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View Nina Grewal Profile
Mr. Speaker, we understand that freedom and security go hand in hand and that Canadians expect us as parliamentarians to protect both. Our Canadian model of third party, non-partisan and independent oversight of our national security agencies is superior to the political intervention in the process, especially when we see the opposition's attitude on this file.
Would the minister share with the House the safeguards included in the bill to ensure that the privacy of law-abiding Canadians is respected?
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:00 [p.12199]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to speak in this House in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. If the measures in this bill are implemented, they will amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code to add further protection for vulnerable individuals, in particular women and girls.
Unfortunately, gender-based violence is a sad reality for women and girls across this country. Whether they are Canadian-born or newcomers to Canada, in too many cases the violence comes in the form of abusive cultural practices that have no place in this country. I am speaking about practices such as polygamy, underage marriage, forced marriage, and so-called honour killings. These abusive practices have damaging and wide-ranging consequences for the victims, and they also harm victims' children, homes, and communities. Indeed, they severely affect all those involved, from influencing whether individuals can successfully immigrate to Canada to breaking down opportunities for integration and economic success.
Our Conservative government made a strong commitment in the recent Speech from the Throne to prevent and counter violence against women and girls within the borders of this country. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act is a concrete example of this commitment. Its proposed measures are worthy of the support of all parliamentarians, because they would clearly help ensure that barbaric cultural practices do not occur on Canadian soil. Bill S-7 would send a clear message to newcomers to Canada, as well as to those who are already part of Canadian society, that such practices are unacceptable here.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration participated in many round tables and consultations across Canada. Participants told the minister that early and forced marriage, so-called honour killings, and polygamy still occur in Canada. These practices that occur across all cultures and ethnicities will not be tolerated in Canada, and our immigration system will not be used as a vehicle to perpetuate these acts. This bill reinforces the message that these practices are completely incompatible with Canadian values and will not be tolerated.
As I said, one of these practices is polygamy, which although illegal in Canada, is an accepted practice in a number of other countries around the world. In a 2011 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy law, Chief Justice Bauman, of the B.C. Supreme Court, found that there were physical, psychological, and social harms associated with the practice of polygamous marriages. He found that women in polygamous relationships “face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse”, that “[c]hildren in polygamous families face higher infant mortality” and “tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement”, that polygamous families face “higher levels of conflict, emotional stress and tension”, and that “[p]olygamy institutionalizes gender inequality”.
For these reasons and more, we must enact measures that increase our ability to prevent polygamy from occurring on Canadian soil. Bill S-7 would do so by enhancing existing immigration tools to render both temporary and permanent residents inadmissible for practising polygamy in Canada.
Of course, polygamy is not the only cultural practice that contradicts Canadian values and that causes harm to its victims. That is why Bill S-7 contains measures to help counter early and forced marriages. These measures include setting a national minimum age of 16 years of age for marriage. Currently there is no national minimum age for marriage in Canada. Federal law, which applies only in Quebec, sets the minimum age at 16.
In other parts of Canada common law applies. There is some uncertainty about the common law minimum age, but it is generally considered to be 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Although in practice very few marriages in Canada involve people under the age of 16, setting a national minimum age of 16 or older for marriage would make it clear that underage marriage is unacceptable in Canada and will not be tolerated here.
Other proposed amendments to the Civil Marriage Act in Bill S-7 include codifying the requirement that those getting married must give their free and enlightened consent to marry each other and the requirement for the dissolution of any previous marriage. In addition, Bill S-7 contains measures that would amend the Criminal Code to help prevent forced or underage marriage and would create a new peace bond that could be used to prevent an underage or forced marriage, for example, by requiring the surrender of a passport, as well as preventing a child from being taken out of Canada.
Also notable are the measures in the bill that address so-called honour killings, which are usually premeditated and committed with some degree of approval from family or community members. However, in some cases they may also be alleged to be spontaneous killings in response to behaviour by the victim that is perceived to be disrespectful, insulting or harmful to a family's reputation. In Canadian law, an individual facing murder charges can raise the defence of provocation. If this defence is successful, it can result in a reduced sentence.
The defence of provocation has been raised, so far unsuccessfully, in several so-called honour killing cases in Canada. Accused murderers have claimed that real or perceived marital infidelity, disrespect, defiance or insulting behaviour on the part of the victims toward their spouse, sibling or parent provoked the killing.
This provision may or may not have yet been successful, but what happens if it is successful one day? We must not take the chance. No one should be able to use the defence that they violently harmed another because they were provoked. It is simply contrary to Canadian values for lawful behaviour by a person, no matter how it may be perceived as insulting, to excuse their murder.
That is why measures in Bill S-7 would amend the Criminal Code so that such legal conduct by a victim could never be considered as provocation.
In conclusion, I am sure all my hon. colleagues would agree that we must stand up for all victims of violence and abuse and take necessary action to prevent these practices from happening on Canadian soil. That is exactly what we would be doing by ensuring the bill's passage into law, and that is exactly why I hope everyone in the House will join me in supporting the passage of Bill S-7. I hope all hon. members of the House look past politics and vote in favour of the bill.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:10 [p.12201]
Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act demonstrates that openness and generosity does not extend to early and forced marriages, polygamy, or other types of barbaric cultural practices.
Canadians, as I said in my speech, will not tolerate any type of violence against women and girls, including spousal abuse, violence in the name of so-called honour, or other violence. Those found guilty of these crimes must be severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.
The purpose of this proposed legislation is to stand up for the victims of violence and abuse and to send a very clear and strong message to those in Canada, and those wishing to come to Canada, that such practices will not be tolerated on Canadians soil.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:13 [p.12201]
Mr. Speaker, let me repeat that our government announced its commitment to take these steps in the 2013 Speech from the Throne. This was followed up in the 2015 series of round table consultations, led by our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, on violence against women in the context of immigration.
We think Bill S-7 is also consistent with the aims of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on the issue of protecting women in our immigration system. These actions contained in the bill build on existing initiatives that are aimed at ensuring that immigrant women and girls in vulnerable situations have access to support and services that meet their unique needs.
The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act sends a clear message to those coming to Canada that forced marriages and honour-based violence, or any other forms of barbaric cultural practices, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
The bill therefore deserves the full support of all the members on both sides of the House.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2014-04-08 11:06 [p.4396]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures.
Our government has worked tirelessly to deliver effective change for Canadians and to put Canada back on the road to balanced budgets.
After consultations across the country, we have produced a plan that not only works for Canadians but that will also make sure that Canada is financially sustainable. Our hon. colleague, the former finance minister, tabled a budget just weeks ago. Since then, my office has seen an outpouring of support from constituents who value trade, security, and prudent economic management.
The world has been hit by repeated crises over the past few years. It is becoming harder for governments to maintain the trust of markets. We are no longer allowed to believe that we can escape the costs of financial recklessness and ineptitude. The budget implementation act before us holds many measures that will markedly improve the lives of Canadians.
Our government is working to ensure that Canadians can fill the skills gap to both provide vital services and ensure viable livelihoods. By increasing paid internships for young Canadians, the government will commit $55 million to help recent graduates find work in their fields. By getting graduates to work, Canada can make the most of its skilled labour force and provide opportunities for young Canadians to flourish.
At the same time, the government will ensure that older workers have opportunities to find new employment. As Canadians are living longer, we must face the unexpected challenges posed by longevity beyond one's financial plan. By investing $75 million in training for older workers, our government will make sure that all Canadians can find good, skilled jobs.
Help is not limited to the young and the old. Through the job-matching service, this Conservative government will grease the wheels of commerce and ensure that employers and employees can find their perfect matches.
With Canada's ever-increasing integration, not only into the world economy but between provinces, it is vital for the federal government to play a role in smoothing labour markets across the country. Never before have we seen the kind of mobility we see today, nor have we realized the promise that such mobility creates for families and communities. It is not enough to be looking for a job. We need to support those who are currently training for jobs that will fill much needed positions through the Canada job grant and the Canada apprentice loan. The federal government is investing in high-skill jobs that are currently going unfilled in many parts of the country. By ensuring that Canada has the skilled tradespeople it needs, our government is making sure that the economy can function smoothly. This budget is about embracing the future with skilled jobs, a thriving economy, and a balanced budget.
Through this budget, rural communities will stand to benefit from improved broadband access in rural and remote areas of the country. It is important that Canadians in rural areas, like parts of the British Columbia interior and northern B.C., have an acceptable degree of access to the Internet. Failing to update Canada's digital infrastructure could doom those outside of well-covered areas to technological backwardness and put them at a perpetual disadvantage.
Investments in science and technology, such as the government's $222 million grant to the TRIUMF physics laboratory at the University of British Columbia, promises to pay dividends not just in commercial terms but in academic, intellectual, and technological advances.
British Columbians and Canadians stand to profit immensely from the measures presented in this budget.
The budget implementation act goes further by continuing the good work of the red tape reduction action plan. This budget will make life easier for small and medium-sized business owners.
In too many areas of Canadian life and work, excessive red tape holds us back. The Conservatives have demonstrated a commitment to making Canada work in a way that benefits consumers, workers, and citizens by removing arbitrary and wasteful barriers to businesses.
There are also significant changes to the tax code. The tax code is not a subject that gets many people excited, but by eliminating over 800,000 payroll deduction remittances to the Canada Revenue Agency every year, this government will be helping over 50,000 small businesses lower costs imposed by bureaucracy.
Our government is always concerned about the security of Canadians. For any number of reasons, the lives and well-being of Canadians can be in danger, and it is a key role of government to offer solutions. By investing a further $25 million, we are aiming to reduce violence against aboriginal women and girls. This sector of our community is often the target of abuse above and beyond that faced by others,. They deserve a government that comes to their protection.
Our government will invest $11 million to upgrade the earthquake monitoring systems that protect the homes of my constituents in the Lower Mainland and in high-risk areas across the country.
Over one million net new jobs have been created since the recession ended in July 2009. During the crisis and afterward, our government has provided a steady hand at the tiller, ensuring that Canada's policies work toward stability, growth, and prosperity.
Our banking system has been ranked the most stable in the world for the sixth year running by the World Economic Forum. The numbers do not lie. The deficit will be a meagre $2.9 billion this year, with a $6.4 billion surplus coming next year. This is a momentous achievement. When the previous government balanced the books, it did so by raising taxes and slashing transfers to the provinces. Our government has none neither. In fact, we have done the compete opposite. Next year, our government will provide British Columbia with $4.17 billion through the Canada health transfer, an all-time high. Not only that, this is $1.3 billion more than under the previous Liberal government. That is a 49% increase.
As well, we have reduced the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Our strong record of tax relief has meant savings of nearly $3,400 for a typical family of four in 2014. Without raising taxes on Canadians or simply moving costs to other levels of government, the Conservatives have a credible plan for long-term fiscal success. The opposition has made it clear that it will raise taxes and then increase spending beyond even that. Therefore, I commend our Conservative government for such a thoughtful and solid document.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2014-04-08 11:15 [p.4397]
Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is currently focused on what clearly matters to hard-working Canadians in their daily lives: helping create jobs, economic growth, and Canada's long-term prosperity.
With the help of Canada's economic action plan, Canada's economy has seen the best economic performance among all G7 countries in recent years, both during the global recession, and of course, throughout the fragile recovery.
Here are some facts I would like to tell the hon. member.
Over one million net new jobs have been created in Canada since the end of the recession in July 2009. That is the strongest job growth in the entire G7, by far. Canadians have also enjoyed the strongest income growth in the G7. Canada is the only G7 country to have more than fully recovered business investment lost during the recession. Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investments in the G7. I would like to go on and on, but that is my answer to the member's question.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2014-04-08 11:18 [p.4397]
Mr. Speaker, our government has invested more money than any other government in infrastructure, with $1.4 billion invested in infrastructure in my riding alone. Just think about the millions of dollars invested all over Canada.
I am proud of our government's record.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2013-12-02 18:02 [p.1643]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-4, the economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.
The proposed act will implement key measures from economic action plan 2013 as well as certain previously announced tax measures to help create jobs, stimulate economic growth and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.
Our government remains focused on the number one priority of my constituents and of people right across Canada, which is jobs. The measures contained in Bill C-4 reflect that priority and include support for job creators such as: extending and expanding the hiring credit for small businesses, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers; freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of jobs creators and workers in 2014 alone; increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 and indexing the new limit to inflation; expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment to include a broader range of biogas production equipment and equipment used to treat gases for waste; measures to close tax loopholes and combat tax evasion; modernizing the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery; improving the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by expanding electronic service delivery; and phasing out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit.
As our government has made clear, while Canada leads the G7 with more than one million jobs created since the depth of the global economic recession, we are not immune from the challenges beyond our borders. We cannot afford to become complacent.
By implementing the measures from economic action plan 2013, our government is helping to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians and grow Canada's economy.
Canada's economic action plan 2013 demonstrates our government's continued strong support for British Columbia through record federal transfer support for hospitals, schools and other critical services. Totalling over $5.9 billion in 2013-14, this transfer support represents an increase of nearly $2 billion since the former federal Liberal government.
Already there has been unprecedented federal investment in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, in Surrey and into British Columbia communities under this Conservative government impacting nearly every aspect of the lives of hard-working families.
We are making a real difference in the everyday lives of Surrey residents. In total, our government has spent over $1.56 billion on local projects since 2006. This includes the new RCMP headquarters, the South Fraser Perimeter Road and the new Surrey Library, among others.
I have personally made dozens of federal funding announcements totalling over $40 million. Some are the result of the economic action plan, while others are through the Pacific gateway project of the building Canada fund.
Regardless of where the money comes from, it is resulting in local jobs, local opportunities and local facilities for my constituents and Surrey residents. It is all about helping hard-working families, helping the unemployed, seniors and youth in our communities.
In recent months, I have had the pleasure of delivering over $250,000 for the Surrey YMCA, over $110,000 for the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex, nearly $180,000 for the Newton Wave Pool, over $200,000 to improve water quality at four Surrey community facilities, $350,000 to aid Sophie's Place and protect child victims of crime and nearly $400,000 for 42 projects to allow for the summer employment of students.
It is all about improving our communities, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy. Bill C-4 contains measures that would not only create jobs but would also keep government spending in check so that we can return the budget to balance.
Budget 2013 has our government on track to balance the budget, on schedule, in 2015-16. From 2006 to 2008, our government paid down almost $37 billion in debt, bringing Canada's federal debt-to-GDP ratio to its lowest level in nearly 30 years. This placed Canada in a very strong position to weather the global recession. When the recession hit, we made a deliberate decision to run temporary deficits to protect the Canadian economy, and that plan worked, with over one million net new jobs created since July 2009.
At the same time, we committed to return to balanced budgets over the medium term. We ended temporary stimulus as planned. We controlled government spending. We eliminated wasteful and inefficient spending.
Budget 2013 announces further saving measures that will total $2 billion by 2015-16, including examining spending to ensure that government operations are managed efficiently, reducing travel costs, standardizing government information technology, closing tax loopholes, and improving the Canada Revenue Agency's compliance program to reduce tax evasion.
Canada's fiscal position remains the envy of the G7. Economic action plan 2013 reinforces our position and ensures that our economy is ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
As recently confirmed in the government's annual financial report, we are right on track to return to budget surplus. That is good news. In fact, the deficit last year fell to $18.9 billion, down by more than one-quarter from the deficit in 2011-12 and down by nearly two-thirds from 2009-10.
Our government is acting prudently and decisively to ensure that Canada's economy creates good jobs and sustains a high quality of life for Canadian families. With economic action plan 2013, our government remains squarely focused on the number one priority of Canadians, with a forward-looking plan to create jobs and to grow the economy in British Columbia and across Canada.
Under our plan, Canada will also return to balanced budgets in 2015, and federal taxes will remain at the lowest level in 50 years.
Budget 2013 builds on our government's solid record of achievement, a record that includes unprecedented funding for Surrey infrastructure, lowering taxes over 160 times, and lowering the average family's tax bill by over $3,220. It is a good budget for Canada. It is a good budget for British Columbia, for Surrey, and, of course, for my riding of Fleetwood—Port Kells.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2013-12-02 18:12 [p.1644]
Mr. Speaker, I would let the member know that our government does understand the importance of seniors' needs. That being said, our government also understands the importance of a strong economy and balancing the budget, and the Conservative government has always worked hard to grow the economy and support and create jobs to help Canadians across the country prosper with the help of our economic action plan. Canada has emerged out of the global economic recession with one of the strongest economies and the highest job-creation record among the G7 countries. That is something to be very proud of, and I am proud to be part of this government.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2013-12-02 18:13 [p.1644]
Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring the health and safety of Canadian workers and of course employers. This includes Canadian health and safety regulations that are both supportive and very clear so that workers and employers do not abuse them.
Over the last 10 years, more than 80% of refusals to work have been determined to be situations of no danger, even after appeals. By clarifying the definition of “danger” with the amendment to the Canadian Labour Code in Bill C-4, workers and of course employers would be better able to deal with health and safety issues under the internal responsibility system.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2013-12-02 18:15 [p.1645]
Mr. Speaker, I think the member was not paying much attention to the speech that I delivered earlier or she would not be asking that question.
Our government is on the right track. Since 2006 our Conservative government has worked hard to ensure that taxpayer money is used very effectively and efficiently. Due to our fiscal responsibility and debt-reduction measures, our government is on its way to balancing the budget in 2015.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:03 [p.6471]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-31, protecting Canada's immigration system act.
Our Conservative government recognizes the importance of immigration to our great country. That is evident in our actions and policies. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has welcomed the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history. Our government has also continued to strengthen and support our generous refugee system, which is an important expression of the compassionate and humanitarian convictions of Canadians and of our international commitments.
Canada remains one of the top countries in the world to welcome refugees. In fact, we welcome more refugees per capita than any other G20 country, because this government understands the importance of the immigration system to Canada's future. It also understands the importance of remaining vigilant about keeping that system functioning in our national interest. To do so, we must always be prepared to make improvements to the system according to changing circumstances and identified shortcomings.
Bill C-31 would do exactly that. When there is a system in place as generous as Canada, it is particularly important to guard against the abuse of that system and that generosity. Indeed, for too many years our refugee system has been abused by too many people making bogus claims. Our system has become overwhelmed by a significant backlog of cases. More recently, we have grown more and more concerned about a notable upsurge of refugee claims originating in countries that we would not normally expect to produce refugees. This is adding to our backlog.
Allow me to specify exactly what I mean by that.
It comes a surprise to many Canadians to learn that Canada receives more asylum claims from countries in Europe than others in Africa or Asia. Last year alone, almost one quarter of all refugee claims made in Canada were made by EU nationals. Let us think about that. EU countries have strong human rights and democratic systems similar to our own, yet they produced almost 25% of all the refugee claims to this country in 2011. That is up from 14% in the previous year.
These bogus claimants come with a large price tag for Canadian taxpayers. In recent years, virtually all EU claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected. The unfounded claims from the 5,800 EU nationals who sought asylum last year cost Canadian taxpayers $170 million. Under the current system, it takes an average of 4.5 years from an initial claim to remove a failed refugee claimant from the country. Some cases have even taken more than 10 years. The result is an overburdened system and a waste of taxpayer money. For too long, we have spent precious time and taxpayer money on people who are not in need of protection at the expense of legitimate asylum seekers.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act would help speed up the refugee claims process in a number of ways, such as changing the designated country of origin policy to enable the government to respond more quickly to increases in refugee claims from countries that generally did not produce refugees, such as most of those in the European Union. Claimants from those countries would be processed in about 45 days, compared to more than 1,000 days under the current system. Claimants from designated countries of origin would also have their claims heard sooner and would not have access to the new refugee appeal division.
Moreover, it would also further streamline the process by limiting access to appeals for other countries, such as by claimants with manifestly unfounded claims or claims with no credible basis at all. It would enable more timely removals from Canada of failed refugee claimants.
Taken together, these measures send a clear message to those who seek to abuse Canada's generous refugee system. It tells them that if they do not need our protection, they will be sent home quickly. They would not be able to remain in Canada by using endless appeals to delay their removal. At the same time, if they need refugee status, these measures would help them get protection even faster. Every eligible asylum claimant would continue to get a fair hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Once these needed changes are implemented, Canada's refugee determination system would remain one of the most generous in the world.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act would also deal with the despicable crime of human smuggling. Human smugglers are criminals who operate around the world, charging large amounts of money to facilitate illegal migration. Each year, countless people die while taking these dangerous journeys. Bill C-31 would help crack down on these smugglers in a number of ways. It would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of individuals into Canada as an irregular arrival. It would establish mandatory detention of those individuals to determine their identity, admissibility and whether they have been involved in illegal activities. It is important to mention here that once a person's refugee claim has been approved, that person would be released from detention.
It would also make it easier to prosecute human smugglers and would impost mandatory minimum prison sentences on those convicted of human smuggling. It would hold shipowners and operators to account when their ships are used for human smuggling.
It would enhance our ability to revoke the refugee status of people who are no longer in need of Canada's protection and of those who have gained that status through misrepresentation. It would reduce the attraction of coming to Canada by way of illegal human smuggling, by limiting the ability of those who do to take advantage of our generous immigration system and social services.
One notable improvement in Bill C-31 from Bill C-4 is that mandatory detention would exclude designated foreign nationals who are under the age of 16.
Our government continues to be absolutely clear that human smuggling is a despicable crime and any attempts to abuse Canada's generosity for financial gain will not be tolerated. With this bill, we will crack down on those who endanger human lives and threaten the integrity of our borders.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act also includes a framework for the collection of biometric information, photographs and fingerprints, in the temporary visa program and will establish parameters for how this information can be used and disclosed by the RCMP in order to enforce Canadian law. The use of biometrics would bring Canada in line with other countries that already use biometrics in their immigration programs, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, the European Union, New Zealand, the United States and Japan, among others.
To maintain the support of Canadians for our generous immigration and refugee system, we must demonstrate that Canada has a fair, well-managed system that does not tolerate queue jumping. Bill C-31 will ensure that genuine refugees in need of protection will receive it sooner, while those who are abusing Canada's generosity will be removed more quickly.
I am proud to support this important piece of legislation and hope that all of my colleagues will work together to ensure the timely passage of this bill.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:14 [p.6472]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member that Bill C-31 is an important step to better protect our immigration system. It is important that we close the immigration back door so that the system becomes fairer for everyone involved. That is what this proposed legislation attempts to do.
The member mentioned that Jews do not support this bill, but I think that Jews all over Canada support the legislation wholeheartedly.
What I would like to make clear is that our government appreciates the fact that our country was built by immigrants. That is why we have introduced a number of other measures to help newcomers who come to Canada and to better protect Canada's immigration system.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:16 [p.6473]
Mr. Speaker, again I would tell the member that Bill C-31 proposes very important reforms for asylum seekers to make the process faster and fairer. It includes measures to address human smuggling and provides authority to make it mandatory to provide biometric data with a temporary resident visa application.
Let us be clear: we all want a compassionate immigration system. We all want to help others who generally need Canada's assistance, but we should not and cannot tolerate those who abuse our generosity.
View Nina Grewal Profile
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-01-31 16:58 [p.4679]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-25.
Bill C-25 proposes to establish pooled registered pension plans, extending pension coverage to the self-employed and those who work for small companies. It is geared at those small businesses and entrepreneurs, who do not have access to affordable pension plans and will help them secure financial freedom in their retirement.
Speaking with residents in my riding, especially those approaching retirement age, there is grave concern for their future. More and more I am hearing worries over whether they have enough money for their retirement.
The next generation of retirees includes a large number of workers without pensions who are left to their own devices and facing an uncertain financial future. As formal pension plans become increasingly less common, many Canadians face a savings burden that many are unable to shoulder.
For a big chunk of the population, for the self-employed, for those who work at small businesses, for professionals, for immigrants, a secure, comfortable lifestyle after working for years is now in question. At a time when our population is aging, more than six out of ten Canadians have no formal pension plan. That is more than eight million Canadians.
Statistics Canada finds the percentage of the population with some sort of pension has been dropping steadily for three decades, to 38% of Canadian workers in 2007 from 46% in 1977.
The problem is most acute at smaller businesses. There are about 5.1 million Canadians, or 48% of the private sector workforce, at small companies.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, only about 15% of small and medium-sized businesses offer some form of retirement savings plan for their employees.
A joint federal-provincial working group, established in May 2009, undertook an in-depth examination of retirement income adequacy in Canada. The working group concluded that while overall the Canadian retirement income system was performing well, some modest and middle-income households were at risk of not saving enough for retirement. From the working group's exhaustive research came a plan to pursue a framework for a new type of pension plan.
Our government aims to help millions of Canadians save for retirement more easily by introducing pooled registered pension plans. There will be an innovative new pension plan designed to address the lack of low cost, large-scale retirement savings options available to many Canadians.
Pooled registered pension plans, or PRPPs, are defined contribution pension plans that will be available to employers, employees and the self-employed.
The design features of PRPPs will remove a lot of the traditional barriers that might have kept some employers in the past from offering pension plans to their employees. The design of these plans will also be straightforward to allow for simple enrolment and management.
A third party PRPP administrator will take on most of the responsibilities that employers bear in existing pension plans, including the administrative and legal duties associated with administering a pension plan.
By pooling pension savings, PRPPs will offer Canadians greater purchasing power. Basically, Canadians will be able to buy in bulk. Achieving lower prices than would otherwise be available means they will get greater returns on their savings and more money will be left in their pockets when they retire.
PRPPs are also intended to be largely harmonized from province to province, which also lowers administrative costs. In short, PRPPs would be efficiently managed, privately administered pension arrangements that would provide greater choice to employers and individuals, thereby promoting pension coverage and retirement savings.
Reaction to Bill C-25 has been overwhelmingly positive. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce believes that pooled registered pension plans would give businesses the flexibility and tools they need to help their employees save for retirement. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation feels the legislation is a very good legislation, both for Canadians planning for retirement and for taxpayers. All the provinces are on board with the idea. British Columbia finance minister, Kevin Falcon, believes that our government has “responded to a real need out there in providing pension opportunities for small business people and those that don't have access to their own private pension plans”.
Pooled registered pension plans are the latest in a series of important steps our government has taken to strengthen Canada's retirement income system. This system is already seen around the world by experts like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among seniors and in providing high levels of income replacement to seniors.
We recognize, however, that we can always do more. That is why we have already made a number of targeted improvements to the system. Bill C-25 is just one more step our government has taken to assist Canadians as they age and enter their retirement years.
Since first coming to office, we have offered more than $2.3 billion in annual targeted tax relief specifically for our seniors. We have also provided over $2 billion in annual tax relief for seniors and pensioners. We have completely removed 85,000 seniors from the tax roles. We have raised the GIS exemption from $500 to $3,500. We have introduced pension income splitting. We have introduced an automatic renewal of the GIS, meaning that our seniors no longer have to reapply each year. We have made significant investments in affordable housing for low-income seniors. We have raised the age credit amount twice. We have doubled the pension income credit. We have provided a top-up benefit to the guaranteed income supplement that will provide up to $600 extra per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for senior couples. We have introduced the tax-free savings account. We have modernized and streamlined the application process for the Canada pension plan and old age security, making it easier for seniors to apply and receive their benefits. We have allocated $220 million over five years to the targeted initiative for older workers, which has thus far assisted over 10,000 unemployed older workers.
In addition, we have appointed a Minister of State for Seniors, someone who can bring the concerns of older Canadians to the cabinet table and stand up on their behalf. We also created the National Seniors Council to provide advice to the federal government on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors.
Our government is supporting older Canadians and we are committed to ensuring that they have the opportunity to enjoy their retirement in comfort with an improved quality of life.
Bill C-25 is important legislation that deserves the support of all members in the House. We would be helping millions of Canadians save for retirement and more easily meet their retirement goals.
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