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Results: 1 - 15 of 803
Claude Gagné
View Claude Gagné Profile
Claude Gagné
2015-06-04 11:22
Last November, Mr. Chair, you met Abigail Capannelli, a young lady from your riding who was very pleased to show you her new hand. She had a new prosthetic hand. Abigail sent me this clip to express her appreciation. This is a hand that was done with 3-D printers by volunteers here in Ottawa. You should look at the images. You'll see Abigail wearing her prosthetic hand.
[Video presentation]
Claude Gagné
View Claude Gagné Profile
Claude Gagné
2015-06-04 11:24
Thank you, Abigail.
As you can see, Abigail uses her new hand to prepare meals, work in the garden, and play sports.
This happened as a result of the e-NABLE network. Last summer a news report about a boy in Hawaii who was equipped with a similar hand prompted Abigail's mother to send pictures of Abigail's arms and a request to the e-NABLE network.
The e-NABLE network is an ecosystem of researchers in prosthetics and 3-D printing, passionate volunteers, makers, and end-users and their care providers. In a matter of days, the e-NABLE matchmaker contacted a volunteer, also based in Ontario. It happened to be me.
I had signed up with the e-NABLE network because I thought I would have easy access to a 3-D printer here in Ottawa. That was in August 2014. I knew that there were two 3-D printers at the Ottawa Public Library in Nepean. Unfortunately, they didn't use the right kind of filament. But then the engineering department of the University of Ottawa opened a makerspace and they made it open to the public on Sundays, so I was able to access their printers. Throughout September 2014 there was a lot of trial and error with materials, sizing, printing quality, and the assembly of the prosthetic.
I was able to send by courier a prosthetic to Abigail, who was in Waterdown, Ontario. I had never met Abigail. She received the prosthetic and she was quite pleased with it. One month later, she came to Ottawa. She met with you, Mr. Chair. She was here for the official launch of the makerspace at the University of Ottawa.
So 3-D printed prosthetics can provide desired functionality at a fraction of the cost of similar prosthetics supplied by industry. It cost less than $100 to produce this. In industry, it would be over $20,000. It's not exactly the same, but it provides the functionality. Ordinary people like me with no particular training can access 3-D printers and make functional assistive devices, whether in Ottawa, in Timbuktu, or in a refugee camp.
Open source designs, creative commons licensing, and enhanced public access to the results of publicly funded research are key for sustaining local resilience, for more innovation, and also for more equitable wealth distribution in the digital age.
I think there's a role for governments to help accelerate the spread and growth of makerspaces, fab labs, and tool libraries that are managed by and for the community. This is an astute way of promoting local resilience, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Frances Woolley
View Frances Woolley Profile
Frances Woolley
2015-05-28 8:48
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the chair and the members of the committee for inviting me today and giving me the opportunity to speak about the budget.
The 2015 federal budget is intended to be a balanced budget, a low-tax plan for jobs, growth, and security. U.S. experience shows that low taxes are no guarantee of jobs and growth. In fact, a recent study by the IMF found equality matters more for growth than low taxes. I quote, “lower net inequality is robustly correlated with faster and more durable growth.”
There's nothing inherently good for the economy about low taxes. What's important is to have a well-designed tax system which raises revenue equitably and efficiently, providing both income security and the foundation for economic growth.
The question I wish to address here is this: Which of the tax measures announced in the budget help build a good Canadian tax system, and which ones fail to promote either economic efficiency or equity or both?
Two of the budget measures are particularly praiseworthy. The first are the measures taken to prevent the use of synthetic equity arrangements. The OECD, in its “Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” wrote:
Fundamental changes are needed to effectively prevent...cases of no or low taxation associated with practices that artificially segregate taxable income from the activities that generate it.
Base erosion and profit shifting seriously threaten the ability of OECD countries to tax economic activity. I'm very happy to see the budget taking steps to forestall the erosion of Canada's tax base.
The second welcome change is the reduction to required RRIF withdrawals. Life expectancies have increased and rates of return on investments have fallen. A change was needed. It's about time.
Unfortunately, the budget also contains tax measures that have more limited potential to create jobs and growth. The first is the reduction in the small business tax rate. Advocates of lower taxes on small business would have us imagine a future Bill Gates building the basis of a world-class enterprise out of his garage. Yet as University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz and his co-author Duanjie Chen have pointed out, reductions in the small business tax rate could actually discourage a future Bill Gates from growing his business by creating, as they put it, “a 'threshold effect' that holds back small business from growing beyond the official definition of 'smallness'”.
Moreover, low small business tax rates create possibilities for tax avoidance—the well-paid, self-employed professional who uses a corporate structure to reduce personal tax liabilities rather than grow an enterprise.
The reductions to the small business tax rate are projected to cost $2.7 billion over the next four years. There are far better uses for $2.7 billion, for example, reforming the corporate tax base, or raising the GST threshold so that more small businesses would be exempt from the GST under the small suppliers rule, or working with the provinces to reform and reduce provincial business taxes.
The other tax measure introduced in this budget that causes me grave concern is the doubling of the TFSA contribution limits. TFSAs were a welcome addition to Canada's saving systems. They provide tax-sheltered saving opportunities for many who are not well served by RRSPs, such as students or low-income people. However, there is no case for an increase in the TFSA contribution limit to $10,000 per year. The long-term revenue cost is too great; there is too much potential for abuse of TFSAs.
Many economists advocate consumption taxation on the grounds that taxing investment income discourages savings and has serious efficiency costs. If this government wishes to move towards consumption taxation, and there are good reasons for doing so, we'd be better served increasing the RRSP contribution limits or relying more on the GST to raise revenue and less on income taxes. At the very least, there should be a lifetime limit on TFSA contributions.
The home accessibility tax credit is one final tax measure worth commenting on. I'm not convinced that this is the best way of helping the disabled or helping seniors remain in their homes. First, it is not refundable, so it will not provide help to those who need it most. Second, I've concerns about the implementation of this credit. What kind of home renovations count? Who decides whether or not any given bathroom or kitchen renovation improves accessibility?
Furthermore, linking the home accessibility tax credit to eligibility for the disability tax credit is problematic. My own research suggests that the disability tax credit is not well targeted. Some people with disabilities fail to receive the credit. At the same time there is some evidence that it may be abused.
It would be more sensible to help seniors and the disabled through direct program expenditures on housing, on community living programs, and on home supports. Canada doesn't need a low-tax plan for jobs, growth, and security; it needs a good tax plan for jobs, growth, and security.
This budget introduced important measures that go part of the way towards building a better tax system, but there is more to be done.
Thank you.
Jason Heath
View Jason Heath Profile
Jason Heath
2015-05-28 10:19
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My name is Jason Heath. I am a certified financial planner and the managing director of Objective Financial Partners in Markham, Ontario. I am a fee-only financial planner, meaning that I provide financial advice to clients, but unlike the typical financial planner, I do not sell investments or insurance. I am also a personal finance columnist for the Financial Post, which is the business section of the National Post, as well as MoneySense, which is Canada’s personal finance magazine.
Most importantly though, I am daddy, or dada, or much to my dismay these days, dad—which makes me feel very old—to five-year-old Joel, six-year-old Jayden, and six-year-old Mila.
The Criminal Code of Canada dictates that leaving a child under the age of 10 alone is considered abandonment, suggesting that older children are able to take care of themselves. The Canadian Red Cross babysitting course is for children age 11 and up. It therefore seems odd that a parent would be allowed up to a $5,000 annual tax deduction and a $2,500 annual tax refund for child care for a 16-year-old. A portion of private school fees for a child in grade 11 may qualify for this deduction, for example. The proposed limits for the child care expense deduction fall well short of the actual cost of child care in many Canadian cities, particularly for younger children. It would not be unreasonable to pay over $20,000 annually for infant child care in Toronto, for example.
Accordingly, I would be inclined to consider a modification to the child care expense deduction to allow up to $12,000 for children under the age of six and $6,000 for children age six to twelve. A child care expense deduction for teenage children is unnecessary in my opinion, except in the case of a disabled child. On that note, I think that $11,000 is not nearly enough of an eligible deduction for a child that qualifies for the disability tax credit. I suggest a $24,000 deduction limit for disabled children as it would not be uncommon for a family to spend this much, or more, on a live-in nanny, for example. It is also twice my suggested limit for the child care expense deduction for children under the age of six.
The cancellation of the Canada child tax benefit is a double-edged sword. It seems better to limit the administration of tax benefits for children to one single benefit instead of paying two benefits, with the resulting administrative government costs to manage both programs. On the other hand, it seems unfortunate, in my opinion, to cancel a means-tested benefit like the Canada child tax benefit in favour of a non-means-tested benefit like the universal child care benefit.
The result of the changes to these benefits may be a reallocation of tax dollars out of the hands of people who truly need and count on the money and into the hands of those who may not. The cancellation of the Canada child tax benefit also has a negative impact on single parents that is not offset in this bill by the family tax cut credit. I would be inclined to instead consider an increase in the Canada child tax benefit to provide more benefits for low-income and middle-class Canadians while reducing or negating benefits for those whose income exceeds a certain threshold. This could be done by instead cancelling the universal child care benefit and using the resulting savings to enhance proportionately the Canada child tax benefits for those whose income is below a certain threshold.
The Income Tax Act distinguishes between families that have more than one child in the claiming of tax credits like the amount for children, the children’s arts amount, the children’s fitness amount, and deductions like the aforementioned child care expense deduction. It seems odd that the family tax cut credit would not do the same. I would prefer to see it be based on the number of children under the age of 18 and suggest a limit of $25,000 of split income per eligible child.
In addition, I would prefer to see this credit even further benefit a young family contemplating having a stay-at-home parent for some period of time. This could allow a two-income family to temporarily become a one-income family and have a parent as a caregiver for a young child instead of both parents having to go to work and hiring a third party. This could be done by allowing the splitting of income for parents with children under the age of six without subjecting them to the $2,000 tax credit limit. I propose, instead, a $10,000 tax credit limit.
Finally, single parents do not benefit from the family tax cut credit. I would like to see single parents be able to claim the family tax cut credit by notionally splitting income with their youngest child under the age of 18.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Phil McColeman Profile
View Phil McColeman Profile
2015-05-26 16:29
Thank you.
Members, I'm going to finish off, if you don't mind, with a couple of questions, because my orientation is about this additionality that's talked about here.
I'm very familiar in my community with individuals who have intellectual disabilities—I'm talking about Ontario—and they fall off the map at about age 18, so as soon as their high school is done. They've had educational assistance all the way through, and they may still be working on cognitive improvement in terms of their language skills, reading skills, computer skills, whatever it might be, but all of a sudden, they fall off the map.
When I speak to my provincial member of Parliament, who is the Speaker of the Ontario legislature, he openly admits that there's a lack of government-funded programming to pick these people up.
What typically happens is that they spend their time at home with their parents. They become adults. First they're young adults, and then they're older adults. You'll often see them in my community going down the aisles in a grocery store, a 70-year-old or 80-year-old parent with a 50-year-old or 60-year-old child.
When I think about the solutions that some tools could provide, they would be around the area of finance, because the provincial authorities are not prepared to take on the initiatives for the need that exists. There are groups of parents who get together to try to create a learning environment for these individuals on a day program basis. Beyond that, realizing they're not going to outlive their children, they need residential support to transition those individuals as adults into something that is affordable, so they can live out their lives in that context.
I'm describing this to all of you, and I'm wondering if I might seek a couple of comments back from each of you on the fact that this can perhaps provide the additional tools for organizations, parents in those situations, to come together, create new innovative models with which to create not only the learning environment, but also potentially a living environment, because government funding is limited to the services currently being provided, and this is a gap that's easily recognizable.
I like to think of social finance as offering at least something to consider for those groups that aren't currently receiving government funding for those services.
Could I have a brief comment from those who wish to weigh in on this?
James Mulvale
View James Mulvale Profile
James Mulvale
2015-05-26 16:32
I'll just comment briefly. I spent many years working in the associations for community living in Ontario. It's a great story, I think, of how governments, including the government of Bill Davis in the 1970s, worked with parents, allied professionals, and people in the not-for-profit sector to build a very effective system of community-based supports and services. Pieces of it were, if you will, a bit market driven. They started up employment programs to employ people with intellectual disabilities. They partnered in some cases with the private sector to build housing, but it was operated on a not-for-profit basis.
I think the lesson to be drawn from that example is the absolutely fundamental importance of enlightened political leaders working in conjunction with concerned citizens to look at the big picture and move the whole field forward. I see social enterprise as kind of a mechanism filling in gaps, but in the context of that well-supported, publicly financed support system for people.
I'll leave it there.
Sally Guy
View Sally Guy Profile
Sally Guy
2015-05-26 16:33
I would say that would be a perfect example where social enterprise, a form of social finance or social investment, would be perfect, but we would limit that to turning a profit. We would want to stop at the point where our private investors make a profit.
View Colin Mayes Profile
I'll move away from charities. I'll give you an example.
We had a witness here when we first started this study who mentioned that there was a family foundation in Quebec that gives capital out to new businesses that want to start and they discount the interest, their ROI, if there's a percentage of the people who they hire with disabilities. I think that is a great initiative for a small business, or even a large business, that they are going to benefit by having a social conscience and hiring people with disabilities.
Is there any way we could even incorporate that in our finance or the things that we do? That's where I'm going, to that type of thing, because as I say, I just think that in Canada we don't do enough to encourage trying to help people with disabilities and work them into the workforce. I think there could be policy forwarded by the government that would assist businesses and encourage them. I had that experience myself. We had a program. We had a person with Down's syndrome work for us stocking shelves in our grocery store. It made a big difference in how our customers and our employees, as they saw that person working in our store, looked at me as the owner. The program was only for a certain length of time and then it was gone. The manager discontinued it, and everybody was disappointed, including myself. The thing is if there was some sort of initiative so that you go into that program and then you can carry on, I think it would be great and it would be an opportunity for what I call social finance. It's a government acting in a way of social finance to help a business incorporate that.
Maybe you could comment on any of those. Is there any possibility maybe in finance that you could discuss the opportunity that would present?
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2015-05-14 16:12
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank all the witnesses for coming out today.
I'm going to follow through on the trend Mr. Mayes was starting. I was very interested in that, so it's going to be very similar.
Just to step beyond, he was talking about a grocery store, but in just about every community across Canada, we have recycling depots. Many of these recycling depots are operated by charitable groups. Some are offered by private companies, etc. They're an ideal place for handicapped people or people with learning disabilities to work because they can do one function.
I'd like you to answer what Mr. Mayes started. I think it's very important. We see it in almost every community in Canada, and for many, it's a part of social finance. It gives them a place to work.
Who wants to start?
Blair, you haven't answered—
Cathy Hawara
View Cathy Hawara Profile
Cathy Hawara
2015-05-14 16:13
I can begin answering the question.
There are actually a number of things that charities can do currently within the existing framework by working with partners that are not registered charities that might be non-profit organizations, or that might be businesses. That's what I referred to in my opening remarks in relation to program-related investments.
This is where charities might make an investment, a non-conventional investment, an investment that is really made for the purpose of furthering a charitable purpose, for furthering their own charitable purpose. Their purpose might be to relieve a condition associated with a disability or to relieve unemployment of a particular class of beneficiary, such as persons with disabilities. They can make an investment, let's say, in a corporation through the purchase of shares, for example, and then a proportional number of employees would be individuals who meet the eligibility criteria of the charity, so potentially in this case, persons with disabilities.
There are also ways in which a charity itself through charitable programming can do what you've described. In our policies, we indicate that charities can run what we call social businesses for persons with disabilities, where the majority of the workforce is made up of persons with disabilities. The work is structured and operated in a way that addresses the disability and accommodates the workers so that they can be permanently employed and productive members of society.
All of this is guidance that we've provided to charities, in particular, through our community economic development policy, and they are things we can do now. It's not so much an incentive on the business side. From our perspective, we are enabling charities to carry out these kinds of activities in furtherance of their own charitable purposes. It's a way for them to bring in other partners from outside the charitable sector to achieve the social outcomes you've identified.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2015-05-14 16:15
What about stepping outside the box of charities? What about the private individual—and that may be a firm—who has a compassionate side and sees a function? It may cost his company money to have that person there, but he feels it's worthwhile to give that person something to do in life, to give him a purpose in life. Is there room for him to move in that respect, which we can look at? It is a form of social finance, in a sense.
View Murray Rankin Profile
View Murray Rankin Profile
2015-05-07 15:41
Thank you, Minister Ambrose, and your officials, for being with us today. It's a pleasure to see you.
My first question concerns Parliament's motion, unanimously passed in December, to provide full support for the victims of thalidomide. As you may know, since that motion was passed, the 97 who were identified as survivors have now, sadly, been limited to 94. There have been three deaths. The government—I think you, Minister—on March 6, promised $125,000 as a lump sum this year, and then $168 million for their lifetime care.
I wonder if you could explain to the committee how the department came up with that particular number of $168 million.
View Rona Ambrose Profile
First of all, let me say it's important that we remember this tragic event that happened in the 1960s, reflect upon the good work of this committee around Vanessa's Law, and remember why it's so important that we have strong drug safety laws in this country.
Our government has very deep sympathy for what happened. While this happened in the sixties, I offered our government's and all Canadians' public regret and apologies to those who were affected by thalidomide. We know we can never undo the pain and suffering that people have experienced.
I had an opportunity to meet a few times with Mercedes Benegbi, who is the head of the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada. As you know, we did announce $180 million to be distributed among the survivors. I'm pleased to say that we've been able to get out the $125,000 tax-free lump sum immediately to survivors. The reason we worked very quickly is that it will take us some time to get the yearly pension set up with the other $168 million we have. Also, we have an extraordinary medical assistance fund. We're in the middle of working out the details of that.
View Murray Rankin Profile
View Murray Rankin Profile
2015-05-07 15:43
Are you able to identify when that might be done? Will it be done this year?
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