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View Michael Ignatieff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, before we start this debate, I have a few words for you. You are at the end of your term as Speaker of the House, and I would like to express how much fondness and respect we all have for you. Your rulings have left their mark on our country's history.
Mr. Speaker, you have taught us all, sometimes with a modest rebuke, sometimes with the sharp sting of focused argument, to understand, to respect and to cherish the rules of Canadian democracy, and for that your citizens will always hold you in highest honour.
This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, the democracy that you, Mr. Speaker, have served so well. I have to inform the House that the official opposition has lost confidence in the government.
The government no longer has the confidence of the official opposition.
Our motion asks the House to agree with the finding in the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented on March 21. This was a historic finding. It was the first time that a parliamentary committee has found the government in contempt.
Today, with this motion, we ask the House to do the same, to find the government in contempt and to withdraw the confidence of the House.
With this motion, we are calling on members of Parliament to condemn the government for its contempt of Parliament and to withdraw the confidence of the House. This is a historic day in the life of Canadian democracy, but it is also an opportunity for us to confirm our commitment to parliamentary democracy and its fundamental principles.
What principles are we talking about? That the government has the obligation to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
The principle at stake in this debate goes to the heart of parliamentary democracy: the obligation of a government to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
We are the people's representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. Parliament does not issue blank cheques. For four months, the opposition has asked the government to tell the Canadian people the true cost of its budget plans. For four months, we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, prisons and corporate tax breaks. For four months. this House and the Canadian people were stonewalled by the government and they are being stonewalled still.
For four months, we have been trying to hold this government accountable. For four months, we demanded to know the real cost of the fighter jets, prisons and tax breaks for major corporations. For four months, we did not get a single answer, aside from the contempt and arrogance of this government. And today, still, we have no answers.
We were shocked, but we were not surprised. After all, this is the same government that shut down Parliament twice, the same government that was forced, by one of your rulings, to hand over documents to do with Afghan prisoners, and we are still waiting for those documents.
In the case of the Afghan documents, the government's excuse for withholding the truth was national security. In the case of the budget documents, it invented something about cabinet confidence, but actually it did not even bother with an excuse at all.
But you, Mr. Speaker, would have none of it. You, Mr. Speaker, held that the rules of our democracy require the government to answer the questions that Parliament wants answered. The matter was sent back to a committee for action and it came back with a finding of contempt. That is why we are where we are today. The House must decide whether the government has broken a basic rule of our democracy and therefore, whether it can remain in office.
For our part on this side of the House, there is no doubt. You, Mr. Speaker, have spoken, the committee has spoken, and now the House must speak with a clear voice. It must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.
With one clear voice, the House must declare that a government that does not respect democracy cannot remain in power. We have had enough. If this vote results in an election, the Canadian people will have the opportunity to replace an arrogant government with one that respects democracy.
To those who say an election is unnecessary, we reply that we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that does not respect democracy with one that does, I cannot think of a more necessary election.
It is not just democracy that the House will be called upon to affirm this afternoon. The House should also affirm Canadians' hunger, nay their longing, for change. It is time to change Canada's direction. It is time to get us on the right path. After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.
Enough is enough. We need to look at the government's priorities. It wants to spend 1,000 times more on fighter jets than on helping students in CEGEP and university. We reject the government's priorities. It is offering less to seniors for an entire year than what it spent on one day of the G20. We say no to this kind of waste. The government wants to spend 1,000 times more on prisons than on preventing youth crime. Again, we say no. This government's priorities are not in line with the priorities of Canadian families. We have had it. Enough is enough.
The priorities of the government laid bare in that thin gruel that we saw earlier this week reveal a government out of touch and out of control. There is no credible plan to tackle the deficit because there are no numbers any reasonable person can believe in. There is no vision of how to sustain our health care system. There is not a word about affordable housing, not a word about child care, and nothing for the pressing needs of Canadian families in poverty.
Instead, we get jets, jails and giveaways to oil companies, insurance companies, and banks that are doing just fine, thank you very much.
So we need a change. We need to focus scarce resources where they really matter: early learning and child care; college and university education for all, especially for aboriginal and immigrant Canadians; energy efficiency and green jobs; family care for our loved ones in the home, and security and dignity in retirement. We need all of this plus a clear plan to clean up our country's finances and get us back to balance without adding to the tax burden on Canadian families.
These are the priorities of our people. These are the needs that we must serve. These are the priorities at home. However, let us not forget the priorities abroad. We have so much ground to catch up. We have a government that has lost our place in the world and lost our place at the Security Council of the United Nations.
We need a government that restores our honour, our credit, and our prestige on the international stage, a government that understands the deep and committed internationalism that dwells in the hearts of all Canadian citizens.
We need a government for the people, a government that is accountable to the people and that serves the people and democracy.
I want to conclude by saying a few words about democracy. Some members of this government have been charged with electoral fraud. A member of the Prime Minister's inner circle is accused of influence peddling. Enough is enough. People are fed up.
I return to where I started, to democracy, to the abuse of power. We have a government whose most senior members stand accused of electoral fraud. We have a Prime Minister who appointed, as his top adviser, someone who served prison time for stealing money from his clients, someone who now faces accusations of influence peddling, and is under an RCMP investigation.
Canadians look at that picture and they say, “We have had enough”. This House has had enough, enough of the abuse of power and enough of the bad economic choices.
We have a government with unique distinctions. We have a government with the largest deficit in Canadian history. It is the highest spending government in Canadian history. It is the most wasteful government in Canadian history. Finally, it is the first government in Canadian history to face a vote of contempt in this House.
This is a government and a Prime Minister that is out of touch and is out of control. It is time for a change.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all of the members to support our motion.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2011-03-24 10:59 [p.9173]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question and for his service to Canadians. I understand he has chosen not to run again. I can tell him that his courage in defending rights and in setting an example in the way he lives and works have been an inspiration to me and for this House. We thank him for his service.
In terms of the under-served community proposal, the rural proposal, to attract and retain health care professionals in rural Canada, I actually believe that proposals to attract and retain doctors in under-serviced communities makes sense. I have some difficulties with the design of the Conservative plan, but the Liberal Party launched last spring a plan to help relieve student debt levels for nurses, doctors, and nurse practitioners who choose to serve in under-serviced communities.
It is not limited exclusively to rural because there are under-served communities in urban Canada as well, but it is a disproportionate challenge in rural and small-town Canada in places I represent in Kings—Hants.
On the post-secondary education side, it is notable that the Conservative government intends to spend a thousand times more on fighter jets than it is proposing in this budget for post-secondary education.
My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, a great advocate for post-secondary education and students, pointed out to me that this will amount to $34 per year for every Canadian student going to university or college. For $34 per year, one cannot even buy a textbook for goodness' sake. It is a paltry sum designed to buy a few votes with trinkets and baubles, but it does nothing really to help Canadians who need the help the most.
View John McCallum Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McCallum Profile
2011-03-24 12:29 [p.9184]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.
I will give three reasons why the Conservative budget so richly deserves to die and why Canadians deserve much better.
The first reason is the budget makes bad choices. Because they go so far as to commit $6 billion to corporate tax cuts, the Conservatives are left with a pittance to support ordinary Canadian families that are struggling to make ends meet. Canadians deserve better than that.
Second, there is no fiscal accountability, as I will explain in a minute. When the Liberals made cuts, we itemized every line item in the budget that would be cut. The Conservatives give no information and therefore have no credibility on the savings that they propose in the budget. Once again, Canadians deserve better than that in terms of fiscal accountability.
Third, the government seeks to balance the books on the backs of the most vulnerable. Canadians are a caring, generous people. They will not go for this. Again, Canadians deserve better.
On my first point, that the Conservatives are left with a pittance to support ordinary struggling families, given their commitment on corporate tax cuts, let me give two examples.
The first of these is to compare the Liberal home care program and the Conservative home care program. There are three reasons why theirs is just a pale shadow, a totally inadequate shadow of our plan.
First, the maximum amount of money that the caregiver will receive is $300 under the Conservative program. It is $1,350 under our program.
However, it is worse than that. Our credit, the $1,350, is refundable, which means if people are so poor that they do not pay taxes, they get the money. If they are so poor that they do not pay taxes, they get zero under the Conservative program, even though they have offered only a paltry $300.
Finally, our program, in addition to those grants, offers an additional six months employment insurance relief for caregivers.
The Conservative plan is pathetic because the government is saddled with this $6 billion in corporate tax cuts so there is no more money in the bank to provide meaningful help to families.
The second example is with respect to post-secondary education. The Conservatives are providing $34 million in additional help for students. That might sound like a significant amount of money, but it is about $1 per Canadian. It is about $34 per student. Nowadays students desperately need government support. The unemployment rate for young people is way up, so it is harder for them to get jobs. Often their families are hard-pressed and less able to support the education of their children.
The Conservatives are offering a meaningless, paltry $34 per student. Our Liberal program has not yet been announced, but our leader is passionate about support for learning and for post-secondary education. Unlike the Conservatives' program, our program will be meaningful, more in the order of magnitude, greater than their program. That is because we think very strongly that post-secondary education is crucial, not only to provide equality of opportunity but also to promote a strong economy and higher productivity through well-educated Canadians.
Through those two examples, and I could go on but I have limited time, I am making the point that the Conservatives put up window dressing as if they are supporting Canadian families, but the amounts of money are so small that they are virtually meaningless. Canadians will see, once the election campaign gets under way, that Liberal support for Canadian families is real. Conservative support is paltry to non-existent.
That is one of the reasons why I say Canadians deserve better.
This government makes bad choices. This government does not have any money to seriously support families because it insists on giving tax breaks to large corporations. Canadians deserve better. Canadians will see, over the course of the election campaign, that they will receive more from the Liberal platform.
The second point is fiscal accountability.
When we were in government in 2005, we saved $11 billion over five years. In the 2005 budget, line by line, and that information still exists, it said which programs would be cut, by which amounts, over how many years.
The Conservatives similarly claim that they will find savings of $11 billion over seven years, but they tell us nothing about where that money will come from.
I can give one example. On page 203 of the budget, we have alleged savings of something on the order of $500 million for one department, Human Resources and Skills Development. What are the sources of the savings? Let me read it:
Improve alignment of program funding with actual needs
Find efficiencies through improved program management and use of technology
Improve use of internal resources and administrative efficiency
Align program activities with core mandate
Refocus programming to benefit all Canadians
That is all the Conservatives tell us. It is gobbledygook. Those are weasel words. They mean nothing at all. There is no accountability, no transparency and therefore no credibility in any of these projected Conservative savings.
I come now to my final point, and that is the question of balancing the books on the backs of the most vulnerable.
As I said at the outset, Canadians are generous. Yes, they want to balance the budget, but they do not want to do so at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our society.
My point is the Conservatives are balancing the books on the backs of the most vulnerable, both internationally and at home.
Internationally, last year, fully one-quarter of the savings were through freezing foreign aid, through freezing the CIDA budget. Therefore, one-quarter of the money to reduce the deficit was on the backs of the poorest people in the world. That was in sharp contrast to Britain, which favoured foreign aid. Even though everywhere else was getting draconian cuts, foreign aid was spared the cuts because of British commitment to poor countries. Canada is the opposite. Last year, the Conservative government got a quarter of the savings on the backs of the poorest in the world, and this from a starting point where Canada's foreign aid relative to GDP is embarrassingly low.
Not only that, but the finance ministe committed to me personally that he would have something for microcredit in his budget. We had a unanimous resolution to that effect. He agreed that microcredit was important for the poorest on the plant. There was zero in the budget for it.
It is not as if this balancing the books at the expense of the poor is only international. It is also here at home.
Consider the non-refundable tax credits for firefighters. A poor firefighter gets nothing. A well-off firefighter gets something, not much but something. A poor caregiver with income not high enough to pay taxes gets nothing to look after an aging parent. A richer caregiver, even though it is not very much, at least gets something.
Again, it is at the expense of the poorest and the most vulnerable. The fact is if a person is a poor firefighter or a poor caregiver, he or she gets nothing.
Finally, let us consider housing. Who is more vulnerable than aboriginals living on reserves in poor housing and other Canadians in poor housing?
The Conservatives singled out housing to receive no extension, whereas every other infrastructure program did. Hundreds of millions of dollars have disappeared from the budget in support for affordable housing on reserve and repairs to social housing. There are no Canadians more vulnerable than those people.
As examples, poor firefighters, poor caregivers, poor people living in substandard housing are bearing the brunt of the Conservatives' efforts to balance the books.
Canadians are a generous people. We want to balance the books, but not on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country and abroad.
View Nicolas Dufour Profile
View Nicolas Dufour Profile
2011-03-24 14:52 [p.9207]
Mr. Speaker, for years everyone in Quebec has been asking for an $800 million-plus increase to post-secondary education transfers in order to restore them to 1994-95 indexed levels. Instead of continuing to encroach on Quebec's jurisdiction by announcing new research chairs in its budget, the government should transfer the long-awaited $800 million.
Does the Minister of Finance understand that it is his government's indifference towards Quebec and its post-secondary education system that could trigger an election?
View Diane Finley Profile
View Diane Finley Profile
2011-03-24 14:53 [p.9207]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has the facts all wrong. We introduced the Canada student grants program to help students with the cost of their education, to allow them to attend a post-secondary institution and reduce their debt. We want to help them take advantage of training and have access to education. Unfortunately, the Bloc voted against all of our efforts, the same way they will vote against—
View Shelly Glover Profile
View Shelly Glover Profile
2011-03-24 16:40 [p.9223]
Mr. Speaker, I encourage the member opposite to read an article that just came out at one o'clock today with regard to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, which is supportive of budget 2011. I encourage him to read that as he spouts off a need to do something for health care.
The member brags about his time in cabinet and his time as a justice minister. It is unfortunate that I have to bring up the Liberal record yet again. While he was cabinet, there was a commitment made that led to the disappearance of $1 billion in an HRSDC boondoggle. As well, $363 million were taken during adscam. Yet we still do not know what happened to $40 million of it. I ask the member if he could possibly help us find that and put it further to the poverty issues that he says need to be addressed.
There was also a commitment by his cabinet, $2 million for a gun registry, that ended up costing Canadians over $2 billion, $2 billion that could have been used more wisely.
This government has done enormous things to ensure that poverty-stricken Canadians are going to live a better life. I would implore the member to answer this question. What does he plan to do in answer to those Canadians, particularly the seniors, who are begging to see this budget go forward?
View Jim Flaherty Profile
View Jim Flaherty Profile
2011-03-22 16:04 [p.9121]
That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
He said: Mr. Speaker, today our government presents to Canadians the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.
Since 2006, our government has worked hard to deliver real benefits to Canadians, real support for the challenges of the real world. We cut the GST twice, from 7% to 6% to 5%. We introduced the $1,200 per year universal child care benefit. We established the tax free savings account. We removed more than one million low income Canadians from the tax rolls. The list goes on. We delivered these benefits to support the financial security of Canadian families, while protecting health care and pensions.
In good times and challenging circumstances, our government has made responsible choices. When times were good, we paid down debt. We strengthened our already strong financial sector. We delivered more than 120 tax cuts for Canadian workers, families and job-creating entrepreneurs. We also rejected calls from the opposition to impose a job-killing carbon tax.
Most important, when the global recession hit, Canada was able to meet the challenge head on. Through Canada's economic action plan, we delivered further tax cuts to help stimulate our economy.
We enhanced unemployment benefits and expanded retraining for those hit hardest by the global recession. We also made historic investments in roads, bridges, public transit and higher education—creating jobs across the country, and building the foundation for long-term growth.
As a result, Canada is emerging from the global recession as one of the world's top performing advanced economies. Throughout the recession, the world has looked to Canada as a model and an inspiration, but still there is more to be done. The global economy is still fragile. The U.S. and other trading partners are facing challenges. Compared to other countries, Canada's economy is performing very well, but our continued recovery is by no means assured. Many threats remain.
In this period of global uncertainty, our government is focused on the number one priority of Canadians. We are focused on securing our economic recovery. We are focused on improving the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families. We have a plan to achieve these goals—a plan that is working—and we need to stay on track.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is critically important.
To secure our recovery from the global recession, Canada needs a principled, stable government. Now is not the time for instability. It would make it harder for Canadian businesses to plan and to expand. It would drive investment away to other countries. It would jeopardize the gains we have made.
Our government will provide a steady hand needed to secure our recovery and strengthen the financial security of Canadians. We have a balanced plan to achieve these goals, a low tax plan for jobs and growth.
Today, Parliament faces a choice. It is a choice between stability and uncertainty. It is a choice between principle and opportunism.
Our government is focused on securing our recovery from the global recession. We will keep taxes low. We will undertake additional targeted investments to support jobs and growth. We will control government spending and stay on track to eliminate the deficit.
We will not cut transfer payments for crucial services like health care and education. We will not cut those transfers for health care and education like the previous Liberal government did. We will not give in to opposition demands to impose massive tax increases. This reckless policy would lead to continuing deficits and higher taxes for all Canadians. It would stall our recovery, kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and set families back.
Sustained growth comes from the private sector.
We will help businesses to create jobs. We will not raise taxes on growth. This is a key principle moving forward in the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. I encourage all the hon. members of this House to examine in detail the comprehensive plan we are presenting today. For now I will mention just a few highlights.
First is our low tax plan to create jobs.
Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has created more than 480,000 new jobs, more than were lost during the recession. Still we remain concerned about the number of Canadians looking for work. We need to keep protecting and creating jobs now. We need to keep building the foundation for long-term growth. A key part of that foundation is low taxes.
Our government has delivered tax relief for all Canadians. There are cuts to the GST and personal income tax. The average Canadian family of four today is saving more than $3,000 each year. Our tax cuts are also helping employers to invest, grow and create jobs.
Our commitment to low taxes is supported by strong consensus that protecting Canada's tax advantage is key to securing our recovery. It is key to creating jobs now and to ensuring long-term growth. That means greater job security for workers and greater financial security for their families. Our government will preserve this advantage for Canada. We will keep taxes low to keep creating jobs for Canadians.
Even so, in the current global economic climate, many businesses remain hesitant to invest and hire. Now it is time for the private sector to invest again. Our government will take further action to encourage it to expand and create jobs.
To encourage small business to hire new employees, we will provide a new targeted incentive. The hiring credit for small business will provide a one year EI break for some 525,000 Canadian small businesses. This measure will reduce payroll costs for new jobs and encourage hiring.
We will also take further action to help the manufacturing and processing sector to encourage investment and job creation. We will extend the 50% straight-line accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment by an additional two years This will help businesses and exporters to invest, improve productivity and stay competitive. It will benefit a broad range of industries, including pulp and paper, primary manufacturing, computers and electronics, and the automotive industry.
To support the Canadian forestry industry, we will extend the current forest innovation and market development programs.
In addition, through a consultative process involving the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada and their member firms, we will conduct a comprehensive review of policies and programs to develop a federal policy framework to maximize the competitiveness of Canada's aerospace and space industry.
Beyond this, we will promote new export opportunities for all Canadian businesses. Canada is one of the world's great trading nations. We need to keep expanding our access to foreign markets to create new jobs here at home.
Our government has signed a trade agreement with 8 countries and we have launched negotiations with some 50 other countries, including India and the European Union. To support these expanding trade relationships, we will modernize Canada's customs tariff legislation. This will cut red tape and make it easier for Canadian businesses to compete internationally.
Also, we will extend Export Development Canada's temporary powers to support Canadian businesses in the domestic financing market for an additional year.
We will also enhance Canada's engagement with India through stronger bilateral ties among businesspeople, public servants, researchers and academic institutions.
In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, our government will also take further action to support families and communities to build a higher quality of life for all Canadians. We will provide greater financial security for Canadians and practical help to help make ends meet.
Canadians work hard, looking after their families and contributing to their communities. Many individuals and families have added responsibilities in caring for infirm parents or relatives. These family caregivers make special sacrifices, often leaving the workforce temporarily and forgoing employment income. One may be caring for her mother, just as her mother once cared for her. Another may be at home full-time to look after her young son, who has a disabling illness. Another may be helping his wife as she faces the challenges of MS. Each family caregiver is unique, but all of them are generous Canadians. They are our neighbours, our friends, our family—and they deserve some extra help.
To recognize and support Canadians caring for infirm loved ones, we will establish a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit. This new tax credit will be on an amount of $2,000 and will benefit more than 500,000 Canadians caring for loved ones. It will include, for the first time, those caring for infirm spouses, common-law partners and minor children.
We will also take action on other fronts to help families make ends meet.
For so many Canadian children, involvement in the arts is a part of growing up. Whether it is dance, music lessons or art camp, it is a great way to make friends and develop their creativity. However, for some families the fees and other costs involved can be beyond their reach. To help parents in providing these important opportunities for their children, we will establish a new children's arts tax credit covering up to $500 per child in qualifying expenses for eligible arts and cultural activities.
In addition, we will further help families make their homes more energy efficient by extending for one year the eco-energy retrofit homes program. This will help families lower their energy bills and support jobs in home renovation.
We will also take action to help low-income seniors. In communities across our country there are seniors struggling to pay their bills each month. Often they are women. Often they are widowed. They worked hard their whole lives for their families and communities but lack any pension income. To provide greater support to seniors most in need, we will provide a top-up benefit to the guaranteed income supplement. This new measure will provide up to $600 extra per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for senior couples. It will improve the financial security of some 680,000 Canadians who helped build our country to help them live their senior years in dignity.
Our government will also provide additional help to Canadians saving for retirement, including self-employed Canadians, through a new, affordable pension option. We will work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the pooled registered pension plan as soon as possible.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments are continuing work on options for a modest enhancement to the Canada pension plan. Any changes to the CPP will require a consensus among governments and reflect the need to protect Canada's economic recovery.
As I mentioned earlier, through Canada's economic action plan, we have implemented the largest federal investment in infrastructure in over 60 years.
Going forward, we will work with the provinces, the territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other stakeholders to develop a new long-term plan for public infrastructure. We will also introduce legislation to confirm permanent funding for municipal infrastructure through the gas tax fund. This will ensure a stable and predictable source of revenue for the renewal of local infrastructure, to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns.
Our government will also take action to strengthen rural and remote communities.
The number of doctors and nurses in Canada has increased in recent years, but Canadians in some regions of the country continue to experience a shortage. We will help address this problem by forgiving a portion of federal student loans for new doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who agree to practise in under-served rural or remote areas.
We will provide $52 million over the next two years to support programs for aboriginal communities across the country, including those in the territories. These investments include support to assist first nations to upgrade and replace their essential fuel tanks on reserve.
We will also take action to support volunteer firefighting services in rural communities. Volunteer firefighters sacrifice their time, and some incur expenses, to provide a crucial service. As we were reminded just days ago by the tragic fire in Listowel, Ontario, they are also willing to sacrifice their lives to protect others. We will recognize the importance of this noble, necessary work, and help sustain volunteer fire departments by establishing a new volunteer firefighters tax credit.
In addition to these concrete measures to strengthen communities, our government will keep investing in the knowledge and skills Canadians need to prosper over the long-term in the global economy.
Since 2006 we have made major investments in research and development, in post-secondary education, and skills training. As noted in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Canada is increasingly attracting top talent from around the world. Canada has gone from “brain drain” to “brain gain”, and the world is taking notice.
In supporting research and development our goal is to promote innovation—and ultimately to create good, new jobs for Canadians. In the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, we will build on our successful investments so far.
We will establish additional Canada Excellence Research Chairs. We will invest in world-class research through support for the Perimeter Institute, Brain Canada and the Institut national d'optique. We will extend advanced research funding to students and researchers at Canada's colleges and polytechnics.
We will establish 30 Industrial Research Chairs at colleges and polytechnics across Canada. We will also provide new support for joint commercialization projects between colleges, universities and companies.
Alongside our investments in research and development and in higher education, our government has also made substantial investments in skills training. Our goal is to help Canadian workers reach the next stage of their careers and to seize new opportunities in the years to come.
To foster competitiveness in the digital economy, we will encourage colleges to work with small businesses to accelerate the adoption of information and communication technologies. We will promote student enrolment in post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.
We will also provide tax relief for Canadians who are required to certify their skills in carpentry, in medicine, and other fields by making their exam fees eligible for the tuition tax credit.
To respond to increased demand for help in career transition through post-secondary education, we will enhance the Canada student loans program for part-time students.
To help older workers who may need special help to re-enter the workforce, we will extend the targeted initiative for older workers.
Over the past two years, work-sharing has protected almost 280,000 jobs. Our government will continue helping businesses to retain employees and keep Canadians working. To continue protecting Canadian jobs, we will enhance and extend the work-sharing program.
We will also take further action to support the outstanding Canadians who have served our country in uniform. We will build on our continuing, substantial support for career transition services through Veterans Affairs Canada. In addition, our support for the helmets to hardhats program will help former Canadian military personnel to find work in the construction industry. Our brave Canadian veterans have earned our deepest gratitude and highest respect. This is just one more practical way to provide the support they deserve.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is designed to build on our actions so far. It is our plan to create jobs now and sustain economic growth for years to come.
Looking ahead, Canada's leading private sector economists project steady growth over the next few years. Still, the plan our government is presenting today is based on a cautious estimate of Canada's economic growth in the near term. It reflects our government's consistent, responsible and balanced approach to the economy.
A key part of that balanced approach is our commitment to sound fiscal policy.
Among other things, sound fiscal policy requires that we protect the integrity of the tax system.
As promised in the Speech from the Throne last year, we will keep taxes low, while taking action to close unfair tax loopholes that allow a few businesses and individuals to take advantage of Canadians who pay their fair share.
Beyond this and most of all, sound fiscal policy requires that we return to balanced budgets. Canada’s deficit is much smaller than that of most other advanced countries. We are emerging from the global recession with the lowest net debt to GDP ratio of any G7 economy, by far. Even so, we must not be complacent.
We must ensure that Canada remains financially sound, so that we can continue building a future of hope and opportunity for all Canadians.
The global recession required extraordinary investments to protect Canadians, to stimulate our economy, and to create jobs. Canadians understand that a temporary deficit was necessary to limit the impact of the global recession in Canada and all parties in Parliament agreed.
Going forward, to secure our recovery we must now focus increasingly on controlling government spending. We must complete the transition from providing temporary stimulus to ensuring long-term economic growth.
To that end, we will continue implementing our plan to eliminate the deficit and return to balanced budgets by 2015-16.
First, we will complete our stimulus package, as promised.
Second, we will continue specific measures to restrain the growth of government program spending.
Third, we will complete, within the next year, a comprehensive review of government spending. This strategic and operating review is designed to realize substantial additional savings through greater efficiency and effectiveness. It will place us in a strong position to resume paying down government debt, and to continue investing in priorities and supporting Canadian families.
Our government has laid out the next phase of Canada's economic action plan—a low-tax plan for jobs and growth.
It is based on our extensive consultations with Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
It reflects their values and responds to their priorities.
Our plan does not say “yes” to every demand; it does not contain massive new spending—because that's not leadership.
Leadership is about finding a balance between needs. It is about staying focused on our number one priority: securing our economic recovery by creating jobs and growth now and in the years to come.
We believe that the hon. members of the opposition will recognize that our plan addresses practical concerns with responsible solutions. As I said earlier, today Parliament faces a choice, a choice between opportunism or working together to secure our recovery and strengthen the financial security of Canadians.
Our government is focused on providing the principled, stable government our country needs at this challenging but promising time in our history. We will keep taxes low and preserve Canada’s advantage in the global economy to keep creating jobs for Canadians. We will strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers, seniors and families.
By implementing the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan, we can keep building a higher quality of life for our families and communities. By choosing to act in the best interests of our country, we can ensure a bright future for our children and grandchildren.
We invite all hon. members to support our low tax plan for jobs and growth.
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View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2011-03-22 16:49 [p.9126]
Mr. Speaker, over the last four months, the Conservative regime has refused to provide this Parliament and Canadian taxpayers with the real numbers, the true cost of its agenda.
With today's budget, the Conservatives continue to stonewall Canadians and show contempt for Parliament and taxpayers. This budget has a $43 billion black hole. The Conservatives do not mention their $30 billion for fighter jets or their $13 billion-plus in costs for U.S.-style megaprisons.
Mr. Speaker, it appears that even after your ruling, the Conservatives have learned nothing. There is no respect for your ruling in this budget. At first glance what we do know is that this is a budget with out of control spending that is out of touch with the priorities of Canadian families.
The Conservatives are spending a thousand times more on fighter jets than they are investing in students who are struggling to pay for post-secondary education. They are spending a thousand times more on prisons than they are investing in youth crime prevention. The government wasted more on the G8 in a single day than today's announcement on seniors will cost over an entire year.
With this budget, the Conservatives had an opportunity to finally come clean with Canadians, to tell Canadians the truth and to give Canadians the real costs of their agenda. At first glance, there is nothing in this budget that demonstrates that the Conservatives can be trusted to provide Canadians with the truth about the state of Canada's books or the costs of the Conservative agenda.
At this time, I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
View Niki Ashton Profile
View Niki Ashton Profile
2011-03-10 10:08 [p.8869]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-635, An Act to establish criteria and conditions in respect of funding for post-secondary education programs in order to ensure the quality, accessibility, public administration and accountability of those programs.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House to present my bill. This bill, known as the Canada post-secondary education act, is about establishing a vision for our country whereby the federal government works with the provinces to establish a post-secondary education program that looks toward our future and toward assisting our students and our young people in creating a much brighter future for all of us.
Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that post-secondary education has an important role in the economic, social, cultural and political development of Canada.
Also, the post-secondary act, akin to the Canada Health Act, would guarantee accountable, stable federal transfers for post-secondary education and would enshrine the principles of accessibility and quality for Canadian students.
At a time when Canadian students and young people across our country are finding it increasingly difficult to afford their education and to achieve opportunities in our economy, it is essential that the federal government show leadership by working with the provinces to look out for them and to establish a way that accessible and affordable education can be there for all.
View Denis Lebel Profile
That is exactly what we are doing, Mr. Speaker.
The Conservative government is also investing money to make careers in trades more attractive and encourage more apprentices to complete their training.
We are providing assistance of up to $4,000 to apprentices under the apprenticeship incentive grant and the apprenticeship completion grant.
In 2010-11, our government allocated more than $38 million to the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, a national centre of expertise that offers information and resources for improving adult literacy and essential skills. We are doing what we said we would do. We are respecting the workings of Parliament.
Our government believes that the strength of the economy and the labour market depends on a skilled and educated workforce and that is why we are investing in post-secondary education. In 2010, more than 400,000 post-secondary students across Canada received loans and bursaries from the government. In 2009, we implemented a new Canada student grants program. In 2009, the government also implemented a new measure to help students who are having difficulty paying back their loans.
We know that many things can happen in the lives of Canadians, and the recent economic slowdown has created additional problems for the unemployed.
View James Lunney Profile
View James Lunney Profile
2011-03-10 14:10 [p.8902]
Mr. Speaker, this week, some Canadian universities are taking part in what is shamefully called Israeli Apartheid Week.
An editorial in The Prince Arthur Herald recently put it this way:
In Israel, all citizens, 20% of whom are Arab, vote in elections, participate in government and serve in the army--opportunities that were not afforded to non-whites in South Africa under apartheid.
Israel is not above criticism. As a pluralistic, democratic state, there is abundant legitimate criticism and debate, both domestically and abroad.
This year, some students launched their own Israel peace week, drawing attention to Israel's peace efforts and to the state's commitment to democracy and human rights, and to Israel's remarkable record of innovation and accomplishment, despite persistent threats to its existence from determined antagonists.
There are multiple and vexing challenges to bringing about a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
If the end is to promote peace, university and civil agencies must embrace respectful debate and active listening, as opposed to heated, hurtful and distorted rhetoric.
View Michael Savage Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Michael Savage Profile
2011-02-08 16:22 [p.7888]
Madam Speaker, I was intrigued by a comment my colleague made when he said that the success of a nation should be determined by the well-being of the people.
There is an organization in Atlantic Canada called GPI, Genuine Progress Index, which looks at a whole series of things.
Yesterday, we had the Canadian Federation of Medical Students here saying that even though they were in medical school, we needed to get people who are not like them into medical school.
I know my colleague does a lot of work on education and I wonder what he thinks we could do if we could invest some of that money in education, particularly for those who cannot get to post-secondary education now?
View Paul Szabo Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Szabo Profile
2011-02-08 16:23 [p.7888]
Madam Speaker, the member is quite right. He has been a leader on the requirements for post-secondary education.
If I recall the figures correctly, in a matter of a few years about 75% of all the jobs in Canada will require a post-secondary education. We are a long way from that. If we really want to secure the future in terms of our competitive position, our abilities and high end innovation, a post-secondary education is absolutely essential. That is how we take care of people.
We take care of families. We take care of not only those students but our seniors and the people who need quality care for their children. That is what will make our people healthy and well.
View Robert Carrier Profile
View Robert Carrier Profile
2011-02-04 11:39 [p.7735]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has announced an investment of $275 million in compensation for financial aid for students. This is an important first step that the Bloc Québécois and civil society have been calling for for a long time. However, we are still waiting for over $800 million to bring federal post-secondary education transfers back to 1994 indexed levels.
When does the Conservative government plan on correcting the fiscal imbalance that still exists in education?
View Diane Finley Profile
View Diane Finley Profile
2011-02-04 11:40 [p.7735]
Mr. Speaker, we have done a lot to help students earn their bachelor's degree or other type of degree. We introduced a program to provide grants that do not need to be paid back, to help students complete their post-secondary studies. The Bloc and the Liberals did not support this plan. We have also given a great deal of money to universities and colleges to build buildings where students can study. We are doing a lot for students.
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