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View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2019-06-04 14:49 [p.28501]
Mr. Speaker, our government has been working hard to advance gender equality, and our plan is working. One million jobs have been created and there are now more women working then ever before.
Women's organizations are at the forefront of gender equality, yet they often remain underfunded, undermined, despite the vital role they play.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality please tell the House how our government will change the way government funds women's organizations to make them more sustainable and stable for the future?
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-02-08 12:55 [p.25467]
Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to speak today on the motion before the House. It calls on the government to take the necessary legislative steps to ratify the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA. I encourage the entire House to support it.
CIFTA is now a modern, forward-looking trade agreement that will better serve the sophisticated Canada-Israel trade relationship, while seeking to ensure that benefits are more widely shared by both Canadians and Israelis.
Our government has said from day one that trade and open markets are vital for Canada's economic prosperity. Earlier, the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook elaborated on that. Canada is a trading nation, and we know that increased trade means more and better-paying jobs for Canadians.
Why modernize CIFTA if we have already been doing so well? Canada and Israel already enjoy a rich and fruitful commercial relationship. Since CIFTA came into force over two decades ago, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.7 billion last year. However, as there was room to grow and deepen the commercial relationship, we made changes.
Israel's economy has significant potential and offers diverse commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses, given its well-educated population, solid industrial and scientific base and productive natural resources sectors. By providing expanded market access and more predictable trading conditions, the modernized CIFTA will enable Canadian companies to take meaningful advantage of these opportunities. This is why Bill C-85 is so important.
Israel is a good partner in trade, and we should capitalize on these additional opportunities for business. I will elaborate further on this point by turning to how this agreement will tangibly translate into real benefits for Canadian businesses.
Once the agreement is in force, close to 100% of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment. This is up from the current level of 90%. That is great for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the fishery, and also for people in the agri-food sector. This will generate benefits for Canadian companies in areas such as agriculture and agri-food, including products such as cranberries, baked goods, pet food, wine, fruit and fish and seafood.
Meaningful market access for Canadian agriculture and agri-food processors was a key interest in these negotiations, and the Government of Canada delivered by obtaining unlimited duty-free access for sweetened and dried cranberries, which currently have a 12% tariff; baked goods, which are currently tariffed up to 8%; and pet food, which currently has a tariff of 4%. These important tariff outcomes for the agriculture and agri-food sector place Canada on a more level playing field with exporters from the United States and the European Union, which are key competitors in this sector as we try to build our trading relationship with Israel.
This agreement will also give Canadian companies a leg up on competitors in other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with Israel. In exchange, Canada agreed to eliminate tariffs on certain targeted Israeli agriculture and agri-food imports, such as certain fish, certain nuts, some tropical fruits and certain oils.
I am pleased that the negotiated outcome has the support of key Canadian agricultural stakeholders, including Pulse Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Vintners Association and companies involved in the processing of potatoes, cranberries, soybeans and pet food. I am sure my colleagues from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will appreciate that as well.
In Newfoundland, there is a little-known winery in Whitbourne called Rodrigues Winery. It is in area of the province that is shared by the member for Avalon and the member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity. There, kosher-certified berry wines are produced, and they appear on shelves in Israel. Agreements like these benefit companies like Rodrigues Winery by providing access to the market in Israel and by keeping the trade relationship between our countries strong.
This modernized agreement and the benefits it provides will be an important tool for a sector that makes a tremendous contribution to the Canadian economy from coast to coast. Successful trade provides for good employment opportunities, and with one in six Canadian jobs linked directly to exports, we are deeply committed to growing trade with this nation and expanding the pie for all Canadians.
Interestingly, for online retailers and service providers, including those in my riding, such as Eclipse Stores, the agreement also includes commitments by Canada and Israel not to levy customs duties or other charges on digital products that are transmitted electronically.
When I first saw this note, I had some concerns about the relevant paragraphs, so I sought some advice from the department regarding what this meant and how it might affect the playing field between local and foreign retailers. I was assured that paragraph 2 in article 9.2 outlines that the moratorium on customs duties applied to digital products transmitted electronically does not preclude a party from imposing internal taxes or other internal charges, such as value-added taxes. I know that is important to some of my constituents.
These are a few opportunities that the modernized CIFTA would provide.
I would like to speak on some of the more important aspects of the government's trade agenda, which aims to ensure that these opportunities are more widely shared among Canadians. This is our inclusive trade partnership agenda.
A priority for this government is our inclusive approach to trade. Simply put, we believe that everyone should benefit from and participate in the opportunities that come from increased trade and investment. We demonstrated that with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and with the CPTPP, and we are also demonstrating it with this modernized agreement.
The modernized CIFTA incorporates several key inclusive trade elements. These features will help to ensure that economic gains complement important Canadian values and priorities, such as support for environmental protection and labour rights.
I appreciate some of the comments from members on the other side of the House from the New Democratic Party, who raised some issues about extending these benefits further. However, I believe we strike a good negotiated solution in the Canada-Israel relationship.
These trade elements also help to ensure everyone benefits from and can participate in the opportunities that flow from the agreement. The addition of these inclusive and forward-thinking trade elements signals a commitment from both Canada and Israel to create the right conditions for trade in our modern economies.
There are also additional resources for business. In order for the benefits of free trade agreements to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Accordingly, the Prime Minister of Canada has mandated the Minister of International Trade Diversification to provide support to Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners. In this regard, Global Affairs Canada has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program within the business community. Work on these leading agreements is scheduled to take place across Canada in early 2019 so that the task force can focus on the CETA with the European Union, the CPTPP and the implementing legislation that is currently before Parliament.
In addition, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice provided by the trade commissioner service, the TCS. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets. I encourage all members of Parliament to encourage businesses that are exporting to take advantage of this service.
Online resources, such as the step-by-step guide to exporting, have also been developed to ensure that Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises from across the country can benefit.
In conclusion, trade is, at the end of the day, about the relationships between people, the opportunity to share in our common prosperity and to work together to create larger, more interesting markets. Canada's strong friendship and partnership with Israel spans 70 years and stretches back even farther, 250 years, to the arrival of the first Jewish settlers to Canada, the first of successive waves of immigrants who would leave lasting and indelible impressions on the fabric of our Canadian society, economy and political landscape.
Today there are more than 350,000 Canadians of Jewish faith and heritage in Canada. They are an important source of information and support in the political and commercial spheres for both Canada and Israel, and they are also good friends. There are also approximately 20,000 Canadians currently living and working in Israel. Such deep ties are important for many reasons. Strong trade relationships depend on people-to-people relationships, which Canada and Israel have in abundance, and they also create peace.
In St. John's East, I grew up just five doors down from our synagogue. People might not realize St. John's has a synagogue, but it does. It once had a very strong and thriving Jewish community, and now it has a strong but smaller one, since, like many other Newfoundlanders, many people have moved away.
My grade nine French teacher, Ms. Frankel-Slama, was one of the best French teachers I ever had, and she is Jewish.
I also want to mention my roommate, Jono Kalles, who organized cultural exchanges between Canada and Israel for many years. I never had the opportunity to go to Israel or Palestine with him, but I have heard other MPs say they had a chance to go so they could make their own contribution to maintaining good relations between our countries.
I would encourage all members to support Bill C-85 to help us accomplish that and a great deal more in the years to come.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-04-19 12:44 [p.18538]
Madam Speaker, I know my colleague shares my sentiment that Canadians deserve to benefit from the wealth of their country, no matter where they live in this country. They deserve to benefit, no matter the status they hold. This government is reflecting that in the decisions we make. Whether one is urban or rural, indigenous or non-indigenous, wealthy or poor, we as a government are implementing investments, infrastructure, and programs and services that are reaching all Canadians. We are not cherry-picking one region or another. We are not sacrificing one province for the sake of another. We are fair to all Canadians, because that is what Canadians want from us. They want a government that is going to listen to their issues and act on them, and that is exactly what we are doing.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2018-03-20 15:26 [p.17746]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start my speech today by congratulating my former colleague, the hon. Judy Foote, on today's announcement. She has been named the next Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. On behalf of all the Newfoundland and Labrador caucus and all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we congratulate Judy and are incredibly proud of her accomplishments.
I am so pleased today to speak to our 2018 budget, a budget about equality and growth, a budget for a strong middle class. I was very proud when the finance minister tabled his most recent budget because it demonstrated our continued commitment as a government to making decisions for Canadians first and foremost. Budget 2018 is the most progressive and inclusive budget to date, going to great lengths to recognize our strengths as a country, but also to recognize that there is still a lot of work to do as it relates to reconciliation, gender equality, and overall inclusion.
I want to focus my speech today on some of the commitments made in budget 2018 that will have the biggest impact in my riding of Avalon and in my home province.
There is $250 million allocated to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' small craft harbours program. I cannot begin to express how thrilled I was to see this commitment in budget 2018. All but one community in my riding is bound by the ocean. They are coastal communities that depend on the commercial fishery, not just economically but also culturally. Small craft harbour facilities in Avalon are essential to the fishing industry and indeed this goes for small craft harbours across the country.
This investment means that facilities that are in desperate need of repair and those needing expansion can get the work done and make sure that our fishers are safe and protected before they even go out to sea. I know many of my colleagues across the country will join me in applauding this critical investment for rural and coastal communities.
Furthermore, budget 2018 allocates $21.6 million over two years to renew the sustainable aquaculture program. As we know well in Newfoundland and Labrador, aquaculture is an ever-growing industry and is becoming more important and popular every year. We know that making sure aquaculture is done safely and sustainably is incredibly important to the health of our wild fish stocks and ultimately of Canadians. Investing and continuing to invest in this program means that those in the aquaculture industry can continue to keep their farmed fish well contained and invest in research for best practices for the future.
In the 2018-19 fiscal year, there will be $58.2 million in new funding for the Atlantic fisheries fund. I was with my colleagues in Newfoundland at the marine institute when our government announced the Atlantic fisheries fund, and the response to this fund has been astounding. I have personally had conversations with fishermen in my riding who have recently applied for and received funding through the AFF, and they are all so thrilled with what this funding could mean for them and their enterprises.
This is probably one of the only times that individual fishermen have been able to apply for their own federal funding to invest in innovative equipment that will make their jobs easier and safer, now and into the future. Stimulating the fisheries in Atlantic Canada, an industry that has been suffering recently, there is no question, is so critical for the vitality of rural coastal communities and the people that live in them, like many of mine in Avalon. I did not thank the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, but I certainly will for his continued faith in and consideration of our fishers.
Canadians look to the government to make strategic decisions and move forward on projects that will benefit them and their neighbours today and well into the future. Canadians were vocal in their support of a national pharmacare program and to see the announcement in budget 2018 that our government will be moving forward on this initiative with an advisory council was fantastic. We know that taking on a project of this size and importance will require a lot of work and research so that we can get it right for Canadians. I am very excited to follow the work of this advisory council as it discovers which pharmacare plan would be the best for our country in the future.
When I was elected in 2015, I quickly learned the value of the regional development agency in Newfoundland and Labrador, ACOA or the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. ACOA is a vital resource for local businesses, community organizations, and innovators in my riding. Since being elected, I have seen many groups thrive thanks to ACOA funding. That is why I was thrilled to see that in this budget we have continued investment in the agency, with an additional $48 million, $8 million of which our government has earmarked specifically to support women entrepreneurs. I am sure that not only my constituents but the constituents of many of my colleagues across Atlantic Canada are thrilled to see this commitment to support women in business. I believe that this builds on our government's promise to work toward gender equality and giving women more opportunities to achieve this goal.
Investing in female entrepreneurs is not the only way that budget 2018 has committed to giving women the opportunities they deserve to thrive in today's workforce. This budget commits to a new parental sharing benefit that will give an extra five weeks of parental leave to new parents, provided that both parents share that leave. This is a revolutionary change as it incentivizes moms and dads, women and men to share the responsibility of maternity leave, giving women the opportunity to get back to doing what they love and are passionate about earlier.
On this side of the House, we know that women are a force and strength in the workplace. They are leaders and innovators, have incredible minds, and are assets to any company or department. Simultaneously, we know that men can be compassionate and loving fathers who want to be a part of their children's early days just as much as moms do. That is why this new parental sharing benefit not only recognizes the value that both women and men have as employees but also as parents, giving them both equal opportunities at home and at work. We believe that our children are better off when they learn, grow, and develop alongside both of their parents equally. Each of us in the House knows family members, friends, or constituents who would have loved to avail themselves of this kind of opportunity for their kids. With this new benefit, we will have stronger families, kids, and workforces.
I know many of my colleagues would agree with me when I say I could go on and on in the House today speaking about budget 2018. The continued investments are welcomed by me and my constituents, as are the new initiatives announced by the finance minister last month in this budget. The budget is proof that our government is investing and making decisions with the best interests of Canadians in mind.
I want to thank the finance minister and the Prime Minister for ensuring that the middle class and our most vulnerable Canadians are at the heart of this budget and all decisions made by this government.
I am proud to stand in support of equality and growth for the middle class, and in support of this 2018 budget.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2017-06-20 17:07 [p.13015]
Madam Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill S-3 because it is a very important bill and one that, with these amendments and changes, will foster tremendous progress for many indigenous people in Canada. It is an act to amend the Indian Act, and it focuses on the elimination of sex-based inequities in registration. This is something that has been ongoing for many years. Both the current Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the current Minister of Justice have fought very hard over the years to ensure that sex-based inequities in registration would be eliminated. Today, we are bringing forward amendments that would allow that to happen. They have also both said they remain committed to ensuring we correct all discrimination contained within the Indian Act. That will be done in a stage-two process.
Members are asking today that several amendments be added. We need to understand that the bill today is about removing the discriminatory aspects that are related to sex-based discrimination and that the amendments that are currently being proposed by the members are outside the scope of the intended bill. It is important to note that, as a government, we recognize that changes within the Indian Act need to go much further than where this legislation is bringing us today. We have said that time and again. The government and the minister have committed very clearly, both in the House of Commons and in committee, that they would have a stage-two process to deal with those discriminatory pieces that have to be removed from the act.
They also said that charter compliance will be the floor of that stage-two process, and not the ceiling. In other words, the government has been clear that consensus will not be a prerequisite for action, but in the absence of consensus, it is more important that decisions are based on the foundation of meaningful consultation and credible evidence about the potential impacts of reform.
We are here today with Bill S-3 because of the Descheneaux decision. It was a case filed by the Descheneaux family, in which the court put upon the government several conditions for change that had to occur within the Indian Act. The former government was appealing those decisions. Our government said we would not appeal those decisions of the court because we need to correct those discriminatory clauses within the bill. We were the first government in the seven-year process that has been going on that has stepped up and said we are going to remove it. We are prepared to act on it. We will meet the conditions of the Descheneaux ruling. That is what we are doing today with Bill S-3.
Members opposite asked why the government does not go to the judge and ask for an extension. We did go and ask for an extension, and we were granted an extension, one that allowed us to look at other aspects of the bill, consult with a number of people, and further define within the scope of the ruling some of the changes that needed to be made. We were happy to do that. We know the other groups went to the judge and asked for a further extension, and today, although there was a caveat in the decision, I understand the judge denied that extension.
We are in the House today debating Bill S-3. It is a bill that would help us progress a step further in ending sex-based discrimination against indigenous women who are registering with the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and registering for benefits. This bill alone would allow 35,000 more indigenous people to claim the benefits to which they are entitled.
For the last two years, they have been waiting to access the benefits and the services they are entitled to as indigenous people in Canada, but have not been able to because we have not defined those changes in law.
Today, we are making those changes in law. We are allowing the entitlements and benefits for these thousands of indigenous people who have been neglected for a very long time. Many of them have been waiting for years. As we know, the Descheneaux decision went on in the courts for many years and was fought by the Harper government. It would not accept any changes within the Indian Act as it was relative to discrimination.
When this bill went to the Senate, some amendments were proposed. Those amendments were struck down at the committee stage of the House of Commons. Despite supporting a number of the amendments proposed by the Senate, the government made it clear that it could not support one amendment that was put forward by Senator McPhedran and accepted by the committee. The intent of Senator McPhedran's amendment to clause one of Bill S-3 was to implement the approach commonly referred to as “6(1)(a) all the way”.
While there is no question that this amendment was put forward with the best of intentions, and I know it was, the way this clause is drafted creates ambiguity as to whether it will do what it apparently intends to do.
When the bar association testified before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and I was at committee that day, its representative cautioned against simply inserting that proposed amendment in its current form into the legislation. In fact, the members of the Indigenous Bar Association who testified went on to say, “You run into technical problems with the language by simply inserting that into a bill because you run the risk of inconsistencies or some unintended consequences with that.”
If the clause is interpreted in a way to implement the “6(1)(a) all the way” approach, then it could potentially extend status to a broad range of individuals impacted by a wide range of alleged inequities, well beyond those that are sex-based. That approach seeks to address non-sex based issues, of which we realize some need to be addressed, but it is well outside of the scope of what Bill S-3 is intended to do.
The approach was explicitly rejected by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the McIvor decision, where it was clear that under the current state of law, this remedy was not required to make the Indian Act registration provisions charter compliant. That is very important to note in this debate.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal, but this does not mean the government will not consider this as a potential approach in the context of a policy decision to address the broader registration and membership reform. When the minister testified before the Senate committee, she said:
I think it could be 6(1)(a) all the way. But we don’t have enough information to make that decision, the scholarly approach that it would take to look at the impacts and make sure that it didn’t impact others accidentally in a different way.
Our government is taking a responsible approach. We have agreed to go through a stage two approach. We do not currently have all the demographic information to understand the practical implications of such a decision at this time, but it is our job to ensure we do. We know what we are doing today is going to have profound and positive impacts on indigenous communities across Canada and many people. We also know our commitment to stage two will also have very profound and positive impacts for indigenous people.
The amendments proposed today are outside the scope of the government's agenda and its intention. We ask all members to support the bill as it is and support the direction of the government to bring justice to indigenous people.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2017-06-20 17:21 [p.13017]
Madam Speaker, if the legislation, which addresses the charter issues outlined in the Descheneaux decision, is not passed before the date that has been struck by the court, the practical implication will be that these provisions will then become inoperative within Canada, as the registrar will not be in a position to register people on the provisions found to be non-charter compliant.
As well, to the member's other question, going into stage two allows us to do full consultation to deal with all the other discriminatory pieces that are in the Indian Act and to correct them in a proper manner, with proper input from people.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2016-09-22 15:15 [p.4990]
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the Supreme Court has a direct effect on every part of our country, but there are very few areas in the country where federal government decisions can have such an impact on people's daily lives. People from Atlantic Canada understand this reality.
One of the largest industries in the Long Range Mountains is the fishery, and because of that, when I speak with my constituents, as I did this summer and last year on the docks, wharfs, and stages, one thing has always been important to them, the decisions being made by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I raise this because I find it interesting that the members opposite have suddenly developed an interest in Atlantic Canada. They have suddenly decided that Atlantic Canada is important to them.
I find it ironic that this recognition was missing for 10 years while they were in government. It was clear that the previous government did not recognize the importance of the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland and Labrador, or of Atlantic Canada. For 10 years we felt ignored by the previous government, whether it was cutting federal government jobs from Atlantic Canada—our province of Newfoundland and Labrador lost over 1,000—or gutting, pardon the pun, investments in fisheries, science, and research, which had terrible impacts on all our fisheries and hard-working harvesters and plant workers throughout our Atlantic coast; or pitting the four Atlantic provinces against each other for its own political gain.
I also find it interesting that the members opposite like to point out that our party won all 32 seats in the last election. Following their drive-by this past summer, they seem to think that all of a sudden Atlantic Canadians will be fooled by their fleeting politically motivated interests. Those of us on this side of the House who are so fortunate and blessed to represent our ridings in Atlantic Canada will still be working hard for all of our constituents long after the members opposite have gone back to ignoring Atlantic Canada.
The Minister of Justice stood this morning to tell the House that our government is supporting this motion. She stood to confirm that there will be candidates from Atlantic Canada provided by the independent advisory board. As someone from Atlantic Canada, I am confident in the calibre of our judges and that in any national search Atlantic Canadians can hold their own. That includes candidates from Newfoundland and Labrador.
This new process to appoint judges to the Supreme Court will allow all Canadians to feel comfortable that the selections to be made will represent everyone in the country. For the very first time in Canadian history any qualified judge or lawyer will be able to apply for an appointment, and Canadians can feel confident that the seven-member advisory board will work tirelessly to select only the best candidates.
An Atlantic Canadian on the bench of the Supreme Court would not only give Atlantic Canada a fair role but would also help Canadians, and especially Atlantic Canadians, to feel confident in the system and in all rulings handed down by the highest court.
What this does show all Atlantic Canadians is that we are an equal member of Confederation in our magnificent country. We have a smaller population that is spread out over some of the largest regions of our country, like my riding of the Long Range Mountains where we only have a population of 87,000 people, but one that is spread out over an area of 41,000 square kilometres. Our entire region is an equal partner in our country.
I am pleased that the minister has reiterated the importance of an Atlantic Canadian voice on the court. It is so important in our country to know that we were all treated fairly and judged solely on merit. I am very glad that we will be supporting the motion. I look forward to meeting our future nominee.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2016-09-22 15:20 [p.4991]
Mr. Speaker, I am very familiar with the minister of justice in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is in my riding and we speak often. What he is pleased of now, as are all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as well as all Atlantic Canadians, is that there is a system in place that will be fair for all. It will be fair for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Atlantic Canadians, indigenous people, and those of other minorities. What is great about this new system is that they will be able to apply every time after.
Therefore, we are excited that there is a system that is all-inclusive for any appointment that is coming up in the judicial system down the road. They can apply whenever.
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Gudie Hutchings Profile
2016-09-22 15:21 [p.4991]
Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that aboriginal and indigenous issues are important to my colleague opposite, as well as many of us on this side of the House.
Again, I would like to reiterate what the Minister of Justice said this morning. She said that this new process was fair for all groups, especially indigenous people, those from Atlantic Canada, from Newfoundland and Labrador, and from the Northwest Territories, who have never had representation before. Therefore, we are confident this process is fair and just for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House today to speak to this important piece of legislation. March 22 was an important day for Canadians. When the Minister of Finance introduced budget 2016, the first glimmers of hope were restored to Canadians who for too long had been made to work too hard, but just could not seem to get ahead.
Middle-class families, vulnerable seniors, veterans, and indigenous people were all given hope for a more secure tomorrow and a brighter future.
The Canada child benefit, a simpler, fairer, and tax-free solution to child benefits, will deliver more money to nine in 10 Canadian families and end the practice of sending benefit cheques to millionaires. More importantly, it will lift 300,000 children out of poverty and give them the start they need.
The rollback of changes to the age of eligibility for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, from age 67 to 65, will allow people who have worked their whole lives to get the income security they deserve when they retire without having to wait.
For veterans who have bravely dedicated their lives to the defence of our country, we will enhance services and benefits in light of their dedicated service. This will help those veterans who have become injured and disabled and aid all veterans in the transition to civilian life, an all-too-challenging feat for those who have experienced the trauma of war.
For indigenous people who have suffered for too long from neglect and failed policies, the budget provided a new beginning. A first step in the nation-to-nation relationship with the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population, our investments will contribute to improving economic prosperity for them, and for this country.
Today, it is my honour to rise in this esteemed House to speak in favour of the budget implementation act no. 1, a piece of legislation that will move forward many of the provisions contained in the budget.
The BIA is about many of the things I have already spoken to, but it also takes critical action in some areas that are occasionally overlooked in the fog of budget day. Importantly, it implements key measures designed to ensure tax fairness and a strong financial sector in this country.
As a matter of principle, our government is committed to tax fairness. We believe fundamentally that all Canadians, individuals and corporations alike, must pay their fair share of taxes so that all Canadians can benefit in return.
Tax evasion and avoidance put strain on this principle. They negatively impact the revenue collected through taxes, in turn compromising the services offered to Canadians.
The budget implementation act contains important provisions to cut down on the people's ability to use increasingly sophisticated means to avoid paying their fair share. This is combined with the budget's increased funding to the Canada Revenue Agency to hire additional auditors and specialists to undertake better-quality investigative work and improve its ability to collect outstanding debts.
As well, this budget addresses unintended tax advantages that businesses and high-net-worth individuals may be able to obtain through sophisticated tax planning techniques involving private corporations.
These actions are consistent with the principles of fairness, economic efficiency, and responsible fiscal management.
The government will continue to identify and address tax planning schemes to ensure that the tax system operates as fairly and effectively as possible.
We need to know that the system is working as it should, to ensure the economy is working for everyone. This is a critical part of strong fiscal management. Strong fiscal management also depends on ensuring our financial sector remains competitive and efficient.
Canada's financial sector is world-class and has remained resilient and stable even in the face of the great recession and throughout the slow recovery. However, we must keep the financial sector strong, especially at a time when new market forces like digital currencies and rapidly changing global regulations are precipitating equally rapid change.
Canada's financial sector remains the envy of many countries around the world. This reputation was the result of hard work and prudent decision-making by financial institutions and by the actions of the federal government in the 1990s and by our regulators. We want to keep it that way.
To ensure that Canada continues to benefit from a strong financial sector, the government proposes to introduce a bail-in regime for Canada's largest financial institutions, which would promote financial stability and reinforce that bank shareholders and creditors are responsible for the bank's risks, not taxpayers.
In the highly unlikely event of a system bank failure, we want to ensure that Canadians will not be on the hook and that banks will convert their debt into equity rather than force the government to bail them out.
It is important to add that this provision would not hurt depositors, as all insured and uninsured deposits will remain protected.
The budget implementation act is a critical step on the path to a fairer and more prosperous Canada. It brings into effect much-needed relief for Canadian families, for vulnerable seniors, and for veterans. However, it also takes action to close tax loopholes that hurt all Canadians and to ensure that our financial institutions remain strong, so that Canadians can continue to rely on them in the years to come.
For these reasons, I would encourage all members to support it.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2016-04-14 15:37 [p.2257]
Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the member for Winnipeg South.
I am very proud to speak to budget 2016.
Members talk about the reasons they get into politics. This budget is certainly a reflection of one of the reasons I got into politics; it is about reaching out to all Canadians, in a fair and balanced way, ensuring that they all have opportunities in this country. That applies to everyone, from the east to the west. This evening we will hear some interesting perspectives on the budget and how it is going to help Canadians from one end of the country to the other.
I have spent a number of years in politics, and I can guarantee that in representing people in my riding, and before that in my district at the provincial level, it has not always been easy. It is not always easy to advocate for people, especially in times when governments are not tuned in, not listening to the needs of the people, and when they do not always see the big picture, a vision for the country.
In the last number of years, people in ridings like mine that are remote, rural, northern, and indigenous, have not been listened to. When we look at the infrastructure deficit that we carry today, it is because there were governments in the country in the last 10 years that did not believe in many of these communities and many of these regions. These are regions that are northern, indigenous, remote, rural.
I am very pleased to see a budget like we have today that is reflecting those needs and looking at the reality of what investments it will take to be able to meet some of those demands.
Today as we speak, there is a budget coming down in Newfoundland and Labrador. I do not envy the job of the premier and his government, but I certainly have confidence in them to know that they will make the right decisions for the people in their province. They are carrying a huge deficit, and they have to make tough decisions. I am happy to say that I am part of a national government that recognizes this, and that has reached out in this budget to help provinces, like Newfoundland and Labrador, when it comes to creating jobs and new opportunities, to help provinces like Saskatchewan, Alberta, and many others.
This year we were able to increase the transfer dollars to Newfoundland and Labrador, and we were able to ensure that there were increases in health transfers over those of previous years. We were able to see increases in social transfers over those of previous years. We were able to ensure that there was proper fiscal stabilization investments that would be transferred to Newfoundland and Labrador.
It means partnering with provinces and territories. When a province is strong and its economy is strong, we all benefit. Our government is recognizing that. We are recognizing that, and we are partnering with provinces and territories to help them do the things they need to do to move infrastructure forward.
The other thing we are doing is we are recognizing that the challenges they have need to be dealt with.
Two years ago in my riding, under the former government, hundreds of people were laid off when the iron ore industry started to collapse. I saw four mines close in my region. At one point I saw a community with nearly 400 for sale signs on houses.
When I listen to the members opposite ask about what we are doing to help people who are unemployed, it is ironic. There were thousands of people in this country laid off and unemployed under the former government, people who received absolutely no support, absolutely zero support.
We have been able to work with communities like Wabush and Labrador West so we can ensure that we have better employment insurance benefits for them to help them through the transition. We have been able to work with them in their communities and in the province to secure new investors and new opportunity. We have been able to put more money into investing in skills training and diversifying skill levels. We have been reaching out to communities in this way all across the country.
We know that when we build stronger communities and when families have financial security, everyone contributes more to our country. That is why in our budget our government was adamant about raising the middle class, about allowing families to have opportunities and save for their children's future, to save for their retirement, and to be able to own a home.
This is the kind of balance that our government has had to tackle. We have done a great job in targeting so many middle-income families and low-income families that really need the government to give them a hand up in society.
That is why things like our child tax benefit program and our reformed income tax program will make a difference. In addition to that, we also realize that not all people live equally. We recognize that in northern regions the cost of living is much higher. That is why we included special initiatives within the budget to help. We have added more money to programs like nutrition north so families can look at providing more affordable food to their children.
We are also committed to doing a full review of the nutrition north program, to work with the communities that are impacted and to look at how we can expand this program so they have better quality food but, most important, affordable food when they need it.
We have also made changes to tax deductions for northern regions. For the first time in many years, we have given substantial increases under the northern tax reduction program, which will allow more families to have more money in their pocket to deal with the higher cost of living that they have to live with on a regular basis.
For the first time ever, I listened to a budget that referenced not just indigenous people, or first nations, or Métis, but actually referenced Inuit people and referenced areas like Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, all of those areas about which we never hear much. They are referenced in the context of investment, in investing money into critical programs across northern regions. I represent a large area of northern Inuit people and for the first time we will get investments in housing. We will be able to provide better housing, better support programs, and a better foundation to help them build their communities.
We have talked about suicide a lot in the House in the last few days. The Inuit regions of Canada have a suicide rate that is 10 times the national average. We have to get to the root causes of these problems. That is why this government is making one of the largest investments ever, more than $8 billion, for indigenous communities and indigenous people across the north.
We are prepared to tackle the most challenging issues that we face as a country. We are prepared to resolve those issues in collaboration with those who are impacted. We know in doing so all Canadians do better.
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