The House resumed from November 26 consideration of Bill , as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
Mr. Speaker, it is exciting to be here today to support the budget implementation bill and specifically the legislation establishing the college of patent agents and trademark agents. This is at subdivision D of division 7 of part 4 of the budget implementation bill.
This is an important element of the government's IP strategy. Taken as a whole, that strategy will ensure that Canada's intellectual property regime is modern and robust, and that it supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.
Patent and trademark agents are a key component of the innovation ecosystem, as they help inventors to secure exclusive IP rights. I was the only Newfoundlander who was a patent agent at the time of my election. Although I am not practising in that area of law now, I have some pretty good information regarding the need for a college of patent agents and a college of trademark agents.
Given the rising importance of IP in the innovation economy and the central role of patent and trademark agents, it is time to have a professional oversight body responsible for maintaining the high standards that are expected of trusted advisers. As a bonus, this would address long-standing gaps in the current framework for regulatory oversight, which previously lacked clarity and transparency and was without a binding code of professional conduct. Given the importance of the profession, good safeguards here are needed to ensure that agents do the jobs they do well and have the trust of their clients and of Canadians more broadly.
While there is no evidence suggesting a large problem with agent conduct, the need for modernization is imperative now that communications with IP agents are protected by statutory privilege in the same way as solicitor-client advice. This is an extraordinary right that requires ethical guidelines to prevent its abuse.
The college of patent agents and trademark agents act would establish an independent regulator, specifically a college, for the professional oversight of IP agents in the public interest. The college would administer a licensing system to ensure that only qualified professionals are authorized to provide agent services. As an independent regulator, it would also be responsible for enforcing a code of professional conduct to ensure that IP agents continue to deliver high-quality advice.
The college would also be responsible for implementing requirements for continuing professional development to ensure that agents stay informed of the ever-evolving IP practice landscape. Ultimately, these measures would raise the bar of IP professional services in Canada.
The college would have an investigations committee to receive complaints and conduct investigations into whether or not a licensee has committed professional misconduct or been incompetent. A separate disciplinary committee would have the authority to impose disciplinary measures if it is decided that a licensee has in fact committed professional misconduct or been incompetent.
Finally, this bill also creates new offences for claiming to be a patent agent or a trademark agent, or for the unauthorized representation of another person before the Canadian patent office or the office of the registrar of trademarks. These offences are intended to serve an important consumer protection function to ensure that innovators are receiving representation from qualified, licensed agents.
I would like now to speak about the important features that have been built into the legislation to ensure that the regulation is undertaken within the public interest and with the public interest as the priority.
Careful consideration was given to ensuring that the legislation supported the public interest in a competitive marketplace of well-qualified and professional IP agents. For example, the college would be governed by a board of directors that includes public interest representatives appointed by the minister, and patent and trademark agent representatives elected by members of the college itself.
Further measures directed toward safeguarding the public interest include providing the minister with the authority to review the board's activities and, if necessary, to direct the board to undertake any action to ensure regulation in the public interest. Another measure requires the board to report to Parliament annually on its activities.
The framework for the legislation takes into account comments from stakeholders over the course of several public consultations. During these consultations, risks were identified relating to the fact that many IP agents are also lawyers. Concerns were expressed about dual regulation, that is that lawyers and agents would be subject to two potentially conflicting regulatory schemes.
In recognition of this potential for overlap, the legislation would ensure minimal regulatory conflict for lawyers who may also be agents. In addition, where appropriate, the college's investigations committee would be authorized to refer a complaint to another body that has the duty to regulate another profession, for example a law society for a lawyer.
In fact, in my experience as someone who has been regulated as an engineer, regulated as a lawyer in three different jurisdictions, and regulated as a patent agent and a trademark agent in two different countries, I appreciate the concern that might exist about overrepresentation or over-regulation, as well as the concern that might be raised by conflicts in ethical obligations.
Whereas a lawyer, for instance, may have an ethical obligation to maintain strict solicitor-client privilege, an engineer is in fact required to put the public interest ahead of that interest. Therefore, it is important to note that there can be proper and reasonable conflicts in the ethics associated with different professions.
Patent agents are there to obtain the most protection possible for their clients' inventions or the broadest scope of trademark protection for their brands. Sometimes that might conflict with another ethical obligation that might apply in a different fashion to a lawyer or an engineer.
Balancing these is important and means making sure that when patent agents wear their patent agent hats, they are regulated as patent agents, and when they wear their lawyer hats they are regulated as lawyers, and when they wear their engineer hats they are regulated as engineers. This legislation allows for that nuanced differentiation.
We also heard during consultations that specific care must be taken to safeguard privileged information. Significant measures must be in place to ensure the appropriate handling and safeguarding of privileged information and to strictly control access to such information. To do so, the legislation draws upon safeguards and processes similar to those used by provincial law societies in order to safeguard privileged information in the investigation of college members.
More specifically, privileged information can only be used for the purpose of regulating agents. Disclosing privileged information to the college will not be considered a waiver of the privilege, and the privilege will be preserved for other purposes. Those purposes could be some type of lawsuit before the courts on solicitor-client privilege or the maintenance of the confidentiality of an inventor's right to an invention for having filed before first being disclosed to the public, for instance.
The act places strict obligations on employees and directors of the college, preventing them from disclosing privileged information, and further clarifies that the government cannot use its oversight authority to access privileged information. There is a strict process of court oversight to access and contest access to solicitor-client privileged information. These were of importance to the patent bar in the development of the legislation.
From my perspective, as someone who went through the process of becoming a patent agent, I can attest to the fact that an additional element is brought to bear on a regulated profession. Sometimes professions can be regulated in such a manner as to encourage more people to join the profession, and sometimes they can be regulated in a fashion that prevents new people from entering the profession.
The fact that the United States has 100 times as many patent agents or practitioners as Canada does with only 10 times the population demonstrates that our regime for licensing patent agents has become too restrictive.
The creation of an independent college will have the extra function of aligning the college's role of growing the profession with the public's interest in having more patent agents available to help inventors spur the creation of these assets. Patent and IP assets simply do not exist if they are not filed and registered, and if professional advice is not brought to bear.
It is not like in copyright, where people create a new work and then own the rights to that work. In the patent and trademark space, it is the professionals who assist the creators or the brand makers in protecting, acquiring and preserving those rights, both at home and abroad. If that work is not done, there is no asset to protect. Canada needs probably 10 times more patent and trademark agents than it currently has in order to have the same level of asset creation as the United States. This is important in the 21st-century economy.
In conclusion, the college of patent agents and trademark agents will be responsive to stakeholder input and follow international best practices in professional regulation. Care was taken with the legislation to establish well-structured bodies to ensure proper independent oversight, with an option for the government to intervene only if necessary. The checks and balances included in the legislation will ensure regulation in the public interest.
As a whole, I would encourage all members to support the budget implementation act, including this subdivision of part 7.
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to talk to Bill . Since we came into government, we have really focused on the middle class and those working hard to join it. This legislation would help us to continue along that trajectory, continue to make Canada one of the fastest growing economies in the G7 and continue to help ensure that Canadian companies are able to create good middle-class jobs. In fact, they have been able to create over half a million jobs. Our government created the conditions with investments to ensure that these companies and Canadians would be able to grow and prosper. It has done so through our trade and other investments in education and skills training, and will continue along that path.
However, I want to focus my comments today on three specific points that I will ground within the sustainable development goals. Earlier this year, I was with the in New York to present our voluntary statement to the United Nations on the sustainable development goals. Canada has a role to play to ensure that we reach those 169 targets and 17 goals by 2030. We are well on track to do that. We have been doing it from day one.
I am going to focus on particular components of the sustainable development goals emphasized through this budget. The first is goal 5, one that is really important to my heart. It has to do with gender and ensuring that we have gender equality in our country. As we are in the midst of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, I want to ensure that my actions matter. Speaking to this particular legislation, Bill , allows me to do that.
What we have in front of us are a number of different initiatives that would help to ensure we have gender equality in Canada. Our government has legislated gender budgeting, made Status of Women a full department and enacted proactive pay equity legislation.
With regard to Status of Women becoming a full department, the future department of women and gender equality, it is nice to have the word “wage” included in the title when we are introducing proactive pay legislation. When we think about the fact that indigenous women, women of colour, women with disabilities, religious individuals, people with different sexual orientations and women who are too old or too young face disproportionate negative impacts and barriers in their workplaces and communities, it is important that we be sensitive. When we are enacting legislation, it is also important to look at how our legislation impacts individuals differently. By legislating gender budgeting and ensuring increased participation of women, especially the ones who are most vulnerable, we are working toward supporting women and girls and reducing the gender wage gap. We are making sure that our country is prosperous for everyone.
The current gap of around 20¢ per dollar of earnings between what men and women make grows proportionately bigger when we think about some of these vulnerable communities or look at intersectionality. When there are different intersecting identities, we see that the gap between men and women gets larger, so ensuring that our country is prosperous for everyone is really important.
As I mentioned, having a full department dedicated to the status of women, the women and gender equality department, is really important. It will have an expanded mandate for gender equality, including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and for the promotion of a greater understanding of gender diversity, often through what is known as a gender-based analysis plus.
We need to ensure that we have the capacity to leverage movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up and ensure that every woman in this country feels that she has a place and is valued and respected. The initiatives we have taken so far with regard to gender will ensure that this happens.
Continuing with my theme of the sustainable development goals, goal 8 speaks to decent work and economic growth; goal 9, industry, innovation and infrastructure; goal 10, reducing inequalities; goal 11, sustainable cities and communities; and goal 16, peace, justice and strong institutions. To tie up all of those goals is really the work that we are doing with stakeholders in the charitable sector.
I worked in research before I came into politics. I owned a research management company, but I worked with organizations like Neurological Health Charities Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, Parkinson Canada, Epilepsy Durham and many organizations in my riding like Sunrise Youth Group in Whitby or the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre, of which Kenadie, a sixth grade student, is a very strong champion. She came to see me in Ottawa last year.
These charitable organizations are the foundation on which our middle class rests. They are the ones that do a lot of hard work to ensure that we are able to continue to function as a society. For example, the Sunrise Youth Group supports adult individuals with developmental handicaps so that their parents can go to work. This is what our charitable sector does and it really is a strong part of our society.
In strengthening that role of our charitable sector, we are ensuring that charities are able to do the work they want to do on behalf of Canadians. We are removing the limits to their political activities, allowing charities to participate fully in policy development. They could provide feedback on legislation and legislative proposals. We are providing a permanent advisory committee on the charitable sector.
The charitable sector is one of the sectors that contribute to our economy. It can generate up to $2 billion in economic activity and create as many as 100,000 jobs. The charitable sector is growing, is vital, and innovative. It does a lot with very little and we need to support it. Our government will be providing supports and resources of up to $750 million over the next 10 years to support and establish a social finance fund. When we look to our charitable organizations to provide support for our families, we need to support them. That is what we are doing here in this budget implementation act.
The last things I want to speak to are goal 1, no poverty; goal 2, zero hunger; and goal 3, good health and well-being. When we look at reducing poverty and ensuring that people have the capacity to live a full life and contribute to our economy, we need to look holistically at the social determinants of health to ensure that we help create the conditions that allow Canadians to live their best lives possible. With our poverty reduction strategy, programs like the Canada child benefit, our national housing strategy, enhancing seniors benefits, the Canada workers benefit, we have lifted 650,000 Canadians out of poverty, including 300,000 children.
We are developing our first national poverty reduction strategy and establishing for the first time ever an official poverty alliance. We are looking holistically at ensuring that Canadians of all stripes will be able to have a good quality of life. Since October 2015, we have hit the ground running to ensure that this happens in a comprehensive, holistic way. Not only are we going to be able to achieve our sustainable development goals and the agenda 2030, but we are doing it here in Canada. We are taking leadership by ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to succeed.
Madam Speaker, the good news is that despite this “man cold”, as my wife calls it, my voice seems to be back. I hope it will stick around for the next 15 minutes so that I can speak to budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2. Before getting to what is in the bill or, more to the point, what is not, which might make up the bulk of my comments, I want to talk about the process.
After all, this is an omnibus bill, like the ones we saw so often under the previous government. The current government actually campaigned on a pledge to end the use of omnibus bills. The Liberals not only broke that promise, but they are constantly introducing omnibus bills. They use them not just for budgets, but also for other areas like public safety, transport and justice. We keep getting bills that are harder and harder for parliamentarians to study in any meaningful way.
I may be mistaken about the numbers, which we can check, but the mere fact that we can evoke this type of image says a lot. The Conservatives' first omnibus bill, Bill , which was introduced in 2012 in the last Parliament, showed how abusive this practice had become. The bill was the nadir of this anti-democratic tendency, seeking to undermine the employment insurance program and eliminate the already inadequate environmental assessment process. The bill was hundreds of pages long.
If we were to combine the Conservatives' first omnibus bill from 2012 with the Liberals' first omnibus bill—not the one we are currently debating—we would have a bill the same size as the one before us, which is over 800 pages long.
That is completely ridiculous. I gather some of us are burning the midnight oil in our offices to read the bill. Some members say that they are sick of looking at the four walls of their offices, so they go read it at home. However, let us be honest. The idea that we have the time to consult our constituents, speak to stakeholders on the various files that critics are responsible for, read up on subjects of interest to MPs, and also read Bill C-86, including all the acts it amends, is simply unrealistic.
Some might say that this violates our parliamentary privileges. I am not looking to start a debate on privilege, but I do think it is important to point out how hard this makes it for us to do our jobs.
Even setting aside the size of the bill, the weight of it, and the rule against using props during debate in the House, I would advise my constituents not to print it out. It would be a waste of paper. The thing is massive.
On top of introducing a massive bill, the government has moved time allocation. Not only is it limiting debate in the wider sense by introducing a bill that is extremely difficult to study and therefore to debate, but it is also limiting the time for debate. In 10 or 20 minutes, the normal length of a speech in the House, it is impossible to address every issue. Plus, the government wants to limit the time for debate. This means that we, as the second opposition party, get to put up about eight speakers at most, out of about 40 or so MPs.
Some might say that the budget process, and therefore the budget implementation bill, are among the most important duties of the federal government. The fact that less than one-third of the members of a recognized opposition party get a chance to speak is a real problem.
Let us put the procedural issue aside, since we could talk for ages about this broken promise. I also want to talk about what is missing from this bill and, by extension, from the Liberals' budget. Unfortunately, the Liberals have neglected these elements too often over these past few years, since they came to power.
I would like to focus on a few aspects in particular. First, the government is still not charging web giants sales tax, even though that is a relatively simple matter. It is a matter of fairness and common sense.
When I was in my riding during the last parliamentary recess, I spoke with a constituent who told me that that is today's reality. We now get services via the Internet. That is how we download music, movies and television shows.
We are not asking the government to reinvent the wheel or to go against an existing trend. We are asking it to do two things. First, we are asking it to put all businesses on a level playing field. If Canadians order goods or services online, then they should have to pay sales tax the same way they would in a regular store. That may seem obvious to those watching at home, but the Liberal government has failed to do anything about this for far too long.
The Government of Quebec has led the way, and we hope that the other provinces and territories will follow its lead. However, with all due respect for our National Assembly colleagues, I have to say that it is not enough. The federal government has economic levers that it must use to level the playing field for businesses so that Canadians can benefit from the revenue generated under the law. That is what is lacking right now. However, it is not only the web giants, such as Netflix, Google, and Facebook, that must be required to charge sales tax. All the other digital platforms on which people can purchase goods must be, as well. The government is currently relying on the good faith of some stakeholders who have chosen to proactively charge sales tax.
Second, an agreement needs to be made regarding the future of our culture, specifically with regard to Netflix. I am not as familiar with this topic as my colleague from , who I am sure would have a lot to say about music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. For now, I want focus on Netflix because I do not have much time.
I will not discuss the sales tax for now. I have no doubt the former heritage minister had a rough time in Quebec. Pretty much everyone unanimously agreed that her Netflix deal fell short, not only because of the percentage of francophone and Quebec content, which is nil, but also because the government asked so little of Netflix. The government is counting on the company to operate on the honour system and obey the law proactively.
Madam Speaker, I see your signal that I have just two minutes left. What better proof that it is impossible to study an omnibus bill in the time provided.
France and other countries offer examples of different ways to do this. We can also come up with our own model to acknowledge that this is the new normal without letting Internet giants rake in the profits while crushing our culture. We need to promote our cultural sector so that it can continue to make all of its unique offerings available to us with content that is our very own. This is about quality content and our duty to remember and share.
I will now move on to something else that is missing from the Liberals' budget.
The keeps talking about a $1-billion investment. The only thing that investment did was rub salt in the wound by uncovering the billions of dollars that are lost to tax evasion and tax avoidance. We see that cronyism is alive and well in the Liberal Party. The issue of the Panama papers and the paradise papers has not been resolved. Nothing has been done to recover those billions of dollars. Again, it is a matter of fairness.
In closing, I would say that the omnibus bill does very little to address the problems that the supposedly progressive Liberals promised to fix and this is their third attempt at it. That is three attempts and three failures.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill .
For people watching at home, some of what we are discussing today may sound familiar. That is because we heard about these programs earlier this year when the presented the 2018 budget on February 27.
Budgets, by their nature, are aspirational, forward-looking documents. They are an expression of what we, as a government, are planning to do.
In order to achieve the objectives which we have set out for ourselves in the budget, we must make new laws or make changes to existing laws. To do that, we must pass legislation.
The aspirations in this year's budget took nearly 400 pages to express. If the budget took nearly 400 printed pages to express, the laws needed to implement the plan have to be written. That generally involves multiples of 400 pages and then those laws have to be presented and debated in the House of Commons, be examined by a committee or committees, be passed by the House, then sent to the Senate, debated and reviewed by a Senate committee, passed by the Senate and then sent to the Governor General for royal assent. All that takes a lot of time.
Therefore, we divide the budget plan into those items that need to get passed right away. Soon after the budget is presented, we deal with those items with a first piece of legislation. Then later we deal with the more forward-looking plans in the budget and we create a second piece of legislation to implement the remainder of the budget plan.
Today we are discussing that second piece of legislation to implement the 2018 budget. One of the aspirations expressed in budget 2018 was that we should address the gender wage gap by making progress toward equal pay for equal work. The issue arises because, as the budget said:
In Canada today, women earn 31 per cent less than men do....the median income for women is $28,120, compared with $40,890 for men....As the largest employer in the country, many have called on the federal government to lead by example—and that is what the Government will do.
The bill we are debating today introduces proactive pay equity legislation for workers in the federal government and in federally regulated sectors. Equal pay for work of equal value is the smart thing to do. We are very proud to be moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation. It is a key way in which our government is delivering on its commitment to gender equality.
Bill proposed to enact the pay equity act to establish a proactive process for the achievement of pay equity by the redressing of the systemic gender-based discrimination experienced by employees who occupy positions in predominantly female job classes. The new act would require federal public and private sector employers that would have 10 or more employees to establish and maintain a pay equity plan, with set time frames, to identify and correct differences in compensation between predominantly female and predominantly male job classes for which the work performed would be of equal value.
The new act would provide for the powers, duties and functions of a pay equity commissioner, which would include facilitating the resolution of disputes, conducting compliance audits and investigating disputes, objections and complaints, as well as making orders and imposing administrative monetary penalties for violations of that act. The new act would also requires the pay equity commissioner to report annually to Parliament on the administration and enforcement of the new act.
Bill would also amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to provide for the application of the pay equity act to parliamentary employers. It would also make the Minister of Labour responsible for the administration of the federal contractors program for pay equity.
On modernizing the federal labour standards, the amendments to the Canada Labour Code that Bill would make are:
(a) provide five days of paid leave for victims of family violence, a personal leave of five days with three paid days, an unpaid leave for court or jury duty and a fourth week of annual vacation with pay for employees who have completed at least 10 consecutive years of employment; (b) eliminate minimum length of service requirements for leaves and general holiday pay and reduce the length of service requirement for three weeks of vacation with pay; (c) prohibit differences in rate of wages based on the employment status of employees...(e) update group and individual termination provisions by increasing the minimum notice of termination.
Bill would also amend the Wage Earner Protection Program Act to:
...among other things, increase the maximum amount that may be paid to an individual under the act, increase the maximum amount that may be paid to an individual under the Act, expand the definition of eligible wages, expand the conditions under which a payment may be made under the Act.
It is interesting to note that while the Liberal federal government is enhancing labour standards for workers, the Conservative provincial government in Ontario is in the process of diminishing labour standards. We would think that the first rule of government would be like that of the medical profession: First do not harm.
I share the disappointment of some members of the House that we were not able to take a further step forward by protecting worker pensions in the event of insolvency of employers. Bill would make amendments to Canada's insolvency legislation and would improve the Wage Earner Protection Program Act. However, it does not address the issue, which is essentially of deferred wages remaining unpaid. The pension of workers need protection from employers' bankruptcy by giving pension funds priority in employer bankruptcies. I hope we can move forward to correct this problem in the not too distant future.
I also want to talk about our record of our government and what we have done for middle-class Canadians.
The investments made from our government in middle-class Canadians consist of $40 billion in a national housing strategy. This is much-needed and will help Canadians have a decent home to live and raise their families. We have also increased the Canada child benefit, which will be indexed as of this year. An average family will receive $2,000 more in its pocket to help with the high cost of raising its children. We have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
With respect to jobs, we have created over 500,000 new jobs since 2015. We have had the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. The unemployment rate nationally is around 5.8% to 6%. In Waterloo Region, at the end of October, that unemployment rate was at 5.2%.
We have also announced federal funding for a high-tech company in my riding, North Inc., which is making high-tech Focals, eyeglasses. This has increased jobs in my region. It has added 230 good well-paying jobs in the high-tech sector.
As well, and not in terms of the budget, in my committee of citizenship and immigration, we brought in the global skills strategy to bring in high-tech workers to our region to ensure we closed the gaps in the high-tech sector.
In infrastructure spending, we have added historic spending of $120 billion in infrastructure projects. In my region alone, I have announced $97 million for a highway expansion, going from six lanes to 10 lanes, so we can get our products to market faster and can have faster commutes to and from the GTA from our region.
Also, we have lowered taxes for the middle class, from 22% down to 20.5%. We have also lowered taxes on businesses, from 11% to 9% in 2019.
These are some of the things our government has laid out and it is our record since we formed government. This is why I am supporting this budget.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill , the budget implementation act. I feel fortunate that I will get to speak on this bill, but because of time allocation on this bill and multiple others by the government, many of my colleagues are not going to have the opportunity to debate it. I feel fortunate that I at least get to debate the bill and question the government.
It has been pointed out many times that the government made numerous promises in its election campaign that it has no intention of upholding. When I make a promise, I vow to uphold it, but the government seems to have no respect for that whatsoever or for Canadian citizens, which I find simply abhorrent.
Liberals promised not to introduce omnibus bills and yet we have a budget implementation act of over 800 pages, almost 900 pages, in fact. Just the summary of this bill is over 12 pages long. It is a massive bill that deserves full debate in the House, but with time allocation being applied, we will not get that opportunity. I have spoken with my colleagues who wanted parts of this bill taken out and debated separately in committee, but those requests were denied by the Liberals at committee. It is a shame that we cannot properly debate a bill that is so important to every Canadian.
I will go back to the election promises that the government made back in 2015. Liberals claim to have been elected on a mandate of what they said they would do for the Canadian public and a big part of it was to keep the deficit below $10 billion per year. That is a promise broken. Another part of the 2015 election campaign was that deficits would decrease annually as Liberals moved through their mandate. That is a promise broken. Liberals promised to reach a balanced budget by 2019. That is a promise broken. They promised to be open and transparent in their government. We have seen multiple times how that promise has been broken and we have another example of it again today with time allocation being applied to debate on this bill so that we cannot fully expose this bill for what it is to the Canadian public.
When I return to my riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap, increasingly people approach me and ask what we can do to stop this out-of-control spending by the government and the debt that it is passing on to future generations. That truly concerns me. There are a lot of young entrepreneurs in my riding looking to a brighter future, but we see what the government is doing with these continual deficits of nearly $20 billion year after year. Most people cannot visualize what that $20 billion would look like in a project in the town or community they live in or a project at home.
That $20 billion does not translate easily to individuals, but it creates an approximate $600 debt load per person. The government puts every man, woman, child, infant and senior in Canada further in debt by almost $600 every year. In three years, that is $1,800 for every man, woman and child. Imagine what it will cost a family of four people. It is unbelievable when people hear what this really means for families and individuals. When we work into that the percentage of Canadians who are full time in the workforce, it is probably about 25% of Canadians. Therefore, one in four Canadians is paying back the incredible debt that the government is building up.
In 2019, we are working towards electing a Conservative government, led by our . We are looking forward to bringing reality back to finances in Canada, so that we can provide hope and prosperity, and a future for those young Canadians.
The only way we are going to be able to do that is to try to keep them out of this incredible debt that the government keeps piling on. I cannot imagine. I have a daughter and son-in-law who have established themselves, but I cannot imagine having teenagers or young children right now and having to tell them that, with the government, they are going to be another $500 or $600 per year further in debt every time the government passes a budget. That is very troubling to me. I cannot imagine passing on that information on the doorstep.
That is what I am hearing from people when I am back home. They do not want that debt passed on to their children. Time and time again, people are asking, “How can we stop this?”
Another of the factors that have popped up in this bill and that have been pointed out is the increase in the debt servicing costs of government. It will not matter whether it is a Liberal, Conservative, coalition or minority government. It will not matter; the increased debt servicing costs could grow by up to 60% under the current government's plan. That is incomprehensible. It will mean that we could end up paying more in debt servicing per year than our current health care transfers to the provinces.
What it means is that what the government is creating in deficits and debt load to future governments is going to be taking away from something else that we should be able to pay for in the future. Whether that is housing, health care or business investment, all of those things are going to be impacted by the debt load that is currently being passed on by the government.
Getting back to some more of the promises that were made by the government and have now been broken, it promised to reduce business taxes. It has done that in some ways, but in other ways it has reached into the back pockets of business people and taken more out than it has actually put in. It did that earlier this year with the implementation of the deferred income taxes.
The government increased taxes on passive income investments. It will be up to 73% that individuals will have to pay on those passive investments. That is absolutely killing corporate investment in avenues other than their core business. Many people who had surplus income in their primary business decided to purchase rental properties, whether it was detached homes or small apartment buildings and so on. They would invest their extra income in purchasing those rental properties to create lower-income rental opportunities for individuals in the community who could not afford to purchase their own home.
I have had those individuals approach me time and time again over the summer and since, and they say they are no longer going to do that. There is no point in investing in a secondary business other than their primary investment. It is no longer feasible because of what the government is doing.
I know my time is running down, so I will try to wrap up. With over 800 pages in this bill, it is really difficult to fit in much detail about the individual pieces in a 10-minute presentation. Again, I want to stress the fact that the government has moved time allocation on the bill which, for most of our members, will remove the opportunity to speak on this bill. Again, it is deplorable that the government keeps doing this. I cannot comprehend how we are going to get past this.
We need to work together, as government and as opposition, on what is good for Canadians, but the government is making it almost impossible. I will wrap up with that statement.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand today to support the initiatives of our government that are expressed through the bill as we implement the budget promises we made last spring, and to deliver real hope, real change and real possibilities for growth in the country for some of Canada's most vulnerable populations.
The main focus of my comments will be on the poverty reduction strategy. It is Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy with real targets and real tools to measure not just poverty as it exists across the country, but also as it exists in specific regions, centres, and within specific populations.
The new strategy is critical, because one of the goals of the government—and we hear the phrase repeated often—is not just growing a stronger middle class, but the support that is required to help people join that middle class, to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools they need, the support they require and the opportunities they desire to make sure their lives are transformed. This is critical for the success of our country, because as we build stronger families and healthier communities, we also build more resilient children. That gives us hope for the future that the next generation will have the capacity to provide much more support for all of us as we move forward together as a country.
To set the context, we need to understand that the poverty reduction strategy, while it is a new strategy enunciated in policy, is not something we just started to begin work on. The day we took office, we began making investments right across the country to make a transformational change in people's lives. In fact, well over 600,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty as a direct result of the steps taken by our government. That does not include the close to 500,000 new full-time jobs that have been created, which have also created a situation allowing people to avoid poverty. I say this because the prevention of poverty is just as important as its alleviation.
The $22 billion we invested includes about $5.6 billion invested in housing. As soon as we introduced our first budget, we tripled the transfers to the provinces and doubled the investments in community organizations that are leading the fight against homelessness.
We also introduced the Canada child benefit and changed its profile. Not only is it a more generous benefit, but it is also now tax free and means-tested, which means that those with the greatest need will get the greatest support. Unlike the previous government, we do not send the cheques to millionaires and we do not tax the dollars after they have arrived in families' bank accounts. This has probably been the most profound change in social policy in this country in a generation, and probably the most important component of lifting those children I just referenced out of poverty.
Additionally, changes have been made to the CPP as we move forward to secure people's retirement funds. We have also boosted the GIS to make sure that single women, in particular, who are often alone at the end of their lives, get the boost they need to make sure that their incomes are better supported, giving them the capacity to maintain their living standards.
In addition, $7.5 billion has been invested in early learning and child care. These transfers were delivered directly to the provinces, who since the collapse of the previous national day care strategy have evolved their programs and now have a more asymmetrical situation across the country. As we invest that $7.5 billion over the next 10 years, it has already started to sustain existing spaces, provide new capital for expansion, and also provide that critical expansion of the child care system. In fact, in Ontario, 100,000 new spaces of subsidized, quality, affordable child care have been created as a direct result of the investments in partnership with the provinces.
For the first time ever, child care support has also been directed toward indigenous organizations to make sure that distinction-based programs, led, designed and delivered by indigenous communities for their children, are now part of the program. We have also made those investments, which are having an impact on families outside the mainstream programs that have existed for a generation in our country.
On top of child care, substantial investments have also been made in indigenous communities, both on and off reserve, both inside and outside of treaties, both in rural-remote regions and urban centres. These investments have led to cleaner drinking water, better housing, better education and, most importantly, better health programs being provided. In particular on Jordan's principle, in comparison with the approval and enrolment rates under the previous government, which in 10 years managed to get only one child served under Jordan's principle, we are talking about thousands and thousands being served every single year.
These are transformational changes, which have set the base for an even more aggressive push to eliminate even more of the poverty we see in our country, because we cannot sustain poverty in a country as rich as ours with a clean conscience.
As we set the new poverty standard and come across a standard way of measuring it so that we can have a common base to understand exactly whom we lifting out of poverty and how our programs are having that impact, we are often criticized for not having announced new programs simultaneously to our establishing this poverty line.
Let me assure members that there are already programs and investments forecast into the future that have not been included in the 650,000 calculation we have already used to address the people we have lifted out of poverty. For example, we have the signing of bilateral agreements. I was just in the Northwest Territories doing exactly this, signing bilateral agreements on the Canada housing benefit.
The Canada housing benefit is a new way to subsidize people's living arrangements, giving agency and choice to low-income Canadians to choose the housing that best suits their needs. Those subsidies do not kick in until next year, but will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life and alleviation of poverty among those people who are in core housing need. In fact, when one includes all the other components of the national housing strategy, we seek to support well over 650,000 Canadians, and closer to 700,000. Then we get into repairs and some of the other programs that are part of the 10-year forecast.
Those dollars are locked in and are built on top of the $5 billion we have already spent. We have also reprofiled those dollars to make them more flexible, in particular in the way in which they impact women and children, to make sure that those housing needs are addressed specifically through a national housing strategy. They were not in the previous iteration of the program. The new national housing strategy re-profiles that $40 billion and projects it into those people's lives as yet another way to alleviate poverty.
This particular bill also addresses pay equity. I have heard the members opposite complain that the bill is too big. It covers seven distinct pieces of legislation, but the piece on pay equity covers the entire breadth of federally regulated and federally administered pay programs. It is a big, complex bill because pay equity touches virtually every corner of the government, as well as significant parts of the country's private sector. That is why the bill is 850 pages long.
The bill is a comprehensive all-of-government, all-of country approach to pay equity. We are very proud to push that forward, because pay equity, again, is one of the most important tools we can put together to ensure that we reduce poverty, in particular of women but also of families and Canadians right across the country. Pay equity, giving a fair chance to everybody, in particular women, benefits us all. As women's economic situations solidify and strengthen in this country, small and medium businesses and all our social dynamics strengthen as women become more powerful. That is one of the most important reasons to support pay equity. It is good for everyone, even those who are not women.
Additionally, we have also included an indexing formula in the Canada child benefit so that it will grow over time for families to ensure that inflation does not claw back the good, strong investments we have made to eradicate child poverty. Again, those dollars are not calculated as part of our poverty reduction plan, which was in place prior to the strategy, but will have an impact afterward.
Then of course there is the national housing strategy, the $40-billion investment. I have heard some suggest that the way to do a housing program, which we have seen in the platforms of previous parties as they tried to get elected to Parliament, is to put the money upfront and just let the program drift off into the future. As someone who has done much of the consultation work with the minister and CMHC to put this strategy together, I can say that the reality is that the advice we were given by academics, housing providers, municipal partners and provincial agencies was that the best way to build a housing program was to invest heavily to start and then grow the investment as the system gets bigger over time.
In other words, if a riding were to receive a thousand units of public housing this year, a thousand next year and a thousand the year after that, its housing needs would go from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. Repair needs grow with that, as do subsidy requirements, and if the program is not back-end loaded, one will not be able to build a successful system while building good, strong housing programs. That is why the program not only lasts 10 years, past two elections, but also grows over time to support a bigger, stronger, more robust capacity to house Canadians in need.
Put together, this constitutes our government's strategy for housing, poverty and improving the lives of indigenous people, women and many of the marginalized and racialized communities in this country. We have focused our programs based on data, the information we have received from stakeholders, and partnerships with indigenous, municipal, provincial and territorial governments. In total, the early investments, the project investments, the new tools to measure, study and drive data into the system to alleviate poverty are the reasons this bill is large, why are ambitions are just as big, and most importantly, why the achievements are so profound.
We are very, very proud of this particular piece of legislation. I hope that all of Canada can support it. I hope that everyone in Parliament can support it. This is delivering real change, real housing and real support to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and I encourage all parliamentarians to support it as such.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP members often complain about two things: either we are consulting and are going too slow, or we have not consulted and are going too fast. I think we have hit the right balance here. We have put together comprehensive pay equity legislation after substantial consultation over the last three years with stakeholders, unions, private, public and governmental sources.
With regard to amendments, we have all been around committees in this place. We all see sort of a consensus emerge on how to fix a particular bill. The opposition presents one way to fix it, and the government produces a different way. The opposition's proposal might be defeated, but a very similar proposal will have the support of the government side. It is really a question of detail, sometimes, in those decisions.
As for pay equity, it is essential that we get it done in this term of Parliament. Women have waited too long. I was here in 2005 as a reporter when the NDP members rolled the dice and decided they could get a better deal under Stephen Harper than under Paul Martin. They not only collapsed the Kelowna accord, they not only collapsed an extra $2 billion for housing, they not only collapsed a national child care strategy, they collapsed comprehensive pay equity legislation as well.
Members will say that they did not roll the dice and that Canadians changed the government. Sure, Canadians changed the government, but at some point, the NDP is going to have to take responsibility for what it does, not what it aspires to do. In this case, it collapsed those pieces of legislation, and it can live with that. That is its party record.
I would also remind the party members opposite of the zero dollars they wanted to spend on housing this year or the $25 million they wanted to spend on indigenous infrastructure, a grand total of $375 million. If that is what they thought was the scope of the problem with indigenous communities across this country, they either did not care, did not know, or did not want to act.
Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about the Liberals, who are proposing a hefty 850-page bill. It is an omnibus bill. It is the largest bill ever introduced in the House of Commons. The omnibus bills that the Conservatives used to introduce were 75 pages long. Today we are seeing an 800% or even 900% increase with this 851-page bill. The Liberals were elected on a promise to be more transparent and more accountable.
Furthermore, we are debating this unusually large bill under a gag order. This morning, the was boasting about how she has already given opposition members 15 hours of debate.
According to my calculations, 15 hours of debate divided by 851 pages equals one minute and five seconds per page. Is it responsible to allocate so little time to debate a bill? I use the phrase “debate a bill” loosely, because only eight NDP MPs and five Conservative MPs spoke to this bill before today, if memory serves.
The Liberals say that they are more democratic, more transparent and more accountable, but I have my doubts. I think that everyone has reason to doubt the goodwill and good faith of the Liberals.
As my colleague from said, this bill amends seven acts. The Liberals have never been able to tell us how many clauses and subclauses are in this mammoth bill. They themselves do not even know. They do not even know all the things they put in this bill. It is ridiculous to have to debate it under time allocation.
I will focus on just a few points in my speech because, unfortunately, nobody in the House can cover all the measures introduced in the nearly 900-page bill in just 10 minutes.
Women have been waiting 42 years for the Liberals to keep their promises on pay equity. Unions have been fighting Canada Post in court over that for 30 years. The government is yet again telling women they will have to wait. Pay equity legislation will come into force not in a matter of weeks or months, but in four years.
Our party has been a tireless advocate for this important issue. We have even proposed changes in the past. As we heard from my colleague from , the NDP proposed 36 amendments. The Conservatives proposed amendments. The other parties proposed amendments. How many amendments did the Liberals accept? Not one single amendment was accepted, despite the fact that they reflected the demands of unions and the demands of various women's groups. Not one amendment was accepted to improve the bill, to give women a stronger voice. The Liberals did not agree to any of our suggestions.
Canada is facing some major challenges that require a bolder approach than the one the Liberals are using. The first initiatives requiring employers to determine how many people must receive more pay are a step in the right direction. However, what could possibly justify how long it will take to implement this? Is it acceptable that women continue to be underpaid for another four years under this government?
In 2018, women earn on average $12,700 less than men. If we multiply that by four, that means nearly $51,000 less for women. The government says it is proud to have introduced pay equity legislation. However, women will still have $51,000 less in their pockets, which is a lot.
If I had to summarize the government's action, I would have to say that it is nothing but half measures. The time it will take to implement pay equity is the biggest problem lurking behind the government's facade of good intentions, but it is not the only one. There is also the fact that does not require employers to apply pay equity to workers who were already under contract if changes are subsequently made to the contract following a call for tenders. Why? We do not know.
The bill also does not include any of the pay transparency measures that advocates have called for. Salaries cannot be compared when pay equity issues are being addressed. What is wrong with that picture? Will the pay equity commissioner have the resources needed to do his or her work properly? We do not know that either.
Speaking of half measures, why did the government not adopt the recommendations set out in the Bilson report, including the creation of a pay equity hearings tribunal? Lastly, the Liberals are once again professing to support equality while telling a segment of the population that is being treated unfairly to grin and bear it. I would like to remind the government that women represent 51% of the population.
The government made its choice. It chose not to make the investments needed to ensure that women receive equal pay, and chose instead to give big business, the richest people in the world, $14 billion in tax cuts. This measure was introduced last week in the 's fall economic statement. Did the rich and these big corporations really need that $14 billion this fall? I do not think so. They are getting help, yet many of them evade taxes or openly use tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
The same is true for web giants like Netflix, Apple and Facebook, which pay virtually nothing in taxes and then get tax breaks. However, they use our services and are quite happy to hire highly skilled workers from Quebec and Canada. The Liberals claim that our SMEs are important and that they want to support buying local, but they support the web giants that do not need to worry about all of the taxes imposed on our SMEs under Canadian law.
How much of this money will go to rural areas? We have no idea. The government is allocating billions of dollars for businesses to buy new equipment and innovate, but how can we innovate when our rural areas do not even have access to high-speed Internet or a 3G or LTE cellular network?
The Auditor General criticized the government for its lack of judgment in managing public money allocated to the connect to innovate program. Some municipalities in my riding are turned down for this program or CRTC funds for ridiculous reasons, such as the fact that there is already a home with high-speed Internet within a 25-kilometre radius. This is happening in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, and all the areas served by Coop CSUR in the Soulanges area are under the same restriction. Do we really want a double standard for our rural and urban areas?
On another subject, how will the poverty reduction strategy be funded? Apparently, it will be made up of existing programs without any additional money. I think the Liberals are just thumbing their noses at us. They have targets, but no plan. That seems to be a theme with this government, because it does not have a plan for the environment either. The Liberals got themselves elected in 2015 by saying, “We have a plan, we have a plan, we have a plan”. Today, there is no plan, there is no plan, there is no plan. I think I will use that in an ad.
Are they going to help the most vulnerable citizens access health care services more easily? No. There is no plan for pharmacare either, even though we know that we could save $3 billion a year according to conservative estimates. We could make a lot of investments in health care with that money.
What other measures does the bill include to drastically reduce our CO2 and methane emissions starting this year? None. Is the government planning to help rural areas go green, develop public transit, make their homes more energy efficient, or use solar and wind power? No.
Is the government going to implement restrictions to help big corporations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? No, of course there is no plan to do that. Will the federal government finally have a costed plan for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions? No, it has no plan for that either.
It has been pointed out that many citizen movements have been launched. In Quebec, artists, scientists, economists and citizens have signed A Pact for the Transition. Millennials have been criticized for not being more involved in all kinds of things, but yesterday, young people who realized that the government is not doing anything for the environment took action, and a youth environmental group called ENvironnement JEUnesse brought suit against the federal government for failing to take action on the environment.
I have to stop now because I am out of time, but that shows just how important the environment is to people 35 and under and how absurd it was for the government to spend $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on a pipeline.
That move was not a plan or investment for keeping our planet healthy for current and future generations. It is shameful.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House to speak to our economic update.
I did not get a chance to ask my colleague who just spoke a question. I think she was a bit unfair to the connect to innovate program. We invested $500 million in Canada, and the CRTC will invest even more to create the backbone of the system.
True, there are some challenges with the maps, but the CRTC and the Minister of Innovation are always open to redrawing the maps to better connect Canadians.
We invested $100 million in Quebec, and I was there for a number of the announcements. I assure the member and the House that we are working on getting people connected, since this has become a necessity in our country.
I would like to take a moment with the time that I have to speak about some of the intellectual property provisions in the economic update, with the backdrop being that the government had to address yet another deficit from the previous government, which was the innovation deficit.
The previous government, under Harper, had not invested for 10 years in either basic research or in innovation. We had fallen behind our neighbours and competitors in a variety of different ways. We had previously been good at this.
We have now brought that back, with massive, historic investments, in both fundamental curiosity-based research, as well as investing in both people and technology in order to make Canada a world leader in a variety of different digital areas, the new economy, artificial intelligence and training people, from kids all the way to the elderly, upscaling and retraining, in order that we be positioned to take advantage of that.
All of this is framed by an IP strategy that we announced earlier in 2018. It really pushes Canadians and Canadian inventors to think about intellectual property as part of the way in which they monetize their investments. I know the minister is fond of saying, and he is right, that companies that think about intellectual property tend to be more profitable and do better. We certainly are trying to buttress that with an array of policies in the IP strategy, as well as in the fall economic statement.
First, I want to speak a little about notice and notice regime and the improvements we have made to that. It is an interesting Canadian invention, the notice and notice regime. One of my old colleagues, Daniel Gervais, who was at the University of Ottawa at the time and is now at the University of Amsterdam, came up with this. The idea is that Internet service providers should not be liable for copyright infringement going on the Internet when they are acting only as a conduit. This accords with our traditional underlying principle of net neutrality.
What we do is we allow copyright holders, right holders to point out to an Internet service provider that there has been an alleged infringement of copyright through its architecture. Then we ask the Internet service provider to act in a certain way in order to maintain an immunity from liability.
In the United States, the Americans reacted with something called notice and take down, in which a copyright holder would tell the Internet service provider that there had been an infringement. In order for the Internet service provider to maintain its immunity, it would simply take down the work.
This system was widely criticized in the United States because it was being abused. People were alleging copyright infringement in all sorts of cases, when perhaps there was not even copyright infringement at all. It led to a silencing or had a chilling effect on free speech, among other things.
Our Canadian response was quite a good one. When such an allegation would be made, we would ask the Internet service provider to first freeze the information, archive it, and then give notice to the person who had put up the content that some sort of infringement had happened. This then would allow for both the information to be preserved and for the copyright holder to pursue it in our court system, if he or she wanted to do that, a court system in which we have a great deal of confidence, and get to the right result without the abuse that happened in the notice and take down system.
What began to happen in Canada, and I saw this myself a number of times in my teachings, was that American rights holders, through American law firms, would often allege content infringement in Canada. They would then send a letter to those people telling them that they had infringed copyright and that they would be sued unless they paid x thousands of dollars by clicking on the link included. Sadly, a number of people did not realize this kind of claim was in contravention of Canadian law and they paid the money. This kind of trolling is what we are trying to prevent by standardizing the kinds of letters that are used in the notice and notice regime and by prohibiting any request for a monetary settlement in these letters.
We also heard from Internet service providers in Canada that it was difficult for them to maintain and archive all these various kinds of claims. Therefore, by standardizing the form, we also reduce the costs and increase the incentive for Canadian Internet service providers to comply with the system.
It is a good system. We are improving it by standardizing costs, making it more fair and preventing trolls from taking advantage of the system.
I am very proud of the and her team for having preserved the notice and notice regime in the renegotiation of the free trade agreement with Mexico and the United States. It is a strong Canadian addition to international copyright. I am pleased we have taken steps to improve it, based on the consultations we have had. These were widely shared among people and were widely agreed upon.
We are also making improvements to the patent regime, which again will help the innovative climate in Canada. We are allowing for experimentation on patents and not calling it patent infringement. It has been said that the patent system is a bargain whereby a person gets a monopoly for 20-odd years for an invention after having disclosed the secret of the invention publicly. Yes, it is true. We do not want people to infringe on the economic rights of the patent holder. However, it is not an infringement on the economic rights of the patent holder because it is not an absolute right for some other researcher to do experiments with the patent to develop another invention or improve an invention. We have recognized that in the statute.
Because licensing is such an important part of the patent regime, we have also protected licensees who licence a critical patent for their own processes and inventions, such that if the company falls into insolvency or bankruptcy or goes under creditor protection, the licensee will not lose the right to use that licence.
With respect to trademark, we are adding bad faith as a ground for opposition to trademarks. That too is something that accords overall with what we are trying to do.
I and other colleagues have spoken about a new college for patent and trademark agents to improve the quality of advice and service that is given. Again, this helps Canadian innovators.
Finally, we have brought in major improvements to the functioning of the Copyright Board, which plays such a critical role for both rights holders and users with respect to establishing rights and tariffs moving forward. If we can do that more quickly, more efficiently and in a substantively better way, it helps everyone.
Mr. Speaker, this budget builds upon previous budgets by protecting the environment and strengthening the economy, and the results quite clearly speak for themselves. At 3%, Canada has the strongest economic growth of the G7 countries. In the last three years, Canadians have created 550,000 new jobs and have pushed unemployment to a record 40-year low. More Canadians are working, wages are growing and business confidence is strong. Budget 2018 is the next step in our plan to ensure that every Canadian has a real and fair chance at success.
In British Columbia, we understand the importance of measures that protect our oceans and ensure a strong and biodiverse ecosystem. Canada relies on safe and healthy coasts and waters for trade, economic growth and quality of life, and we recognize that the ocean holds a special place in the traditions and cultures of Canadians, and in particular, of indigenous peoples.
It gives me great pleasure to focus on the oceans protection plan legislative amendments that would enhance marine environmental protection and strengthen marine safety to support safe and environmentally responsible shipping.
Passage of these amendments would strengthen safeguards to better protect marine environments from the impacts of shipping, including protecting endangered whale populations. They would enable a more proactive, rapid and effective response to oil spills in Canada's waters. They would modernize Canada's ship-source oil pollution fund, including unlimited compensation for victims and responders in the event of an oil spill from a ship, and they would support research and innovation to enhance marine safety and environmental protection.
Our government is entirely committed to the sustainability of wild Pacific salmon and recognizes that this commitment requires ongoing action to succeed. Recognizing the importance of fisheries to Canada's economy as a whole, and commensurate with the Atlantic fisheries fund, this budget would create a British Columbia salmon restoration and innovation fund, which would include a contribution to the Pacific salmon endowment fund of $5 million in 2018-19. As well, our government is committed to the sustainability of wild stocks and would invest $107 million to support stock assessment and rebuilding efforts from coast to coast to coast.
Canadians are deeply concerned about threatened whale populations. We would commit $61 million to help whales recover, building on the approximately $800 million in investments to date under the oceans protection plan and the $167 million in budget 2018 dedicated to protecting endangered whales. The additional measures announced today would focus on increasing the food supply for whales, reducing the disturbance caused by vessel noise and addressing ocean contaminants to strengthen our overall effort. Our government is making a real long-term and sustained effort to help whales recover.
Plastics in the ocean are a threat to whales and to many other species. In my riding, the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre, on the West Vancouver waterfront, was the staging ground for Vortex, an art display by internationally renowned artist Douglas Coupland that was commissioned by the Vancouver Aquarium to draw attention to the magnitude of the ocean plastics global challenge. Coupland collected plastic waste from the shores of Haida Gwaii, which most people think of as pristine. Over the course of a few months, he assembled a display that is at the aquarium today.
The Pacific Science Enterprise Centre is partnered with the Coastal Ocean Research Institute at the aquarium, resulting in collaborative laboratory research on microplastic distribution and its effects on the marine environment. This is really important, because under the previous government, the long-term viability of this DFO lab on the West Vancouver waterfront was under severe threat. Today we are expanding science research and partnerships to address ocean health.
We know that pollution is not free. We pay for the cost of storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme heat, which is why we are ensuring a price across Canada on what we do not want, which is pollution, so that we can get what we do want, which are lower emissions, cleaner air and new business opportunities.
British Columbia has been a leader in pricing pollution since 2008. We were successful in British Columbia, and we know why. That success is about to be Canada's success.
I would like to share the outcomes from a report I was involved with in 2015 about why B.C. was successful. First, we found that pricing pollution and a thriving economy can co-exist. Second is that strong political leadership is needed. Third is to keep it simple by creating broad coverage. Fourth is to start with a low price. Fifth is to commit from day one to a schedule of price increases and to stick with it. Sixth is that revenue neutrality will make pricing pollution durable. Seventh is that a price on pollution cannot be everything. It needs to be part of a suite of climate policies. Eighth is to prepare for a vocal and not fact-based opposition. Finally, expect a cleaner environment, an enhanced reputation and a thriving clean-tech sector. That is where the budget would bring this country.
We would also support the transition to a cleaner economy by providing an accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy equipment. To increase investment in the clean-tech sector, the government proposes that specified clean energy equipment be eligible for immediate expensing. With this change, the cost of clean energy equipment would be eligible for a full tax writeoff the year it was put into use in the business. This change would encourage investment to create jobs for the middle class and would help Canada achieve its climate goals.
The fall economic statement proposed two further important changes to Canada's tax system to enhance business confidence. First, allowing businesses to immediately write off the cost of the machinery and equipment used for manufacturing and the processing of goods would fuel new investments and support the adoption of advanced technologies and processes. Second, introducing the accelerated investment incentive and accelerated capital cost allowance for businesses of all sizes across all sectors of the economy that are making capital investments would help encourage investment in Canada, providing a timely boost to investor confidence.
Coupled with these new incentives is our government's strengthening of free trade agreements, which is something I have been very honoured to be part of. Canada has a unique place in the world. It is located next to the world's largest economy to the south and has close business, economic and historic ties to Europe to the east and deep connections to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific nations to the west.
With the successful conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada is the only G7 country to have free trade agreements with all other G7 nations. These countries represent two-thirds of the world's total GDP taken together. The government's ongoing commitment to free trade with economies around the world, including those in vibrant emerging markets, will help further strengthen and grow the middle class and deliver long-term economic growth to benefit all Canadians.
Equal pay for work of equal value is smart and just. We are very proud to be moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation. It is a key way our government would deliver on its commitment to gender equality. Work is under way, and consultations on key design elements of the proactive pay equity system with stakeholders, including employers and organized labour, as well as other experts, have concluded. Our government will introduce proactive pay equity legislation for workers in federally regulated sectors in 2018.
As we work hard to protect the environment and to build a robust, resilient economy, it is important to remember the difference we have made for families at home. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, 9,650 families in my riding received the Canada child benefit; 16,060 children benefited from just over $57 million of investments through the Canada child benefit payments. Since introducing this legislation in 2016, the policy has lifted more than half a million people, including 300,000 children, out of poverty. We believe in supporting Canada's middle class, and that is why we created the Canada child benefit. This summer, we increased the CCB to keep up with the cost of living two years in advance of our initial plan so that families can keep up.
This budget would put this government on the right path. We take into account the environment and the economy. We take into account the importance of a strong middle class and we take into account what is required for the 21st century for each and every Canadian.