Hansard
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 3 of 3
View Adam Vaughan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Adam Vaughan Profile
2018-11-27 12:38 [p.24014]
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand today to support the initiatives of our government that are expressed through the bill as we implement the budget promises we made last spring, and to deliver real hope, real change and real possibilities for growth in the country for some of Canada's most vulnerable populations.
The main focus of my comments will be on the poverty reduction strategy. It is Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy with real targets and real tools to measure not just poverty as it exists across the country, but also as it exists in specific regions, centres, and within specific populations.
The new strategy is critical, because one of the goals of the government—and we hear the phrase repeated often—is not just growing a stronger middle class, but the support that is required to help people join that middle class, to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them the tools they need, the support they require and the opportunities they desire to make sure their lives are transformed. This is critical for the success of our country, because as we build stronger families and healthier communities, we also build more resilient children. That gives us hope for the future that the next generation will have the capacity to provide much more support for all of us as we move forward together as a country.
To set the context, we need to understand that the poverty reduction strategy, while it is a new strategy enunciated in policy, is not something we just started to begin work on. The day we took office, we began making investments right across the country to make a transformational change in people's lives. In fact, well over 600,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty as a direct result of the steps taken by our government. That does not include the close to 500,000 new full-time jobs that have been created, which have also created a situation allowing people to avoid poverty. I say this because the prevention of poverty is just as important as its alleviation.
The $22 billion we invested includes about $5.6 billion invested in housing. As soon as we introduced our first budget, we tripled the transfers to the provinces and doubled the investments in community organizations that are leading the fight against homelessness.
We also introduced the Canada child benefit and changed its profile. Not only is it a more generous benefit, but it is also now tax free and means-tested, which means that those with the greatest need will get the greatest support. Unlike the previous government, we do not send the cheques to millionaires and we do not tax the dollars after they have arrived in families' bank accounts. This has probably been the most profound change in social policy in this country in a generation, and probably the most important component of lifting those children I just referenced out of poverty.
Additionally, changes have been made to the CPP as we move forward to secure people's retirement funds. We have also boosted the GIS to make sure that single women, in particular, who are often alone at the end of their lives, get the boost they need to make sure that their incomes are better supported, giving them the capacity to maintain their living standards.
In addition, $7.5 billion has been invested in early learning and child care. These transfers were delivered directly to the provinces, who since the collapse of the previous national day care strategy have evolved their programs and now have a more asymmetrical situation across the country. As we invest that $7.5 billion over the next 10 years, it has already started to sustain existing spaces, provide new capital for expansion, and also provide that critical expansion of the child care system. In fact, in Ontario, 100,000 new spaces of subsidized, quality, affordable child care have been created as a direct result of the investments in partnership with the provinces.
For the first time ever, child care support has also been directed toward indigenous organizations to make sure that distinction-based programs, led, designed and delivered by indigenous communities for their children, are now part of the program. We have also made those investments, which are having an impact on families outside the mainstream programs that have existed for a generation in our country.
On top of child care, substantial investments have also been made in indigenous communities, both on and off reserve, both inside and outside of treaties, both in rural-remote regions and urban centres. These investments have led to cleaner drinking water, better housing, better education and, most importantly, better health programs being provided. In particular on Jordan's principle, in comparison with the approval and enrolment rates under the previous government, which in 10 years managed to get only one child served under Jordan's principle, we are talking about thousands and thousands being served every single year.
These are transformational changes, which have set the base for an even more aggressive push to eliminate even more of the poverty we see in our country, because we cannot sustain poverty in a country as rich as ours with a clean conscience.
As we set the new poverty standard and come across a standard way of measuring it so that we can have a common base to understand exactly whom we lifting out of poverty and how our programs are having that impact, we are often criticized for not having announced new programs simultaneously to our establishing this poverty line.
Let me assure members that there are already programs and investments forecast into the future that have not been included in the 650,000 calculation we have already used to address the people we have lifted out of poverty. For example, we have the signing of bilateral agreements. I was just in the Northwest Territories doing exactly this, signing bilateral agreements on the Canada housing benefit.
The Canada housing benefit is a new way to subsidize people's living arrangements, giving agency and choice to low-income Canadians to choose the housing that best suits their needs. Those subsidies do not kick in until next year, but will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life and alleviation of poverty among those people who are in core housing need. In fact, when one includes all the other components of the national housing strategy, we seek to support well over 650,000 Canadians, and closer to 700,000. Then we get into repairs and some of the other programs that are part of the 10-year forecast.
Those dollars are locked in and are built on top of the $5 billion we have already spent. We have also reprofiled those dollars to make them more flexible, in particular in the way in which they impact women and children, to make sure that those housing needs are addressed specifically through a national housing strategy. They were not in the previous iteration of the program. The new national housing strategy re-profiles that $40 billion and projects it into those people's lives as yet another way to alleviate poverty.
This particular bill also addresses pay equity. I have heard the members opposite complain that the bill is too big. It covers seven distinct pieces of legislation, but the piece on pay equity covers the entire breadth of federally regulated and federally administered pay programs. It is a big, complex bill because pay equity touches virtually every corner of the government, as well as significant parts of the country's private sector. That is why the bill is 850 pages long.
The bill is a comprehensive all-of-government, all-of country approach to pay equity. We are very proud to push that forward, because pay equity, again, is one of the most important tools we can put together to ensure that we reduce poverty, in particular of women but also of families and Canadians right across the country. Pay equity, giving a fair chance to everybody, in particular women, benefits us all. As women's economic situations solidify and strengthen in this country, small and medium businesses and all our social dynamics strengthen as women become more powerful. That is one of the most important reasons to support pay equity. It is good for everyone, even those who are not women.
Additionally, we have also included an indexing formula in the Canada child benefit so that it will grow over time for families to ensure that inflation does not claw back the good, strong investments we have made to eradicate child poverty. Again, those dollars are not calculated as part of our poverty reduction plan, which was in place prior to the strategy, but will have an impact afterward.
Then of course there is the national housing strategy, the $40-billion investment. I have heard some suggest that the way to do a housing program, which we have seen in the platforms of previous parties as they tried to get elected to Parliament, is to put the money upfront and just let the program drift off into the future. As someone who has done much of the consultation work with the minister and CMHC to put this strategy together, I can say that the reality is that the advice we were given by academics, housing providers, municipal partners and provincial agencies was that the best way to build a housing program was to invest heavily to start and then grow the investment as the system gets bigger over time.
In other words, if a riding were to receive a thousand units of public housing this year, a thousand next year and a thousand the year after that, its housing needs would go from 1,000 to 2,000 to 3,000. Repair needs grow with that, as do subsidy requirements, and if the program is not back-end loaded, one will not be able to build a successful system while building good, strong housing programs. That is why the program not only lasts 10 years, past two elections, but also grows over time to support a bigger, stronger, more robust capacity to house Canadians in need.
Put together, this constitutes our government's strategy for housing, poverty and improving the lives of indigenous people, women and many of the marginalized and racialized communities in this country. We have focused our programs based on data, the information we have received from stakeholders, and partnerships with indigenous, municipal, provincial and territorial governments. In total, the early investments, the project investments, the new tools to measure, study and drive data into the system to alleviate poverty are the reasons this bill is large, why are ambitions are just as big, and most importantly, why the achievements are so profound.
We are very, very proud of this particular piece of legislation. I hope that all of Canada can support it. I hope that everyone in Parliament can support it. This is delivering real change, real housing and real support to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and I encourage all parliamentarians to support it as such.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2018-05-31 12:52 [p.19970]
Mr. Speaker, for many reasons, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the budget implementation bill. The first is that I really believe this budget is responding to Canadians across the country. We came in as a government with a commitment to consult with Canadians. That is what we have been doing and what we will continue to do. Throughout the consultations, all of us travelled through many communities, towns, provinces, and territories right across the country. We sat at tables in many community centres and listened to what people had to say, because we want to get this right. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing for Canadians.
When we came into office, we made a commitment to the middle class that we would do what is right and bring a better balance to middle-class Canadians, those who work hard and try to support their families, but who always feel they are at an unfair disadvantage. We have been very focused on that in every single decision and measure we have taken as a government.
We also made a commitment to indigenous people that we would right the wrongs of history by entering into a new relationship with them, a relationship based on reconciliation, respect, and that responds to needs and solutions, as we prepare them together. I know a lot of people have been impatient in and outside the chamber as the Government of Canada has taken on the unique and necessary mandate of moving forward in this country, but it is a commitment that we are acting on, and it is making a difference.
We also made a commitment to children in this country that we would do what we have to in order to raise them up out of poverty. That is why we implemented programs like the new child tax benefit, which will help thousands of children in this country get out of poverty.
We also made a commitment to workers in this country that we would continue to grow the economy. When we came into office, Alberta's economy was stagnant and declining. No pipelines were being built and no deals were even being made. We were not seeing economic growth in regions of Canada. In fact, if we go back just a few years, many of my colleagues will remember that we were in a very tough situation in this country in terms of employment, but the Government of Canada did not falter. It stepped up and worked with industry to create jobs and a sustainable future for Canadians.
We diversified not only our populations but our industries. We welcomed many new companies to Canada to establish their bases of operation, companies like Amazon, who today employs hundreds of people across Canada, with the intention of employing hundreds more. We have signed trade deals and we are in the process of renegotiating the NAFTA deal, but in all of the deals, there were benefits for Canadians, for farmers, fishers, those in the auto sector, those creating jobs and trying to get goods to market.
I would never stand here and say that everything is perfect and that all of the problems have been fixed, as very well know that is not true, but I would say this. It is easy to be critical and hard to be positive, but once people make a good case on issues, it is much more effective than dwelling on all of the things they feel are not right. I will provide an example.
I represent a riding in eastern Canada, the riding of Labrador. It is nearly 300,000 square kilometres and much of it is isolated. I fly in and out of a lot of communities in my riding to visit my constituents. When I ran for election some years ago on the southern coast of Labrador, there was no highway connection. Every community was isolated. Today, it not only has highways, but they are being paved. In the last two years, we have invested more than $60 million just to bring those highways to standard, to allow people access to that rural region of Canada, something that nobody ever did before. No governments before were interested in investing in that type of infrastructure.
Today in this country, we have the largest infrastructure program we have ever seen, and what is that program doing? It is helping all Canadians. It is not just investing in larger towns and cities, but all over the country, in indigenous, rural, northern, and urban communities. That is the way it should be, not the minority always being left behind, which is how I have felt for a very long time in the region I serve today.
Today, I look at the budget we are implementing in this country, and I look at how far my riding has progressed in just a few short years. It is absolutely astonishing. In my riding, we are doing more in the fishery today, in terms of job creation and new technology and advancement, than we have ever done before.
I hear people talk about the sharing of quotas and being upset because indigenous people are now being included in fishery allocations. I will be the first one to stand in the House of Commons and say that there need to be more indigenous Canadians involved in fishery allocations, because in many cases those fisheries are on the doorsteps of indigenous people. However, in many cases, a lot of these quotas went to other companies for 30 or 40 years, putting revenues in the pockets of single-based owners and not necessarily seeing benefits come to regions, communities, or populations of people. Is it a bad thing that people want to redistribute wealth in this country? I do not think so, as long as it is fair, balanced, and done in a reasonable way.
I want to speak a bit today about people in the employment sectors. I represent the region that is the largest exporter of iron ore in Canada: Labrador City and Wabush. We went through some really tough times in these communities. We saw a mine close down and hundreds of people who had given their life's work to this company lose up to 25% of their pension benefits, and there was no mechanism under law in this country to protect those benefits for workers.
The Minister of Finance stood in the House and said that, with this budget, we are going to make amendments to the Pension Act and ensure that there is protection of benefits for workers. That is what needs to be done. That is the right thing to do. Who would want to vote against that? After what we have seen happen in this country with Sears workers, steel workers, and other workers, why would one not want to step up and look at ways to protect the pension benefits of workers? That is what is in this budget implementation plan.
In addition to addressing the issues for children, indigenous people, and working people, the budget also makes significant investments in health care, housing, and social programs. We cannot overlook that fact. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we increased the transfers for health care this year. We added $112 million in extra investments for mental health services. I was really proud to be with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the area mental health and addiction services are run out of, and hear that we are going to see mental health beds opening in the hospital and new psychiatrists added in Labrador.
These are things that are valuable to citizens in our country. These are things people in my riding and across Canada have asked for, and we are delivering on them. As long as I am a member here, I will keep listening to what my constituents are saying and keep pushing in the right direction to ensure that, as citizens of this country, they get what is fair and balanced, and are not left behind because they happen to be removed from Ottawa or an urban centre. Just because someone is northern, rural, or indigenous, that does not mean he or she should not get the same benefits in this country.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join this important debate on the government's budgetary policy. I will be focusing my remarks on certain areas that I have not had a chance to discuss yet in previous speeches on the government's budgetary policy.
There is an evidence sense of unreality to the discussion coming from government members on this. We hear a lot about what the budget aims to do. The budget aims to do this and it aims to do that. Our complaint is not with the intentions of the budget. Our complaint is with the provisions in the budget. There are many cases in which there is this obvious dissonance between high-minded claims about what the budget aims to do and the substance of the provision. We just heard a good example of that. A member talked about small business in his riding and the important work it did, but then supported a budget that would raise taxes on small business and eliminate the hiring credit for small business. There is this evident dissonance here.
I had an opportunity to question the finance minister in committee of the whole last week. I asked three times, consecutively, if he believed that the government should eventually balance the budget at some point in the future. We did not get an answer to that question.
When the finance minister, who should know better, cannot even answer a direct question about whether it is important for a country to balance its budget at some point in the future, then we have a real problem with the seriousness of the plan. It is not a problem with intentions necessarily, but it is a problem with the seriousness of this so-called fiscal plan.
I want to talk about three specific things today. I want to talk about where economic growth really comes from. I want to talk about the impact of the budget on families. I want to speak about the impact of the budget on indigenous Canadians, specifically in the context of indigenous education.
We hear a lot about economic growth, and this comes back to the good intentions here. We hear the word “growth” used over and over again. Like so many of the words the government uses, especially in the context of budgetary policy, we have not ever heard it clearly defined. We do not hear the Liberals explain what they mean by growth and what exactly they plan to achieving in growth.
Economic growth is produced when there is an increase in the ability of society to provide for itself, when society grows in its economic means to provide for itself in terms of its wants and its need. Therefore, it is very closely linked to the concept of economic productivity, productivity being the rate of output given the input.
We often talk for example about labour productivity. As labour productivity increases, the amount of output that can be produced in a given hour of labour increases. That is really what creates economic growth. Economic growth is about finding ways of more productively using our time and our resources to produce more things that we can use to satisfy our wants and our needs. Fundamentally, foundationally it is about growth in productivity.
When the government thinks about trying to encourage economic growth, it should focus on productivity. The current government talks as if all that is required to increase growth is more government spending. Looking around the world, it is easy to see how there is no linear relationship at all between government spending and economic growth. Some countries do much better than others that have much lower levels of public spending. That is not to say the government does not have a role in identifying areas where productivity growth can occur, but it certainly is not in any sense linear.
From my perspective, there are a number of different things that facilitate increases in productivity, which is important for economic growth. One would be a more educated workforce, specifically though a workforce equipped with job-ready skills, and a marketplace that is well-equipped to commercialize knowledge that is produced.
That was why in 2007 our government came forward with a science and technology strategy that looked at ways of more effectively encouraging commercialization of knowledge. It was why we put an emphasis on encouraging the trades as well, because of the needed to have a workforce that was equipped with job-ready skills. That was important for productivity and economic growth.
Efficient transportation infrastructure is obviously an important part of that as well, both in education and infrastructure. These are areas where government spending can play a positive role. What is disappointing about the budget is the total abuse of the word “infrastructure”. The government redefines infrastructure to mean almost everything.
The minister confirmed in our discussion in committee of the whole that he believed child care was a form of infrastructure. Well, it is certainly not in the sense that economists traditionally define it. Transportation infrastructure obviously has a positive impact on productivity when it is well placed, well designed, and when it helps people get to and from work more quickly.
Productivity growth requires an economic system that provides significant returns on business innovation. Business innovation creates improvements in productivity, and therefore we need a system that creates incentives for that business innovation, things like relatively low business tax rates and benefits accruing to companies that choose to hire more people. That is why this budget would negatively impact productivity by effectively increasing the tax on small business by eliminating the hiring credit. These types of measures are not good for economic growth.
Economic growth requires a stable and predictable economic environment as well. People will invest in an economy that they have a reasonable expectation will do well over the long term. When we have extended periods of large budget deficits and we have the government going into deficit with no plan to get out of it when we are not in the midst of a recession, that clearly damages confidence and reduces the reason for investments in things that produce productivity growth.
We hear a lot about growth from the government, but we do not actually hear any discussion of those foundational constituent parts of growth, things like how we increase the productivity of our economy and how we increase the productivity of labour. These are things that the government should be thinking about in a more serious way, but the Liberals repeat this mantra that more government spending is somehow, absent of any clear connection or specificity in investment, going to lead to economic growth. That is a major concern I have with the plan of the Liberals.
I want to speak as well about the impact of the budget on families.
I believe in a simple principle with regard to family taxation. If two families are earning the same amount of money, then they should pay the same amount of tax. It would seem arbitrary and unreasonable, and therefore unfair, that we would have two families each earning the same family income but happen to pay different amounts of tax, simply by virtue of which people in the family are earning the income. That is why we brought in income splitting. It was an important tax cut, but it was also a measure to ensure tax fairness.
However, the government does not seem to agree with this principle of tax fairness. The Liberals would eliminate income splitting, having the effect of raising taxes on many families, but also now ensuring a system of unequal taxation where we have families that are earning the same income, yet paying different amounts of taxes, simply because of how they decide to divide child care responsibilities. Our view has always been that it should be up to families to make their own child care choices, and families should not face some kind of direct or indirect fiscal penalty because of the financial choices they make.
Of course, the Liberal changes would also remove universality of child care benefits. We think that is a problem. We think a universal taxable benefit made good sense. Of course, a taxable benefit is inherently more progressive because the more money one makes, the more tax one pays on it. It had that built-in progressivity to it, but it was still designed to ensure that everyone had something to benefit from.
I want to speak briefly about the impact of the budget on indigenous Canadians. This budget would spend a significant amount of new money, but it does not come with the kinds of measures that are necessary to ensure the success of those investments, especially as it pertains to education.
We have a core problem when it comes to education in aboriginal communities. Unlike in every province across the country, on-reserve first nations education does not have legislated educational standards and a legislated mandate for core curriculum. It does not require that schools award a recognized provincial diploma. That is a problem. It is a problem when we do not have those structures in place to ensure that there can be a seamless transition between a school on a reserve and a school off a reserve. These are the kinds of measures, the kind of collaborative structuring of the system, improvements to accountability, that would make a real concrete different. We think those kinds of changes should, and could, be accompanied by increased investment. However, the government has put in new money but does not actually have an effective plan to improve the system at all.
Those are a number of reasons, and there are many more I could list, why I am very concerned about this budget, and I will be opposing it.
Results: 1 - 3 of 3

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data