is from a number of citizens ask the Government of Canada to reinstate the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. As members know, it was a medal that was available for the volunteer work done by our veterans and troops until March 1947. The constituents who have signed this petition wish the government would consider bringing this medal back.
    The petitioners call on the government to create and issue a new Canadian military volunteer service medal for Canadians in the regular forces, reserve military forces, cadet corps, and support staff, all who have completed 365 days of uninterrupted honourable duty in service of our country of Canada.

Pharmacare  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition calls upon the House to consider the needs of communities and members of those communities who do not have access to pharmaceuticals.
    As members know, one in five people are unable to fill their prescriptions. People struggle to have the money to pay for prescription drugs. Canada is the only country with a universal medicare system that does not include prescription drugs in that system. We have estimated, and a number of very knowledgeable people have estimated, that we could save billions of dollars if we had a universal pharmacare system.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to actively work to lower prescription drug costs for all Canadians, to work with the provinces, and to implement a universal pharmacare system as part of our public health care program.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 1511 to 1560 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
     Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1511--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
     With regard to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) sections of departments, agencies, Crown corporations or other government entities, and broken down by each: (a) how many employees or full-time equivalents (FTEs) did each ATIP section have as of (i) January 1, 2016, (ii) January 1, 2018; and (b) how many employees or FTEs are assigned to process ATIP requests, if different than (a)(i) and (ii)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1512--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
    With regard to infrastructure funding: what amount has been actually delivered, as opposed to simply announced, in infrastructure funding between November 4, 2015, and February 12, 2018, broken down by riding?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1513--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) administration of the Alberta government's new carbon tax rebates in the last calendar year: (a) what is the total number of rebate payments issued; (b) what is the total monetary amount of these rebates; (c) what is the total number of rebate payments issued to non-residents of Alberta; (d) what is the total monetary amount of rebates issued to non-residents; and (e) what is the total annual administrative cost for the CRA to manage this program for the provincial government?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1514--
Mr. Harold Albrecht:
     With regard to the livestreaming of events on government Facebook pages during the 2017 calendar year: (a) what is the complete list of events or announcements which were livestreamed on official government Facebook pages; and (b) how many views did each livestream have (i) live (not including views after the conclusion of the event), (ii) in total as of February 12, 2018?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1515--
Mr. Harold Albrecht:
     With regard to the purchase of “likes” on Facebook by government departments, agencies, Crown Corporations, or other government entities since January 1, 2016: (a) what are the details of all such purchases, including (i) amount, (ii) date, (iii) number of “likes” purchased, (iv) title of page or post which received the likes; and (b) what is the total of all expenditures in (a)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1516--
Mr. Luc Berthold:
    With regard to the development of Canada’s new Food Guide: (a) has Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada done any studies related to the impact of the Guide on various sectors of the agricultural industry; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what are the details of the studies, including (i) findings, (ii) who conducted the study, (iii) website where findings are located; and (c) what specific role does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food have in relation to the development of the new Food Guide?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1517--
Mr. Dean Allison:
     With respect to Transport Canada’s Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative (TTCI), and the 2 billion dollar commitment over 11 years for the National Trade Corridors Fund: (a) what are the details of all completed applications received for the National Trade Corridors Fund as of December 31, 2017, including (i) applicant, (ii) amount requested, (iii) project description, (iv) province or territory of applicant; and (b) what are the details of all pilot project applications for the 50 million dollar investment for transportation innovation, including (i) applicant, (ii) amount requested, (iii) project description, (iv) province or territory of applicant?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1518--
Ms. Karine Trudel:
     With regard to the Dairy Farm Investment Program (DFIP) announced on November 10, 2016, to support the productivity of the dairy sector: what farms have received DFIP funding in the federal riding of Jonquière, broken down by name, date of funding and amount received for the (i) City of Saguenay, (ii) Town of Saint-Honoré, (iii) Municipality of St-Ambroise, (iv) Municipality of Saint-Fulgence, (v) Municipality of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, (vi) Municipality of Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, (vii) Municipality of Bégin, (viii) Municipality of Saint-Nazaire, (ix) Town of Labrecque, (x) Municipality of Lamarche, (xi) Municipality of Larouche, (xii) Municipality of Saint-David-de-Falardeau?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1519--
Mr. Peter Van Loan:
     With regard to contracts over $10,000 signed by Canadian Heritage since November 4, 2015, where the final contract value is more than double the original contract value: what are the details of each such contract, including (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) description of product or service, (iv) original contract value, (v) final contract value, (vi) reason why final contract value was higher than original value?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1520--
Mr. Larry Miller:
     With regard to performance pay for employees at the executive (EX) or higher level during 2017, and broken down by department or agency: (a) how many individuals received performance pay; and (b) what is the total amount paid out during 2017?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1521--
Mr. Steven Blaney:
     With regard to projects funded under the Canada 150 Signature Project Program: what are the details of each project, including (i) project name, (ii) description, (iii) location, (iv) original funding commitment, (v) final funding amount provided to the project, or funding provided to date if project is not yet completed, (vi) current status, (vii) completion date, or projected completion date if project is not yet completed?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1522--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
    With regard to the Name-Blind Recruitment Pilot Project Report provided by the Public Service Commission of Canada: (a) what were the total amounts spent on developing, producing, and publishing the report; (b) how many full-time equivalents worked on the report; and (c) of the employees in (b), what are their occupational groups and levels?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1523--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
     With regard to the Industrial Research Assistance Program, since November 4, 2015: (a) how much funding has been contributed, by quarter, to the program; and (b) what are the projects within the program that have received funding, broken down by (i) the amount spent per project, (ii) the city in which these projects are located?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1524--
Mr. Larry Maguire:
    With regard to drug-impaired driving training for RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency officers noted in the 2017-18 Supplementary Estimates: (a) how many officers have been trained so far; (b) how many officers are currently scheduled to be trained; (c) who is providing the training; (d) where is the training taking place; and (e) how much of the funds noted in the 2017-18 Supplementary Estimates (B) are dedicated to officer training?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1525--
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings related to succession plans: (a) how was Louise Fréchette chosen to be Canada’s representative at the meetings; (b) to which department, agency, or government entity does Ms. Fréchette report; (c) is Ms. Fréchette considered an employee of the department, agency, or government entity in (b); (d) what instruction has the government provided to Canada’s representative at the meetings; and (e) what is Canada’s official position regarding succession plans in regard to the Head of the Commonwealth?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1526--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
     With regard to the Canadian Passport Order, since November 4, 2015, in order to prevent the commission of any act or omission referred to in subsection 7(4.1) of the Criminal Code: (a) how many passports has the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (i) refused, (ii) revoked, (iii) cancelled; and (b) what is the monthly breakdown of (a)(i), (ii), and (iii)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1527--
Mr. Gord Johns:
     With regard to the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program and the Coastal Restoration Fund, for each year from 2006 through 2017: (a) what is the annual budget for each year; (b) who are the recipients of all grants and contributions made under these programs, broken down by the constituency in which they are located; and (c) what is the description of each approved project, including how it supports the objectives of the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1528--
Mr. Robert Aubin:
     With regard to the incident involving two-metre-high waves in Yamachiche and the Collision Regulations: (a) does the government intend to amend the Collision Regulations to provide for a victims’ financial compensation fund; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what are the details of the implementation of the compensation fund; (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, what are the detailed reasons for Transport Canada’s decision; (d) how many cases similar to the Yamachiche incident have been identified by Transport Canada; (e) did the victims of the cases identified in (d) receive financial compensation; (f) if the answer to (e) is affirmative, what compensation mechanism did these victims use; (g) if the answer to (e) is negative, what are the reasons for Transport Canada’s refusal to provide for a financial compensation mechanism; (h) does Transport Canada plan to publish a detailed investigation report on the Yamachiche incident; (i) if the answer to (h) is affirmative, when will this report be published; (j) if the answer to (h) is negative, what are the detailed reasons for Transport Canada’s decision; (k) has Transport Canada estimated the financial cost of the damage to the affected properties in Yamachiche; (l) if the answer to (k) is affirmative, what was the estimate provided by Transport Canada; and (m) if the answer to (k) is negative, what are the reasons for Transport Canada’s refusal to provide an estimate of the financial cost of the damage to the affected properties in Yamachiche?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1529--
Mr. Robert Aubin:
     With regard to the agreement between Transport Canada and Air Canada on the safety of Air Canada’s entire operations, including its pilot training: (a) what are the details of the agreement; (b) what are the details of the measures taken to date by Air Canada as a result of the agreement; (c) what is Transport Canada’s detailed assessment of the measures taken to date by Air Canada; (d) what did Transport Canada determine was the level of risk of the safety of Air Canada’s entire operations before the agreement was made; (e) what has Transport Canada determined is the level of risk to date, since the agreement was made; (f) what are the issues associated with managing pilot fatigue identified by Transport Canada during its review of Air Canada’s safety management system; (g) how long had Air Canada had its system in place for the safety of its entire operations before reaching the agreement with Transport Canada; (h) what were the reasons for the six-month delay between the first Air Canada incident in July 2017 and when the agreement was reached with Transport Canada, in January 2018; (i) what was the annual failure rate for Pilot Proficiency Checks (PPCs) when Transport Canada inspectors carried out the PPCs for Air Canada pilots between 2005 and 2016; (j) what was the annual failure rate for Pilot Proficiency Checks when industry Approved Check Pilots finished the PPCs for Air Canada pilots between 2005 and 2016; (k) has Transport Canada estimated the savings achieved by Air Canada regarding the safety of its entire operations before the agreement; (l) if the answer to (k) is affirmative, what are the details of the estimate; (m) how many agreements have Transport Canada and Air Canada entered into since 2005 on the safety of its entire operations; (n) what agreements have been made between Transport Canada and other airlines on the safety of their entire operations and all of their pilots; and (o) what are the details of the agreements in (n)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1530--
Mr. Robert Aubin:
     With regard to the fares charged by Air Canada for regional air transportation and Air Canada’s virtual monopoly in several regional markets: (a) how many times has the Minister of Transport met with Air Canada officials; (b) what are the details of the issues discussed by the Minister of Transport and Air Canada officials during the meetings in (a); (c) what are the details of Transport Canada’s analyses of the fares charged by Air Canada; (d) has Transport Canada requested an opinion or a review from the Commissioner of Competition; (e) if the answer to (d) is affirmative, (i) when did Transport Canada request this opinion or review, (ii) what are the details of this request for an opinion or a review, (iii) what were the responses from the Commissioner of Competition to this request for an opinion or a review; (f) if the answer to (d) is negative, what were the reasons behind Transport Canada’s refusal to request an opinion or a review from the Commissioner of Competition; (g) what is Transport Canada’s position on establishing a financial compensation mechanism; (h) what is Transport Canada’s position on setting a floor price; (i) what are the detailed reasons for Transport Canada’s position in (g); (i) what are the detailed reasons for Transport Canada’s position in (h); (k) how many regional air carriers in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada have withdrawn from the regional air transportation market each year since 2003; (l) what is Transport Canada’s detailed position on the withdrawal from the regional market by each of the regional air carriers in (k); and (m) what is Transport Canada’s detailed position on Air Canada’s pricing strategy in regional aviation markets?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1531--
Mr. Robert Aubin:
    With regard to the five-year update to CSA A23.1 and its lack of clarity regarding the sulphur content in aggregate for use in concrete: (a) does the Standards Council of Canada, or any other government department or agency, provide financial support to the Canadian Standards Association; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what is the amount invested to date; (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, what are the reasons for this lack of financial support; (d) what is the total number of employees assigned by government departments and agencies to the five-year update of CSA A23.1; (e) does the National Research Council’s revision of the Building Code provide for an update to CSA A23.1; (f) what are the details of the work to date to improve the clarity of CSA A23.1; (g) what organizations were consulted by the Standards Council of Canada and the Canadian Standards Association; (h) what are the details of the work by the Canadian Standards Association to develop a scientific standard for pyrrhotite content in concrete; (i) what are the differences between the 2009-14 five-year review and the 2014-19 five-year review with respect to developing a scientific standard for pyrrhotite content in concrete; (j) is the Canadian Standards Association proposing to develop a scientific standard for pyrrhotite content in concrete and, if so, how; and (k) if the answer to (j) is negative, what are the reasons given by the Canadian Standards Association or any other government department or agency?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1532--
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
     With regard to immigration to Canada, between December 7, 2016, and December 6, 2017: (a) how many economic class immigrants have been admitted to Canada; (b) how many family class immigrants have been admitted to Canada; (c) how many refugees have been admitted to Canada; (d) how many temporary student visas were issued and how many individuals were admitted to Canada on a temporary student visa; (e) how many temporary worker permits were issued and how many individuals were admitted to Canada on a temporary worker permit; (f) how many temporary visitor records were issued and how many individuals were admitted to Canada on a temporary visitor record; (g) how many temporary resident permits were issued; (h) how many temporary resident permits were approved by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; (i) for (a) to (h), what is the breakdown by source country by each class of migrant; and (j) for applications for the categories enumerated in (a) to (h), how many individuals were found inadmissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in (i) section 34, (ii) section 35, (iii) section 36, (iv) section 37, (v) section 40?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1533--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
    With regard to studies conducted by, or on behalf of, Health Canada, since January 1, 2016: (a) what studies have been done on the side effects of Mifegymiso, including (i) date, (ii) methodology, (iii) who conducted the study, (iv) location, (v) finding; and (b) what data has been collected on the side effects of Mifegymiso, broken down by (i) each of the known side effects of Mifegymiso, (ii) Health Canada's estimate on the number of Canadians affected by each of the known side effects of Mifegymiso?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1534--
Mr. Mark Warawa:
    With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) what was the trip’s itinerary; (b) for any receptions, dinners or similar events on the itinerary, who was on the guest list, broken down by event; and (c) what are the details of any reception or dinner invitations which were rescinded or revoked by the government, including (i) individual or organization which had their invitation rescinded, (ii) event for which original invitation was sent, (iii) reason for rescinding or revoking invitation?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1535--
Mr. Mark Warawa:
    With regard to the February 2018 New Delhi reception invitation which was issued to Jaspal Atwal: (a) on what date did the Prime Minister’s Office become aware of the invitation; and (b) what departments or agencies were aware that Mr. Atwal received an invitation and when did each department become aware of the invitation?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1536--
Mr. Ron Liepert:
     With regard to the claim by Outlook India magazine that the government withdrew the publication’s invitation to a February 2018 reception in New Delhi, because of the magazine’s criticism of the Prime Minister: what is the government’s official reason for revoking the invitation of the magazine or its editors?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1537--
Mr. Ron Liepert:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) for the purpose of facilitating the issuing of visas, did the Government of Canada provide, by diplomatic note or otherwise, the Government of India with a list of (i) delegation members, (ii) other individuals who would attend delegation events or have interactions with the delegation; and (b) if the answer in (a)(i) or (ii) is affirmative, (i) how and by whom was each list communicated, (ii) on what date was each list communicated, (iii) broken down by categories in (a)(i) and (ii), and broken down by list, who was named on each list?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1538--
Mr. Martin Shields:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) who were the members of the Canadian delegation, including (i) name, (ii) organization, (iii) title; (b) for each delegation member, which ones (i) were required to reimburse taxpayers for all expenses related to the trip, (ii) were required to reimburse taxpayers some expenses related to the trip, (iii) were not required to reimburse any expenses related to the trip; and (c) for each delegation member, why was he or she chosen to be a delegation member?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1539--
Mr. Martin Shields:
     With regard to government expenditures on clothing, shoes, other apparel, or fashion accessories for the Prime Minister and his family, since November 4, 2015: what are the details of all such expenditures, including (i) vendor, (ii) date, (iii) amount, (iv) description of goods purchased, including brand and quantity?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1540--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
    With regard to the trip to India in February 2018 taken by the Prime Minister and several ministers: (a) for each leg of the Prime Minister and each individual minister’s travel across India, (i) what was the place of origin and destination, (ii) what was the means of conveyance, (iii) who were all the individuals travelling with the Prime Minister or ministers, and what was their reason for travelling with the Prime Minister or minister, (iv) were any registered lobbyists travelling with the Prime Minister or ministers and, if so, who were the individuals, and for whom or what are they registered to lobby, (v) were any individuals affiliated with a commercial or non-profit entity that receives grants, contributions, or contracts from the Government of Canada travelling with the Prime Minister or ministers and, if so, who where the individuals, with which entity are they affiliated, and what is that entity’s business with the Government of Canada; (b) how were articles of Indian national dress worn by the Prime Minister acquired, broken down by article of clothing, and what was their individual and aggregate total costs, if applicable; (c) for any invitation-only events at which the Prime Minister was present, (i) was there a process by which invitees were screened by Canadian officials either in advance of invitation, after being invited, or upon request of a minister or other official, (ii) what was the process in (c)(i), (iii) were there any known lapses in or breaches of the process in (c)(i), (iv) has there been an investigation into known lapses or breaches of the process in (c)(i) and, if so, what were their conclusions; and (d) for every specially-invited guest of the Prime Minister on the trip to India, (i) what were the names and reasons for invitation of any invited guests, (ii) what was the cost, broken down by leg of travel, accommodations, and any honorariums or per diems claimed against cost by any invited guest of the Prime Minister?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1541--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     With respect to the Innovation Superclusters Initiative: (a) what was the full assessment, evaluation and selection process and criteria used to select the five successful supercluster entities representing industry-led consortia, namely, the SCALE.AI Supercluster, the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster, the Ocean Supercluster, the Protein Industries Supercluster, and the Digital Technology Supercluster, from other applicants; (b) what are the Lead Applicants and Partner Applicants as well as participating or enabling firms, individuals and other entities in each of the five successful supercluster entities in (a); (c) what were the names of the industry-led consortia that submitted unsuccessful applications, broken down by region and economic sectors as defined by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; (d) what were the Lead and Partner Applicants in the unsuccessful applications; and (e) what is the breakdown by supercluster and by fiscal year, over the next five years, of planned spending in the Innovation Superclusters Initiative?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1542--
Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) what are the titles and summaries of all agreements signed between the Prime Minister and the Government of India on the trip; (b) for each agreement in (a), what is the website address where the text is located; and (c) if the text of any agreement in (a) is not available on the government’s website, how can the public obtain copies of the relevant texts?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1543--
Mr. Tom Lukiwski:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) what are the details of all expenditures, including airfare and travel costs, related to Vikram Vij’s participation on the trip, including (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) date, (iv) description of goods or services provided; (b) what are the details of any meals which Mr. Vij prepared for the Prime Minister or other delegation members or guests on the trip, including (i) date, (ii) number of individuals for whom a meal was prepared, (iii) menu, (iv) description of event; and (c) what are the details of any Canadian food products which were exported to India for use in the meals in (b), including (i) date of export, (ii) description of product, (iii) quantity of product, (iv) value of product, (v) meal in which product was used?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1544--
Mr. Gord Johns:
     With regard to the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program and the Coastal Restoration Fund, for each year from 2006 through 2017: (a) what is the annual budget for each year; (b) who are the recipients of all grants and contributions made under these programs and how much did each receive, broken down by the constituency in which they are located; and (c) what is the description of each approved project, including how it supports the objectives of the program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1545--
Ms. Sheila Malcolmson:
    With regard to the five proposed anchorages east of Gabriola Island, BC: (a) how many consultation sessions were organized by the government; (b) where did these consultation sessions take place, broken down by (i) city, (ii) constituency; (c) what groups and individuals were invited to the consultation sessions; (d) what groups and individuals participated in the consultation sessions; (e) which Members of Parliament attended the consultation sessions; (f) how many online consultation sessions took place; (g) which bands, leaders, Indigenous communities and organizations did the Minister of Transport consult with, broken down by (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the Indigenous group or community, (iv) attendees, (v) recommendations that were made to the Minister; (h) regarding the consultations in (a), by which criteria did the Minister decide which bands, leaders, communities and organizations to consult with; (i) what are the details of the discussion questions brought to each meeting; (j) how many meetings has the Minister held with Snuneymuxw First Nation, broken down by (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) attendees, (iv) recommendations that were made to the Minister; and (k) what are the details of any briefing notes or correspondence related to the meetings referred to in (a), including the (i) title, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) subject matter, (vi) file number?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1546--
Mrs. Karen Vecchio:
    With regard to the book cover for Budget 2018: (a) how much did the government spend on the cover, including any artwork, graphic design, or photography; and (b) what is the breakdown of all expenses, including, for each expense, the (i) amount, (ii) date, (iii) vendor, (iv) description of good or service, (v) file number?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1547--
Mr. Deepak Obhrai:
    With regard to the trip to India by the Prime Minister and the conspiracy theory advanced by a Privy Council Official that the Government of India was responsible for Jaspal Atwal receiving an invitation to a reception: does the government have any proof to corroborate this conspiracy theory and, if so, what are the details of such proof?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1548--
Mr. John Barlow:
     With regard to the trip to India by the Prime Minister and other ministers in February 2018, and for each member of Cabinet who was on the trip: (a) what were the details of each of their itineraries; and (b) for each meeting listed on the itineraries in (a), what is the list of attendees?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1549--
Mrs. Shannon Stubbs:
     With regard to all expenditures on hospitality (Treasury Board Object Code 0822), between January 1, 2018, and February 1, 2018, by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office: what are the details of all expenditures, including (i) vendor, (ii) amount, (iii) date of expenditure, (iv) description of goods or services provided, (v) file number, (vi) number of government employees that the hospitality expenditure was for, (vii) number of guests that the hospitality expenditure was for?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1550--
Mr. Phil McColeman:
     With regard to the Veterans Affairs Canada offices: (a) how many veterans physically visited the following offices in order to utilize services, broken down by month, since January 1, 2017, (i) Corner Brook, (ii) Sydney, (iii) Charlottetown, (iv) Thunder Bay, (v) Brandon, (vi) Saskatoon, (vii) Kelowna, (viii) Windsor, (ix) Prince George; and (b) for each of the Veterans Affairs Canada offices in (a), (i) what was the monthly operating cost, broken down by standard object and line item, for each month since January 1, 2017, (ii) what is the number of full-time equivalents who physically worked in each office, broken down by month?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1551--
Ms. Sheri Benson:
     With regard to the Visa Office at the Canadian High Commission in Singapore: (a) what is the total number of sponsorship requests the Singapore Visa Office received in each year from 2012 to 2017; (b) how many applications were processed in each of the years in (a) and, of those processed, what percentage was approved in each of those years; (c) which group of asylum seekers had the highest acceptance rate through the Singapore Visa Office in each of the years in (a); (d) which group of asylum seekers had the lowest acceptance rate through the Singapore Visa Office in each of the years in (a); (e) what number of Pakistani Christian asylum claims have been handled by the Canadian Singapore Visa Office in each of the years in (a); (f) what number of Pakistani Christian asylum claims have been accepted by the Singapore Visa Office for resettlement in Canada in each of the years in (a); (g) what number of Pakistani Christian asylum claims were rejected by the Canadian Singapore Visa Office for resettlement in Canada in each of the years in (a); (h) of those Pakistani Christian asylum claims rejected by the Singapore Visa Office for resettlement in Canada, how many Pakistani Christian asylum claims filed for a judicial review in each of the years in (a); (i) of those Pakistani Christian asylum claims rejected by the Singapore Visa Office for resettlement in Canada, how many Pakistani Christian asylum claims filed for a judicial review and received a “second interview” by the Singapore Visa Office in each of the years in (a); (j) how many Pakistani Christian asylum claims which received a “second interview” from a judicial review were accepted for resettlement in Canada by the Canadian Singapore Visa Office in each of the years in (a); (k) does the Singapore Visa Office conduct independent evaluations of asylum claims from Pakistani Christians; (l) what role, if any, does the the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees's assessment of asylum seekers have on the Canadian Visa Officers’ decision; and (m) is a Canadian Visa Officer in Singapore allowed to work for the Canadian government, as well as a private international immigration firm, or would that be considered a conflict of interest?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1552--
Mr. Mel Arnold:
     With regard to the new Arctic Surf Clam licence in Atlantic Canada and Quebec: (a) which Indigenous groups comprise the Five Nations Premium Clam Company; (b) what are the details of all correspondence and briefing notes prepared for the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Indigenous Services, since May 31, 2016, related to the decision to award the Five Nations Premium Clam Company a new surf clam licence, including (i) dates, (ii) senders, (iii) recipients, (iv) titles, (v) subjects, (vi) summaries, (vii) file numbers; (c) what are the details of all correspondence between the government, including Ministerial Exempt Staff, and the Five Nations Premium Clam Company, since May 31, 2016, including (i) dates, (ii) senders, (iii) recipients, (iv) titles, (v) subjects, (vi) summaries, (vii) file numbers; (d) what are the details of all correspondence between the government, including Ministerial Exempt Staff, and the Chief of the Elsipotog First Nation, since May 31, 2016, including (i) dates, (ii) senders, (iii) recipients, (iv) titles, (v) subjects, (vi) summaries, (vii) file numbers; (e) what are the details of all correspondence between the government, including Ministerial Exempt Staff, and Premium Seafoods, since May 31, 2016, including (i) dates, (ii) senders, (iii) recipients, (iv) titles, (v) subjects, (vi) summaries, (vii) file numbers; (f) what are the details of all correspondence between the government, including Ministerial Exempt Staff, and the Member of Parliament for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook, since May 31, 2016, including (i) dates, (ii) senders, (iii) recipients, (iv) titles, (v) subjects, (vi) summaries, (vii) file numbers; and (g) what are the details of all meetings related to the new Arctic Surf Clam licence, including (i) dates, (ii) lists of attendees, (iii) locations, (iv) agendas?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1553--
Mrs. Cathay Wagantall:
     With regard to the federal carbon tax or price on carbon: (a) did the government conduct a gender-based analysis of how it would affect men versus women; and (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what are the details, including (i) specific findings, (ii) who conducted the analysis, (iii) date the analysis was completed, (iv) methodology?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1554--
Mr. Peter Kent:
     With regard to government expenditures in relation to the Prime Minister’s attendance at the Young Changemakers Conclave and, specifically, the event at Indira Ghandi Stadium in New Delhi on February 24, 2018: (a) how much did the government pay to sponsor the event; (b) does the government consider the map of “India” displayed at the event to be an accurate representation of India’s borders; and (c) if the answer to (b) is negative, what actions has the government taken in order to address the validity of the representation displayed on the map?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1555--
Mr. Jim Eglinski:
     With regard to expenditures related to the preparation and presentation of Budget 2018: what are the details of all expenditures, including (i) date, (ii) vendor, (iii) amount, (iv) description of goods or services, (v) contract date and duration, (vi) number?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1556--
Mr. Mike Lake:
     With regard to federal student loans, in 2016-17: (a) how many loans have been forgiven; (b) how much debt has been forgiven; (c) how much student debt is sent to collection agencies; (d) of the debt in (c), how much has been recovered; (e) what is the base cost of contracting the collection agencies in (c); (f) what is the overall labour cost of the recoveries; and (g) how much has been collected in student debt interest?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1557--
Mr. Mike Lake:
     With regard to the Senate selection committee in 2017: (a) how many Senate openings were advertised, by province, and (i) what were the dates of these, (ii) how many applications were received for each posting, (iii) how many interviews of applicants were conducted for each posting; (b) how many full-time equivalents (FTEs) work on the committee; (c) of the FTEs in (b), what are their corresponding pay scales; (d) how much has been spent by the selection committee, broken down by (i) accommodation, (ii) travel, (iii) per diems, (iv) incidentals, (v) office renovation, (vi) office set-up; (e) how much has been budgeted for 2018; and (f) how much was spent on travel for candidate interviews?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1558--
Mr. Mike Lake:
     With regard to the Conference Secretariat, in 2017: (a) how many conferences have been organized; (b) what is the cost breakdown of each conference that has been organized; and (c) for each conference, (i) how many external contractors have been commissioned, (ii) who are the contractors?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1559--
Mr. Mike Lake:
    With regard to fitness facilities, including gymnasiums, swimming pools, boxing rings, weight rooms, etc. installed or renovated in government buildings since November 4, 2015, what are the details of each, including (i) address, (ii) building name, (iii) description of facility, (iv) total cost of development or renovation of facility, (v) number of employees who have access to facility?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1560--
Mr. Gabhriel Ste-Marie:
    With regard to the Prime Minister’s trip to India in February 2018: (a) were the outfits for the Prime Minister, his family and members of the delegation paid for with taxpayers’ money; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, how much did the outfits for the Prime Minister, his family and members of the delegation cost; (c) in which city and by which company were the outfits for the Prime Minister and his family made; (d) what was the total cost of the Prime Minister’s family’s trip to India; (e) who covered the cost in (d); (f) how many people were part of the Canadian delegation, broken down by department; (g) what was the total cost of the trip; and (h) what was the total cost of having Canadian chef Vikram Vij come and prepare a meal at the Canadian High Commission in India?
    (Return tabled)

  (1550)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project  

[S. O. 52]
     I have notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Lakeland.
    Mr. Speaker, I am seeking leave for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing an important matter requiring urgent consideration pursuant to Standing Order 52.
    On Sunday, April 8, Kinder Morgan Canada Limited announced that it would not proceed with the construction of the federally approved $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after May 31, without explicit agreement that there would be no further legal challenges and no further disputes or obstacles by provincial and municipal governments.
    Both the federal government and the official opposition agree that the Trans Mountain expansion is in the national interest. In response to Kinder Morgan's announcement, the federal government called an emergency cabinet meeting. An emergency meeting was held between the finance minister and the Premier of Alberta on Wednesday, April 11, and the Prime Minister returned from an international trip to meet with the Premiers of Alberta and British Columbia on Sunday, April 15.
    The threats of punitive economic measures between provincial governments have escalated significantly, including announcements of intent to restrict energy supply between three provinces. Representatives of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, CEOs of major Canadian banks, and investment management portfolios warn that this situation is a crisis and that the impacts extend well beyond the pipeline itself to confidence in Canada overall.
    Billions of dollars of investment in the Canadian economy, billions of dollars in future government revenues for social programs and services, tens of thousands of energy jobs and hundreds of thousands more in other sectors, $400 million in equity partnerships with 43 indigenous communities, market access for Canadian oil, and national unity are all at risk.
     I trust you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that this is an emergency and will grant leave for the adjournment of the House to discuss this important matter that clearly requires urgent consideration.

Speaker's Ruling 

    I thank the member for Lakeland for her intervention on this matter, which I know is of interest to many members in the House. I find that it does meet the exigencies of the Standing Order and therefore grant the request for the emergency debate, to be held later tonight.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-74, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 28 minutes.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by offering condolences to Humboldt, to the team, the families, the billets, and the entire community from the people of Fundy Royal. Our hearts are with them.
    I rise today to speak to Bill C-74, the first budget implementation act. This budget builds on the investments made in our previous budgets and really takes it to the next level to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to benefit from the growth that we see in the economy. Today I would like to focus on a few of the items that are having, and will have, a profound impact in my riding of Fundy Royal.
    The riding of Fundy Royal is predominantly rural, nestled between three southern cities in New Brunswick, and bordered on the north by the beautiful Bay of Fundy. Although the area is peppered by communities that are unique in their own way, there is a common thread that runs through them—
    I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to hold that thought temporarily. There is one item in the previous debate, just before statements by members, that we had three and a half minutes remaining for the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.

  (1555)  

    Our speaking order is being formalized as we speak. We will wrap up questions and comments of the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and then we will go to the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for his intervention, after which we will carry on with the rest of the order. We will get back to the hon. Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism in due course.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
    Mr. Speaker, a large portion of the budget bill, over 200 pages, is devoted to the carbon tax. Could my colleague indicate what the cost per family will be? Apparently the Liberal government understands what it is and knows what it is, but is unwilling to share that information.
     There have been estimates that the carbon tax will cost about $1,100 per family. That is the lowest estimate. The highest estimate puts it somewhere around $2,500 per family, which is a huge cost to the average family, especially to the middle-class families that the government purports to want to support.
    Could my colleague come clean with the House of Commons and with all Canadians and indicate what the actual cost of the carbon tax per family will be?
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today, wearing this jersey from the 2010 Vancouver Winter and Paralympic Games out of deep respect for the families of Humboldt.
    With regard to the question, I am very pleased to respond to the attention being paid with regard to putting a price on carbon pollution. It is an extremely important signal and something our government is deeply committed to in order to begin the transition to a low carbon economy. It is an integral aspect of the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, together with the extensive consultation that has gone on with the 43 first nations in British Columbia which will be part of a brighter economic and cleaner environmental future.
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the consultation that has taken place, the hon. member respects and values consultation. I would like her to share with the House the consultation she engaged in with respect to the pre-budget and the implementation of previous budgets, as well as this BIA, and the response she has received from her constituents with respect to what our government has delivered.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to particularly comment on the six budget meetings I held last week in the riding. Each was sold out and ranged from our trade agenda, because there is a lot of support for our progressive trade agenda and particularly full benefits of CETA and the TPP. We held a wonderful Squamish round table for the things our budget would do for women in entrepreneurship, women in technology, and women in trade. We held another public meeting in West Vancouver with the chamber of commerce, which very much focused on the tax reforms proposed by the Minister of Finance. They were very appreciative of the ability of our government to listen to the concerns expressed last summer and to realize the real movement in this budget, because of listening to people. Generally speaking, people are very happy.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place, even during difficult times such as today when it is with somewhat of a heavy heart one rises after the tributes we heard on the terrible tragedy in Saskatchewan.
    It is also sometimes difficult to rise in trying times such as these when so much is at stake for the future of our country, even as we grapple with the ongoing crisis over the Trans Mountain expansion and the implications that a failure of that project would have for all future projects in Canada.
    This budget implementation act necessarily brings us back to the budget that it implements. The bottom line of any budget, and really the first thing that anyone wants to know about a budget, is whether it is going to be a surplus budget or a deficit budget. Any analysis, criticism, or commentary has to take place in the context of the size and scope of any surplus or deficit. All the choices of inclusion or omission from a budget have to be viewed through that lens.
     In the case of a deficit, it is customary to address the question of when the budget will return to surplus. I say this is customary because indeed it is. In fact, all 13 provincial and territorial governments either have a balanced budget or have a specific timeline or projection for when their budget will be balanced, and it is contained in their budget.
    The finance minister is currently running a significant deficit, and neither the budget nor this implementation act make any mention of the means or timing of a return to balance. I raised this with the minister when he appeared before the finance committee last month. I asked him why he is the only finance minister in Canada who has no plan for a balanced budget, and why he did not even address the issue in a 400-page budget document. He said, “No matter how many times the Conservative members ask us to follow the playbook of the previous Conservative government, we won't do it.” I may disagree with the minister on the point of whether or not he should follow the Conservative playbook, but at this point I think most Canadians would settle for this government merely following its own playbook.
    On page 12 of the 2015 Liberal platform, its playbook, it reads:
     We will run modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years to fund historic investments in infrastructure....
    After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget in 2019.
    On page 72 under the fiscal plan and costing chapter it reiterates, “We will run modest deficits for three years so that we can invest in growth for the middle class and credibly offer a plan to balance the budget in 2019.” Later on in the same chapter it says, “After the next two fiscal years, the deficit will decline and our investment plan will return Canada to a balanced budget....” The Liberal playbook refers to balanced budgets, and in fact, the Liberals promised balanced budgets. They promised small deficits and a return to a balanced budget.
    Given that the Liberals promised a balanced budget by 2019 in the 2015 election, given that they promised only short-term deficits of less than $10 billion, and given that they promised these short-term deficits only to fund historic investments in infrastructure, the question is why they are now implementing a structural deficit in a budget with over a $20-billion deficit. Why does the finance minister repeatedly refuse to give any timeline for a balanced budget at all? Why does he bizarrely criticize the Conservatives for even asking about a balanced budget when he ran on an election platform that contained that very promise?
    In fact, the finance minister got lucky this past year. The Canadian economy benefited from a whole host of factors, for none of which the finance minister can take any credit. Commodity prices were better than forecast. The world economy has had perhaps its best year since the great recession. The American economy was positively booming with a record-setting stock market run. Real estate price inflation has continued in Canada. Interest rates have remained low. Even with all of these factors in his favour, the finance minister still ran a promise-breaking deficit in this budget following what will surely be one of the strongest economic years in this Parliament.

  (1600)  

    If the minister promised to return to balanced budgets, he has completely failed to deliver, and it is more than reasonable for opposition members to ask if not now, then when. Given that a return to balance was a huge part of the Liberals' election promise, we would not be doing our jobs as an opposition holding the government to account without asking that question and no answer has been given so far. Still, there really is nothing in the bill to address that question either.
    There is, however, in the original budget a troubling item contained on page 290, and that is a recognition of the fact that Canadian oil sells at a significant discount to world prices due to a lack of pipeline capacity in general and the routing of existing pipeline capacity mostly to the oversupplied Cushing, Oklahoma hub rather than to tidewater or to other refinery areas with spare capacity. This discount from world prices, which the government commented on in the budget itself, has grown significantly worse in the past few months.
     This difference between the price that our producers get and world prices has a significant impact on business profits and jobs in the industry. The discount has an enormous impact on tax revenues to both the oil-producing provinces and to the federal government itself and it dictates the viability or non-viability of future projects. Simply put, this discount means that we are actually exporting tax revenue and public services to the United States.
    Using round numbers, Canadian exports are about three million barrels a day. If Canadian producers take a $20 discount, that means the industry loses $60 million a day, or roughly $22 billion per year. A significant portion of that $22 billion will be taxable income at both the federal and provincial levels. The federal government loses billions in tax revenue because of this price differential, so it cannot be ignored as a factor in the budget.
    What is truly alarming today, given the debacle over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, is that the finance minister, in his budget, assumes that both Trans Mountain and Keystone XL will be built at a reduced price discount. We obviously know that these assumptions are being challenged right now. Both projects at best will delay projected revenue from profitable oil production, but in typical fashion, the finance minister has just assumed that the pipelines will be built even though a host of opponents are doing everything they can, including breaking the law, to prevent these pipelines from getting built.
    The finance minister surely knows that he has cabinet colleagues who oppose the energy industry, that he has caucus colleagues who campaigned in the last election against the Trans Mountain expansion, and that the most senior unelected adviser to the Prime Minister is notoriously anti-pipeline. Therefore, it was a fairly bold assertion for him to simply assume the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines would be built. Both projects are behind schedule. Both continue to be opposed by extremists committed to everything from vexatious litigation to violent clashes with police while defying court orders, trespassing, and destroying private property.
    Given the government's track record, what credibility does it really think it deserves on pipelines? The finance minister's budget assumes the pipelines are going to be built, and yet one of the first things the government did after it was elected was to kill the northern gateway project, which was a pipeline to tidewater approved previously. The proponent was working through the conditions and the concerns that had been raised about the project when the Liberal government used an arbitrary tanker ban to ensure that it could never be built.
    Then the Prime Minister completely failed to get Barack Obama to approve Keystone XL, which added another couple of years to the delay of that project. The finance minister is counting on this project to reduce the differential that has to be taken into account in his tax revenue projections.
    We know energy east was killed by the government's decision to move the goalposts on its proponent by absurdly deciding to make both upstream and downstream emissions part of the criteria. I say absurd because the emissions from fossil fuels moved through a pipe are mostly determined by the type of vehicle the fossil fuel is put into by the end consumer.

  (1605)  

    Now the government is even pushing through Bill C-69. At the environment committee, the president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association said, “It is hard to imagine that any pipeline project proponent would be prepared to test this new process or have a reasonable expectation of a positive outcome at the end of it.” He went on to say, “If the goal is to curtail oil and gas production and to have no more pipelines built, this legislation may have hit the mark.”
    What is the finance minister going to do if the capital flight that has been under way for months cannot be reversed? What is he going to do if nobody will invest and create jobs in the resource sector? What is he going to do if interest rates exceed his expectations? What is he going to do if there is a real estate price correction? What is he going to do if the NAFTA renegotiations end in trade restrictions that damage Canadian access to the American market? Even with everything going his way he cannot balance the budget. Was he going to do it if any of these eventualities happen or any of the hundred other unforeseen events should happen? Now is the time to establish a fiscal cushion to prepare for the inevitability of difficult times ahead.
    The budget is not balanced. There is no plan to balance it. There is no date for the budget to be balanced. There is no plan that will get pipelines built, which has a significant impact on the finance minister's ability to balance future budgets. There is no apology by the Liberals to Canadian voters for breaking their promise on the deficit in the first place. There is nothing in the budget implementation act to address any of these issues.
    What does this bill do? It makes certain changes to the Income Tax Act to implement changes announced by the Minister of Finance last summer on the taxation of Canadian-controlled private corporations, and other tax changes that we are now getting to the point where the CRA has to actually implement them.
     We know that on July 17, the Minister of Finance dropped his bombshell announcing that too many wealthy Canadians were using complex corporate structures to avoid taxes. He went on to announce, following a brief summertime sham consultation, that the Liberals would ram through private corporate tax changes to severely restrict dividend payments between related shareholders, the so-called sprinkling, eliminate the dividend tax credit, which would create the double taxation of passive income with rates at about 73%, and make it virtually impossible to sell a business to a relative, among other things.
    I am sure that every member of this House heard from small business owners who do not have a pension, do not have a minimum wage, do not have the protections of employment law, and cannot collect employment insurance. They have to be 100% liable for the conduct of their own employees, who they also cannot sue for gross negligence. What all of these people, these hard-working business owners, heard in the summer was the wealthy finance minister called them tax cheaters.
    What happened after that announcement was remarkable. Business owners and tax experts all across Canada spontaneously rose up and with diverse voices unanimously spoke in opposition to every aspect of the minister's proposals. This grassroots opposition did cause the government to partially backpedal on some of its plans contained in this bill. The part of last summer's announcement that many found the most egregious was the double taxation of passive income. Therefore, in December, the finance minister backpedalled and said there would be a limit under which the double tax would not apply. What he did instead in the budget, was he said there would now be a tie-in between passive income and access to the small business rate, which will now be reduced or eliminated for small business owners who have passive incomes of greater than $50,000.
    My suggestion to addressing the problem that he created back in the summer was simply a complete retraction of what the Liberals had announced then, and an apology to all of the hard-working small business owners across Canada who were deeply wounded by the bold assertions the finance minister made. Let us face it. The reason the finance minister and the Prime Minister believe that small businesses are really just tax dodges for the wealthy is that they themselves use private corporations to dodge taxes. All the while he was pointing his finger at shopkeepers, farmers, plumbers, realtors, accountants, doctors, lawyers, engineers, taxi drivers, and restaurant owners, the finance minister, that wealthy-born one percenter, was found to have failed to disclose the private corporation he used for tax planning purposes to shelter income and future gains on his French villa. Contrary to his past statements and all expectations of a minister of the crown, much less a finance minister, the finance minister still owned millions of dollars of Morneau Shepell shares.

  (1610)  

    How was that fact concealed from the public for almost two years? The shares were held in a private numbered company the finance minister registered in Alberta, presumably for tax-planning purposes. It was owned by him, his wife, and another Ontario numbered company. For the first time in the span of a few months, the finance minister was found not only to be personally using complex corporate structures to avoid paying tax but was using them to avoid requirements of the Conflict of Interest Act.
     It is high time for this finance minister to end his war on small-business owners and to apologize for his own hypocrisy instead of proceeding with changes to the Income Tax Act contained in this bill.
    If passed, this bill would also hand over to the CRA responsibility for dealing with the changes to the tax on split income and the reduction of the limit on the small-business tax rate for small businesses with over $50,000 in passive income.
    As shadow minister for national revenue, I could not help but notice that 2017 was a particularly tough year for the Minister of National Revenue and her agency. Every time we turned around, it seemed the agency had a half-baked plan to raise additional tax revenue at the expense of some vulnerable group or another, such as when the minister spent the entire months of October and November insisting that the CRA had done nothing to deny the disability tax credit to type 1 diabetics, despite the fact that it was obvious to everyone except her, and perhaps her parliamentary secretary, that of course the CRA had changed its forms in May 2017 to make it harder to qualify.
    The agency also changed its folio to state that after 2017, it would tax employee discounts and meals, but the minister again seemed to be the last person at the agency to be aware that this was being done, before she ordered a reversal. The agency also appeared to be targeting single parents, restaurant-server tips, and disabled Canadians, who suddenly had problems qualifying for the disability tax credit.
    On top of that, tax preparers complained about an ever-increasing backlog of corrections and appeals caused by sloppy or incompetent assessments, and a scathing Auditor General's report confirmed that the agency's call centre hangs up on people 64% of the time and gives incorrect information to 30% of the rest who get through.
     To an agency already struggling, and a minister who is clearly not in control of her department, this bill would now add a complex reasonableness test for dividends paid to related shareholders of private corporations. Let us think about that. An agency that hangs up on people and is wrong almost a third of the time when it speaks to taxpayers would now have to answer questions about things like the reasonableness of the payment of dividends, questions about share classes, questions about labour contributions, questions about property contributions, questions about the financial risks assumed, and a great catch-all, questions about such other factors as may be relevant.
    How on earth can Canadians expect that they will get reliable answers to these questions, given the track record of both the current government and the CRA's call centre? These questions have been asked here in this House and at committee meetings and even at public meetings attended by the minister, and nobody from the government has been able to give anything but the most vague and hypothetical answers to these questions. Canadians might be forgiven if they are a bit worried that nobody knows the answers to these questions and that the legality of thousands of Canadians' tax planning is going to be at the mercy of future court decisions.
    It would be very easy to go on for a lot longer about different aspects of this act, such as the implementation of the higher taxes on beer, wine, and spirits and the escalator clause; and certainly about the carbon tax, which is also part of the government's horrific mismanagement of its natural resources policy and an outrageously regressive tax on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. However, time marches on, so I will wrap up.
     I would like to conclude by urging members to vote against this bill, given that it would increase taxes; would fail to even address the very concept of a balanced budget; would do absolutely nothing to get pipelines built, the very same pipelines the budget needs for its own tax revenue; would help facilitate this minister's war on small business through the changes to the taxation of private corporations, and of course, would enable the job-destroying, poverty-inducing carbon tax. Therefore, I will be voting against this act, and I urge all other members to do so as well.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech. I have a great deal of respect for him. However, I have a difference of opinion with respect to the response of business and small business to the budget. I consulted with business owners and small business owners, and they were very pleased that we were actually reducing the taxes to be paid. We reduced the taxes in 2015 from 11%, ultimately to bring them down to 9% in 2019. The other thing they were pleased with was the amount of consultation we had with them to get this right so it would help them.
     I am curious about the view the member has stated, because my experience has been the opposite. In fact, I sent out a householder, and I had a number of small businesses that commended and thanked our government for the changes we would be making.
     In the budget we did something that I think is very important, which is set a guide for a new gender results framework. I would like to know whether the hon. member supports that.

  (1620)  

    Mr. Speaker, there was a whole lot in that question. I will start with the last point and state that in my riding, what men and women want most is economic security through a job. They feel that their livelihoods are threatened by the government's agenda, in particular in the resource sector. Having the word “gender” hundreds of times in a budget does not give women, men, or anybody else a job or the economic security they are looking for through employment.
     I respect the hon. member. As she mentioned, in this House there are differences of opinion. We are here today to exchange some of these differences.
    With respect to consultation and the impact on small business people, I find it strange that the Liberals want extraordinary credit for going back and reversing a decision to break a campaign promise on the small business tax rate. It was a promise to merely do what the previous government had already promised to do in its final budget. I do not think there should be too much credit given to the government for that.
    Mr. Speaker, I met with a number of small businesses in my riding during the furor, I guess would be the best way to describe it, on the original Liberal government proposals. Absolutely we need to do better for small businesses. For example, I would like to see a limit to the credit card charges our businesses pay.
    I am going to read the title of the budget to make sure I get it right. The Liberals claim that it is a gender and growth budget. I want to be a little more specific than my colleague across the floor. Would the Conservatives agree that we need pay equity now?
    Mr. Speaker, I did not get a chance in the limited time we had earlier to answer some of the previous questions. The question about pay equity or the issue of gender equality in the workplace and in pay is surely going to be best addressed through a strong economy. The way this budget simply repeats phrases and adds the word “gender” on every page is going to do nothing to actually make any change that will be meaningful in any way to women in the workplace or achieve anything that will bring economic security to women or men.
    The member mentioned credit card rates. It reminded me of a meeting I had with some small business owners recently in Prince Edward Island. They were restaurateurs. They talked about the impact it has on their businesses. They pointed out that in a typical transaction, the government and the credit card company are paid the most, because restaurant margins are less than what either of those two bodies make in a transaction.
    I want to go back to the earlier comments about consultation and what small business owners had to say. In my riding, it was universal. I had very large round table meetings both in my riding and in other parts of the country, and I had a very different experience than the member for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas. The finance minister's changes were universally panned. People recognized in them the attack they are on their livelihoods.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague would comment on some of the comments Liberals have made about the economy in Canada. Former ambassador Frank McKenna, who was also the premier of New Brunswick, talking about the cancelled energy east pipeline, said, “We're buying 700,000 barrels a day for eastern refiners from other places in the world at world prices. There's no other country in the world that would do anything as dumb as this.” McKenna also said that we have given up our leverage in NAFTA talks.
    Former finance minister Manley has said that there is nothing to address competitiveness in this budget.
    I stand here in an Oshawa Generals jersey today, because in Oshawa, we have to trade. We are a city that builds cars. The competitiveness issue is really starting to hit us.
    How much time does Canada have if the Liberal government does not wake up and smell the roses on the importance of these issues the Liberals brought up?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Oshawa makes some excellent points. Importing 700,000 barrels a day at world prices while we are sending oil into the United States at $20 a barrel less than the same oil they are then transferring north is crazy.
    I hope it might be helpful to some of the members on the other side to hear some of the luminaries from their past, who are Liberals, tell them that they are wrong on energy issues. They are wrong everywhere they go on pipelines. Only the Liberal Party could have contradictory messages on pipelines, with candidates in one part of the country being pro-pipeline and candidates in other parts of the country being anti-pipeline, and manage to alienate both sides of the pipeline issue over energy east and Keystone. None of this is going to make--
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, although the debate this afternoon is taking us a little far afield from the budget, I want to pick up on the point the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge made. I could not agree more with former premier Frank McKenna that it does not make sense to be importing crude at high-value prices and exporting low-value bitumen, which always gets a low price, because it is solid, unlike the crude that comes into eastern Canada. Would he agree that it would be a good plan to stop importing foreign oil to eastern Canada and to process bitumen within Alberta and use it in the domestic market in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, this is an argument usually used by opponents of the industry who say that they are not really totally opposed to the whole industry and shutting it down, but could we not defy the market and build infrastructure to process our product rather than export it raw? If we upgraded bitumen in Alberta, would the member propose the most aggressive expansion of the oil and gas industry in Alberta and the most aggressive possible expansion of the distribution of these fuels? I think likely not, but who knows?
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I wish to inform the House that I will be splitting my time today with the member for Gatineau. I would also like to extend condolences to Humboldt, to the team, the families, the billets, and to the entire community, on behalf of the people of Fundy Royal. Our hearts are with them.
    Today I rise to speak on Bill C-74, the budget implementation act. This is a budget that builds on the investments made by the previous budgets. It takes it to the next level to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to benefit from the growth we are seeing in the economy.
    Today I would like to focus on a few items that are having, and will have, a profound impact in my riding of Fundy Royal. The riding of Fundy Royal is predominantly rural, nestled between three southern cities in New Brunswick, and bordered to the north by the beautiful Bay of Fundy. Although the area is peppered with communities that are unique, each in their own way, there is a common thread that runs through them: a tenacity to grow, prosper, and to build a better life for our next generation.
    I came to Ottawa with a mission to address the concerns of my constituents, concerns I hear daily, about the sustainability and growth of our communities and the local economy. This became a bigger challenge shortly after I was elected when the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced it was indefinitely suspending operations at the Picadilly mine. I am proud of how local leaders responded, how we quickly found a path forward, and how the federal government was there as a partner. At that time, our government did not waver in its commitment to Fundy Royal, and this budget is a continuation of the commitment to everyday Canadians who are facing challenges and are committed to progress.
    I have always subscribed to the theory that a high tide raises all boats. Many of the commitments in budget 2018 will make sure that the most vulnerable in our communities are provided with the resources they require to find stability in their lives and participate more fully in society. These are measures that build on our monumental investments in the Canada child benefit, which supports over 16,000 children each month in Fundy Royal; skills training investments; flexibility in El, which allows Canadians to return to school to upgrade their education; and a new national housing strategy, which will provide updated and additional rental units in our communities.
    We are also building on investments for seniors, who are an important part of our families and communities. In addition to the special provisions for seniors in the housing strategy and the increase to the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors introduced previously, budget 2018 goes further for seniors in New Brunswick. A commitment to a healthy seniors pilot project will see $75 million to combat challenges produced by an aging demographic and determine best practices to keep seniors healthy and in their homes.
    Budget 2018 also recognizes the struggles of those who are working hard to join the middle class. The Canada workers benefit was introduced to encourage more people to join the workforce. This will offer real help to over two million Canadians while raising 70,000 out of poverty.
    Budget 2018 also recognizes the reality of seasonal work and the integral part it plays in rural economies like Fundy Royal. To support seasonal workers who have exhausted their El benefits, my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst announced an agreement with the Province of New Brunswick just last week. This will provide the province with $2.5 million immediately to directly help workers who have been impacted. The seasonal worker program offers income support as well as training and work experience for seasonal workers in the Restigouche-Albert region of New Brunswick, for those in the fisheries, agriculture, forestry, and tourism industries.
    Our government continues to focus on growth in Atlantic Canada, and investing in the great people, communities, and ideas in the Atlantic region. That is what this budget does. It empowers women, parents, employees, small businesses, industry, and our regional economies.
    For instance, spruce budworm is a native insect that periodically kills large numbers of balsam fir and spruce trees across eastern Canada. We saw this happen about 30 years ago. We know it is cyclical, and the threat is present again today. The economic impact of these disturbances has the potential to wipe out up to three million hectares of crown land in New Brunswick alone, and negatively impact up to 1,900 jobs every year if left unchecked.
    I would like to thank my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets for reflecting on this already during the debate on budgetary policy. I can very well attest to the threat that the outbreak poses in Fundy Royal. Forestry workers in Fundy Royal have a sense of relief knowing that our government is committing nearly $75 million over five years to combatting spruce budworm. This will support the work of the healthy forests network to continue with its early intervention strategy, which has been showing very promising results over the past several years.
    We have thriving fisheries in Fundy Royal, and the continued growth of these fisheries requires ongoing investments in small craft harbours. This budget commits $250 million on a cash basis over two years, starting in 2018-19, for projects like extending the breakwater in Alma.

  (1630)  

    Fundy Royal is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Not only is it home to the Fundy Biosphere, but also to the Hammond River, the Kennebecasis Valley, and the Fundy Trail. I am proud of the work that our local environmental organizations are doing, and I am glad that this budget will provide the resources needed to preserve and safeguard our environment. This budget makes one of the largest investments in nature conservation in Canadian history, $1.3 billion, to protect more land, waters, species at risk, and preserve biodiversity. It is up to all of us to protect the environment so that future generations of Canadians can continue to hike the Fundy Footpath, mountain bike on the bluff, or kayak in St. Martins.
    The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says that this groundbreaking investment by our government shows it is listening and acting to an unprecedented degree on Canadians' deep connection to nature and our desire to see the forests, parks, lands, and waters we love, and the wildlife that calls these places home, protected. Lois Corbett, the executive director of the council, said “This is a huge breakthrough and a day to celebrate for New Brunswickers and folks clear across the country who love nature, wildlife, and the outdoors."
    Canada's new tourism vision places high importance on our rich natural surroundings, especially Parks Canada sites. More than 22 million people each year visit the national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada. I am delighted to note that admission to Parks Canada sites, including Fundy National Park, will now be permanently free for those aged 17 and under.
    One of the most exciting parts of my job as the member of Parliament for Fundy Royal is talking to future generations of political leaders. In December, I received a letter from a student at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, P.E.I., in the riding of my friend, the member for Egmont. Kate was asked to write a member of Parliament about an issue of concern to her. She spoke about mental health with conviction, saying there are growing number of cases of anxiety, depression, and even suicide, and that it is becoming normal in our daily lives which should not be occurring in our society. She said that we need to stop the issue before it becomes worse. We agree with Kate. In our efforts to support veterans, we have further extended support by ensuring that the medical expense tax credit will now recognize the costs of psychiatric service dogs, provide assistance to the amazing organizations that support veterans, and invest in research for first responders who suffer from these invisible disabilities.
    Our government is also supporting research for autism, as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
    This budget is revolutionary, in that it focuses on Canada's future. It puts people first, and focuses on what matters most to the people of Fundy Royal. It invests in the protection of our environment, and promotes equality and prosperity for those from Hillsborough to Nauwigewauk and around the world. I am proud to stand and speak to this budget, one that recognizes the potential growth of our country and focuses on equality.
    As part of this year's budget, the finance minister announced our government's women entrepreneurship strategy that will help women grow their businesses by accessing financing, talent, networks, and expertise. The women entrepreneurship strategy is part of a broader effort to address gender-related barriers that have impaired the progress of women in business. As a former small business owner, this is near and dear to my heart. I know the potential is there if we provide a path forward for more women to succeed and grow as entrepreneurs.
    Like many others in Fundy Royal and in the House, I am driven when I think about our youth and the future they should have in Canada. It is why I became involved in politics, to ensure I am part of a movement to make sure they will have a prosperous future in our home province of New Brunswick. By becoming the first woman elected in Fundy Royal, I, like all of the men elected before me, am confident that I can make a difference, not only in the lives of these youth, but also in the lives of all Canadians.
    Each progressive budget that has been presented by our government is a step in the right direction, and this budget is no different. I am confident that it will provide lasting challenges for generations to come.

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like the member to comment on a couple of things that she left out about the budget. In Canada now, we are basically seeing business investment at about 11% of GDP, which is 16th out of 17 OECD countries. Business investment in Canada, per worker, is 40% to 50% less than in the high-productivity countries like the United States and Switzerland, especially the United States, with our competing against them. Taxes in the United States are going down. We are basically at 19% now, from 34.6%. At the same time, her government is increasing taxes that were 17.5% in 2012. Now they are 21%, also with increases in CPP, EI, carbon taxes, and high electrical costs. Even the former Liberal finance minister, John Manley, who is the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada has said, “Budget 2018 overlooks Canada's competitiveness challenges.”
    I come from a community in Oshawa. We depend on being competitive, and the government and its provincial partners are making us less competitive. Could the member please tell us what in the budget, if anything, is going to help address the competitiveness issue that Mr. Manley and many businesses in my community are worried about?

  (1640)  

    Mr. Speaker, part of our path forward as a country and for our economy is to make sure we have an innovative economy that includes all people in Canada. That is what the budget focuses on, ensuring that Canadians have an opportunity to participate in the economy, making sure they have the skills training they require, and making sure women are in a position where they can overcome the barriers that have been there for them, not only in small business but also in trade and other areas.
    It is important that we invest in Canadians at this time, and it is our Canadian people who will drive this economy forward in the future.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    I could focus my question on the fact that tax loopholes still exist for corporate CEOs or on the Liberal government's inaction on combatting tax havens, which is costing us billions of dollars. However, since the hon. member talked about the Maritimes, I would like to focus my question on the reality of seasonal work in a number of industrial sectors in her region. I think it is a shame that the Liberal government still fails to understand this issue and is failing to take action and use the employment insurance program to help seasonal workers, who, far too often, are left in the lurch because the program is not adapted to their reality.
    I would like my colleague to explain why there is no pilot project and why her government has not addressed the five-week spring gap problem.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for allowing me to elaborate. As I mentioned in my speech, there is in fact a pilot project that was announced for the area of Restigouche–Albert, for New Brunswick, that specifically looks at seasonal workers.
    We are looking at not only giving them aid in the immediate term, but also looking at the long term, at encouraging them to return for training, to look at other areas they could improve, and strengthening our workforce.
    Seasonal work is a reality in Atlantic Canada. We need to make sure that our EI system supports not only the workers, but also the employers, who are focused on maintaining that workforce and ensuring it is there for them season after season. We have put forward a plan that not only addresses the needs of the workers but also the employers.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the speech, and also for including women in that. She mentioned the women's entrepreneurship strategy. We know that budget 2018 is guided by a gender results framework. I wonder if she could comment on the importance of ensuring that framework includes the results of engaging and empowering women.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the things we are focused on right now in New Brunswick is how to strengthen our workforce. I mentioned the measures we are taking to strengthen the workforce with the EI system, but there are also measures in the budget that look at strengthening the workforce by making sure women are in a position to benefit from the growing economy that we are seeing in Canada.
    The women's entrepreneurship strategy is one excellent example. It is $1.6 billion over the next several years, which will focus on breaking down the barriers to accessing capital, to networks, and to attaining the expertise needed. Women have wonderful ideas and have participated in our economy, but there is potential for so much more. The budget focuses on making sure they become a vital part of our economy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise once again on behalf of the people of Gatineau. They did me the supreme honour of electing me to represent them in this House, and I am grateful to them every day for this honour and the weighty responsibility that comes with it. I am proud to rise today to support this bill and our government's budget plan in general.
    Today is our first day back in the House since tragedy struck the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Like Humboldt, Gatineau is a hockey town, a town where parents work hard every day to help their kids take part in organized sports like hockey, a town where parents put their kids on buses and send them off on long overnight trips to all kinds of destinations in the United States, Ontario, the Maritimes, and other parts of Quebec. On behalf of the people of Gatineau, I want to express our deepest condolences and dismay at what has happened. Our thoughts are with the parents and communities affected by this horrific tragedy.
    In Gatineau, we introduced a plan based on our national election promises that focuses on the middle class and investing in our communities. That includes public transit, so this year I was very pleased to participate in announcing the Rapibus extension as well as other major construction projects in Gatineau, such as the Parks Canada artifact storage facility, the Library and Archives Canada Gatineau 2 document preservation facility, and the revitalization of Terrasses de la Chaudière. We are investing heavily in federal public assets in Gatineau.
    I can assure my constituents that I will continue to fight for more investment in public transit. One of the files I am working on is a sixth interprovincial link between Quebec and Ontario, which people have been debating for the past 100 years. I made it my mission to champion that link, and I will continue to advocate and fight for it until the day the announcement is made.
    More generally speaking, our budget plan is working. It is working for parents and for our most vulnerable seniors, whose guaranteed income supplement has gone up by 10%. It is working for infrastructure in Gatineau and across the country. It is working for our small businesses.
     I have been very pleased to meet business people in my riding on several occasions. They are very satisfied and very happy that we have delivered on our commitment and are lowering the small business tax rate to 9% beginning next year. Our plan is also working when it comes to unemployment, which is under 6% at just 5.9%. That is the lowest unemployment rate ever seen for as long as Canada has been recording these statistics. Since the second quarter of 2016, GDP growth has been 3.7%, the best rate of any major industrialized country. Wage growth in Canada is tracking at approximately 3%. Once again, that rate is higher than anywhere else in the world. Year after year, the projected debt-to-GDP ratio is going down. Our plan is clearly working. It is improving Canadians' quality of life and prosperity and helping us keep our campaign commitments and the solemn promise we made to hard-working Canadians.

  (1645)  

    I want to highlight two initiatives in this budget. People sometimes become cynical at election time. People make choices based on personalities and specific commitments, but also based on philosophies. Here are two initiatives that Canadians would never have seen under a Conservative government, because these are not the kinds of things the Conservatives would ever choose. These two initiatives will benefit those who need it the most in our society, specifically people working hard to join the middle class. They are people working hard to become more prosperous and to be more productive citizens for themselves, for their children, and for future generations. Of course I am talking about the Canada workers benefit and the Canada child benefit.
    What is the Canada workers benefit? We know that there are people who are receiving social assistance or other benefits. Perhaps they have a family member who is ill. Perhaps they work part time. Perhaps they are caring for their children. Regardless of their circumstances, they find it difficult to make the decision to get off social assistance and enter the labour market with confidence because they may be penalized by doing so. They might not earn enough to justify getting off welfare or other social programs. Obviously, with such a low unemployment rate, everyone benefits when the number of people in the labour force increases. We also want these people to have the dignity that comes with productive work and personal growth. We want them to feel as though they are contributing to the economy and becoming productive citizens.
    The Canada workers benefit was created specifically to help those people and provide them with direct assistance. This year, eligible workers will automatically receive the benefit after filing their tax return, without submitting an application. They will be entitled to an increased Canada workers benefit. Our initiative will affect two million Canadians and lift 70,000 people out of poverty. They will be eligible for up to $1,300 in benefits tax free.
    There is also the Canada child benefit, which will be indexed this year for the first time. In my riding of Gatineau alone, 11,260 payments were made in January 2018 for 19,860 children. An average payment of $540 a month represents a total of $6.1 million in the pockets of Gatineau parents. I am proud of this, because this money is going directly to those who need it most. These people must make choices for their children. They need to spend money to enrol their children in sports or piano lessons, or to invest in a registered education savings plan. We committed to make these choices, and these are choices that a Conservative government would never have made or maintained, because it wants to eliminate the deficit at any cost. One has to wonder what a Conservative government would cut. This is also a tax-free benefit that is automatically reinvested in our economy and in local businesses.

  (1650)  

    I am proud of these two measures. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to talk about the other wonderful initiatives in this year's budget.
    I am particularly proud of the fact that we are keeping our word and fulfilling our commitments to the people who need it most. They can access these resources and become good, highly productive citizens who can keep contributing to the Canadian economy.

  (1655)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my glass was full with water every time the hon. member blamed the previous Conservative government for the past.
    I want to talk specifically about deficits. On this side of the House, we have asked about that on numerous occasions and the finance committee has asked on numerous occasions. The member will recall that the promise in the last election by the Prime Minister was to have minor deficits and to balance the budget by 2019. We now know that the budget will not be balanced until far off. The finance minister is not even admitting when the budget will be balanced.
    My question for the hon. member is this: When will the budget be balanced?
    Mr. Speaker, lessons on deficit and debt from the Conservative Party are lessons that we do not normally take. The last balanced budget presented in this House was, of course, presented by a Liberal government. It was absolutely a pride to create a fiscal situation that benefited the previous government when it was first elected. However, the Conservatives automatically, immediately, and systematically, in a structured way, took us back into deficit, and then for 10 years there were deficits as far as the eye could see.
     We will take no lessons from the other side of the House with respect to deficits. Those people borrowed and begged every year they were in office, and now they get up and decry it. They should be ashamed of themselves.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, people come to my office every week because they are unable to access the benefits to which they are entitled. These people are often poor and unable to get the Canada Revenue Agency to process their files. It is maddening to see the number of documents they are asked to produce, for example, to prove that their children really do live with them. I really do not know where they would be if not with their parents. In every case, these people are poor and could have used that money.
     Some people have not received any benefits since 2009, and the government has never helped them get that money. These people come to my office and I help them as best I can to figure out their file with the Canada Revenue Agency. In some cases, they have missed out on $20,000 in benefits.
    The member believes that the Canada child benefit lifts all children out of poverty. However, the reality is that many parents never access these benefits and the government is not doing anything to help them. They do not even have access to in-person services and are forced to fight for these benefits. We try to help them as best we can but, sadly, some cases are overlooked because the Canada Revenue Agency does not send me a list of those who might need help.
     What are my colleague's thoughts on that?