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View Rob Merrifield Profile
View Rob Merrifield Profile
2013-05-02 17:15 [p.16241]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Burlington.
It is very interesting. I have listened to the debates this afternoon and opposition members have been arguing about the rationale as to why they cannot support Bill C-60, our economic action plan.
I would like to give them a few examples of reasons why they should support it. It is rather important legislation that continues a growth pattern that we have started on as a government.
We have come out of the recession as number one in the world, which is really rare for Canada as it has never been there before. It is exciting to see the numbers of jobs that have been created and the opportunity that we have as far as growth as we move forward.
Maybe I will close with some of the optimistic things that we can talk about within our country, but this legislation builds on that. Just for one reason alone, if the opposition is looking at something it could support, it certainly could support our veterans. This legislation would give a very nice benefit to our vets. For that reason alone, the opposition should support it.
Then again, it should also be supporting what the legislation does with regards to going after tax evaders, something that has not happened for many years. Just in fairness, as Canadians, and for no other reason, the opposition should support it to ensure everyone pays their fair share of taxes and to deal with those who cheat.
When it comes to the indexing of the gas tax, I heard the opposition say that the number one problem in municipalities was housing. I would beg to differ. The number one problem in municipalities, as we have heard right across the country from coast to coast to coast, is infrastructure. The legislation deals with $53 billion of infrastructure over a 10-year period, the most aggressive infrastructure plan that we have ever laid out as a country. For that reason alone, the opposition should support the legislation.
We would be lowering taxes and providing flow-through shares for mining and keeping that industry going. The accelerated capital cost allowance creates a tremendous amount of opportunity in manufacturing and opportunity for job growth and industry growth for many years to come. This is a great benefit in the legislation. The opposition should be supporting it because of that, or because of the hiring tax credit that has been continued for small businesses, which is a real benefit that it should be supporting. Even the capital gains exemption has gone up for lifetime capital gains for individuals. This is should be supported.
For those reasons alone, and I could go on about many other reasons, the opposition should support the bill. Instead, we hear a lot of negativity and some things that are negative have nothing to do with the legislation as far as arguments go. I guess I should not be alarmed about that, because when the opposition runs out of manufactured reasons for not supporting it, it comes up with reasons that are not even in the bill.
I would like to spend my time on the number one issue in my riding, which is the lack of labour. It is different from what I heard from the hon. member from Toronto, who suggested the number one problem was unemployment.
I have the opposite problem in my riding, which is a good thing in some ways, but in other ways it is not. The temporary foreign worker program was there to address it in the last election. When the people of my riding discerned whether I was the right person to vote for, the number one issue they came forward with was a lack of labour. The importance of the temporary foreign worker program was to deal with the kinds of reduction and the ability for corporations and industries to grow and create the kinds of opportunity for our region and our country.
However, the temporary foreign worker program was something we said we would take a look at, to see if we could find ways to make that program work even more effectively. Guess what? We did. We made the program work even more effectively and efficiently. However, there is a bit of a problem with the temporary foreign worker program and this legislation addresses that.
In my riding, unemployment is zero. The real objective of the temporary foreign worker program is that it does not take away jobs from Canadians, but helps complement the workforce where there are no Canadians to fill those jobs.
Even where unemployment is virtually zero or very close to it, there are people in the system who have abused the program, even in my riding. This needs to be addressed. In this piece of legislation, we are going after those individuals, tweaking the program and will be consulting on this program in the future to make it better so that it actually deals with what it was intended to do, which was complement and not replace Canadian workers.
There are seven ways that this piece of legislation lays out how it is going to be changed. The first one would come into effect immediately and it is with respect to the pay differential, which was brought in about a year or a year and a half ago and was not being used. Only about 5% of those using the program even bothered with it. Let us get rid of the compromised price of 15% for skilled workers or 5% for lower-skilled workers on the differential of what those individuals are being paid. That we got rid of in this piece of legislation.
We are going to temporarily suspend in this piece of legislation the accelerated labour market opinion process, which was something they were asking for. In my riding, people needed it. We are not going to cancel it in this legislation, just suspend it while we take a breather, do some consultation and look at how we build on this program to make it even better.
The third thing in this piece of legislation on the program is to make sure it has the power to deal with those who abuse the process in the sense of being able to take away, revoke or suspend the labour market opinion process, the work permit as well as the LMO. This is something we need if we are going to be able to deal with those who refuse to see it as a program to complement Canadian workers and use it to replace Canadian workers, which we are seeing even in an area such as ours.
The fourth change to the temporary foreign worker program in this piece of legislation is to make sure we stop outsourcing. The program was never intended to replace the Canadian workforce and to have people work outside our country is a total abuse. This piece of legislation deals with that as well. That is another reason for certain that the opposition should be supporting it.
The fifth reason is that we want to make certain there is a plan in place for corporations that get LMOs and use temporary foreign workers to replace them long term with the Canadian workforce. That may be the most difficult one in my riding to comply with, so we are going to go through a process of consultation on that.
The sixth thing is to make sure that the fund is self-funded. There is no way that the taxpayer should be supporting this fund. The employer should be doing that.
The seventh thing is to make sure that English and French are the only mandatory languages necessary for foreign workers.
Those are the seven changes. The agricultural community and the agriculture workforce are exempt from most of these, except that if people abuse the system, the work permits will be revoked.
These are wonderful changes to the program, but it is in a process of consultation. It is one of the most important pieces in this bill that will impact all of Canada, but particularly my riding.
We have a wonderful experience in Canada. When we were coming through the recession, my colleagues in America went green with envy. They call Canada the miracle to the north because of the jobs created, the lower taxes, how we are freeing up the private sector to grow, capitalizing on international markets and moving to balanced books. For that, we should be very excited as Canadians. We have a great story to tell. We are doing some wonderful things not only in this budget, but in past budgets. This complements past ones. All members should think soberly about that and support this piece of legislation.
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