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Results: 1 - 15 of 191
View Maria Mourani Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Maria Mourani Profile
2013-06-17 14:00 [p.18419]
Mr. Speaker, this weekend we learned that two human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia have been sentenced to 10 months in prison and will be prohibited from leaving the country for two years after that simply because they brought food to Ms. Morin.
I would like to remind the House that for eight years, Ms. Morin and her three children have been detained in Saudi Arabia by her husband, the children's father, yet the Conservative government has stood idly by.
In June 2011, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously called on the federal government to bring Ms. Morin and her children back to Canada. At the time, the federal government said that it hoped “for a positive resolution”. We have heard nothing since then.
The government needs to stop calling this a private dispute and hiding behind that excuse to justify its lack of action. Let us hope that officials at the Canadian embassy in Riyadh will be able to propose a solution to Ms. Morin the next time they interview her. It is Canada's responsibility to protect Ms. Morin, as well as her children.
View Isabelle Morin Profile
View Isabelle Morin Profile
2013-05-06 13:37 [p.16325]
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-60, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1. However, this piece of legislation does not address Canadians' real concerns.
Ever since the Conservatives’ 2013 budget was unveiled, my constituents have been calling me to say that they feel isolated and neglected by this government’s economic measures.
I have to say that I feel quite privileged to be able to speak to this bill, given that the Conservatives have imposed time allocation for the thirty-second time, which is surely a record for Canada. At least I have the opportunity to voice my opinion on the subject.
Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to Conservative bills that lack depth. Instead of actually being concerned about ensuring our economic recovery, creating stable jobs and tackling the growing debt levels of Canadian households, the Conservatives are proposing austerity measures that will kill jobs. These measures will mean a higher cost of living for Canadian families and will stifle economic growth.
For instance, there is nothing in Bill C-60 to deal with household debt in Canada, which is currently estimated at a record level of 167% of disposal income. That is a staggering number.
The Conservatives’ economic agenda does not address the needs of Canadians. Canadians need measures that are geared toward creating quality jobs. The NDP will be voting against budget 2013 and the budget implementation bill, unless they are reworked to take into account the real priorities of Canadian families.
While I do agree with some of the measures contained in this budget, I have to say that, since I have been a member of this House, the Conservatives have refused to split budget bills into components that we can vote on separately, and thus let Canadians know, through a transparent process, which measures we support and which ones we do not.
I would like to single out several measures in this budget that I think are worthwhile in order to let people know exactly which ones I consider to be important. I will then tell you which budgetary provisions I think completely miss the mark.
Budget 2013 provides for two tax credits that I endorse: one for adoption-related expenses and one for first-time claimants of the charitable donations tax credit. I believe that these are positive measures. Furthermore, the budget streamlines the process for approving tax relief for Canadian Forces members and police officers, which I strongly support. It extends the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for the manufacturing sector. It includes measures to facilitate the collection of unpaid taxes and taxes sitting in tax havens and to streamline Tax Court of Canada procedures. It provides for changes to the GST and HST that are generally positive. Lastly, it calls for reducing the general preferential tariff, the GPT, on sporting equipment and baby clothing. These are sound measures, and I am not afraid to say so.
However, the Conservatives will not split up the budget and instead are forcing us to vote on a mammoth bill, as was the case in 2012 and 2011, which prevents me, as an MP, from voicing my true opinion of the budget to my constituents. I find it very troubling that I am unable to do so. However I do know that the Conservatives will seize the opportunity to say that we are voting against these measures when we ask any questions. Incredible.
I would now like to turn my attention to some of the important issues raised by Bill C-60 which is chock-full of various measures.
This budget contains tax increases for Canadians. It calls for changes to the bargaining mandate of the Treasury Board and 49 crown corporations. It proposes changes to the temporary foreign worker program, as well as changes related to citizenship and immigration. It announces the merger of the Canadian International Development Agency with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. It highlights the Conservative government’s ongoing failure to address the challenges facing aboriginal peoples and the lack of viable, concrete job-creation measures for Canadian youth, the segment of the population hardest hit by the economic downturn.
Bill C-60 as tabled amends 49 laws and includes new legislation along with complex provisions containing myriad details and programs that will affect Canadians, the very people who elected us to establish a more just society and bring about wealth and prosperity for all Canadians.
For the sake of the public, we have a duty to weigh the major issues that this bill targets, but it will be very difficult to accomplish this in such a short period of time. The fact of the matter is that the Conservatives are giving us a mere four days to debate this mammoth bill.
On top of everything else, we have just learned that the Minister of Finance has asked the Standing Committee on Finance to set aside only five days to study the bill.
The committee that is supposed to conduct an in-depth review of the bill will have a mere five days to tackle this job. That is outrageous.
The NDP opposes Bill C-60, not only because of the measures it contains, but also because the process lacks transparency and is unethical from a parliamentary standpoint. Bill C-60 contains a broad range of measures that warrant careful consideration, but instead, the Conservatives have tabled another omnibus bill, much like Bills C-38 and C-45 that were brought in last year. Tabling such a wide-ranging bill and imposing such a tight deadline for review undermines the very nature of Parliament, as members do not have the opportunity to learn everything they need to know about the bill and its ramifications.
Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to say that such actions weaken the nature of Parliament. Yesterday, while I was knocking on doors in my riding, I talked for 20 or 25 minutes to a man in Dorval, whose name is John and who is 50 or 60 years old. He told me that he had always voted to do his duty as a citizen but that he had become cynical in the past two years. He told me that he was dismayed and that he no longer believed in the parliamentary process because of our government. I was astounded and did not know what to say to him. I am not cynical, but I had a hard time finding good arguments, because I, too, think that what is happening in Canada is not reasonable and not healthy.
Moreover, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has pointed out several times that members of Parliament do not have access to the information they need to exercise their role of oversight. For the third time, the Conservatives are undermining the democratic process inherent in Parliament and trying to escape the watchful eyes of parliamentarians and the public.
I would like to point out another important concern. The former Parliamentary Budget Officer clearly indicated that the cuts announced in the 2013 budget are not necessary in order to re-establish a structural surplus. In his opinion, the 2013 budget will eliminate thousands of jobs, reduce direct program spending and slow the growth of Canada's GDP.
There is evidence. According to estimates by the new Parliamentary Budget Officer, the 2012 budget, the 2012 budget update and the 2013 budget will lead to the loss of 67,000 jobs by 2017 and a 0.57% drop in the GDP. Based on these facts, the Conservatives' 2013 budget will raise the unemployment rate in Canada. It is unfortunate, because when unemployment rates are high, the economy runs slowly. I wonder what logic the government is using when it talks about the economy.
The Conservatives love to boast about their job creation record, yet 1.4 million Canadians are without work and 240,000 more young people are unemployed than before the recession. Despite that, the Conservatives' Bill C-60 offers no job creation measures.
As the official opposition's youth caucus president, I am particularly concerned with Canada's youth and young workers. As a result, the rest of my speech—which is not much longer—will focus on the younger generation that is ignored by the Conservative government.
In today's labour market, there is a desperate lack of jobs for young Canadians aged 15 to 24. A study by TD Economics revealed that a young person who is currently unemployed or under-employed will be financially scarred for 18 years. This young person, who wants to work and often has an extensive education, not only has a problem finding work, but will be affected in the future with reduced earning potential. Right now, this young person has no job and cannot invest in the economy. As I said, it will take this young person 18 years to overcome the economic deficit that is being created today. This is not the way to make the economy work.
For these young people in their 20s, this means putting off purchasing their own property, having children later, needing more time to pay off their debt and earning lower salaries. That is what the Conservative government is offering our young people at this time.
Combining the underemployment crisis and unemployment among young people with the tax hikes announced in budget 2013, with Bill C-60, the Conservative government is in fact reducing my generation's purchasing power.
Although the Conservatives promised not to raise taxes, their budget includes new tax hikes for Canadians on almost everything, from hospital parking to credit unions, safety deposit boxes and labour sponsored investment funds, not to mention bicycles and strollers. These tax hikes will cost Canadians $7.8 billion over the next five years.
Why did the Conservatives promise not to raise taxes if they knew for a fact they were going to raise them by several billion dollars? Budget 2013 is based on an ideology that is harmful to Canadians. Although economists agree that austerity measures undermine growth, the Conservatives are determined to impose these backward-thinking measures in order to achieve their political agenda of cutting the deficit by 2015.
I see my time is up. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to finish and giving me a chance to speak to this bill. I will now take questions. However, I would like to emphasize that, although there are some good measures here, it is unfortunate that we have to vote on everything at once.
View Kirsty Duncan Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kirsty Duncan Profile
2013-05-06 15:50 [p.16351]
Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of representing a wonderful riding, the riding of Etobicoke North, the community where I was born and raised. We are proudly one of the most multicultural ridings in the country, but sadly, we also have our challenges.
Recent statistics show that almost 20% of our residents are not yet citizens. Our families face family reunification challenges and language and job barriers. Almost 25% of our families are headed by single parents who work two and three jobs just to put food on the table. Almost 20% of our riding is engaged in manufacturing, the second highest percentage for the entire country. In stark contrast, only 5% are involved in management, the 301st ranking of 308 ridings in Canada.
I am sharing this because we need real investment in our families and in our community, particularly during tough economic times. What we do not need are broken promises such as the Conservatives promising that they would not cut the rate of increase to transfers for health care, education and pensions.
The previous cuts to old age security, a move that would cost our seniors tens of thousands of dollars in support, are still causing outrage in my community. Single moms ask how the Prime Minister could do this, when he promised not to touch pensions. They have children and have to work. How will they pay for their children's education? They have no money to put away for retirement. What will happen to them?
Humber College students are saying that once they graduate they will have no job, and that is not fair. They ask why they are being treated differently by their country. Grandparents continue to come in wanting to know why their grandchildren are being targeted by the Government of Canada.
Today we are debating Bill C-60, the first Conservative omnibus bill following its 2013 budget, which impacts at least 18 different government portfolios. While there are some items in the bill that people could generally support—for example, better allowances for veterans and more incentives for charitable giving—these are mixed with many negative measures that will hurt the people of Etobicoke North. I simply cannot support these negative measures.
It is important to remind those watching at home that when the Conservatives came to power in 2006, they inherited from their Liberal predecessors 10 straight years of balanced budgets, an annual surplus that was running at the rate of $13 billion every year, lower debt, lower taxes, a sound Canadian pension plan and 3.5 million net new jobs. The last time a Conservative government actually balanced a budget for Canada was 101 years ago in 1912.
Bill C-60 creates the illusion of action regarding jobs and training. The government proposes to claw back the $2.5 billion per year in labour market money that it now sends to the provinces and renegotiate it with provincial governments. This amounts to recycling existing money. There is nothing new, no additional federal investment.
My community needs jobs, and each day at least one young person calls our office looking for work and we help find jobs, week after week. The youth unemployment rate remains a staggering 14.2%, nearly twice the rate for other Canadians. Today, 404,000 young people lack a job and another 171,000 have simply given up and dropped out of the labour market.
Another reason I cannot support the bill is that it increases taxes—for example, new Conservative taxes on safety deposit boxes totalling $40 million a year, new Conservative taxes on credit unions amounting to $75 million a year, and the list goes on. However, what I really object to is the new Conservative increase of tariff taxes, taxes on imports, which will take about $333 million every year from Canadians.
The people of Etobicoke North do not want the cost of baby carriages to go up 3%; bicycles to go up 4.5%; blankets to go up 5%; ovens, cooking stoves and ranges, 3%; plastic school supplies, 3.5%; pillows, 6%; and vacuum cleaners, 5%. I have heard from Canadians battling cancer, who must fight their disease every day, that their cosmetic wigs will go up by an astonishing 15.5%. It is absolutely shameful.
When all these measures are fully implemented, as well as some other taxes that are buried in the legislation, the burden will add up to more than $2 billion per year in new Conservative taxes on Canadians.
I did make a specific request to the Minister of Finance for budget 2013, as families in Etobicoke North asked, and respected the minister's request that ideas be cost neutral or non-spending steps. My appeal was for a joint meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health and agriculture to develop a plan of action to work with stakeholders across the country to improve student nutrition, because children in my riding and across the country go to school hungry, and hungry children cannot learn.
Forty per cent of elementary students and 62% of secondary school students do not eat a nutritious breakfast. Poor nutrition status leads to poor health outcomes for children, and Canadian children from all income brackets are vulnerable to inadequate nutrition, especially the one in five Canadian children who live below the poverty line.
In addition to making the human argument, to do the right thing and to honour the promises Canada has made to our children, I even made the economic argument for student nutrition. The Boston Consulting Group reports that, on average, each high school graduate contributes an extra $75,000 to the economy. They earn higher salaries than dropouts, pay increased taxes, have lower health care costs and are less dependent on social assistance. If providing food at school increases graduation rates by only 3%, a pan-Canadian school meals program in high schools at a cost of $1.25 a day could result in an annual net payback of more than $500 million annually.
The potential economic stimulus for Canadian agriculture is also considerable. Realistically, 70% of the pan-Canadian nutrition program could have domestic content, with an annual return to Canadian producers of $1.5 billion.
Not only do our children want healthy food now, but they also want a healthy environment to grow up in and raise their children and grandchildren. While no cuts to the environment are specifically mentioned in budget 2013, Canadians should remember that cutting is actually a three-year program with a $13 million reduction this year, growing to $31 million, then $58 million and ultimately representing a 5% cut for Environment Canada.
Budget 2013 offers mere scraps for the environment and in no way makes up for the war on the environment and science that the government has been waging and continues to wage: for example, $4 million for marine-based ecosystem conservation, when the government has promised to protect 10% of marine areas and yet has protected only 1%; $10 million for the conservation of fisheries and a salmon conservation stamp after eviscerating the Fisheries Act; and a new tax credit for clean energy worth a tiny $1 million for a global $1 trillion industry.
Perhaps most concerning of all is the lack of action on climate change, when the government is under increased study for its environmental and climate change record, particularly by our largest trading partner, the United States, and the fact that record low Great Lakes levels, which many experts attribute to a changing climate, are mentioned but not acted upon in the budget. For a government that is desperate to greenwash its record, budget 2013 and Bill C-60 clearly show that the environment is only an afterthought for the Conservatives, although Liberals support the funding for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
In closing, I do not support this bill because it will make life harder for the people of Etobicoke North to make ends meet and does nothing to help youth find work. My hard-working constituents should not have to pay for the government's wasteful spending.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill today, to describe the measures that address our country's most urgent needs. The 2013 economic action plan focuses on our goals—jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canada. We have six major priorities and I will go over them briefly since I do not have much time.
First, we are going to connect Canadians with available jobs, and we will do that through the Canada job grant. We want to prioritize helping Canadians acquire the skills they need to obtain the jobs that are available now. Demographic trends mean that many good jobs will soon be vacant as people retire from the workforce, and we want our young people and those embarking on a second career to have all the skills required for those jobs.
We believe that involving businesses in the process and in funding the process is a key factor and a winning strategy. We look forward to working closely with all the provinces. In addition, we want to support the apprenticeship system and help people acquire the experience they need to obtain their journeyperson certificate. We also will offer more than 5,000 young people in transition an opportunity to turn their academic training into practical experience. Finally, we want to offer employment opportunities to persons with disabilities, young people, Aboriginals and recent immigrants. In order to do this, we are creating the tools that will help them find jobs.
Our second priority is the new building Canada plan, with more than $53 billion available over 10 years. That includes $32.2 billion over 10 years for the community improvement fund to build roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure across Canada. This plan will enable municipalities to plan for and achieve their priorities. There will also be $14 billion for the new building Canada fund to support major national or regional economic projects. In addition, $1.5 billion will be used to renew the P3 Canada fund. Finally, $6 billion will be allocated to the provinces, territories and municipalities under the new infrastructure program for 2014-15 and following years.
In our view, this predictable long-term funding represents the largest and longest-lasting federal investment in employment-creating infrastructure in Canada's history. We will also invest in world-class research and innovation in order to support cutting-edge research, encourage innovation in business, and improve Canada's venture capital system, which in turn will foster talent and ideas among entrepreneurs, promote an entrepreneurial culture in Canada and support young entrepreneurs.
We will continue to support families and communities. In order to support families, we will increase tax relief for families who adopt a child and those who require home care, we will eliminate tariffs on baby clothing and sports equipment in order to reduce their cost to consumers, and we will develop a new code to better protect consumers of financial products.
As for community investments, we will invest nearly $1.9 billion over five years to create more affordable housing and to combat homelessness. We will also introduce a new, temporary, first-time donor tax credit to encourage charitable donations.
We are also thinking of helping our businesses grow and prosper in the global economy. We will provide $1.4 billion in tax relief for manufacturers through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector.
We will also contribute to small business expansion by granting $225 million to enhance and extend the temporary hiring credit for small business for one year.
We are thinking of our future generations and are very proud of the plan to return to budget balance. Canada is on track to return to balanced budgets by 2015-16. Our economic action plan 2013 announces more public spending savings totalling $2 billion by 2015-16.
We will do this through many logical improvements, including cutting needless spending and waste, reducing travelling expenses through technology, pursuing measures to limit public service compensation and closing tax loopholes that benefit a few taxpayers.
We will continue supporting seniors, as we have done since 2006, because we know and acknowledge that Canadian seniors have helped build our great country. That is why economic action plan 2013 contains new measures to improve the quality of life of our Canadian seniors. We will expand tax relief for home care to include personal care provided to individuals who, due to age, infirmity or disability, require such assistance at home.
We will also provide assistance for the construction and renovation of accessible community facilities by investing $15 million a year in the enabling accessibility fund.
Agriculture is very close to my heart, given my family roots. Our budget will also provide support for our Canadian farmers. The family farm is one of the pillars of our country. For generations, our farmers have fed Canadians and the rest of the world and generated jobs and job opportunities across the country. That is why economic action plan 2013 contains a number of measures to support Canadian farmers and agricultural innovation.
For example, we will increase the lifetime capital gains exemption from $750,000 to $800,000. That will not only help Canadian farmers plan for their retirement, but it will also help transfer the family farm to the next generation of Canadian farmers. We will also help part-time farmers by doubling the deduction limit currently permitted under the restricted farm loss rules from $8,750 to $17,500.
Lastly, we will invest $165 million in Genome Canada, whose research work is helping to design new technologies for the agricultural sector—such as the bovine genome—which offer considerable advantages for the cattle and dairy industry.
I would like to remind hon. members that these measures are in addition to the support our government has been proud to give Canadian farmers and the agricultural sector since 2006.
The budget contains even more. It is available online, on the Internet, and it is a budgetary reference work. I am very proud because, now at the end of this laborious cross-Canada consultation process, we have a goal and a common vision: a working plan. We conducted pre-budget consultations, and we answered the call of businesses that want a skilled, qualified and engaged Canadian and Quebec labour force.
Together we are paying our fair share of taxes, and we are proud of this budget, which will not take money away from families unfairly because we are not increasing taxes. Our budget meets needs in a quick and tangible way, without further undermining our children or our country. Our budget is responsible and offers hope for the thousands of Canadians who just want to be active in the workforce.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
2013-05-03 13:24 [p.16294]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about a few measures in the budget that would, in fact, help families avoid taxes and seniors avoid taxes. I think there are some very good things along that line.
In supporting families, we have enhanced the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize those unique costs, so that there would be some avoidance of tax that way. There are measures for expanding tax relief for home care services to include personal care services for those who, due to age, infirmity or disability, require assistance at home; enhancing the funeral and burial program for Canadian veterans; supporting palliative care services; and combatting family violence. These are some of the good initiatives in the budget that would help people to pay less tax, and that is always a good thing for Canadians.
View Steven Blaney Profile
View Steven Blaney Profile
2013-05-02 16:14 [p.16233]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this afternoon and share my time with an outstanding person, namely the member for Ottawa—Orléans. He represents a community in the suburbs of the greater Ottawa area, which includes a large French-speaking community, and he serves it very well.
He also serves veterans very well. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion. I can always count on him. He always attends events organized for veterans. I want to thank him and tell him that I am extremely proud to be with him in a Conservative caucus that is working every day to improve the quality of life for the entire Canadian population.
I want to say in no uncertain terms that I will be supporting our government’s 2013 economic action plan without reservation, for three very simple reasons.
First, this budget is tailor-made for Canadian families. It is consistent with our policies. For example, we have the lowest taxation rate for families. What we want is for the money to stay in the pockets of our families, so they can use it for their many needs.
We want to be an efficient government that is at their service. That is why we have reduced taxes more than 150 times since 2006. As a result, an average family with four children has $3,200 more in its pockets because it is paying less in taxes. Young families, among others, are also receiving grants to raise their children up to age six. People are also paying less in GST. We are naturally staying the course on the economy, and a return to a balanced budget.
Second, every person elected represents municipalities or cities. I have the privilege of representing a large portion of the city of Lévis, with my colleague the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. Now, the city of Lévis has significant infrastructure needs in order to support families and economic growth, and to be able to provide a quality of life in a changing environment. The city of Lévis has infrastructure projects, but so does the municipality of Bellechasse and the Des Etchemins regional county municipality. I am also thinking of Beaumont, which is growing very quickly, and Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague. These municipalities have infrastructure projects.
I support the economic action plan because the huge sums involved will enable municipalities to invest in infrastructure not only this year, but in the years to come. More than $50 billion in infrastructure spending is planned. For example, we are making the transfer of the excise tax on gasoline permanent. That will enable our municipalities to invest. We will be partnering with the provincial governments to enable them to generate leverage with the investments they make in infrastructure. This will consolidate the economic prosperity of our country.
Third, I support this budget because it is designed to serve people who have put their lives at risk for our country. They have served under Canada’s flag. Whether they are still in the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces or have left, they are our veterans and their families.
I would like to take a few moments to show how much this budget respects the government’s responsibility towards its veterans and their families.
In the economic action plan, we have, so to speak, an investment that will represent huge sums in the years ahead for veterans and their families. Among other things, there is one specific measure in the budget: the war veterans’ allowance. For this measure to come into force, however, the economic action plan must be supported. I will talk a little more about it.
What struck me first in the budget with respect to benefits for veterans and their families is the need for support when a veteran dies. The funeral and burial program has been substantially improved with respect to funerals for eligible veterans. We are receiving constructive comments from the veteran community on this matter.
We are also improving our contribution to the important date coming up in 2017, namely the 150th anniversary of our country. That will also be the 100th anniversary of a landmark event in our history: the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where Canadians fought together for the first time. We were victorious, but we suffered substantial losses. That is why it is important that we, as a nation, make sure that people do not forget their sacrifice. That is also why we will be investing $5 million in an interpretation centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
The measures contained in the economic action plan 2013 take our unprecedented support for Canada's veterans and their families to the next level and demonstrate our continued commitment to veterans. We can see this commitment clearly in our government's response to a Federal Court ruling last spring.
The judge who made the decision did not specify its scope. However, he did indicate that there is no connection with the programs provided by National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada. That said, under the leadership of our Prime Minister and with the support of the Conservative caucus, our government has decided to go beyond this decision, which involved only National Defence, so that the harmonization of our programs also covers those delivered by Veterans Affairs Canada.
This is an envelope of nearly $1.9 billion. Our government therefore decided immediately to go beyond the court’s decision and to stop deducting the disability pension from Veterans Affairs Canada in calculating the monthly payments as an allowance for lost revenue from the department and as an income support allowance from the Canadian Forces. We were able to do it immediately because that was what we wanted to do.
We wanted to accomplish a third item: the war veterans allowance. To do this, we need regulatory changes. That is why we need support from all parliamentarians for the approval of this measure, which is included in the 2013 economic action plan. Some 2,500 modern-era veterans and survivors should benefit from these changes in the first year alone. We also intend to adjust this veterans allowance in the same way.
Economic action plan 2013 calculates that the total impact of these measures, when we combine National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada together, would be $1.9 billion over seven years. That is an extra $1.9 billion in the pockets of disabled veterans and men and women in uniform. We think this is the right thing to do and we seek support from the House to do so. This includes an additional $95.4 million to veterans above what was announced previously when calculating the earning loss benefit and the Canadian Forces income support benefit.
I want to reiterate how important it is as a government to support the budget for three reasons.
The first is the major increase in the funeral and burial program for those who need it.
The second is the support for the commemorations that would occur at the Vimy memorial centre, which is important. We actually have the Vimy memorial on our new $20 bill. It is our duty to remember.
The third is the harmonization of all of our programs, especially the veterans war allowance.
That is why I invite members to support the budget not only for all Canadian families, but especially for what it does for our veterans and their families.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2013-04-25 17:59 [p.15941]
moved that Bill C-478, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (increasing parole ineligibility), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to rise for this first hour of debate on my private member's bill, Bill C-478, which is a bill I have titled the respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act.
I want to thank the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister for throwing their support behind my private member's bill. I also want to thank Senator Boisvenu, from the other place, for his support for this legislation and for the incredible work he did when he founded the Murdered or Missing Persons' Families' Association.
Bill C-478 is focused on amending the Criminal Code. Section 745 lays out a number of different codes for sentencing for a number of felonies. This bill would create a new subsection under section 745 that would concentrate on individuals who have committed the three following crimes together: abduction, sexual assault and murder of an individual. We are proposing that rather than one sentence of a maximum life sentence of 25 years without parole, we would give the courts discretionary power to look at increasing that ineligibility to a maximum of 40 years.
This is about empowering the courts. This is about giving another tool to judges and juries to look at ways to evaluate individual cases. Because it would provide discretionary power to the courts, and not mandatory minimums, we would actually be compliant with section 12 of the charter.
Judges, when determining parole ineligibility periods, have to take into account the character of offenders, the nature of the offences and the circumstances surrounding their commission so that judges can task juries with making recommendations for sentencing and parole ineligibility for the individual. Again, today the maximum is 25 years, but sentences could go all the way to 40 years if the person is charged and convicted of first degree murder in association with the other acts of kidnapping and rape.
This is a very important issue that really strikes at what Canadians expect of this government. My private member's bill, Bill C-478, follows suit, and has been modelled after Bill C-48, which was the government's bill on protecting Canadians by ending sentence discounts for multiple murders, and Bill S-6, which is the act for serious time for the most serious crimes. Again, it would provide a tool for the courts. It would empower the judges and juries to give stronger sentences. It is about going after the worst of society.
We are talking about the Robert Picktons of the world, people like Paul Bernardo, Russell Williams, Michael Rafferty, Terri-Lynne McClintic, Clifford Olson, Donald Armstrong, James Dobson, David Shearing and even Luka Magnotta, who is in the system right now. These are the most depraved individuals who all in society find repulsive. These sadistic murderers are the ones who snatch up our children or loved ones, commit their sexually depraved acts upon their victims and then sadistically murder them. It is a true brutalization of individuals.
One of the worst ones we have come across is David Threinen, who was sentenced to life in prison back in 1975. Justice Hughes, who was the judge at the time, stated, in regard to Threinen, that he should “never again be on the streets and roadways of our country”. This individual was so depraved that the judge at the time, taking into consideration his character and the gravity of the crimes he had committed, said that he should never, ever be paroled.
My office has contacted the Library of Parliament and people who are experts in the criminal justice system. With all the research we have done, we could not find one example where these types of sadistic murderers are ever paroled. Clifford Olson died in prison. These individuals are not being released back into society, yet they have tools such as parole hearings at their disposal to re-victimize the families. If they are convicted of second degree murder, they can ask for a parole hearing at year 10. Robert Pickton was only charged with second degree murder, 25 counts. Therefore, he is eligible for a parole hearing at 10 years.
We want to make sure that does not happen. Now the judges could, even if people are charged with second degree murder and not first degree murder, put in a more stringent timeline before they can make parole applications.
Just a few years ago a lot of Canada, including myself, was gripped by the Tori Stafford case. It broke everyone's hearts to see how this little girl was caught on camera being abducted from school and to find out later that she had been sexually assaulted by Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic and then brutally murdered with a hammer. In 2010, Terri-Lynne McClintic was sentenced to life in prison.
At about the same time it also came to light that Russell Williams, a former member of the Canadian Forces, was also arrested and sentenced at the end of 2010, in October, for the murders of Jessica Lloyd and Marie France Comeau, who were abducted, raped and then murdered.
During that time, as Michael Rafferty was still in the court system, Clifford Olson was dying of cancer in jail. In listening to the talk shows, what was weighing on my mind was how we could keep these very gruesome individuals from being released back into society where they have the opportunity to reoffend.
Then I heard the story of Sharon Rosenfeldt, her husband Gary and their son Daryn. I listened to how the family was tormented by Olson, along with the other 10 families who had also lost loved ones to this monster, which I think is the only way one could describe Clifford Olson. When they were getting ready to attend parole hearings he would write to them about not only how he abducted and raped their children over and over again but how he tortured them and the way in which he killed them. I believe all Canadians were repulsed by that recount and by those crimes.
I started looking into how to save families from having to go before the Parole Board every time one of these individuals could apply for parole. Olson did it under the faint hope clause at year 15. Then, starting at year 23, he was again allowed to reapply every two years. He would write to the families and they would be forced to put together all of their victim impact statements and then appear at the parole hearings and restate and relive that traumatic and terrible event of being informed that their child had been brutally murdered.
This bill is about ending the re-victimization of the families. It will end the ability of those sadistic individuals who are incarcerated from using parole hearings to toy with, terrorize and brutalize the families over and over again.
If Bill C-478 becomes law, and if a judge and jury make the decision to apply the maximum sentence of 40 years without parole, it would save the families eight Parole Board hearings over that time, eight times of having to go before the Parole Board, facing the individual who murdered their loved one, having to relive the horrific events that occurred in the past and really, this is about respecting their rights as victims.
The bill is not about tougher punishments, because all the research, and I have to restate this, has shown that these individuals are never released into society. They are incarcerated for life. Parole boards, over and over again, deny them the ability to go back into society. These individuals are not rehabilitated.
I have been reading through victim impact statements from a number of the families with whom I have been in contact. One family even shared with me an email from another convict who was incarcerated at the same time and in the same facility as the murderer of their child. He wrote, “This individual, despite the facade that he is putting on, should never be released into society”, and said to do everything they could to ensure that he stayed in prison.
The bill is about the families of the victims like Linda Bright, Janet and Karen Johnson, Darlene Prioriello, and Sharon Rosenfeldt's son, Daryn.
Linda Bright was only 16 years old when she was abducted by Donald Armstrong in Kingston back in 1978. He applied for parole on numerous occasions, including just recently in March 2012. Linda's sister, Susan Ashley, made this statement. She said, “My heart breaks having to live through this again. My heart breaks having to watch my Mom and Dad drag up their thoughts and pain from that deep place inside them where they tuck their hurt away”.
Linda's mother, Margaret Bright, said, “This is not fair. We should not have to relive our tragedy. When I remember my daughter, let me remember her as a little girl. Don't make me think about the other awful time in 1978....Let me tell you this has been the most difficult thing I have had to do in the last twenty years.”
Sharon Rosenfeldt, who has been very active with the National Victims of Crime organization, attended our press conference this morning with the Minister of Justice and Senator Boisvenu. She was what really drove me to this point, hearing her on the radio, driving around in my riding in Manitoba. I really appreciate that she has been such a powerful advocate.
Her son, Daryn, was only 16, and again, was a victim, one of Clifford Olson's 11 victims. They had to go through the faint hope clause hearing in 1997 and parole hearings in 2006 and 2010. Every time he was denied parole. Her past husband Gary said, “What's really horrendous about this is this is only the beginning. We're going to have to do this every two years as long as Olson lives. And this is a very, very painful experience for myself, my family.”
Sharon said, “Attending parole hearings every two years or five years after the offender has served 25 years is cruel and unusual punishment for the victim's family.”
Terri Prioriello, in talking about her sister, Darlene, who was killed at 16 years of age in 1982 said, “Families have already been victimized once. They shouldn't have to be victimized every two years. Having to face a loved one's killer and to read what he did to her and how her death has affected our lives is something nobody should ever have to do once, never mind twice.”
I ask members of this House to support my bill and really respect the rights of the victims whose children have been so brutally murdered by these horrendous characters.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2013-04-25 18:30 [p.15945]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak tonight in favour of Bill C-478.
First, I would like to ask the indulgence of my colleagues to say a few words about a case in Nova Scotia, with which I think we are all familiar. It is a case that has received national and international attention over the past few weeks. I am speaking about the very tragic case of Rehtaeh Parsons.
I know all members would join me in offering our very sincere condolences to the family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons on what is truly a tragic loss. All members, I think, are looking forward to the Minister of Justice introducing legislation that we hope and expect will recognize the dangers that our children face in today's world and help us put an end to cyberbulling.
I do not know how we legislate to stop people treating others in a way that is ridiculing, demeaning or making false statements about them, because that is part of the bullying in this case. What has happened in more than one school, as we know, is of great concern, so I look forward to what the minister has. I hope we can, as a society, not just bring forward laws that deal with this, but go beyond that to face up to what has happened and try to prevent this sort of thing happening again.
Let me turn my attention to Bill C-478. It is certainly interesting legislation from my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake, and I appreciate him bringing it forward. I welcome this change. It is a change from the usual Conservative practice in that the bill does not seek to limit judicial discretion. I do not know if that is the result of the discussions he had with the Department of Justice. Maybe it was his own approach to begin with. What we normally see from the government is not to allow any discretion from judges, which is a Republican approach that it seems to have adopted and with which I do not agree. We have to look at each case and the facts of each case separately, which is what the member has proposed that judges do in this instance. It is based, in part, on the recommendation of the jury, which the judge could consider.
Like Canadians everywhere, the Liberal Party believes that our courts should be empowered to impose severe sentences where warranted. I do not think this is a case of a cruel sentence. We are talking about people whose sentence is life imprisonment. We are talking about what the parole situation is.
Often it is positive and it makes sense, depending on the kind of crime, to have the possibility of parole. In many cases, it improves the chance that a convict will perhaps be more co-operative in prison or will try to rehabilitate. This is not to say that all convicts can be rehabilitated, but they will hopefully make some effort so when the time comes that they can apply for parole, they might have a chance. The experts have said that and there are some benefits to it.
As my hon. colleague from Selkirk—Interlake has said, we are talking about a different kind of case. We are talking about cases like Clifford Olson and what happens to the poor families of victims that have to go through a series of parole hearings over time. How horrible to think that the perpetrator has the power over those families to force them to go before a parole board and relive the whole thing, not every year, perhaps, but multiple times.
I appreciate very much what my hon. colleague is working to achieve here. It is important to also remember that what he is talking about is where a perpetrator has not only committed murder, but has abducted someone, sexually assaulted and then murdered that person. He is saying that a person has to have all of those three crimes, which is a pretty severe instance.
The other thing he has said is let us leave it to the discretion of the judge to make the assessment. Is this person a Clifford Olson type of person who is going to be there forever and who might be trying to take advantage or cause humiliation and upset to the families over that period? In a case where the judge comes to that conclusion, he or she can say that the perpetrator will not have the chance of parole until 40 years from now.
That is what my hon. colleague is trying to do, and our party will support the effort to ensure that criminals of the type we are talking about would face a sentence of imprisonment for life, without eligibility for parole until the person has served a sentence of between 25 and 40 years, as determined by the presiding judge after considering a recommendation, if any, of the jury.
Having said all that, I am supporting the bill and I appreciate it.
However, as we have seen a lot in this House, the Conservative approach to crime focuses on punishment. I do not have a problem with the idea of promoting public safety or the idea that the punishment should fit the crime. That is why I support this bill. However, I would like to see more focus from the government on the actions to prevent crime. I will speak more about that, because preventing it at the outset is obviously a very important goal. It is far better to not have the crime occur than to punish someone for it afterward. There are still going to be crimes and we would still have to have punishment, but let us also do as much as we can to protect the public and keep criminals off the street in that way, because then they would not be criminals.
However, when it comes to criminals who commit serious offences, let us absolutely get them off the streets. I do not think any member would disagree that preventing the victims from becoming victims to begin with would be our primary goal.
To be specific, this new provision would apply to offenders convicted of one of the following abduction or kidnapping offences: kidnapping and forcible confinement, abduction of a person under the age of 16, abduction of a person under the age of 14, abduction and contravention of a custody order, and abduction. It would apply as well to the following sexual assault offences: sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault. As well, as I said earlier, it would apply to murder. The new provision would apply in the case of any one of those in the first category, any in the second category, and murder.
The intent of this bill is to lessen the burden on victims' families, for whom parole hearings can obviously be horrendous and horrific. My colleague spoke of the offences as horrific, but clearly reliving them is horrific as well, and that is something that needs to be addressed.
This bill would give the courts the option of denying parole for up to an additional 15 years without limiting their discretion. That is why we can support this bill.
Meanwhile, the House should be looking at other measures we can take to fight crime and, if possible, prevent it from happening in the first place.
To reduce the occurrence of serious violent offences, Canada could improve the funding and training of police forces, enhance neighbourhood watch programs and enhance school security. I am not advocating what we heard from the National Rifle Association in the U.S., which talked about having armed guards in schools. That is not what I am suggesting, but there are things we can do to improve the security of schools.
I am sure most members here today had meetings earlier this week with front-line police officers. I met with officers from Halifax, who talked about the fact that the economics of policing is a major issue and that the police need to be involved in developing policies that affect those economics. In particular, they raised the fact that they are often dealing with mental health issues, and that type of situation diverts their attention. They might arrest someone who really has a mental health problem, take the individual to a hospital because he or she has been injured, and then sit there for six hours having to wait until someone can take over. That obviously diverts those police officers from their other duties and is a drain on police resources.
They talked also about people who breach their parole and the concern that the person could remain out on the street if that situation is not dealt with quickly. I hope the government members will listen and address these concerns of the officers.
We do accept and support this bill as an acceptable amendment to sentencing guidelines.
View Robert Goguen Profile
View Robert Goguen Profile
2013-04-25 18:40 [p.15946]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak to the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code contained in the private member's bill before us today.
Let me begin by stating that the amendments contained in Bill C-478, the respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act, are based on the same fundamental propositions that underlie many legislative initiatives passed by Parliament in the interests of victims of crime and of their families and loved ones. The fundamental proposition is a straightforward one. The families and loved ones of murdered victims should not become secondary victims of convicted murderers by being forced to relive the details of their terrible loss every time the killer applies for parole.
As hon. members may recall from past debates, both first and second degree murder is punishable by life imprisonment and is subject to a period, set out in section 745 of the Criminal Code, during which the murderer may not apply for parole. While all murderers are morally blameworthy, first and second degree murders are distinguished from each other by the higher degree of moral blameworthiness associated with first degree murder that justifies the longer mandatory period of parole ineligibility of 25 years.
While the mandatory minimum period of parole for second degree murder is ten years, it may be increased in two situations. First, if a person who is convicted of second degree murder has been convicted of either a prior murder or of an intentional killing under the crimes against humanity and war crimes acts, the parole ineligibility period is automatically the same as for first degree murder, namely 25 years. In such cases, the fact that the murderer has killed before is considered to increase his or her moral blameworthiness up to the level of first degree murder.
Second, even if the person convicted of second degree murder has not killed before, a judge has the discretion, under section 745.4 of the Criminal Code, to impose a period of parole ineligibility of up to 25 years based on the murderer's character, the nature and circumstances of the murder and any jury recommendation in this regard. In short, the higher the degree of moral blameworthiness associated with a second degree murder, the longer the parole ineligibility period that may be imposed to reflect it.
It is important to bear in mind the concept of moral blameworthiness in considering the proposals put forth in Bill C-478. These proposals are directed at the most morally blameworthy murderers, those in which the murder victim has also been subjected to a kidnapping and to a sexual assault by the murderer. It is hard to imagine a more heinous series of acts committed against the same victim.
The issue before us today is that, with the exception of the case of multiple murders, the maximum parole ineligibility period for a murder permitted under the Criminal Code is 25 years. This is true no matter how terrible the circumstances in which the murder may have been committed.
As for multiple murderers, as members will recall, the government introduced and passed the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act. These Criminal Code amendments permit a judge to impose a parole ineligibility period on a multiple murderer for the first murder in accordance with the provisions I have already described. The judge is also authorized to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods of 25 years, one for each victim after the first, to ensure that the life of not one murder victim is automatically discounted at sentencing.
However, as the current law stands, a parole ineligibility of only 25 years would be applied to an individual who has committed one murder and has also kidnapped and sexually assaulted the same victim. This is the exact situation Bill C-478 is attempting to correct. That is, the bill would eliminate the current devaluation of the suffering of the murder victim as well as the apparent disregard of the extreme level of moral blameworthiness exhibited by the murderer. One has only to recall the murder of Tori Stafford by Michael Rafferty to realize the truth of this statement.
Allow me to be more specific about what Bill C-478 would do. First, it would amend section 745 of the Criminal Code to require a mandatory parole ineligibility period of 25 years for anyone convicted of murder who has also been convicted of committing one of the listed kidnapping and abduction offences as well as one of the listed sexual offences against the murder victim.
Second, the bill would authorize a sentencing judge to replace that 25-year minimum parole ineligibility period with a longer period of up to 40 years, based upon the character of the offender, the nature and circumstances of the offence, and any jury recommendation in this regard.
As I described earlier, in the context of second degree murder, these are well-established Criminal Code criteria that permit the judge and jury who have heard the evidence at trial to make this important decision.
The purpose of the bill is very clear, very important and very simple. As the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake himself said when he introduced the legislation on February 27:
This bill is not about creating stiffer penalities for sadistic murderers. These depraved convicts do not qualify for parole. My bill is about saving families of victims from having to go through the agony of attending unnecessary and traumatic parole hearings.
In other words, the purpose of the bill is to ensure that families of the victims who have suffered such horrendous violence are not re-victimized by the justice system.
It is far too often the case that the families and loved ones of victims experience a greater degree of pain and experience a greater sense of loss because the justice system has failed to protect them from being re-victimized every two years when their murderer applies, in vain, for parole.
It could not be more appropriate that we are debating the issue raised by Bill C-478 during National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. In this regard, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the theme of this year's event: We All Have a Role. In this regard, our role as members of Parliament during this important week is clear. It is to reflect on the obvious merits of Bill C-478 and agree to move as quickly as possible to committee and to third reading, thus to ensure it becomes the law of the land in the shortest possible time.
In fact, I can think of nothing that would honour the meaning of this week more than if we could see this bill pass through the House and the other place within the year so that we may celebrate it in time for next year's National Victims of Crime Awareness Week and take pride in the role we played in bringing this about.
In closing, I thank all members for their attention and urge them to come together in the interests of the families and loved ones of victims of horrific crimes targeted by Bill C-478, this important legislation that would meet a real need. I strongly urge all members, therefore, to give their full support to the bill and urge its swift passage.
View Randy Hoback Profile
View Randy Hoback Profile
2013-03-27 16:37 [p.15295]
Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here today. It has been a busy afternoon in the House of Commons, so it is nice to get on with the debate and the country's business.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.
The people of B.C. are just as excited about this budget as the people of Saskatchewan, because there are so many good things in it for our constituents and Canadians right across Canada.
Canada has been doing very well throughout the global crisis. The World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system as the safest in the world. We have a good, solid banking system, so our constituents can take comfort in knowing that their deposits are safe and secure. Another thing to point out is that Canada has a AAA credit rating, the best credit rating in the world. Canada has been doing very well in light of the financial crisis that has been going on around us.
One of the other things we should talk about is job creation. While other countries are losing jobs and suffering massive unemployment, we are creating new jobs here in Canada. We have created 950,000 net new jobs since the start of the 2008 global crisis. That is amazing if we look at what is going on around the world.
Saskatchewan is in a unique situation when it comes to jobs. The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan is sitting right at 3.7%. That is basically telling me that anybody who wants a job in Saskatchewan can get a job.
When I go back to my riding and talk to business owners about what they require in order to see more expansion and growth, the common theme is the lack of employees. They are looking for ways to get not just new employees but skilled employees. They need plumbers and electricians. They need people with their journeyman status.
Canada's economic action plan 2013 addresses those needs. The first action our government took was to bring in the Canada job grant. This program would allow a maximum benefit of up to $5,000. The federal government will put in $5,000, the business will put in $5,000 and the provincial government will put in $5,000 for skills training.
When I talk to people like some of the ag machinery dealerships in my riding, they tell me that they need more heavy-duty mechanics. They can embrace a program like this and take advantage of it. With the free skills training, they can create heavy-duty mechanics out of a common employee. Those are the kinds of things that businesses require, and they are there in economic action plan 2013.
Another thing people in Saskatchewan are looking for is a way to get their journeyman status more quickly. This has been addressed in economic action plan 2013. We need more journeymen mechanics, plumbers and electricians in Saskatchewan. I am looking at remodelling a house, and I have to wait up to four months just to get a plumber. I have to wait up to three months for someone to put in a furnace. The skills shortage in my riding of Prince Albert is extreme, and this action plan will hopefully help to alleviate some of those concerns.
I want to point out some things that are unique to my riding of Prince Albert.
Aboriginal youth come to Prince Alberta from northern ridings looking for work. These are the people we need to get into the skills training program, and we have set up funding to do that. We are going to see more of that going forward. More aboriginal people are going to be participating in the economy. When we talk to chiefs with James Smith Cree Nation and Muskoday First Nation, this is something that they want. They want to participate in the economic boom going on in Saskatchewan, and this plan will allow their band members to do that. This is going to be great for Canada as a whole.
Another thing in the budget is the new building Canada plan. When I talk to my mayors, councillors and reeves, they tell me they want to see some sort of bankable method of payment from the federal government. The community improvement fund is a consistent fund of $32.2 billion over 10 years. Municipalities will be receiving funds they can bank on. They can use the money for a variety of different projects. They can use it for water or sewer, as may be done up in Nipawin, or they may want to use it for road construction in Kinistino. These are indexed funds that they can count on going into their coffers year after year. They are bankable and predictable, so municipalities can budget around them and plan on them and use them according to their needs.
The nice thing about this fund is that it is fairly wide open with respect to utilization. Municipalities can use it for a variety of projects. As I said, it can be used for a water project or to build a road or pave a street; those options are there. That is the nice thing about this fund.
I was talking to a couple of reeves over the weekend, who were very excited because these funds are bankable and predictable. It is something they asked for, and we actually gave it to them.
Then there is $14 billion for the new building Canada fund. One thing we have to recognize is that Canada is an exporting nation, but we need to keep building infrastructure. We need to take advantage of the resources we have, but in order to do that, we have to build infrastructure. We have to build roads. We have to put in infrastructure to get to the mines. We have to put in infrastructure to get the product to market. These are things that will be addressed by the $14 billion fund. Canadians recognize it as an important need and as something that will help our economy grow for a long time into the future.
We have the $1.25 billion renewal of the P3 Canada fund. The Province of Saskatchewan is embracing that fund. I know other provinces have embraced it. Here is a practical way to get projects built in a way that allows both the private sector and the public sector to participate, and the benefit is for the taxpayer, without a doubt.
Of course we have $6 billion under the current infrastructure programs for the provinces, territories and municipalities from 2014-15.
When we look at the new building Canada plan, there is over $53 billion over 10 years for infrastructure. That is a substantial amount of money, and it is probably the longest period of time that any money has been consistently given to the provinces and municipalities for infrastructure needs. It has never been done in the history of Canada for this length of a period of time.
Saskatchewan is an agricultural province that has gone from agriculture to mining. It has lots of resources, but it also has great world-class research. Genome Prairie is a good example, and it is nice to see core funding of $165 million going to the Genome projects that will be spread across Canada. That is groundbreaking research from which we will see benefits for years and years to come, and I am happy to see it in the budget.
We are also supporting and helping businesses to invest in innovation, thus making them more competitive and creating more high-paying jobs here in Canada.
Those are the items in the budget that will provide long-term growth and prosperity, not just for members sitting here but for our kids and our grandkids.
We cannot forget families. The family structure is such an important structure. We have to look at the variety of ways we can help families.
One of the things in the budget that is really great and unique is enhanced tax relief for families that are adopting children or those using home care services. That is important. That is actually something that families and taxpayers can use. They can look at it and say they have a government that appreciates their needs and requirements. It is in the budget, so I cannot see how members would ever vote against something like that.
I am a hockey player, and many of us have hockey kids. If parents can get baby clothes tariff-free and get cheaper, tariff-free hockey equipment, that again is supporting the family structure and is very positive.
We have $1.9 billion over five years going for homelessness and housing. The $1.9 billion is a substantial amount going into something that is drastically needed.
I wish I had a lot more time, because I could go on for 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes, but I am going to speed up on some of the things I also see happening here that are important to highlight.
Last year I did the Nijmegen march. I went to Groesbeek Cemetery in Holland. Not a blade of grass was out of place. Every tombstone was correct. The respect the people from the Netherlands give to our soldiers is amazing. With the increase and doubling of the funeral service reimbursement, we can do that here in Canada for our veterans also. That is very important. Taking it from $3,600 to $7,300 is something that our vets deserve, and it is nice to see it in the budget.
In closing, I would highlight something that is very important to me because I come from Saskatchewan. It is the fact that we are going to get to a balanced budget. What other country in the world is going to talk about getting to a balanced budget after going through a global recession since 2008? In 2015-16, we are going to have a balanced budget.
In Saskatchewan we have had a balanced budget. The premier has done a great job in making sure spending is kept under control--
View Eve Adams Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Eve Adams Profile
2013-03-26 11:19 [p.15198]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to speak to Canada's economic action plan 2013, our Conservative government's plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
Our economic action plan is centred on the priorities of hard-working Canadians and their families. Our economic action plan is focused on building an enduring prosperity for all Canadians. We are taking clear and decisive action to further strengthen our economy, create quality jobs and a better quality of life for generations to come, for our children and our grandchildren.
Today, I am proud to highlight some of the many benefits that our economic action plan 2013 would provide for Canadians and their families. For example, our economic action plan would provide the right kind of support to Canadian job creators. As promised, we are keeping taxes low to continue to help hard-working families and the employers who create prosperity and jobs for Canadians.
Since 2006, our government has consistently reduced taxes for hard-working Canadians, for the moms, dads, seniors and students. Simply put, we have reduced taxes for all Canadians.
Unlike the high-tax NDP and Liberals, our Conservative government believes in low taxes and leaving more money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Canadians so they can spend their money on their own priorities and money can circulate in the economy.
As Conservatives, we believe keeping taxes low is critically important to the well-being of our economy. We will continue to encourage job creators to invest in and create jobs in Canada.
Our plan is working. In fact, Canada is leading the G7. This is no small feat. Since the depth of the recession in 2009, we have created over 950,000 net new jobs, the strongest job creation record in the entire G7. Canada's unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years and significantly lower than the unemployment rate in the United States. This is quite a phenomenon.
Our banks are considered the most stable in the world, but the global economy continues to be fragile. That is why we are focused on job creation and not spending beyond what we can afford.
We are focused on eliminating tax loopholes that benefit only a select few. We are on track to balance the budget by 2015-16, as promised.
I mentioned Canadian businesses earlier. These businesses are our job creators. One of the measures I am very proud of is our continued support for small businesses and bright, industrious young people. Since 2006, our Conservative government has supported the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Economic action plan 2013 continues that support by providing $18 million to the foundation, which provide mentorship, advice and start-up financing for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 34.
Our Conservative government has also lowered the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, which allows small businesses to invest in growth, to hire our neighbours and to expand in new markets.
Our government is also providing a temporary credit of up to $1,000 against the small business increase in 2013 employment insurance premiums over those paid in 2012. This temporary credit will help approximately 560,000 employers if they hire more people. We have also increased the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 in 2014 for small business owners.
Manufacturing jobs in southern Ontario are critical. That is why our Conservative government is helping businesses succeed and grow in the global economy. This economic action plan includes $1.4 billion in tax relief through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new machinery and equipment for manufacturers. Our message to manufacturers is clear: please invest.
These are just a few examples of how our government stands strongly behind our job creators. In order for Canada to grow, we need more businesses to create jobs for Canadians, for our neighbours and more investment in our economy.
Canadian job seekers also need adequate skills and training to fill available jobs. Nothing is more disheartening than to hear my neighbours in Mississauga and Brampton say that they are searching for work and have been for months, only to then hear businesses say that they cannot find enough skilled employees to fill available jobs. There is a serious disconnect here. People are struggling to find jobs, while some businesses cannot grow as quickly as they should in order to compete.
Our government is taking decisive action to fix this growing problem, to ensure that Canada is on the right track for long-term economic prosperity. The new Canada job grant will provide $15,000 or more per person in combined federal, provincial and employer funding to help Canadians get the skills they need for in-demand jobs. By asking employers to equally share in the cost of training their new employees, we know job creator will ensure that the training is targeted and results focused. The new employee is also reassured that he or she is training for a job that exists and needs to be filled.
We also believe in supporting our families and our communities. Economic action plan 2013 introduces several key measures to help Canadian families. We offer new tax relief for families adopting a child. We propose to enhance the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the unique costs associated with adopting a child, and we wish these young families every happiness.
Let me also remind the opposition that since 2006, we have made the well-being of our children, our future, a priority. We introduced the children's fitness tax credit, promoting physical fitness among children through a credit of up to $500 for programs from hockey to ballet. In addition, we also offer the children's art tax credit, which encourages moms and dads to sign their children up for piano or guitar lessons, also with a credit of up to $500 for arts programs. As a mom, I know how very popular these programs are in the GTA among parents.
Our economic action plan also provides continued enhanced support for our veterans, for our nation's heroes. Canada's veterans deserve the very best. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, economic action plan 2013 is a budget that invests in our veterans. In fact, the economic action plan proposes to more than double the financial support for funerals for families, while also cutting cumbersome red tape.
Our government understands the needs of Canadians. We have removed over one million low income families, individuals and seniors from tax rolls altogether. We are cutting taxes in every possible way we can. We have targeted personal income taxes by cutting them to the lowest tax rate, to 15%. We are increasing the amount that Canadians can earn tax free. The government has provided seniors with the very much needed ability to split their pension income. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, which has put nearly $1,000 back in the pockets of the average Canadian family. With this plan, the typical Canadian family has seen savings totalling more than $3,200.
Like all Canadians, we cherish our health care. My aging mother relies on hospitals, just as most Canadians sometimes need our health care. Even during these challenging economic times, our government will continue to provide a 6% increase to provinces for health care funding over last year's payments.
Our government's plan to return to a balanced budget is working. We have reduced the deficit by more than half over the last two years. Economic action plan 2013 builds on past efforts to reduce government spending by announcing an additional $1.7 billion in ongoing savings. While the NDP and Liberals want to engage in reckless spending, we have a plan for Canada and our plan is working.
View Gordon Brown Profile
View Gordon Brown Profile
2013-03-26 16:10 [p.15242]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be splitting my time today with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.
I rise today to speak about yet another excellent budget presented by the Minister of Finance. This is the ninth time that the minister has addressed the issues that were discussed in my pre-budget consultations in my great riding of Leeds—Grenville.
I know my constituents are pleased with what they have seen on the pages of the latest budget. In fact, the day after the budget was introduced, I received the following email from the warden of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville. It said:
Great job on the budget. Congratulations to...all involved.
A great number of items that are addressed in this budget are important to my riding. Let me explain a few of them. Economic development is a key issue in my riding. We are always eager to welcome large plants and businesses to the riding. However, more often than not the businesses that are starting up and expanding in my riding are small businesses, and more often than not they need a hand up along the way.
That is where the Community Futures Development Corporation comes into play. This is the economic development arm of the federal government at work, on the ground, in ridings such as mine. Working with a volunteer board of directors that is made up of local people, these boards know what is needed in the communities they serve, and they clearly reflect community priorities in how they spend this money. Over the past few years they have received an additional shot in the arm through the eastern Ontario development program. This is a $10 million-a-year fund that is shared throughout rural eastern Ontario, and it has allowed a great deal more work to be undertaken to aid economic development.
From feasibility studies to direct aid, this funding is making a huge difference in my riding of Leeds—Grenville. I am pleased to say that the Minister of Finance is renewing the eastern Ontario development program for five years beyond 2014, through continued funding in FedDev Ontario.
While I am on this subject, I want to take this opportunity to thank the hard-working folks from the three CFDCs that serve my riding, namely the 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation that is based in Brockville; the Grenville Community Development Corporation, in Prescott; and the Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation that is based in Smiths Falls. I know their work is greatly appreciated in their areas.
My riding is a border riding. The mighty Saint Lawrence River, the route that brought the explorers inland to discover what is now Canada, is a narrow boundary that separates my riding from the United States. Leeds—Grenville is fortunate to have two border crossings, one that is directly south of Ottawa, at Johnstown, and a second that is in the heart of the 1000 Islands, near Lansdowne.
Last spring I was pleased to be able to participate at the grand opening of the refurbished border crossing at Johnstown. That renewed facility has been received with great enthusiasm by businesses and residents in my riding. The question arose at the time about the refurbishment of the busy 1000 Islands crossing. More than two million vehicles, private and commercial, cross that bridge each year. By any measure, this is a very busy crossing. In fact, by the numbers, it is about the seventh busiest crossing in Canada today. I am pleased to see there is a commitment in the budget to upgrade the border facilities at the 1000 Islands crossing. I know this refurbishment will be well received and will provide better services for travellers and commercial operators returning to or entering into Canada.
I would like to speak for a few moments about infrastructure. Many communities along the St. Lawrence River in my riding are older communities, having had their start when the United Empire Loyalists arrived to settle eastern Ontario. Still others, such as Kemptville in North Grenville, are expanding rapidly. One common issue among them all is the need for infrastructure development and renewal. When I meet with municipal officials, this is a common theme. They appreciated it when our government made the gas tax permanent. This gave them a stable, predictable source of funding, and all municipalities have used this money wisely.
Just last week I was in Brockville celebrating the completion of a major project on that community's recreation centre, which was partially paid for by gas tax money. All of the communities in my riding are pleased with the renewed commitment to infrastructure funding in the budget.
The new long-term infrastructure program would provide $70 billion over 10 years, which we have already heard is the largest and longest commitment of infrastructure money in Canada. Of this money, $32.2 billion would go to the community improvement fund to build roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure. I know this fund would be well used by the communities in Leeds—Grenville.
There would be $14 billion for the renewed building Canada fund to support major economic projects of national and regional significance. During the last round of this type of funding, there were several major projects undertaken in my riding that have regional significance.
The Port of Prescott is an example where infrastructure was refurbished to ensure that area municipalities could continue to obtain salt for their roads without having to truck it from Sarnia and Goderich. Area farmers are able to drop off and store corn at the new facility, and this is just one example of where this fund was used previously. Municipalities in my riding are waiting for details on this fund.
I will also speak briefly about the new initiative for retraining, the Canada job grant. My riding was hit hard by the closure of manufacturing plants, and every community in my riding was affected as factories closed in the wake of the economic adjustment that has taken place over the last decade.
I am talking about plants that had been operating in communities in one form or another, and in some cases for close to or more than a century. These plants were where people growing up in these small towns knew they could get work when they graduated from high school, college or university. When these plants closed, many of these hard-working people did not know where to turn for another job. Thanks to programs instituted by our government, many were able to receive retraining and acquire new skills and move on to new jobs, but there are still some who have been left behind. Either they were trained for jobs that do not exist or do not meet their expectations, or they were unable to find a meaningful program.
The Canada job grant would help these folks and many others across Canada. Employers and employees will meet in the marketplace, and with the help of the Canada job grant outlined in our budget, employees would receive direct training for jobs that exist. They would know that when they finished their training, they would be able to get work and start earning money.
The Canada job grant would provide at least $15,000 for retraining, and we know that the average retraining cost is about $7,000 and takes well less than a year. In a minimal amount of time, there would be an employer with a job filled and a previously unemployed person in a productive job.
The budget also would strengthen the apprenticeship program, making it easier to get needed experience for journeyman status, and would provide tools for persons with disabilities, youth, aboriginals and recent immigrants to find work.
Businesses would be helped to succeed and grow with a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new machinery and equipment, and an extension and the expansion of the temporary hiring credits for small businesses.
The increase in the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 for small business owners, farmers and fishers, indexing the new exemption limit to inflation, is also very welcome news to the small business owners in my riding.
The government would continue with support for advanced research, supporting business innovation and enhancing Canada's venture capital system.
Families have not been forgotten in the new budget. New tax relief would be provided for families adopting a child, using home care services and purchasing a number of items such as baby clothing, sporting goods and exercise equipment that would have the import tariffs removed. These may seem like small things, but they make a big difference in the pocketbooks of most people in my riding.
A new consumer code would be developed for people using financial products, and the government would work with provinces to help protect the vulnerable who use payday loan services.
The government would also provide close to $1.9 billion over five years to create more affordable housing and to combat homelessness.
One of the items that is very important in my riding is the new super credit for those who are donating to a charity for the first time or who have not donated for more than five years. There are many charitable organizations in my riding, and I myself have been able to help support my local United Way through a charity hockey game each year. This new super credit would help encourage people to give to help others in their community.
I have two final points. First, the Minister of Finance has accomplished all of this without raising taxes and without cutting transfers to provinces for health care, education and other important services. Second, in 2013-14, most major transfers to Ontario would be $19.9 billion: almost $3.2 billion through equalization; almost $12 billion through the Canada health transfer; and $4.7 billion through the Canada social transfer.
The people of Leeds—Grenville are very happy with this budget, and I look forward to seeing it move through this Parliament as quickly as possible.
View Jim Flaherty Profile
View Jim Flaherty Profile
2013-03-21 16:04
Mr. Speaker, I rise to present Canada's economic action plan 2013, a plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
Canada is in an enviable position among the world's industrial economies. We have fared relatively better than most in the aftermath of the worst recession in a generation. As many of our allies and trading partners continue to struggle, we are well placed to prosper.
We have a lot to be proud of: today we find ourselves further ahead than any other G7 country when it comes to creating jobs and economic growth; further ahead than any other since 2006 when it comes to income growth; and further ahead than any other when it comes to our debt to GDP ratio.
Now we stand among just a handful of nations the world over with our AAA credit rating, and Government of Canada securities are among the world's most sought-after investments. This means that investors here and abroad are confident in our government's ability to manage the economy now and into the future by sticking to the long-term view and by taking strong, decisive actions whenever it has been required. We have grown stronger, even as many have weakened. It is imperative that we continue along this path.
Make no mistake; there are still significant risks ahead. The global economy is still fragile, and some of our biggest trading partners are among the worst affected. This makes our job more difficult, but it is also clear to the world that Canada has picked the right path and the right plan, a responsible plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
Today we outline a course of action in keeping with all of our work so far. It builds on a legacy of success. It is an intentional, consistent plan that we have implemented with firm commitment from coast to coast to coast.
This plan takes action in three important areas. It introduces the Canada job grant, a bold new initiative to transform the way we provide skills training to ensure we connect Canadians with available jobs. It introduces a new building Canada plan, the largest and longest federal investment in building roads, bridges and public transit in Canadian history. It also introduces a plan to assist our manufacturers and other businesses as they innovate to compete in the global economy.
Families are the building blocks of every nation and indeed the foundation on which Canada rests. The measures outlined in economic action plan 2013 build on our government's steadfast commitment to Canadian families. Much of what I announce today is aimed at making this country an even better place to raise a family, to work and to establish a business.
However, before I proceed, I need to make one thing very clear. It is simply this. Our government is committed to balancing the budget in 2015. In uncertain global economic times, the most important contribution a government can make to bolster confidence and growth in a country is to maintain a sound fiscal position. Every Canadian family knows that. When expenses outstrip income, the future of the whole family is at risk, and our government knows—even if some in the House do not—that no nation can borrow its way to long-term prosperity. We will not put the future of Canadian families at risk. We will not waiver from our commitment to create jobs and fill jobs for Canadians. We will not spend recklessly.
Economic action plan 2013 contains the smallest increase in discretionary spending in nearly 20 years.
We are also doing our part by looking inward. Our plan introduces measures, for example, to reduce spending on travel and to end duplication of internal government services. Let me be very clear about what else this government has not done and will not do.
We will not reduce transfers, whether it be transfers to individuals, children and seniors or transfers to provinces and territories for critical services like health care and education. In fact, we have increased funding for health care, education and other important social services by almost 50% since 2006, and funding for these important social programs will continue to rise each and every year our government is in power.
We will not raise taxes, but new measures to close tax loopholes will help ensure that everyone pays their fair share. We will not back away from our steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility. We will not balance the budget on the backs of hard-working Canadian families or those in need. However, we will balance the budget, and we will do it in 2015.
Sir Clifford Sifton, who was a cabinet minister in Sir Wilfrid Laurier's government, had some good advice that still stands today. Sir Clifford wrote in a letter to his son, “In time of prosperity, prepare for trouble”.
In 2006-2007, when few could foresee the magnitude of the trouble that was coming, we prepared. We cut taxes for families and for job-creating businesses. We paid down billions in national debt. We launched the building Canada plan to modernize roads, bridges and public transit in cities and communities across Canada. These decisions have paid off.
For, when the crisis hit, Canada was in good shape relative to other nations. Our strong financial sector remained solid. Our reputation among investors remained strong. In 2009—the darkest days of the recession—we took quick and decisive action to stimulate the economy. In fact, we gave the economy a $64-billion shot in the arm. That, too, worked. Now, Canada is recognized around the world as a safe, stable place to invest.
While Canada has fared well, we cannot afford to be complacent. There are still signs of trouble ahead. The world economy remains fragile. Global growth has slowed. Canada is not immune.
Abroad, our neighbours to the south and our European partners continue to face significant economic hurdles. Much of Europe—the world’s largest economy—is still in recession and needed reforms are not certain. The U.S. is burdened by massive debt and recovery is sluggish. As a result, the appetite for Canadian exports is unsteady.
Meanwhile, emerging economies are becoming stronger and more competitive.
At home, we have concerns about the high level of household debt, and we have a significant challenge in the labour market. In fact, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business points out that one-third of its members say that a shortage of skilled labour is constraining growth. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified the skills shortage as the number one obstacle to the success of its members. I can see why. There are too many jobs that go unfulfilled in Canada because employers cannot find workers with the right skills. Meanwhile, there are still too many Canadians looking for work.
Do not get me wrong. Canada's workforce is among the very best in the world. As job creators, we have an enviable record. Not only have we recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, we have added almost half a million more. That is more than 950,000 jobs since the recovery began. These are overwhelmingly good, high-paying, full-time jobs in the private sector. In fact, more Canadians are employed than at any other time in our history. Yet I believe that we can and must do better.
Training in Canada is not sufficiently aligned to the skills employers need or to the jobs that are actually available. This means higher unemployment and slower economic growth than we should otherwise expect.
Unless we act now, this problem will be compounded as the recovery continues. Demographics are not on our side; the skills shortage will only get worse due to an aging population.
You might think this is just a problem for specific sectors like energy, mining or construction, or, specific regions like the west, but it is not.
The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council has summed up well for their region what is an emerging national problem.
The council reports: “Labour markets in Atlantic Canada are undergoing a profound shift from high unemployment to increased concern about a skills mismatch and a shortage of workers.”
Matching the needs of employers with the training Canadians are getting is key to turning this trend around. Fortunately, by providing the right training, we can significantly reduce the mismatch between employers and job-seekers. That is why our government is taking bold, innovative steps.
Today I am announcing the new Canada job grant. The Canada job grant would transform the way Canadians receive training. The Canada job grant could provide $15,000 or more, per person, to ensure that Canadians are getting the skills employers are seeking. Up to $5,000 would be provided by the federal government. To show their commitment, the employers would be required to provide matching funds. The province or territory would match the final third.
For the first time, the Canada job grant would take skills training choices out of the hands of government and put them where they belong: in the hands of employers and Canadians who want to work.
Job seekers will train at community colleges, career colleges, polytechnics or union training halls among others.
Most importantly, the new grant should lead to one essential thing for unemployed or underemployed Canadians: a new or better job.
The job grant will benefit hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
Current labour market agreements with the provinces and territories expire in 2014.
We will negotiate new agreements centred around the Canada job grant.
Just as important as training is on-the-job experience. That is why today I am also announcing new measures to support apprentices. We would work with the provinces and territories to harmonize requirements for apprentices and would examine the use of practical tests as a method of assessment. Most importantly, we would ensure that government contracts and funding for infrastructure and maintenance would support the employment of apprentices.
For example, we would renew the investment in affordable housing agreements with the provinces and territories. By encouraging the use of apprentices, these agreements would help train young Canadians in the skilled trades with funding from these programs. For example, Habitat for Humanity has trained thousands of high-school and college students for the skilled trades.
We are also taking action to support job opportunities for all Canadians.
Too often, young people make decisions about education without good, current information.
We will invest to make sure they know early on which career fields are in high demand.
Then they can make informed choices that will lead to meaningful, well-paying jobs in their field of study.
As well, we will be making a three-year investment of $70 million to support 5,000 new paid internships so that new post-secondary graduates can obtain vital job experience.
These new initiatives, and others announced today, will build on our commitment to Canada's young people.
In 2011, we expanded eligibility for student loans and grants. Right now there are more than 500,000 students benefiting from these programs. Last year's budget expanded our youth employment strategy by $50 million over two years. This has provided tens of thousands of young Canadians with the work experience and skills training needed to succeed in the job market.
Expanding educational opportunities and skills training would help Canada compete, but even these measures will not be enough. We must also look to the world for help. To that end, we would continue to reform our immigration system to make sure that Canada is the first choice for skilled workers from around the globe, that the best young people who come here to study could remain afterwards to try Canada out, that potential immigrants with the right skills could move to Canada faster, and that new Canadians could integrate quickly and find and keep good employment or start successful businesses that would add to Canada's prosperity.
We would also introduce measures to ensure that first nations could fully participate in the economic opportunities that are available. We would work with the first nations to improve the on-reserve income assistance program to ensure that young recipients have the incentives necessary to gain employment. We would also continue to work with first nations to develop a first nations education act.
In addition, measures introduced today would further help Canadians with disabilities get the support they need to be active participants in the job market.
As a former governor general Lord Tweedsmuir once observed, “Canada is a nation of bridges”. This government is committed to building those bridges between employers and job seekers, skilled immigrants and Canadian opportunities, hard-working Canadians and long-term prosperity, but we are also committed to building bridges of another kind, the kind that ease urban congestion in our largest cities, like the new bridge for the St. Lawrence, including the bridge causeway between Nuns' Island and the Island of Montreal; the kind that expand our trade horizons, like the new international crossing at Windsor-Detroit; the kind that maintain vital links within communities, like the Fairview Overpass between Bedford, Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax.
Of course, bridges are just part of the story.
Roads and runways, community centres and commuter rail all over this great country are essential to the well-being of Canadian families. Infrastructure creates jobs, supports trade and fuels economic growth. Infrastructure drives productivity and contributes to long-term prosperity.
We have done a great deal to support infrastructure renewal—more than any other federal government—but there is much left to do. That is why, today, we are taking another major step to strengthen our communities.
I am pleased to announce the creation of the new building Canada plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to Canadian infrastructure in our nation's history. There will be $53.5 billion over the next 10 years for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure.
The plan has three components.
First, the community improvement fund will provide over $32 million to municipalities for projects such as roads, public transit and recreational facilities. The new fund incorporates the gas tax fund and the incremental GST rebate for municipalities. This name now reflects its true purpose: improving communities for Canadians. Acting on the advice of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the gas tax fund portion will be indexed and therefore will increase over time.
The second component is the building Canada fund, which will provide $14 billion to support major projects across the country.
The third component is the P3 Canada fund, which will provide $1.25 billion to continue to support innovative ways to build infrastructure projects faster and provide better value for Canadians. All building Canada plan projects with capital costs of more than $100 million will be screened for P3 potential. An additional $6 billion will be provided to provinces, territories and municipalities under current infrastructure programs in 2014-15 and beyond.
Even with the measures I have outlined here today, an unavoidable fundamental truth remains: governments alone cannot create prosperity. Former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen knew that when he said, “Vigour, faith and enterprise are the only weapons with which any individual, any family, or any nation can face the future”. It is, indeed, the vigour and enterprise of Canadian individuals and families that have made this country great, and their faith, faith in their own dreams, resourcefulness and abilities, faith that their government will be a benign and silent partner in their enterprise and not an overwhelming behemoth squeezing them at every turn. Sadly, this is not a faith that all Canadian governments have kept, but ours has.
Our government understands that the way to create jobs and growth is to reduce barriers for businesses, not raise them.
The way to help manufacturers is to lighten their burdens, not weigh them down with more.
That is why we established the lowest tax burden on new business investment in the G7.
That is also why we introduced tax relief to encourage manufacturers to invest in new machinery to retool Canada for the 21st century.
Today I am pleased to announce the extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance. This measure will provide $1.4 billion in tax relief to manufacturing companies investing in modern machinery and equipment. This will allow businesses across Canada to improve productivity and enhance their ability to complete globally.
More than 25,000 businesses in the manufacturing and processing sector have taken advantage of this initiative since it was first introduced in 2007. It has allowed companies like Armo Tool Limited of London, Ontario to buy new equipment that has brought sales and employment back to peak levels. We are also supporting Canadian manufacturers through important investments in key sectors like aerospace, forestry and military procurement.
With respect to military procurement, Canadian companies will be part of any plan to build equipment for our forces.
While manufacturing is critical to our future, small business is the lifeblood of the Canadian economy. Our government recognizes the significant contributions of these entrepreneurs and risk takers. On the advice of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, we will extend and expand the temporary hiring credit for small business for an additional year. This will support small businesses as they grow and create jobs.
Much of our trade is with the United States, and getting people, goods and services across the border is critical to Canada’s prosperity. That is why our government will continue to implement our beyond the border action plan to keep trade with the United States flowing freely.
We have worked hard to expand trade with other countries as well. We have signed free trade agreements with nine countries since 2006, and negotiations are ongoing with many others including the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries.
Many new innovative Canadian businesses depend upon venture capital to finance their growth, and it is in short supply in this country, especially since the economic crisis. This means companies with good ideas and high growth potential often have difficulty getting these ideas off the ground. That is why the Prime Minister and I went to Montreal in January to announce the establishment of the venture capital action plan. Measures announced in today's budget will advance the implementation of this plan so Canadian innovators have access to the private capital they need. As innovators, Canadians are among the world's best.
However, we need to work harder to see that new ideas are commercialized and become real products in the marketplace. Today, to help accomplish this, we are announcing a series of measures to support research, create partnerships and increase collaboration between research institutions and our entrepreneurs. We will, as the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada recommended, commit $225 million to modernize post-secondary research facilities across the country. And we will, for example, invest an additional $165 million to support genomics research.
Despite the economic issues our government has faced, we have done our very best to keep taxes low for all Canadians. In fact, our government has introduced more than 150 tax relief measures since 2006. That is why the average family of four is saving more than $3,200 per year in taxes.
That is why we introduced pension income splitting for seniors and other pensioners. That is why we introduced the working income tax benefit, which we can call WITB for short—actually I should not use “Whitby” and “short” in the same sentence—which encourages people who can to find jobs rather than remain on social assistance.
The federal tax burden for all Canadians is now the lowest it has been in 50 years, and more than eight million Canadians have already opened tax-free savings accounts. Tax fairness is important to ordinary, hard-working Canadians. They know that when everyone pays their fair share, it helps us keep taxes low for everyone.
To that end, we are taking additional action today to close tax loopholes. These are loopholes with strange names like synthetic dispositions and character conversion transactions. Those are complex, structured transactions that have allowed a select few to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. We are introducing new measures to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance to keep taxes low for Canadian families, families that work hard, play by the rules and pay their taxes.
For the past seven years, I have witnessed Canada at its best through good times and bad, through thick and thin. I have been impressed time and time again with the people of this great nation, their work ethic, their ingenuity and their strength of character. It would be presumptuous for anyone to say the future belongs to any particular country.
No one can know the future, but from where I stand I will say this: these seven years have belonged to Canada. The evidence is in. Our economy has been resilient, and we can all be proud of that.
I will also say this: Canada's economic future is bright. That we have some tough times ahead, I do not doubt. No one who sees the world around us would disagree.
The plan I have presented today, Canada's economic action plan 2013, advances a solid vision that has stood the test of time. Where others have faltered, we have maintained a consistent, steady hand.
Today we move this responsible plan forward, forward toward that bright future. With this plan, our government renews our commitment to Canadians, our commitment to jobs, our commitment to growth, our commitment to long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
8525-411-22 Beyond the Border: A Shared ...Aboriginal reservesAccelerated capital cost allowance programAdult education and trainingAging of the labour forceAging populationApprenticeshipsAtlantic CanadaBalanced budgetBedfordBorders ...Show all topics
View Christine Moore Profile
View Christine Moore Profile
2013-03-18 14:53 [p.14842]
Mr. Speaker, let us continue talking about the Conservatives' bad choices.
The support services for Canadian Forces personnel and families should be a priority for the Conservatives. However, we have learned that the Canadian military family resource centres will be subject to major budget cuts as of April 1st. These centres are extremely important for supporting and meeting the needs of the families of our men and women in uniform.
Why are the Conservatives choosing to abandon military families?
View Peter MacKay Profile
View Peter MacKay Profile
2013-03-18 14:54 [p.14843]
Mr. Speaker, that is in fact not true. I was meeting with military families this morning, as I do regularly. The military family resource centres across the country have expanded their scope and their ability to reach out to help military families when they need it.
We have seen historic investments, across the board, in infrastructure, in personnel, in progress, in readiness, in all of the ability the military have to not only serve our country at home and abroad but to also support their families—historic levels—all of which were opposed by this member and her party.
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