Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to budget 2019, a budget that makes it easier for Canadians to thrive and join a prosperous middle class.
Housing affordability is a large part of this budget. That is because Canadians have told us that the rising cost of housing is one of the biggest barriers to getting ahead in life. Housing supply has not kept up with demand, which has driven up costs to the point where an adequate place to call home has become out of reach for too many families. This means they do not have the safe, stable base they need to find work, study, raise their families and contribute to their communities.
This is why our government developed a national housing strategy, which includes a number of initiatives to boost the housing supply, focusing primarily on the needs of the most vulnerable populations. These programs are already having an impact on communities across the country by giving more Canadians safe, affordable rental homes. In fact, budget 2019 includes an expansion of the successful rental construction financing program, which will add significantly to the rental housing supply and, in turn, bring down the cost to rent.
Today, I want to speak about an innovative program in the budget that makes it more affordable for young Canadians to buy their first homes. While it is true that whether one rents or owns it is still a home, many Canadians aspire to own their own homes. When first-time homebuyers purchase a home, it frees up even more rental supply and leads to lower rental costs for those in housing need.
Unfortunately, for too many Canadians, home ownership is increasingly out of reach. Beginning in September, the first-time homebuyer incentive will help more young Canadians buy their first homes by reducing their mortgage payments. Eligible buyers who have the minimum down payment required for an insured mortgage will be able to finance a portion of their home purchase through a shared equity mortgage with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The new program will provide funding of 5% of the purchase price for existing homes and 10% for newly constructed homes. Rather than making ongoing monthly payments on the shared equity portion of the mortgage, the buyer would repay the incentive at a later date. This keeps monthly costs down for homebuyers so they have money for everyday expenses.
Details of the program are being finalized and will be announced at the end of the year. However, I can tell my colleagues in the House that for families a buying $400,000 home, this program could save as much as $228 per month and up to $2,700 per year per family.
Officials at the Department of Finance and CMHC have worked hard to develop a program that is balanced and achieves our objectives of helping first-time buyers without undoing the progress we have already made through measures that prevent excessive borrowing and limit house price inflation. It does this by focusing specifically on those who need help the most.
Younger Canadians who have a household income of about $120,000 a year or less have trouble affording home ownership. It ensures they do not take on too much debt by limiting total borrowing to four times their income. In addition, to be sure the program does not end up contributing to the house price inflation, we have capped it at $1.2 billion over the next three years. The inflation effect will be minimal, less than 0.5% at the most, if that.
This program will make home ownership more affordable for young Canadians in a way that is more effective than the measures some other people have suggested. Measures like reducing the mortgage insurance stress test or extending the maximum amortization period to 30 years would simply put Canadians into greater debt. The rate of home price inflation would be five to six times greater than the maximum anticipated by the first-time homebuyer incentive.
Finally, by doubling the incentive for the purchase of a new home, the new program will encourage new supply to meet housing demands, which in turn keeps prices down for all Canadians.
This program will work in all markets, including Vancouver and Toronto. Even with a cap of four times the household income, first-time buyers will have the option. It may not be a condo in Yaletown or a house in Riverdale, but there are starter homes in both metropolitan areas that could be purchased using this program. In fact, based on last year's activity, more than 2,000 homebuyers in Toronto would have been eligible for this FTHBI, and over 1,000 homeowners in greater Vancouver would have been eligible.
Budget 2019 will also establish a fund to help existing shared equity mortgage providers scale up their businesses and encourage new players to enter the market. The fund will provide up to $100 million in lending over five years and will be administered by CMHC.
Our support for Canadians trying to purchase their first home does not end there. Budget 2019 also provides first-time buyers greater freedom to invest their RRSP savings by increasing the homebuyer plan withdrawal from $25,000 to $35,000.
We have also proposed the new housing supply challenge. This $300-million initiative will help municipalities and other stakeholder groups to find ways to break down barriers that limit the creation of new housing.
Infrastructure Canada and CMHC will collaborate on designs for the new measures.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize one person working to make a difference in my riding: Daphaney Doss from Xaxli'p First Nation. Daphaney is preparing for her second Great Cycle Challenge cancer fundraising ride. Last year she travelled 250 kilometres and raised $1,300.
Daphaney is truly an inspiration. She rides to honour the loss of two family members and to raise cancer awareness for those in her community and surrounding areas. I would like to thank Daphaney for her outstanding community service as she continues to motivate others and make a difference.
I encourage Daphaney to keep up the great work. We are all behind her.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, 100,000 Canadians would be able to buy their first homes. We have already received a great deal of positive reaction to budget 2019 and its progress in boosting affordability. Canadians are pleased with the way it would help young householders realize their dream of home ownership and encourage the construction of new homes.
For example, Heather Tremain, CEO of Options for Homes, had this to say:
The Federal budget takes concrete steps to address Canada's housing affordability problem and will help to improve access to home ownership for middle income earners.
We understand the many benefits that come from having a safe and adequate home that one can afford. Through budget 2019, we are once again demonstrating that the Government of Canada is back in housing. We are delivering an ambitious, comprehensive and realistic plan that would create much needed new housing, protect the affordability of existing homes and include new support for first-time home buyers. This is a plan that would benefit generations to come.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the budget implementation bill for the benefit of our economy and a more inclusive and prosperous society for all Canadians.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, let us talk about my colleague's riding. I had the privilege to announce $11.8 million for 67 affordable units. We are going to provide rental units for 30% less than the market price. I also had the privilege to announce $7 million for 36 units to look after women and children, rental space that will also be offered at 30% less.
These are the good things we are doing in his riding.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not think we need to convince a whole lot of people on this pretty straightforward deal. About 100,000 Canadians will be eligible to buy a home within the next three years. For people who want a $400,000 home, we will pay a 10% down payment so they can buy it. This is for newly built homes. The federal government will chip in a 5% down payment for someone buying a second-hand home. I think this is very good news for first-time homebuyers.
Our government is making home ownership more affordable for the first time, allowing people to lower their monthly mortgage payments. I urge both sides of the House to pass this piece of legislation.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for bringing up the one million jobs we created in the country, 75% of which are full-time jobs.
We lifted 300,000 children over the poverty line. Our 10% increase in GIS benefited 900,000 seniors, putting many over the poverty line. The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in our country for the last 40 years. We have the lowest tax rate for small businesses out of the G7 countries. The list goes on.
When people work, they bring more taxes into our coffers. I think we are going in the right direction. We will continue to help Canadians.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as we have seen recently in communities across the country, the effects of climate change are real. They are devastating to our communities. Canadians want to know that we take these threats seriously and that we are making the investments necessary to prepare for and mitigate the effects the next time disaster strikes.
Could the Prime Minister or the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities please update this House on the investments the government is making to tackle climate change, particularly in British Columbia?
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to acknowledge the InterCultural Online Health Network, iCON, for its efforts in advancing the well-being of multicultural and indigenous communities in British Columbia.
Celebrating 10 years of service and partnership with the South Asian community, I was happy to attend a health forum for seniors and caregivers living with diabetes and hypertension. iCON has successfully brought together key stakeholders in health, such as the B.C. Ministry of Health and its health authorities, health care providers, patients and families. iCON has started a dialogue on health care issues to help educate communities with workshops and web-based resources.
I encourage the Minister of Health to connect with Dr. Cheema and Dr. Ho, iCON leaders, to explore how we can bring iCON to communities throughout the country.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to apologize, without reservation, to the member for Vancouver Granville. My comments were inappropriate. Whether inside or outside this House, it is incumbent on all of us to treat each other with respect at all times.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I was delighted to be in Chilliwack, British Columbia a couple of weeks ago to announce the construction of 67 new rental housing units on behalf of my friend and colleague, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Partnering with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the government invested $11.8 million in this great project.
This project is one of many under the national housing strategy. As a former property developer, I have engaged with countless Canadians who are trying to find their new home. Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. I am pleased to represent a government that is supporting a real solution to the housing issue in our country.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, agriculture is an exciting and dynamic industry that is full of opportunities, but it is not without challenges. I rise today to recognize the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Farm Credit Canada for raising mental health awareness within the farming industry. My riding of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon has a high concentration of farmers and it is important that both individuals and families receive support throughout stressful situations.
I am pleased farmers will have improved access to wellness resources, with the FCC launching its mental health strategies guide. Mental health issues can affect anybody. It is important to have these discussions.
I am proud to join my colleagues and the agricultural community in removing the stigma surrounding mental health.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction for the $86 million in funding to combat gun violence. I know in my riding this money will be appreciated as rising concern about gun violence has been a major issue for quite some time, which I discussed with the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction when he visited in my riding.
Like many ridings in our country, Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon is in close proximity to the U.S. border. The funding will be crucial to stopping illegal firearms from entering our country and into the hands of gangs. My riding is no stranger to the perils of gun violence, and I am committed to ensuring that my constituents and all Canadians can live without fear of gun violence.
I am thankful to represent a government that is committed to addressing gun violence with real, tangible action.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, last Saturday I was proud to attend the seventh annual Walk & Talk - Defeat Depression event in Harrison Hot Springs. The defeat depression campaign is a national fundraising campaign designed to raise funds in support of local mental health programs and services. The campaign has grown into a national movement, bringing needed awareness of mental health issues and fighting the mental health stigma.
I want to commend the organizers from the Agassiz-Harrison Community Services for their hard work putting this together, all of the volunteers who helped the day run smoothly and those in attendance who shared their own stories with us.
Let us keep this fight going.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague for Winnipeg Centre.
I am pleased to provide some perspective on some of the amendments proposed as part of the other chamber's consideration of Bill C-65.
The issue of workplace harassment and violence is complex. The measures required to eradicate these behaviours must take many factors into consideration. For example, women tell us that they do not come forward because they feel that it is not worth the risk or it is embarrassing. Many fear potential consequences. Perhaps most disappointing is that many simply do not believe that coming forward will make a difference.
Reporting an incident requires courage. Women fear reprisals or even losing their jobs, and the stigma associated with being a victim can make it extremely difficult to report an incident. It is clear that if people know that they can come forward without fear of being identified, it will reduce their hesitation around speaking out.
One of the key elements of this proposed legislation is support for affected employees. Privacy is integral to that support. We believe that the success of Bill C-65 is closely linked to ensuring the privacy of those involved in incidents of harassment and violence. It is with this perspective that we considered some of the other chamber's proposed amendments.
The other chamber put forward two amendments that proposed that the minister's annual report and the annual report prepared by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board contain statistical data related to harassment and violence, categorized according to prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Information categorized according to prohibited grounds of discrimination under the CHRA would include information such as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability and others.
Our government supports the amendment being proposed with respect to including this information in the minister's annual report. However, we do not support the amendment to the section that would apply to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board's annual report. I will explain.
The first amendment proposed relates to the annual report the Minister of Labour would publish each year providing data on incidents of harassment and violence in federally regulated workplaces, including parliamentary workplaces. The proposed amendment would require that the data collected from employers for the annual report by the Minister of Labour include information on whether the incident could be considered a prohibited ground of discrimination. This would provide very useful information on the nature of these incidents so that together, we could work to prevent their occurrence.
However, we also recognize that collecting this data would represent certain risks to colleagues. Perhaps the most pressing would be the risk to the privacy of the individuals providing the information. This is particularly true for smaller organizations with fewer employees, where the risk of being identified is very real. To mitigate this risk, the provision of this information would be entirely voluntary. It would be up to the employees to decide whether they felt comfortable disclosing any details about themselves that could potentially identify them down the road. We feel that this is the best approach.
We felt it was important to support acceptance of the amendment to include the data in the minister's annual report because we believe that this risk would be effectively mitigated, and because the potential benefits are significant.
The data that would be collected could be used to determine whether Bill C-65 is doing the job it is supposed to do, particularly for those who are most vulnerable to incidents of workplace harassment and violence. This data, which would cover incidents in both federally regulated and parliamentary workplaces, could be used to make adjustments if there is evidence that this is not the case.
Our government is committed to making evidence-based policy decisions. The more data we have to work with in the future, the better our ability to do just that. However, as I mentioned, we do not support the other place's proposed amendment to require that the statistical data in the board's annual report include information that is categorized on the same grounds. While we support the intention of the amendment, we do not think it would be feasible. The report that is produced by the board captures only appeals made in relation to part II of the code. Only a smaller subset of those appeals would apply to harassment and violence. These appeals would not relate to investigations of the incidents themselves, but whether or not the process to deal with the incident under the code has been followed.
Given that the report would cover only the appeals that the board hears, and these appeals would relate to the process followed, the dataset would be far too small to report according to prohibited grounds of discrimination without revealing the identities of the individuals involved. I think we would all agree that breaching privacy and in any way discouraging individuals from coming forward is the last thing we want to do.
Let me be clear. This report by the board would only capture appeals, it would not capture the total number of incidents of harassment and violence occurring in parliamentary workplaces. Those incidents would be captured in the previously mentioned minister's report.
We know that these behaviours are not exclusive to our workplaces. However, with the rise of movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, we are understanding where we need to act and how we need to enable people to come forward. This legislation would help to create a culture where certain behaviours are simply not tolerated.
This is what Bill C-65 would help accomplish: a profound change in culture, a culture where people work in a safe workplace, one that is free from harassment or violence. For this to happen, people need the option of reporting reprehensible behaviour without fear of retaliation. Bill C-65 would help ensure that is the case.
View Jati Sidhu Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, Bill C-65 is trying to create a single, integrated regime that would protect federally regulated employees from harassment and violence in the workplace. We are trying to create a level playing field so that harassment and violence is reduced in the workplace, regardless of whether the employee is parliamentary staff, exempt staff, an employee of a Crown corporation or part of the federal public service.
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