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View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-06-11 17:27 [p.14990]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss private member Motion No. 575 on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. I would like to thank the member for Huron—Bruce for raising this very important issue in the House. I know there has been much debate on this important issue so far, so I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to how we can continue to help Canadians living with dementia.
As members have said previously, this is not a partisan issue. I hope that today's debate will be a way to bring us together so that Parliament can speak with one voice in calling for a continued focus on helping Canadians.
Motion No. 575 calls on the government to continue taking the necessary measures, while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction, to prevent Alzheimer's disease and other dementias and to reduce the impact of dementia on those living with this disease and on their families and caregivers.
One section of the motion focuses on dementia research in the areas of primary prevention, secondary prevention or treatment, and quality of life. I could not agree more that research plays a pivotal role in improving health outcomes for all Canadians, especially those suffering from dementia. I am proud to say that the government has made significant investments toward dementia research. As a result, Canada is considered a world leader in this area.
What is leading this focus on research is the Government of Canada's health research funding agency, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, otherwise known as CIHR. The government, through CIHR, has already been working to organize our efforts through a dementia research strategy. The strategy supports research on all aspects of the preventive, diagnostic, and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. It consists of both an international and a national component.
Last fall, the Minister of Health announced the creation of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. This consortium is a key part of the strategy. It is our premier research hub for diseases associated with aging, including Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The CCNA brings together 20 research teams involving 340 top Canadian researchers in the field of neurodegenerative diseases that affect how the brain functions as it ages.
Research within the consortium is organized around three research themes: prevention, treatment, and quality of life. This approach is key. We are focused on research toward a cure but also on research that is working to improve the quality of life of Canadians today.
As part of this effort, the Minister of Health announced that the consortium is working with the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom to share large amounts of health and health care data and research expertise. This will help us better understand, treat, and prevent dementia here at home using the latest international evidence. This data will also provide dementia researchers with useful health and lifestyle information from various settings, including nursing homes, which will help researchers address scientific questions over a broader range of dementia-related issues.
As we can see already, the CIHR dementia research strategy supports both domestic and international research on Alzheimer's disease and dementia through a variety of activities.
Today I would like to describe how the government will continue to maintain a strong focus on both domestic and international dementia research in the three vital areas of prevention, treatment, and quality of life.
First, the government is supporting research on prevention. This theme is focused on preventing or stopping the disease from developing. We know that Alzheimer's disease, like many chronic conditions, may develop as a result of complex interacting factors such as age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other existing medical conditions. If we can identify which of these risk factors can be changed, we may uncover ways to prevent or delay dementia from occurring.
Prevention is a vital theme for dementia research, and our government has funded many researchers in this area. To illustrate our commitment to this theme of prevention, the government is funding the work of Dr. Sandra Black, from the University of Toronto, and Dr. Vladimir Hachinski, from Western University. Their research is leading to a new approach to dementia treatment that is focused on early prevention based on addressing risk factors for vascular health, such as hypertension, diabetes, and smoking.
These results have been instrumental to the development of the first dementia screening protocol, which assesses stroke, dementia, and overall vascular health.
We are also proud of the fact that six research teams of the consortium will be focusing their work on prevention. For example, one team will study nutrition, lifestyle, and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
The government, through CIHR, is also supporting research under the second vital area of dementia treatment, also known as secondary prevention. Secondary preventions are efforts to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life until a cure is available. Right now there are some drug treatments that may temporarily relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
While we are committed to researching a cure, these efforts will also help to support Canadians who need help now. For example, the government has funded Dr. Manuel Montero Odasso, of Western University, who studied walking speed and fluctuations as a predictor of dementia's progression. His team studied 150 seniors with mild cognitive impairment, a pre-dementia syndrome, in order to detect an early predictor of cognitive and mobility decline, and progression to dementia.
This research team discovered that walking speed changes were more noticeable in pre-dementia individuals with the worst signs of cognitive decline. These changes may serve as an effective way to predict the onset of dementia, and may eventually help diagnose and treat dementia earlier.
We are also very content to see that seven consortium teams will focus their research on treatment. For example, one of these teams will be looking at cognitive therapy and its effect on the brain.
On the international front, Canada continues to support research on treatment. A good example of this is through the international Network of Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration. Under this network, we have partnered with five other countries to develop common standards and efficient methods to validate findings in studies. This partnership resulted in seven international grants being funded by CIHR for a total of $1.2 million.
Our government plans to continue its work with this international network to better understand how the disease works and provide new avenues for therapeutic development.
Last, I would like to describe the work related to research on the quality of life of people living with dementia and their caregivers. As we all know, as dementia progresses, Canadians have to live with enormous challenges and changes to their everyday way of life. Research in this area is critically important. If we learn how to adapt to these changing abilities, a person will be more likely to have a high quality of life, even with a dementia diagnosis.
The topic of quality of life is essential for improving the lives of people affected by dementia. This is why, in 2014, our government collaborated with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Parkinson Society Canada to host a high-level meeting on the topic of life with dementia. This event brought together experts and people with first-hand experience to answer questions and share insights on how to move beyond the diagnosis and improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers.
This event provided the critical perspective of Canadians living with the issue, and has helped to inform research as well as the dementia friends Canada program that our Minister of Health has been working to bring in.
Working under this motion, I know that we will continue to engage with Canadians to ensure our efforts are focused in the right direction. Before I close, I must address what is really at the heart of today's motion. My colleague from Huron—Bruce has done an excellent job of respecting provincial jurisdiction while at the same time calling for real progress to be made on the development of a pan-Canadian strategy for dementia. I fully support this call, and I am pleased that our government will be working to implement exactly that.
I know that all members will have their own ideas about the best way to accomplish the strategy, but the key part for me is that we get this done for Canadians. That is why I was pleased to see that economic action plan 2015 clearly commits to working with the provinces to develop a national plan.
Supporting today's motion is yet another way that we can ensure this important work is done and that we can build on the good progress that our Minister of Health has already been able to secure with the provinces.
I would like to again thank the member for Huron—Bruce for bringing forward today's motion. I hope all members can come together to support this and have Parliament speak with one voice about the importance of further actions on dementia.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-06-04 10:10 [p.14564]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from many residents across Ontario asking that Parliament pass legislation that will remove all flavours from all tobacco products.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 10:13 [p.14261]
Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is a serious problem in many parts of the world. It is one of the main barriers to the achievement of sustainable fisheries worldwide. Illegal fishing affects some of the poorest countries, where dependence on fisheries for food and livelihoods is high.
By its nature, illegal fishing is not a problem for one country to solve on its own, because the problem respects no boundaries. These exploitive activities put pressure on the sustainability of all fish stocks and marine wildlife and distort the price of fish on world markets.
In recent years, the international community has been working to develop global tools to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing activities. Improving the control of foreign fishing vessels through a global standard for action that can be taken in ports is one tool to stop illegal fishing. In short, if criminals cannot land their illegal catches, they will not be able to continue their operations.
I am proud to say that our government is part of this movement. As a nation with a well-regulated fishing industry, Canada has a strong interest in protecting fish stocks and in ensuring that fishing regulations are respected around the world.
In 2009, Canada and other countries approved the port state measures agreement that had been negotiated at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Canada signed this agreement in 2010 to signal the importance of taking strong action in ports to prevent illegal fishing, and today we are taking a step towards ratifying this important agreement. So far, 11 nations have ratified. The United States is in the process of passing ratification legislation, and it is expected that other countries will soon follow suit.
Before Canada can ratify this new global standard, we must address areas where our current legislation differs from the international agreement. These are the amendments we are discussing today through Bill S-3.
Through our current legislation, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Canada already has a rigorous port control system for foreign fishing vessels. The proposed changes contained in Bill S-3 will make this system even stronger.
The proposed amendments to the act can be grouped into three broad categories. The first category concerns authorities related to foreign fishing vessels. The port state measures agreement generally promotes a country's ability to refuse port entry to fishing vessels that are suspected to have engaged in or supported illegal fishing. However, there may be situations when the country responsible for the fishing vessel will want Canada's assistance to conduct an inspection and gather necessary evidence against the suspect ship.
The proposed changes will create an enforcement permit that will apply when a foreign fishing vessel has been directed by its flag state to enter a Canadian port for inspection. In this case, Canada would issue a specific entry permit for the sole purpose of inspection and enforcement. This is important, as the current system requires that the vessel itself request a permit to enter a Canadian port. Naturally, those who would commit illegal fishing activities are unlikely to seek permission to land in a country with as rigorous an inspection system as Canada's. This amendment will allow Canada, in partnership with the flag state, to direct a ship to port so that our officers can catch the criminals.
The proposed changes will also give our Canadian fishery protection officers greater authority to take enforcement action in such circumstances. When that foreign fishing vessel is directed to port under the new permit system, these powers will allow Canadian fishery protection officers to inspect and search the vessel and seize any illegal catch.
The second set of proposed changes relates to information sharing. To meet the requirements of the port state measures agreement, these changes provide clarity on the authority to share information with our enforcement partners. The proposed changes cover both the type of information and with whom it would be shared.
These proposed changes would clearly outline that the minister could share information regarding the inspection of a foreign vessel, the denial of entry to port, any enforcement action taken and the outcome of any of those proceedings. They would also outline the international partners with which such information could be shared. Applied globally, this effort would make illegal fishing operators easier to identify and facilitate the denial of entry at ports for those bandits throughout the world.
For our officers at home, the proposed changes would clarify the ability of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency to share information related to the importation of fish and seafood products.
The third major category of proposed changes concerns import prohibitions. Under the proposed changes, it would be an offence to import illegally caught fish into Canada.
The amendments would also give authorities new tools to enforce these prohibitions. For example, Bill S-3 would expand the powers of fishery protection officers to inspect any place, including containers, warehouses, storage areas and vehicles. These inspections could also be conducted in all ports of entry. This would be an important change since, currently, such powers are limited to fishing vessels and wharves. The amendments would also allow fishery protection officers to seize illegally caught fish in these places and seek their forfeiture in the event of a conviction.
Illegal fishing is a global threat to sustainable fisheries and to the management and conservation of our marine environment. Regional fisheries management organizations are increasingly requiring documentation for high-value species that are targets of illegal fishing. Canada can play its part in preventing economic gains going to illegal operators by preventing the import of fish and fish products that do not have the required documentation. If a court finds the person guilty of an importation offence under the act, significant fines would apply. In addition, with these amendments, the court could also order an additional fine equal to the financial benefit the defendants gained from committing the offence. This would ensure that fines are not able to be factored into the criminal's operating costs and would provide a real deterrent to these operations.
In addition to these three broad categories, the proposed amendments would also change several definitions, in order to be consistent with the port state measures agreement.
The amended definition of “fishing vessel” would include any vessel used in transshipping fish or marine plants that have not been previously landed. The scope of this definition is limited so that it would not include vessels that merely ship across the sea, such as those transporting grain. The proposed changes would also redefine the term “fish” itself. In keeping with the port state measures agreement and the Fisheries Act, “fish” would come to include fish, shellfish and crustaceans, whether processed or not. The amendments would also add a definition of “marine plant”.
Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standard of the port state measures agreement.
As part of meeting our international obligations, the bill would allow us to protect the livelihoods of fish harvesters in Canada more effectively by limiting the amount of illegal fish that enter global markets.
I urge all hon. members to join with me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 10:23 [p.14262]
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is 100% right that Canada has always played a leading role when it comes to protection and conservation and doing the right thing when it comes to protecting our fisheries.
We are a major exporter of fishery products and because of that we are not immune to the economic impacts of illegal fishing in international trade. As I said in my remarks, this is indeed an international issue, and that is why Bill S-3 is being put forward. We do want to continue with our excellent role that we have been playing globally. We do want to be able to take part in the port state measures agreement.
To do that, we need to have the amendments that are being put forward in Bill S-3. We want to be able to continue to prevent illegal fishing and we want to be a part in setting the global standard for actions when vessels do seek to enter a port and they should not be.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 10:25 [p.14263]
Mr. Speaker, we do know that there have to be 25 member countries ratify this agreement before it comes into force. As of this date, I believe 11 countries have ratified it. We have two others that are very close to ratifying. Of course, Canada is moving forward with the amendments proposed in Bill S-3.
We certainly do not want to be the last country ratifying this agreement. We have always taken a leadership role when it comes to conservation and when it comes to trying to protect our fisheries. We want to be able to continue to do that. There are meetings constantly with other countries and we are certainly promoting that other countries do take part in this ratification.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 10:27 [p.14263]
Mr. Speaker, certainly Canada plays a very strong role when it comes to protecting all of our shores. We know we have wonderful services in Vancouver on the west coast. It has full Coast Guard capacity there. It is doing all kinds of great work.
Bill S-3 would apply to all ports, so it is not just a bill that would apply to the east coast if that is what the member's concern was.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 17:15 [p.14317]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and have an opportunity to speak on Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.
This bill takes a strong stance to ensure that no woman or girl in Canada becomes a victim of any violent practice that violates basic human rights. Bill S-7 sends a clear message to individuals coming to this country that harmful and violent cultural practices are unacceptable in Canada. These practices are incompatible with Canadian values and will not be tolerated.
Bill S-7 strengthens laws in Canada through amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code.
We have had the benefit of hearing from a number of experts in the field during the citizenship and immigration committee hearings. Some have criticized the bill; others have been in full support. All, however, agree that combatting violence against women and girls is an important and laudable goal.
I would like to paraphrase one of the witnesses who came before the committee. Ms. Chantal Desloges, an immigration lawyer, said very aptly that this bill sends a concrete statement about Canadian values.
Within Canada, there is no room for a culture of violence against women and girls. I believe that when there are gaps in legislation that have allowed perpetrators to abuse those very people who count on them for protection or that have prevented victims from getting help, it is our responsibility to ensure that those gaps are closed.
Among other things, this bill proposes to fill gaps that have been identified with regard to early and forced marriage. These deplorable practices principally victimize young women and are often carried out by their own parents or other family members.
If I may, I will paraphrase from another witness before committee. Ms. Lee Marsh, a victim herself of a forced marriage, testified that if she had known that what her mother was doing was against the law, she might have felt better equipped to refuse that marriage.
Ms. Marsh also told the committee that this bill in isolation is not enough to combat these practices. We on the government side agree. This bill provides solid ground to give tools to law enforcement and front-line service providers to bring perpetrators to justice and to protect victims, but in addition to the legislation, people need to be aware of Canadian laws and values. We are not ignoring the importance of raising awareness or of providing training and resources, nor are we overlooking the importance of working together with our provincial and territorial counterparts and community partners in the field. Our government, through various departments, has been working diligently for years with many different stakeholders on these very issues.
Just to give a few examples, Justice Canada and Status of Women Canada have provided funding to a number of non-governmental organizations to conduct awareness raising and training on honour-based violence and forced marriages. Justice Canada contributed funding for the development of a high school curriculum that will teach students about human rights, including those related to early and forced marriages.
Over the years, Justice Canada has organized workshops with front-line workers across the country, including child protection workers, shelter workers, community-based workers, police officers, and crown prosecutors to share expertise, create networks, and discuss risk assessments and appropriate services for victims of these horrendous acts.
Justice Canada and Status of Women Canada co-chair an interdepartmental working group on early and forced marriage, honour-based violence, and female genital mutilation. This working group is creating a federal-provincial-territorial working group on these same issues.
The justice department has published public legal education and information materials on family violence that include information on early and forced marriages, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation.
Justice Canada and the RCMP have also created training materials for police officers on these issues as part of their domestic violence training. This training will be updated to reflect the changes in Bill S-7.
As I have demonstrated, there are many layers to our government's approach to tackling these issues.
The bill is but one aspect of the ongoing and collaborative efforts being undertaken by this government to address these disturbing issues. It is an integral and necessary part of the government's multi-faceted approach to tackling the issues, which includes prevention, denunciation, awareness-raising, training, consultation and collaboration.
Some critics of the bill are nervous that by criminalizing these forms of violence, we risk stigmatizing people who are already vulnerable. We believe that it is imperative to recognize that these forms of violence exist and to address and denounce them. We need to send clear messages to victims that they have a right of refusal and we need to let potential perpetrators know that forced marriage is a crime. It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to child abuse or spousal assault just because it happens behind closed doors.
Similarly, we should not shy away from denouncing early and forced marriage as forms of family violence that will not be tolerated in our society.
Bill S-7 would complement existing Canadian initiatives, both at home and abroad, put an end to barbaric cultural practices that go against Canadian values because they cause harm to women and girls and prevent their full participation in society. These practices that we have already talked about, which include early and forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation or cutting, have no place in Canada's free and democratic society.
Canada has long been a leader in this, and these are some of the things we have done on the international stage. Canada has made ending child, early, and forced marriage, or the CEFM as it is referred to, a foreign policy and development priority and is intensifying programming and advocacy efforts to address CEFM. These are some examples, and I will just name a few of them.
Canada spearheaded the initiative to establish the International Day of the Girl Child, which focused upon CEFM in 2012, which was its first year.
Then, in October 2013, Canada announced $5 million in new funding to address the causes and consequences of CEFM around the world. These funds were used for programs in many different countries.
In 2014, then minister Baird announced that Canada was contributing $20 million, over two years, to UNICEF toward ending CEFM. Also, in 2014, Canada committed institutional support to the efforts of the Royal Commonwealth Society to raise awareness in commonwealth countries about the need to end CEFM. Canada contributes to efforts to combat female genital mutilation by working with UN agencies and bilaterally with other countries, supporting projects to address violence against women and eliminate harmful cultural practices.
Those are just a few of the ways that Canada has been contributing to the international field in ending these barbaric practices. I am very proud that it is this Conservative government that is sending a strong message to Canadian society and to the world that Canada will not tolerate violence against women and girls. I would strongly encourage members of the House to give Bill S-7 their full support.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-28 17:27 [p.14318]
Mr. Speaker, I am really glad that question was asked because I just went through outlining a whole lot of things Canada was doing. While I did outline many things we were doing internationally, I really did not have enough time in my original remarks to talk about everything we were doing at home. In a minute I will tell the House about a few of the things we are doing at home as well.
I want to reiterate, however, as has been said over and over this afternoon, the bill does not talk about any particular racial or cultural practices. The bill does refer to any violence against women and girls. It sends a clear message to individuals coming to our country that harmful and violent cultural practices are unacceptable in Canada. I cannot understand why any Canadian would not want to ensure that people would know these types of harmful and violent cultural practices would not accepted in Canada.
Part of the question was why we were not doing some things. We are doing a lot of things. We are working in conjunction with many groups. Citizenship and Immigration Canada is working together with Justice Canada and the Status of Women Canada. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has many programs in place, as do the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Public Health Agency of Canada. These people are all working together. There are many programs in place, not only internationally but also domestically.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-15 11:03 [p.13996]
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize a company in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, Van Tuyl and Fairbank Hardware of Petrolia, Ontario, for passing the milestone of 150 years in business.
Founded in 1865, the same year that Petrolia was being organized as a town, Van Tuyl and Fairbank today, as their website puts it:
...has one foot in the 1800s and another in the current millennium. Now owned by the fourth generation of the Fairbank family, it sells solar thermal panels for outbuildings and nails by the pound.
The store is one of a kind. In the early years, it carried hardware used by oilmen, as well as groceries, liquor, and wine. As Petrolia blossomed and grew with the drilling of the first commercial oil well in Canada, it expanded and flourished.
Van Tuyl and Fairbank has outlasted six monarchies and has been a pillar in the community throughout technological advancements and cultural shifts.
Congratulations to Van Tuyl and Fairbank for this outstanding achievement.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:30 [p.13645]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to this opposition day motion. I commend my colleague across the way for bringing this motion forward.
I do want to be very clear. Make no mistake that our government has had a long-term commitment to keeping taxes low and making life more affordable for all Canadians. By reducing taxes year after year and enhancing direct benefits to Canadians, the government has given families and individuals greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them.
The reality is that Canadian families and individuals will receive $37 billion in tax relief and increased benefits in 2015-16 as a result of the actions our government has taken since 2006.
Unlike the high-tax, high-spend plans of the opposition, our Conservative government believes in low taxes, tax fairness, and leaving more money where it belongs, which is in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
The opposition would have people believe that our government is not interested in cutting taxes. That is hardly the case, which is why I will use my time today to show what our government is doing to help all Canadians, including women.
Our government is delivering broad-based tax relief to all Canadians, including those whose income is too low to pay income tax on nearly everything they buy. We also believe in the importance of balancing the budget. That is why we are balancing the budget while taking prudent action to lower taxes, create jobs and economic growth, and provide security to Canadians.
Indeed, since 2006, we have cut taxes over 180 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Due to measures our government has introduced, small business taxes will be almost 50% lower, which will allow businesses to create jobs and economic growth. Our new family measures, alongside others introduced by the government since 2006, will provide tax relief and benefits of up to about $6,600 for an average Canadian family of four. We have cut taxes over and over again.
It was our Conservative government that lowered the GST twice, from 7% to 6% and then to 5%, providing tax relief to all Canadian families. We did not just lower it on one product; we lowered it for its entire base, so that it benefits all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. However, the New Democrats voted against both of those GST reductions. In fact, they were proud of it. The current NDP finance critic said that cuts to the GST “take us in the wrong direction. I am very proud that our caucus stood opposed to that direction.”
If the members opposite were serious about lower taxes and tax relief for all Canadians, they would have supported our government when it lowered the GST rate. We did not just lower it on one product; we lowered it for its entire base so that it benefits all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. While doing so, we maintained the GST credit level, which translates into about $1.2 billion in GST credit benefits annually for low-income and modest-income Canadians.
Again, for all individuals, we have implemented increases to the basic personal amount, the amount of income that an individual can earn without paying federal personal income tax. As a result of these increases and adjustments for inflation, the basic personal amount one can earn before paying taxes is now $11,327.
We have also reduced the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 16%, and increased the amount of income that individuals can earn before facing higher tax rates by increasing the upper limit of the two lowest personal income tax brackets.
We have introduced an enhanced working income tax benefit, allowing lower income Canadians to keep more of their hard-earned incomes and helping them build toward a more prosperous life. We have increased the amount of income that families can earn before the national child benefit supplement is fully phased out and before the Canada child tax base benefit begins to be phased out. This means that more families will be eligible to receive the Canada child tax benefit.
It does not stop there. We also introduced the tax-free savings account, TFSA, a flexible, registered, general purpose savings vehicle, which allows Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to more easily meet their lifetime savings needs. As of the end of 2013, nearly 11 million Canadians had opened a TFSA.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:37 [p.13646]
Mr. Speaker, as far as the intervention goes, we will continue. Part of the motion does refer to the GST and certainly a specific product, but I am pointing out many of the things our government is doing.
The TFSA is a popular means of saving for Canadians at all income levels. Individuals with annual incomes of less than $80,000 accounted for more than 80% of all TFSA holders and about 75% of TFSA assets as of the end of 2013. About half of TFSA holders had annual incomes of less than $42,000. Those who had less than—
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:41 [p.13646]
Mr. Speaker, many of the people who use feminine hygiene products are those who have young families. I would also like to talk about some of the means that we have introduced to help young families who, again, need to avail themselves of the feminine hygiene products.
We also introduced the children's fitness tax credit and the children's art tax credit to help families with children. We put more money in the pockets of families with children by introducing the universal child care benefit, UCCB. All of these things are making it easier and more palatable for women to be able to afford the feminine hygiene products.
We have also introduced the registered disability savings plan, a tax assisted savings plan that helps individuals with severe disabilities. This helps them and their families save for long-term financial security. Again, this is a group that is affected and uses feminine hygiene products.
We enhanced support for caregivers of infirm dependent family members by introducing the family caregiver tax credit and by removing the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses that caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit in respect of a dependent relative. Again, this puts more money back into the pockets of those who need to purchase feminine hygiene products.
We have provided additional support to adoptive parents by enhancing and increasing the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child.
We have enhanced support for workers by introducing the Canada employment credit, which recognizes employees' work expenses for things such as safety gear, uniforms and supplies. Again, this is a group that uses feminine hygiene products.
We further provided support to students and their families, which we heard about from the opposition side, by exempting scholarship income from taxation, introducing the textbook tax credit, making registered education savings plans more responsive to changing needs, and lowering the program duration requirements for the tuition, education and textbook tax credits applying to foreign university programs.
We have assisted first-time homebuyers, who are often in the younger age groups of our residents, by introducing the first-time homebuyers tax credit, and increasing the registered retirement savings plan withdrawal limit under the homebuyers plan.
For Canadian seniors and pensioners who helped build this country, we have provided about $3 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief by increasing the age credit amount by $2,000. We have doubled the pension income credit amount to $2,000, and have raised the age limit for maturing savings in registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans from 69 to 71. We have also introduced pension income splitting. This benefits over 2.2 million Canadians. The opposition may ask what this has to do with feminine hygiene products, and I would like to state that regardless of age, there are feminine hygiene products that are used by women in every age group in this country.
Building on this tremendous record of tax relief, the Prime Minister announced in October 2014 further tax relief and benefit increases for all families with children. This includes enhancing the UCCB, increasing the maximum dollar amounts claimable under the child care expense deduction, and introducing the family tax cut. The enhanced UCCB will provide an increased benefit of $160 per month for children under the age of six, and a new benefit of $60 per month for children ages six through seventeen, effective January 1, 2015.
The family tax cut allows a higher income spouse or common-law partner to effectively transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse or common-law partner up to a maximum benefit of $2,000. Again, this is putting more money back into the hands of those who need it. We have also doubled the amount of expenses that may be claimed under the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 starting in 2014, and have made the credit refundable starting in 2015.
Most recently, economic action plan 2015 took our government's record of tax relief one step further. It announced an increase in the TFSA annual contribution limit to $10,000, effective for the 2015 and subsequent taxation years. This represents tax savings of about $1.1 billion over the 2015-16 to 2019-20 period. I could spend my entire time today listing off all the ways that we are helping to lower taxes, create tax fairness, and letting Canadians keep more of their own money.
The opposition likes to talk about tax fairness in today's motion, as though this is something they have any experience in achieving. They also like to forget that they voted against every single tax cut that this government has brought forward.
Our government, on the contrary, actually understands that tax fairness means lower taxes for all Canadians in all income levels, and not only do we understand it, we are making it a reality. These tax reductions have helped build a solid foundation for future economic growth, more jobs, and higher living standards for Canadians. This is good for the overall economy and the right thing to do, which is why tax relief has been a commitment by this government since 2006. This commitment starts right at the most fundamental level, the family.
Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from our government's low-tax plan. In fact, more than one million low-income Canadians have been removed from the tax rolls altogether. Measures introduced by our government since 2006 will provide tax relief and benefits of up to about $6,600 for a typical two-earner Canadian family of four in 2015. That is a lot more money left in the pockets of Canadians as a result of our actions to spend as they see fit; all of that, may I add, is while balancing the budget.
One of the most significant ways to ensure the prosperity of Canadians is to keep Canada's books in order and bring the budget to balance. We promised Canadians that we would balance the budget, and we delivered on that promise. However, we did not do it by raising taxes or cutting transfers for education and health care. We focused on controlling operating expenses for federal departments and identifying efficiencies that focused on making government operations leaner. A balanced budget will preserve Canada's low-tax plan and allow for further tax reduction, fostering growth and the creation of jobs for the benefit of all Canadians.
Canadians across the country, including in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, understand the importance of living within their means and expect government to do the same. This new balanced budget legislation will prevent future governments from running deficits, except in extraordinary circumstances.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:51 [p.13648]
Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear for this House. Our government is always looking to examine further tax decreases and exemptions. That includes looking at things such as has been brought forward here today. On top of presenting Canadians with a balanced budget, this government can always be counted on to further reduce Canadians' tax burden. All consumers benefit if the general sales tax rate is kept as low as possible, by maintaining the comprehensive base for the tax and targeting tax relief more broadly than through specific product exemptions.
The GST applies to a very broad base, with only a limited and narrow set of exemptions. This includes prescription drugs, certain medical devices, basic groceries, residential rents, and health care services. Specific tax relief from the GST is provided for low and modest-income Canadians through the GST credit rather than excluding more items from the tax base. The GST credit provides up-front support to low and modest-income families and individuals to offset their sales tax burden, thereby ensuring that sales tax burdens are sensitive to differences in income and family type. In spite of the reduction in the rate of the GST to 5%, the GST credit has been maintained at existing levels. By putting more money in the pockets of Canadians, we are helping them to make ends meet and spend more on what matters to them.
I do find it a bit rich to think that the NDP is even advocating for any tax relief. It is the very same NDP that has voted against every tax decrease that we have introduced. Our government will continue with our low-tax plan for jobs, growth, and security. I hope that the opposition members will finally support our low-tax plan. They did not support the reduction to the GST, but now is their chance to support our low-tax plan for all Canadians. With their new-found zeal for tax relief for Canadians, I would hope that the New Democrats will take every opportunity to support the real tax relief we have been putting forward since we took government.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:54 [p.13648]
Mr. Speaker, certainly I do not think I said anywhere in my speech that the designation of feminine hygiene products was something that did not need to be looked at. I am quite sure that the member was listening, but I am not sure what he was hearing.
Members need to know that we have spent nine years reducing taxes for Canadian families. As a result, the tax burden for families is at the lowest level that it has been in 50 years. A typical family is saving up to $6,600 a year in taxes. These things all go toward helping those people afford what they need to afford, and families certainly have reaped the benefit, of up to $6,600 a year, as I said.
We have been opposed every step of the way on these reductions, but we will continue with them. We do know that this government will put more money back in the pockets of Canadians.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
View Patricia Davidson Profile
2015-05-08 10:56 [p.13648]
Mr. Speaker, I did have some comments in the original text of my speech that were going to refer to some of the Liberal proposals, but thanks to the member opposite, with all of his points of order, I ran out of time to do that. It may be at a future time that we can discuss some of the issues the member would like to discuss.
I do want to remind people that we have been working for nine years, reducing taxes for Canadian families. I have said that before; the tax burden is at the lowest level it has been in 50 years.
Canadians know that this is the government that is putting money back in their pockets. I do not believe I said anywhere in my speech that we were opposed to this motion. I cannot recall that I did, although everyone is implying that I did. As far as I am concerned, we are not opposed to it.
The government is certainly going to consider this proposal in future budgets, and we will go from there.
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