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Results: 1 - 15 of 141
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, veterans and their families deserve a safe and affordable place to call home. That is why I am so pleased that the newly announced veteran homelessness program will provide comprehensive support to veterans experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
A total of $79.1 million in funding will be available by way of two streams. One will provide rent supplements and wraparound services, while the other will support research on veteran homelessness and capacity building. Eligible recipients, including veteran-serving organizations, can apply to either or both funding streams through an online portal on the Infrastructure Canada website. Applications are open until June 23, and I encourage all organizations to make an application.
Canada’s veterans have long served and sacrificed for our country, and it is our duty to support them.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C‑13 on the modernization of the Official Languages Act.
As members know, this is a historic moment. It has been a long time since we have reviewed this legislation, 35 years to be exact. As the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, I want to tell my colleagues that I did all of my schooling in English because there was no French school. We did not have this essential protection at the time. My children, however, were able to do all of their schooling, from kindergarten to grade 12, in French. What a change. That was made possible because of the first Official Languages Act in 1969. Thanks to that, my grandchildren will also be able to complete all of their schooling in French.
I want to tell my colleagues that this was a very long process. First, there was the Official Languages Act in 1969. Section 23 was added to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 and changes were made to the act in 1988. Then, as members know, Bill C‑32, which sought to strengthen the Official Languages Act, died on the Order Paper. Now, we are back with Bill C‑13, which underwent a number of essential changes in committee.
As I see it, the most important thing is that the act will have to be reviewed every 10 years. We will not have to wait 35 years. The procedure has already been established. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, in consultation with the President of the Treasury Board, will have to undertake a review, a comprehensive analysis of the enhancement of the vitality of the communities. They will examine whether we have achieved our objective of protecting and promoting the French language. They will also examine whether sectors that are essential to enhancing the vitality of Quebec's francophones and anglophones, including health, immigration, employment and French-language education from early childhood to the post-secondary level, have been respected. A report will have to be tabled in the House of Commons. In my opinion, this is a well-regimented procedure.
Let us start with the Treasury Board. It is the most important machine in Parliament. Bill C‑13 would make the optional powers, duties and responsibilities mandatory, which is essential. The Treasury Board will have some meaningful work to do.
Other improvements were made in committee. They are very important to mention. Every community across the country asked that there be a central agency, a minister responsible, and we can now check that off the list. What is more, the minister cannot withdraw from their responsibilities or delegate them. The Treasury Board and the minister will have to ensure compliance.
As far as justice is concerned, Bill C‑13 confirms that justices of the Supreme Court of Canada have to be bilingual. Still today, the Conservatives do not agree with that and do not want that to happen. I do not understand it. In committee, progress was also made on appointing justices to superior courts and appeal courts. It is extremely important. We have to take into account people's needs in terms of access to justice. The Canadian Bar Association and the Fédération des associations de juristes d'expression française de common law have been asking for that for years.
Let us talk about immigration. In my opinion, this is the perfect example. When we started working on Bill C‑32, having a policy was important. When we moved on to Bill C‑13, ensuring that the policy had some content, some details, was important. Finally, in committee, we determined that not only did we need details, but we also needed to ensure that the demographic weight was restored and increased. It is going to be a game of catch-up and we will have to increase our newcomer target to 8% or 9% and then go back to our target of 4.4% or better.
Let us move on to real estate. I am quite pleased because this was a problem for 20, 25, 30 years across Canada.
I can say that now, because of the amendments that were made, the government has to consider the needs of the school community, which was not the case before. It is great to have a charter of rights that recognizes the right to education in French, but if land cannot be purchased, how and where are we supposed to build schools? It is not possible. Now, this will be guaranteed. It will no longer be an option, but an obligation, for the government to do something that is essential. It must consult the school boards about their needs.
I can cite examples such as the Jericho lands and Heather Street lands in Vancouver, Royal Roads in Victoria, Lagimodière Boulevard in Winnipeg, or Oxford Street in Halifax.
With respect to the language clause or the positive measures, the Standing Committee on Official Languages has made a lot of progress. It is not perfect, but it made a lot of progress.
When agreements are being negotiated, those involved, such as school boards or the organizations concerned, must be consulted. It is important to ensure that there is accountability, and that when money is earmarked for a certain organization or a certain location, it ends up there. Major progress has been made in that regard.
The Commissioner of Official Languages has been given significantly increased powers. Bill C-13 of course gives him the power to impose penalties and to make orders. This does not mean that violators will have to pay billions of dollars in penalties, but the idea is that anyone who has to pay $10, $100, $1,000 or $10,000 will be called out. That is very important. We are also giving the commissioner other powers and additional tools to do his job, which is to protect and promote the French language, and that is extremely important.
Now, I must say, there are areas where we did not accomplish as much as we would have liked, and that hurts. On enumeration, we were not able to get it done the way we wanted. Nevertheless, we added that question to the short form census two years ago, which means that everyone had to answer it. We still have that data, which will be good for 10 years. I am confident that if the Liberals are still in power in 10 years, we will be able to achieve and cement this. This is extremely important.
As I mentioned, the language clauses and positive measures are not what I would have liked, but we did make some progress, and I would like to thank the opposition parties for helping us.
I also realize that English-speaking Quebeckers have some concerns that deserve mentioning. However, I can assure you that our government is going to defend linguistic duality and the rights of anglophone Quebeckers in Quebec.
We will continue to provide funding, protect language and culture, and ensure the court challenges program is kept in place and adequately funded.
I am extremely proud to commend the government and the opposition for doing a great job and for the work done and the progress made on bills C‑32 and C‑13 at the Standing Committee on Official Languages. It truly is a team effort. I am very proud of the House and, as always, ready to answer questions.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I certainly thank my colleague for his question, but also for his leadership within his party on official languages. There is no doubt that he does exceptional work. We thank him and the community across Canada thanks him for his work.
I have to say that it is too bad that he was not in the House at the time. What did the Conservatives do between 2005 and 2015? I will tell the House what they did. For the action plan, there was zero increase for 10 years. Under the Liberals, there was $1.4 billion. The Conservatives made cuts to the court challenges program that ensures that rights are protected. They made spending cuts to the Translation Bureau and they even cancelled the long-form census. It is incredible.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to respond to my colleague.
I must say that I am a bit surprised. I expected a question about immigration, considering that tomorrow is an opposition day and we are going to discuss demographic weight. Bill C‑13 settles this issue, and that is very impressive.
I would like to say something very important to my colleague. If the Official Languages Act had not been passed in 1969, very few people in Nova Scotia or outside Quebec would be speaking French now. That fact is indisputable.
Not only that, but we had no French schools before 1969. Today, Nova Scotia has 23 French schools, and the student population has doubled in size since the Conseil scolaire acadien de la Nouvelle‑Écosse school board was founded in 1996. That is impressive.
The Official Languages Act is doing its job.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the excellent work she does on veterans affairs.
I really want to answer this. Looking at B.C., I talked about how in the B.C. schools, they could not get any lands. In the bill, there are guarantees that they would be consulted, which is important.
If the member is asking why I am upset with the delay, I have to be very honest and say that today, where I stand, I am happy with the delay. I explained that Bill C-32 had strengths, but Bill C-13 has more strengths. Now, going to committee with the new amendments, it is even better. In 10 years, we will make it perfect, if it is not perfect today.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, last week was National Volunteer Week and I want to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers for the hard work, dedication, commitment and difference they make in our communities. Too often we underestimate the hard work, long hours and free time the 24 million Canadian volunteers give to our communities.
The work of many organizations and associations would not be possible without the generous contributions of volunteers. I want to highlight some of them in my riding: the Sackville Rivers Association, Hope for Wildlife, VETS Canada, Freedom Kitchen & Closet, Sackawa, Cheema and the Orenda Canoe Club. They all play an important role in Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. Our communities would not be the same without them.
Let us be grateful now and throughout the year for the hard work of our volunteers. I thank them very much.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, as the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-47, budget implementation act, 2023, No. 1.
I want to start, first, by explaining that Canada has probably been the most successful country coming out of COVID in the last two years. In the last year, we have seen the best and strongest economic growth in the G7, which is quite impressive.
Canadians had created 1.2 million jobs prior to the pandemic. Now we have recaptured that 1.2 million, and Canadians have created another 830,000 jobs. That is over two million jobs in the last five years. I would say that is very impressive.
Yes, we are facing inflation, which is a challenge the world is facing, but in the last month inflation has come down from 8% to 4.2%. The banks and economists are saying we are going to be down to about 3% by September. That is quite impressive as well.
We know there are challenges. We know the banks raised the interest rate, which is putting more pressure on individuals and Canadians, yet the unemployment rate is at a record low, which is extremely important.
What we have seen as well with unemployment is the fact that we brought forward the learning and child care program. We have seen a lot more women joining the workforce, which has shown us at a record high of 85.7% of women between 25 and 55 years of age participating in the workforce.
This budget targets inflation relief, strengthening public health care and dental care, the clean economy, and of course, maintaining our lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
The grocery rebate is directly helping 11 million Canadians. It is extremely important. A family of four is receiving about $467. Single Canadians are receiving about $234, and seniors are receiving $225. That is for low-income Canadians who are receiving the GST, of course.
For students, we are increasing the student grant by 40% and raising the interest-free Canada student loan limit so we can be of help on that end as well.
There have been various programs for seniors. I just mentioned the grocery rebate for those with low incomes. We also increased the OAS and GIS, which will grow by 30% by 2027-28. That is about $20 billion a year in increases, so that is direct support for seniors to ensure they are able to enjoy their retirement.
In the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, there have also been investments, like in the Beaverbank Kinsac Lions Club, which received $25,000 for upgrades. Also, the Sackville Seniors Advisory Council received $25,000 for programming. Those are direct investments into the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
On the housing front, which is extremely important, for first-time homebuyers, young people, there is a new tax-free savings account, which will allow them to save $40,000 tax-free over, I believe, about seven years. This is tax-free going in and tax-free coming out for first-time homebuyers, which will be a very good investment and definitely a major help to young people.
It is also creating more flexibility around existing mortgages by extending amortization payments, adjusting the payment schedule or even authorizing lump sum payments. In the riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, there have been some successful housing projects in the Chezzetcook area, the Lake Echo area and the Preston area.
Under the economy, industry and competitiveness for the green economy, which is a focus of our government, there are tax credits that will entice, invite, encourage and build on green electricity. We will see a 15% tax rebate on clean electricity. We will also see up to 30% in tax credits for machinery or equipment used for manufacturing or processing clean technology. The cleanest, hydrogen, will get up to a 40% rebate, which is encouraging. We know that Canadians will move forward on those major initiatives.
Through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, we have invested up to $20 billion for major projects in electricity and clean growth, and for those in Ontario, we have seen a major project, which is a game-changer, in the Volkswagen battery manufacturing, which will be an asset for the workers and people in Ontario.
I will quote the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters: “CME welcomes #Budget2023 and the initial steps it takes to respond to the US Inflation Reduction Act...drive net zero transitions, improve labour shortages, and alleviate and supply chain disruptions.” That will also be an asset.
There are also industry-targeted investments we have for our space industry, our forestry industry and our tourism industry. We know our tourism industry took a major hit during COVID. We need to support our communities, so they can have more ways of attracting more tourists to their communities and also invest in bringing more international investment in conventions and events in our regions.
With that, of course, I cannot go without mentioning the investment in Michelin, the tire plant in Nova Scotia. It has three plants, of course, and the Bridgewater one is where they are going to modernize and also create innovative technology for tires to be more efficient, including the electric vehicle tires. Of course, they will cut on emissions, which will mean more jobs and a reduction to the environmental footprint of our economy.
We have also seen some reductions and savings, of up to $15 billion over five years, by reducing spending on consulting firms. There will be a 3% reduction for each department right across the government and $6 billion in savings over six years through the realignment of former announcements.
I do need to touch on a couple of key things. Health care is extremely important in Nova Scotia. We had been receiving $3.5 billion over 10 years. Now, we will be receiving $5 billion, which is $1.5 million, or a third, more. That would be very helpfully invested in home care, long-term care, dental care, oral health care, major doctors and nurses, and also in promoting initiatives to bring them to rural and remote communities.
Our workers are very important, and one of the things I want to talk about is the doubling of the tradespeople tool deduction from $500 to $1,000. I have heard many tradespeople tell me that was something they wanted. Also, I think a very important initiative is the employer ownership trusts, which mean there would be tax changes to allow private owners to sell to their employees the shares in the business, which would make them directly engaged in the challenges, but also the profits as well.
Our student work placement program is creating quality work-integrated learning opportunities. I will share with members that there is an announcement we had in Nova Scotia not so long ago of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency's START program, which sees many students who are learning on the ground as well as in their institutions.
There are many other investments, of course. The one I want to talk about is the investment in veterans to reduce backlogs once again. We already reduced the backlogs by 70%. We want to bring that down to 0. Also, we will continue to support our veterans through various services. There are some investments in my riding, of course. The Royal Canadian Legion branch in Waverley would receive $159,000 for a roof replacement, and the one in Eastern Passage would receive over $21,000 for renovations as well.
There is lots of investment, of course, in Atlantic Canada, in the Coast Guard, the ferry services, protecting our fresh waters and the Atlantic loop, which would help Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and others.
In closing, very importantly, I want to thank the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. I also want to thank all Canadians who contributed to the success of this budget, because it is a budget for Canada.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, signing up to serve with the Canadian flag on one's shoulder comes with risks, but being at risk of sexual misconduct should not be one of them. There is simply no excuse or justification for that, either in the armed forces, in the RCMP or in any workplace. Our government is fully committed to eliminating the workplace violence, harassment and discrimination in any form. We recognize the enormous courage it takes for someone to disclose this kind of abuse and fight for justice and accountability.
We are aware of the letter published by the Office of the Veterans Ombud on February 23 asking that Veterans Affairs review the Merlo Davidson case to determine if pension reductions had been properly applied, and if not, to issue a corrective payment. For privacy reasons, we cannot comment on individual files.
What I can say is that the department has contacted all of the impacted veterans by telephone and via letter to offer them an opportunity to submit additional information regarding their payment so that the payments can be recalculated and corrected as appropriate. We want to be as generous as possible under the legislation.
We are also aware of the recommendations made by the OVO. Each impacted veteran has been provided with contact information at VAC and the OVO for support in providing the information needed. We are committed to continuing to work closely with the ombud on this file and any other file.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, as I said before, the women who came forward and disclosed their experiences in Merlo-Davidson did so with incredible courage. Our government is committed to ensuring all veterans and members get access to the benefits they are entitled to. In the case of the Merlo-Davidson settlement, the minister has told staff to review the OVO's recommendation to ensure that all pension adjustments have been properly applied and that we are being as generous as possible under the legislation. Veterans who had their disability pensions reduced in the Merlo-Davidson settlement have been contacted and given the opportunity to submit additional information.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. In the face of affordability, our government has increased the indexing for the CCB, the OAS and the GIS. How important is that for the member's community?
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be speaking to this important motion.
As members know, affordability is not just a question here in Canada. It is also a question that is extremely important right across the world. It is important that we have those discussions. That is what it is all about. It is not about politics. It is about bringing new ideas and suggestions to the table.
Throughout my speech, I will to try to underline some of the key initiatives that we were able to bring forward in the fall and what we will continue to work on as we move forward.
The global pandemic was very challenging. I know as a member of Parliament—
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his suggestion. It is all about timing. I had this planned for halfway through my speech, but I will make sure that he has his opportunity. I will be sharing my time with the member for Elmwood—Transcona on this very important motion, which we as Canadians need to be discussing.
There is no question that grocery prices are very high. The price of gas is higher than normal too. Many of our costs are very high, but the same thing is happening in other countries. In the United States, as people are telling me, the prices are even worse than in Canada. We have to find ways of supporting Canadians.
What started all this? I think we have to contextualize the situation. By that I mean that the pandemic was a two-and-a-half-year challenge for the world. I tell my kids all the time that the reason they pay taxes is to ensure they have services when they need them. If they are paying a certain per cent in taxes, some of it goes toward paying for hospitals, some of it goes toward paying for roads and some of it goes toward paying for schools. That is how we are contributing to the success of the country.
However, when we are in a global challenge with over three million people losing their jobs in a short period of time and with people going home to face their family and say they do not have a job, then we are in a major crisis, and people expect their government to be there for them because they have been there contributing. That is exactly what happened during the pandemic.
I have never been prouder of being a member of Parliament than I have been during the last two and a half years. For 67 nights in a row, we worked together as members of Parliament when the Liberals were looking at different policies and programs we could bring to support Canadians. It was challenging, because when we bring in a program, it might work for 90% of people but not for all. That is why we had to do lots of tweaking in our supports.
There were many programs. We helped individuals with the CERB, with the wage subsidy for businesses, with the bank account for businesses and with rental assistance. Then there were all the organizations. We were able to give $20 million to the legions so they could do great work to support our veterans as we moved forward. That was one challenge.
The second challenge, of course, is the invasion of Ukraine. There is no question that it is playing a very big role in the challenges relating to the cost of living and inflation right across the world. That is adding to costs in the supply chain too.
Those two challenges are facing every country, including Canada, and Canada has done extremely well with them, if I can say so. We were one of the most successful in the G7 coming out of the pandemic, which was extremely important. We have over 117% of the jobs we had prior to the pandemic, and now we are seeing inflation come down, from 8.1% in June to 6.2% as we speak. I know that is still way too high, but we are going to work to improve on it. The central bank is increasing interest rates to drop inflation, and I know that is putting more stress on Canadians. We have to be there, and we have to do more.
That is why, in the fall, we brought forward some major initiatives that are helping Canadians with affordability.
First of all, there was the doubling of the GST rebate. Members have to understand that 11 million people benefited from this initiative. Half of our seniors benefited from it, which is extremely important. They received a doubling of their GST rebate for two payments.
There was an enhancing of the Canada workers benefit, which is very important as well. This is for low-income Canadians working very hard each and every day. This will help them. They will receive up to $2,400 per year, helping another 4.2 million Canadians.
There is the 10% increase to the OAS for those aged 75 and older. That is extremely important. That is helping about three million seniors, which is a large number of seniors. Some people ask why 75 years old. Well, people are more vulnerable at 75. There is a more of a chance that they will lose their partner or spouse. The cost of living challenges are higher, as they only have one salary. We have to be there for those seniors, and we have been.
In addition, rent for low-income Canadians was topped up by $500. That is another very important initiative for those who are struggling. About 1.8 million Canadians benefited from that initiative as well.
Members know as well as I do that child care fees being dropped this year to 50% is a major help to Canadians with young families. It is helping with affordability. Do not forget that parents who were paying $1,800 a month for three kids are today paying $900 a month. That is a savings of $900 a month. That extra $900 a month can help with affordability, which is crucial. It can help with mortgages, which are much higher because of increasing interest rates. That was a very important initiative that we were able to bring forward as well.
There is also dental care for families making $90,000 or less. Children 12 years of age and under can benefit from that now. That is supporting families. When families brought their kids to a dentist, they used to pay more. Now they will have more money for food.
People forget about the indexing of inflation, but that is extremely important. Let us take the CCB. By increasing the CCB to meet inflation, people basically still have the same income. The GST credit increases with inflation too. For seniors who are retired, the CPP will be increasing with inflation to help them, and so will the OAS and the GIS. Those are major initiatives that we were able to pass, some of which were not supported or voted for by the Conservatives. However, that is not what is important. What is important is they were passed and Canadians are benefiting from them.
I want to talk about the Canada workers benefit for a second. I mentioned it, but it is important to note that we now have advance payments. Because of the high cost of living and affordability, instead of people having to wait 12 months to do their income taxes and receive their money, we are now going to give it through four payments based on their salaries from the previous year. That is allowing people, every three months, to have more money to pay for the challenges they may be facing.
With the child care benefit, along with economic gains there are social gains in supporting Canadians. More women are now able to join the workforce. As we know, there are about 1.5 million vacant jobs and we need to find workers to fill them, so more women will join the workforce. Today, 82% of working-age women are working. That is the highest rate ever recorded in Canada.
I will conclude with student loans. Students do not have to pay interest on the federal portion of their loans, which is a big help for students, because we know the cost of education at the post-secondary level, such as at universities, is very high.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, eligibility is very important. That is why we should be talking about it.
We are now saying that people have to meet all the criteria. That puts the onus on the individuals applying, but also on the public service to make sure the criteria are being respected. We are going to work closely to support Canadians.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He always has very good questions.
In my speech, I explained why we prioritized seniors 75 and older. However, my colleague did not mention that doubling the GST credit gave 50% of seniors more money.
We have also indexed old age security, the Canada pension plan and the guaranteed income supplement to ensure that people can continue to enjoy the money they have today. We have been there for seniors and we will be there for seniors in the future as well.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, what she is sharing is really important. We have seen, during the pandemic, some large corporations making humongous profits, and that conversation needs to be had. We need to find ways to ensure that these corporations are sharing their wealth with Canadians.
Our government has focused on the most vulnerable, and we will continue to focus on the most vulnerable. However, to be honest, I agree we need to do more work in this area.
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