Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 123, 129-131, 138, 144, 146, 151, 158, 163, 170, 173-175, 177, and 180.
Question No. 123--Mr. Ron Liepert
With regard to each meeting of the Treasury Board during the period of November 3, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) what was the date of the meeting; (b) where did the meeting occur; (c) who was in attendance; and (d) what was the agenda of the meeting?Hon. Scott Brison (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to each meeting of the Treasury Board during the period of November 3, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) when the House of Commons is in session, the Treasury Board usually sits on Thursday.
In response to part (b) of the question, the information requested is a confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council and cannot be provided.
Regarding part (c), the committee members are the President of the Treasury Board, chair; the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, vice-chair; the Minister of Finance; the Minister of Health; the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development; and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Alternate members are the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Minister of Democratic Institutions.
In response to part (d), the information requested is a confidence of the Queen’s Privy Council and cannot be provided.
Question No. 129--Mr. Harold Albrecht
With regard to the Department of Finance’s estimates relating to the impact of oil prices on government revenues: (a) what information is available on how these estimates are calculated; and (b) does the government make any projections using incremental price increases, and, if so, does the government use $2 increments from $2 to $160 per barrel?Mr. François-Philippe Champagne (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, in Canada, natural resources are owned by the provinces. As such, although royalties are a sizable revenue source for provincial governments, the federal government receives virtually no revenues from resource royalties. Instead, at the federal level, oil and gas extraction impacts federal revenues in three ways.
First is corporate profits and corporate income tax, CIT. When oil prices fall, profits in the industry fall and losses can be experienced. Losses can affect past tax years as firms are able to carry back these losses against taxable income from the prior three years. Firms are also able to carry forward their losses and use them to reduce taxes in future years when oil prices and profits have returned to higher levels.
Second is wages and salaries and personal income tax, PIT. Individuals employed in the oil and gas sector may experience reduced hours or layoffs when firms reduce production and/or expenses. As a result, PIT and GST revenues could also decrease.
Third is other impacts. As a result of layoffs in the sector, federal expenses related to employment insurance benefits may also increase. In addition, lower profits can lead to lower dividend payments, further reducing personal and non-resident income taxes.
Given that the fiscal impacts are indirect, estimating the impact of changes in oil prices on federal government revenues is not a straightforward exercise. The fiscal impacts depend on interrelated factors and will vary depending on the cause of the change in prices as well as the response of individual firms in the sector. For example, if lower prices arise as a result of increased supply, as is currently the case, then the impact on Canada’s economy, and thus federal revenues, would be negative but more limited. This is because demand for oil would be maintained, and may even increase in response to lower prices, such that the same quantity of oil would be sold, albeit at a lower price. If lower prices arise as a result of weaker global demand, then the impact on the economy and federal revenue would be significantly larger. This is because both the price and quantity of oil sold would decline.
The size of the decline in oil prices, and the level from which they fall, or rise, is also important. For example, small price declines from high levels would have little implication for production and investment, while large price declines, which may render certain operations uneconomical, could result in lower production, layoffs, and the cancellation of investment. This would obviously have a bigger impact on federal revenues.
At the aggregate level, the federal government has communicated the changes in federal revenues and expenses from changes in the economic outlook, including changes in the price of oil, in recent budgets and updates.
In response to part (b), no, the government does not make projections using $2 increments from $2 to $160 per barrel.
Question No. 130--Mr. Harold Albrecht
With regard to the changes to Old Age Security (OAS) announced in Budget 2016: what are the details of any research conducted into the (i) impact on government revenues, (ii) impact on the costs and sustainability of the OAS program, (iii) anticipated costs of reversing these changes?Mr. Terry Duguid (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, budget 2016 announced three changes to the old age security program:
an increase to the guaranteed income supplement top-up of $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors, starting in July 2016;
the cancellation of the provisions in the Old Age Security Act that increase the age of eligibility for OAS benefits from 65 to 67; and
the extension of the provision that currently allows couples who receive the GIS and who have to live apart for reasons beyond their control to receive higher benefits based on their individual incomes, to couples receiving the GIS and allowance benefits.
The costs of each measure are as follows.
The chief actuary estimates the cost of the increase to the GIS top-up for single seniors to be $478 million in 2016-17, rising to $669 million in 2017-18, the first full year of implementation.
The chief actuary estimates that cancelling the increase to the age of eligibility will increase OAS program expenditures by $11.5 billion, or 0.34% of gross domestic product in 2029 30, the first year in full implementation.
The increase in the age of eligibility for OAS benefits was scheduled to begin in 2023, with full implementation in 2029. This estimate includes the cost of the increase to the GIS.
However, the net cost to the government will be lower. The Department of Finance estimates that, in 2029-30, revenues from federal income tax from the OAS pension would rise by an estimated $988 million, and additional revenue from the OAS recovery tax would amount to $584 million, for a total of $1.6 billion.
Furthermore, as an offset to the savings associated with the 2012 changes in the age of eligibility, the previous government had committed to compensate provincial/territorial governments for social assistance payments for low-income seniors who would no longer be eligible for OAS benefits at age 65. In addition, federal income support for veterans and aboriginal peoples would have been extended to age 67. These costs had not been estimated.
The Old Age Security Act currently contains a provision that allows couples who are GIS recipients to receive benefits at the higher single rate if the couple is living apart for reasons beyond their control, such as where one spouse lives in a nursing home. Budget 2016 proposes to extend the provision to couples who receive the GIS and allowance benefits. The cost of this measure is estimated at $1 million for 2016-17 and $3 million per year ongoing.
Question No. 131--Mr. Harold Albrecht
With regard to projections calculated by the Department of Finance on the costs of servicing government debt over the next 50 years, has the Department calculated the costs associated with servicing the deficit projected in Budget 2016, and, if so, (i) how were these calculations made, (ii) what interest rates were used for the purposes of these calculations?Mr. François-Philippe Champagne (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance has not conducted long-term projections, greater than five years, on the cost of servicing the government’s total stock of interest-bearing debt since the publication of budget 2016, but intends to do so as part of its next fiscal sustainability report, which is typically published in the fall.
The projection of public debt charges up to fiscal year 2020-21, published in budget 2016, includes the debt servicing costs of the entirety of the government’s actual and projected stock of interest-bearing debt. When calculating this projection, the Department of Finance does not attempt to distinguish between the debt charges associated with deficits incurred in particular years and those associated with the underlying stock.
Question No. 138--Mr. Robert Kitchen
With regard to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for the period of November 3, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) how many funding applications have been submitted; (b) how many funding applications have yet to be processed; (c) how many funding applications have been approved for funding; (d) how many funding applications have been rejected for funding; and (e) what is the total funding amount that has been provided to approved applicants?Hon. Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), 794 funding applications were submitted to the agency.
With regard to (b), of the applications submitted, 352 had yet to be processed on April 22, 2016.
With regard to (c), 436 funding applications were approved.
With regard to (d), six funding applications were rejected.
With regard to (e), the total funding amount provided to approved applicants is $90.6 million
Question No. 144--Mr. Martin Shields
With regard to the government’s policy on seeking clemency for Canadians sentenced to death abroad: (a) under what circumstances will the government seek clemency; (b) when was the current policy adopted; (c) who proposed the current policy; and (d) how was it adopted?Hon. Stéphane Dion (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to
(a), the Government of Canada will seek clemency in all cases of Canadians facing the death penalty abroad.
With regard to (b), (c) and (d), the Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed the current policy and, after consultation with the Minister of Justice, announced the policy on February 15, 2016. For more information, please see www.international.gc.ca/media/aff/news-communiques/2016/02/15a.aspx
Question No. 146--Mr. Martin Shields
With regard to Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) and Temporary Work Permits (TWP), for the period from November 3, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) how many TRP have been issued for individuals suspected to be victims of human trafficking; (b) how many TRP have been renewed for individuals suspected to be victims of human trafficking; (c) how many TWP have been issued to individuals who are exotic dancers; and (d) how many TWP have been renewed for individuals who are exotic dancers?Hon. John McCallum (Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada issued 12 temporary resident permits, or TRPs, to individuals suspected to be victims of human trafficking.
With regard to (b), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not renew any subsequent TRPs for individuals suspected to be victims of human trafficking.
With regard to (c), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not issue any temporary work permits, or TWPs, to individuals who are exotic dancers.
With regard to (d), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not renew any TWPs for individuals who are exotic dancers.
Question No. 151--Mr. Tom Kmiec
With regard to the Disability Tax Credit (DTC): (a) what are all the medical conditions that successfully qualified for DTC in the 2015-2016 fiscal year; (b) what is the refusal rate of DTC applications submitted by persons diagnosed with phenylketonuria in the 2015-2016 fiscal year; (c) what is the criteria for denying a DTC application for a person diagnosed with phenylketonuria; (d) what is the number of appeals filed for rejected DTC applications related to phenylketonuria since the beginning of the 2015-2016 fiscal year; (e) what is the average DTC amount claimed for expenses related to phenylketonuria; and (f) what are the measures undertaken by the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure its workers have a good understanding of the medical conditions they are reviewing as part of DTC applications?Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the disability tax credit, DTC, is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities, or their supporting persons, reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. To qualify, an individual must have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions, as defined in the Income Tax Act and as certified by a medical practitioner.
More detailed information is available in the CRA publication Tax measures for persons with disabilities - Disability-Related Information 2015, RC4064(E) Rev. 15, which is available on the CRA website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc4064/rc4064-15e.pdf.
With regard to parts (a) and (b), eligibility for the disability tax credit is not based on a medical condition or diagnosis, rather on the effects of the impairment on a person’s ability to perform the basic activities or daily living, or whether the person is blind or requires life-sustaining therapy. For this reason, the CRA does not collect this information.
With regard to part (c), the CRA determines eligibility for the DTC based on the criteria set out in section 118.3 of the Income Tax Act. These criteria are not based on a medical condition or diagnosis, but rather on the effects of the impairment on a person’s ability to perform the basic activities of daily living, or whether the person is blind or requires life-sustaining therapy.
To be eligible, a medical practitioner must certify that a person has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions and describe its effects on one of the basic activities of daily living, or provide information indicating the individual is blind or meets the criteria for life-sustaining therapy.
Applications for the DTC are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. A person with the same medical condition as another may not experience the same effects. In addition, there may be other factors that contribute to the severity of impairment, such as other medical conditions or circumstances.
With regard to part (d), the information being requested, by diagnosis, is not captured by the CRA as there is no requirement to do so under the ITA.
With regard to part (e), the average amount for expenses related to phenylketonuria is not captured by the CRA.
With regard to part (f), CRA assessors receive extensive training to make eligibility determinations in accordance with the legislation set out in section 118.3 of the Income Tax Act and by consulting with registered nurses, or RNs, employed by the CRA, who serve as resources for all of the tax centres. When required, the RNs will also contact the medical practitioners who have certified the forms for additional information.
CRA assessors all refer to the procedures manual, and quality reviews of eligibility determinations are conducted on a continuous basis to ensure consistency in the administration of the DTC program.
Question No. 158--Mr. Bob Saroya
With regard to the government's planned advertising campaign for Budget 2016, for every instance of an advertisement: (a) what is the medium of the ad; (b) where did or will the ad appear, including but not limited to, location, television station, radio station, publication; (c) what is the duration or size of the ad; (d) when was the ad displayed or when will it be displayed; and (e) what is the cost of the ad?Mr. François-Philippe Champagne (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance has not purchased any advertising for budget 2016.Question No. 163--Mr. David Anderson
With regard to the details of any consultations undertaken or advice received by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, his office, or his Department, for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016, regarding a royal regime for farmer saved seed under the Plant Breeders Rights Act: for each consultation, (i) what was the date, (ii) which people were present, (iii) were there any recorded positions on this issue taken at this meeting?Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, did not conduct any consultations with respect to a royalty regime for farmer saved seed under the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act between November 4, 2015, and April 22, 2016.
Question No. 170--Mr. Robert Sopuck
With regard to the disposition of government assets, for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) on how many occasions has the government repurchased or reacquired a lot which had been disposed of in accordance with the Treasury Board Directive on the Disposal of Surplus Materiel; and (b) for each occasion identified in (a), what was (i) the description or nature of the item or items which constituted the lot, (ii) the sale account number or other reference number, (iii) the date on which the sale closed, (iv) the price at which the item was disposed of to the buyer, (v) the price at which the item was repurchased from the buyer?Ms. Leona Alleslev (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, PSPC has not repurchased or reacquired a lot that has been disposed of in accordance with the Treasury Board directive on the disposal of surplus materiel in the period indicated.
Question No. 173--Hon. Kevin Sorenson
With regard to the Safe Food for Canadians Act, Bill S-11, 41st Parliament, First session, what is the status of the implementation of regulations related to this Act?Hon. Jane Philpott (Minister of Health, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, while developing the new regulatory framework for food safety, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has undertaken extensive engagement with stakeholders.
The CFIA hosted two large forums, the Food Forum in June 2013 and the Healthy and Safe Food Forum in June 2014, along with extensive webinars and opportunities for written input to gather stakeholder feedback on proposals for the next regulatory framework.
In 2015, the CFIA released a revised proposal to solicit further feedback and undertook in-depth engagement with micro and small businesses to better understand the potential burden for these businesses and what they would need to comply with the proposed regulations. The comment period on the preliminary draft text closed on July 31, 2015.
Four years of engagement and analysis with more than 15,500 stakeholders has resulted in over 500 written submissions on the proposed safe food for Canadians regulations. The CFIA has undertaken detailed review of this extensive feedback and is preparing the regulatory package.
Under the regulatory process, www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rtrap-parfa/gfrpg-gperf/gfrpg-gperf02-eng.asp, the next opportunity to engage on the draft regulations will occur when the regulatory text is published in the Canada Gazette, part I in late fall 2016.
Question No. 174--Hon. Kevin Sorenson
With regard to the findings of scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with respect to sugar: (a) what scientific evidence exists regarding the biological difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar in food; (b) what ability does the Department have to detect the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar through standard food testing methods; (c) is the Department aware of any health benefits of a labelling requirement for added sugar on consumer food products, and, if so, what are they; and (d) and is the Department aware of any potential problems that may be encountered in requiring separate labelling for added sugar on consumer food products, and if so, what are they?Hon. Jane Philpott (Minister of Health, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to helping Canadians make better food choices for themselves and their families. This includes taking action to improve food labels to ensure that Canadians have the information they need to help them make more informed and healthier choices, including more information on sugars.
With regard to (a), the scientific evidence related to sugar metabolism indicates that there is no biological difference between naturally occurring and added sugar. All sugars present in food are digested and absorbed as one of three monosaccharides, glucose, fructose, and galactose, whether they naturally occur in foods, such as fructose in an apple, or are added to foods, such as fructose in a fruit-flavoured beverage.
With regard to (b), it is not possible to distinguish naturally occurring from added sugars in a food product using standard analytical methods.
With regard to (c), a healthy eating pattern, such as that recommended by Canada’s food guide, leaves limited room for added sugars in the diet. To help Canadians make informed food choices regarding their consumption of sugars, Health Canada proposed two new measures for the labelling of sugars as part of its proposed regulatory amendments to nutrition labelling regulations, published in Canada Gazette, part I, in June 2015.
First, Health Canada proposed that the nutrition facts table include a declaration of the % daily value, DV, for total sugars, based on a DV of 100 grams, to help consumers identify if there is a little sugar, which is 5% DV or less, or a lot of sugar, which is 15% DV or more, in their food.
Second, Health Canada proposed to group sugar-based ingredients, such as molasses, honey, and brown sugar, under the common name “sugars” in the ingredients list. Grouping sugar-based ingredients together provides a clearer indication of the amount of sugars in the food product relative to other ingredients, as ingredients are listed in descending order of their amount in the product.
This would raise awareness of both the sources and the contribution of all sugars, added or naturally occurring, to the total composition of the foods to the consumer.
With regard to (d), analytical methods cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars, making it a challenge for the verification of information on the nutrition facts table should there be a requirement to declare added sugars. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for enforcing the regulations, would therefore have to rely on record-keeping to verify compliance with the requirement to declare the amount of added sugars.
Question No. 175--Hon. Kevin Sorenson
With regard to the log books for personal use of ministerial executive vehicles, for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) what is the total number of entries for each executive vehicle, broken down by vehicle; (b) what are the dates, time, and length for each entry; (c) what is the trip description, if any, of each entry; (d) what is the identification, if available, of the family member or member of the household that was the driver for each entry; and (e) what is the total number of kilometres travelled for personal use?Mrs. Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Lib.)
:Mr. Speaker, with regard to parts (a) through (e) of the question, the Privy Council Office has no information to provide regarding the log books for the personal use of ministerial executive vehicles for the period of November 4, 2015 to April 22, 2016. When processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act, therefore certain information has been withheld on the grounds that it constitutes personal information.Question No. 177--Bob Saroya
With regard to any consultations by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, his staff, or officials at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, concerning amendments to the regulations concerning the humane transport of animals, from November 3, 2015, to April 22, 2016: for each consultation, identify (i) the persons and organizations consulted, (ii) the government officials present, (iii) the date of the consultation, (iv) the positions presented by those consulted?Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, between November 3, 2015 and April 22, 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency provided updates to stakeholder groups on the proposal to amend the health of animals regulations regarding humane transportation; however, no consultations took place.
The CFIA has been consulting with stakeholders about the regulatory proposal since 2006. Stakeholders included national industry umbrella organizations, livestock and poultry transporters, and retail organizations, as well as animal welfare and animal rights groups. The CFIA carried out a pre-consultation with targeted groups in 2013, and followed up with two economic questionnaires to over 1,100 individual stakeholders in 2014.
In addition, the CFIA continues to gather data from specific industry groups to validate the cost-benefit analysis portion of the regulatory impact analysis statement.
The proposed amendments will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette, part I, in fall 2016 as outlined in the CFIA forward regulatory plan 2016-18, available at www.inspection.gc.ca/about-the-cfia/acts-and-regulations/forward-regulatory-plan/2016-2018/eng/1429123874172/1429123874922. This will provide all stakeholders with another opportunity to comment.
Question No. 180--Mr. Todd Doherty
With regard to court cases between the government and Aboriginal communities and organizations, as of April 22, 2016: (a) how many court cases is the government currently engaged in with First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities or organizations as either an appellant, respondent or intervenor, and what are these cases; (b) how many court cases is the government currently engaged in with First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities or organizations in which the government is the respondent; (c) how much is the government paying to engage in court cases with First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities or organizations as either an appellant, respondent or intervenor, broken down by (i) year, (ii) case; and (d) how many lawyers does the Department of Justice employ to work on Aboriginal court cases?Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)
Speaker, this request poses challenges that cannot be overcome.
The information required is not readily available. It would require extensive consultations with all government departments. Each department’s inventory would have to be manually searched, and files dealing with aboriginal claims separated. The large number of files involved make this unfeasible.
Justice lawyers are not assigned to work solely on the types of cases addressed by the question so an accurate response to part (d) is not possible.