Hon. Jack Layton (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, with this budget, the government missed a golden opportunity to reach out and work with others, and to show the majority of Canadians that Ottawa can work for them.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on the new mandate he received from Canadians, but I will continue to remind him that his majority in the House does not represent the majority of the public. Sixty per cent of voters chose another party in the May 2 election. They rejected this budget which is, essentially, identical to the one tabled just before the election.
I expect the Prime Minister, of course, to make choices that honour his values and his voters. That is what I would do as prime minister myself. But a prime minister also needs to govern on behalf of all Canadians.
The message we heard from voters this election is that they want us to work together to get results that can bring people together across partisan and regional lines. This budget could have moved in that direction by responding to concrete proposals made by other parties, including our party, proposals to help middle-class families, not just the well-connected insiders who all too often get their way here on Parliament Hill, proposals that millions of Canadians voted for in the election, such as hiring more family doctors and nurses; making life more affordable; securing pensions and retirement security for seniors; and lifting all seniors out of poverty. We could have seen proposals to spark full-time job creation.
Millions of Canadians voted for change, but I see very few signs that this government is listening.
I am pleased to see that this budget contains the long-awaited compensation for Quebec's sales tax harmonization. My caucus made this demand several times during the last Parliament. We are pleased to see that the government has made the right decision.
I welcome the return of the eco-energy home retrofit program. We saw how much this program stimulated job creation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and helped families save on their energy bills.
It is a program and an approach to economic and energy policy that I have been urging the Prime Minister to adopt since our very first meeting.
I also want to salute the government for its adoption of a non-partisan initiative emerging from this country's building trades called helmets to hardhats. I would like to thank all of the members of Parliament who participated in the informal discussions that we had prior to the last budget that generated the consensus that will allow returning veterans and retiring service personnel to connect with jobs and employment opportunities in the construction field as this program unfolds.
Where is the effort to reach out to the five million Canadians who do not have a family doctor? We have suggested working with the provinces and territories to tackle this critical issue to provide more training spaces or adopt the CMA's ideas in this regard which suggests that we can repatriate doctors who have gone to work abroad and bring them back here. However, this budget will not get more doctors into practice. Therefore, it will cause millions of Canadian families with sick loved ones to experience inevitable anxiety due to the fact they do not have family medicine readily available. It will result in more people going to emergency departments rather than nipping in the bud an illness or a disease within the family. Therefore, at the end of the day it will cost Canadians more money. It is an issue that should have been tackled and we propose must be tackled.
We are also not positioning Ottawa as a leader with concrete proposals and ideas while heading into the health accord renegotiations. Although we should have heard a vision for the future of our health care system in both the Throne Speech and the budget, one was not forthcoming.
We need to reach out to families who need help with their budgets. During the election we talked to countless people who have great difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month. In fact, many of our members of Parliament met with people who were overcome with emotion as they described their situation. As we spoke with them regarding which party to vote for, their main concern was how they would cover their bills at the end of the month. Would they choose to pay the costs of their housing, put food on the table, or afford the medication that their doctor told them they needed?
These are the intense personal stories that people are hoping we will take account of, listen to, and motivate us in our work here. Household debt is at an all-time high. We should regard this as a critical issue. People are working hard. They are working harder than ever. How many members in this chamber have met people who are working two or three jobs just to try to make ends meet at the end of every month?
We suggested some concrete measures to help address these issues. For example, taking the federal tax off the skyrocketing heating bills that people are confronted with. We suggested capping those credit card interest rates which are really tough on families.The budget was a golden opportunity to address these issues. However, we did not see anything about that at all.
Regarding our plea for action for the quarter of a million seniors who are living in poverty, the government responded with less than half measures, less than half of the investment needed to pull those seniors out of poverty using the guaranteed income supplement. Accordingly, will the government lift half of all seniors out of poverty or will they lift all seniors halfway out of poverty? It turns out it is neither.
I believe that there is not a Canadian who would disagree with that objective. In fact, in a country as rich as Canada, every Canadian, irrespective of political orientation, background, income or anything else, would agree that no senior should have to live in poverty.
Solving the problem is affordable. It would cost us less to lift every senior out of poverty than the government spent in the last 12 months on new tax breaks for the six chartered banks. I would bet that if we could have a private discussion with the bank CEOs, they would probably say, although I do not know if they would do it publicly but I bet some of them would, that it is actually more important to lift seniors out of poverty than it is to give us another tax break.
Let us look at that issue from the raw standpoint of the economic impact. If we were to give seniors a little more money to spend, what would they do with it? They would spend it within walking distance. Wherever they happen to live, they would spend it at local stores and businesses which would prime the economic pump as well as resulting, hopefully, in a drop in the number of seniors who have to go to food banks.
Is it not a measure of failure when seniors have to go to food banks? I cannot think of very many measures of a failed economic policy that would stand out more dramatically than that, except perhaps when children are going with their parents to food banks, which is an equally dramatic indication of the growing inequality in our society that is certainly not being addressed in the budget at all.
This budget does not meet the needs of most Canadians on issues surrounding health care, retirement pensions and the financial burden on families.
It is time to make sure that the 1.4 million people who are unemployed return to work in jobs that will meet their families' needs.
Yesterday, the Minister of Finance said encouraging things about job creation. He said that employment and growth are key to balancing the budget. Unfortunately, he also ignored our practical solutions for stimulating the creation of good-quality jobs, which include reducing taxes for our economy's real job creators, small businesses; instituting job creation tax credits as a reward for each new job created; and investing in infrastructure that will attract good jobs to our communities.
I spoke to municipal leaders at their annual convention this weekend in Halifax. They are ready to partner with Ottawa to renew this country's infrastructure. They are ready to build those modern roads and bridges, transit systems, affordable housing and water systems that we need if our cities are to be successful into the future. They are ready to modernize Canada's housing stock and transit systems so we can become world leaders instead of falling further and further behind as other countries make investments in these areas, which will position those countries, cities and communities much better for the economic competition that lies before us.
Instead, what we see here is an entrenchment and a withdrawal. The government continues to ignore the calls from the municipalities. It ignores their call to work together to create those jobs in design and construction, and to make our cities more competitive economic engines in the global workplace and marketplace.
This budget talks about jobs but offers essentially the same old failed plan. It contains billions in corporate tax giveaways to Canada's most profitable corporations. Billions are squandered when Canada's corporate rates are already competitive. It contains billions for banks, big oil and other companies that do not need our help, billions that too often just pad the CEO bonuses or the corporate cash reserves.
This is not an economic policy that will generate the jobs that we need. The rate of unemployment in this country is far too high. International observers have suggested that Canada risks being in a situation where we could have structural unemployment, in other words a basic level of unemployment, which is dramatically higher than it should be and could act as a real block to Canadian economic success.
What is worse, in many cases these tax reductions given to companies, which have no conditions attached to them, the companies turn around, take the money and run. Oftentimes the companies will shut down the very factory that was making money in the first place and will move the jobs somewhere else where they will pay half the wage or less, where there are no protections for workers who might want to organize to have health and safety on the job, where the workers cannot speak out for fair wages to feed their families.
With this policy and this budget, we are helping those companies to do exactly that, throw Canadian workers out of work and allow workers elsewhere in the world to be exploited.
How can we identify with a policy like that and say that somehow it is good for the country? The truth is that it is not. I will give concrete examples. Electrolux in Quebec is a case in point. Quite often these companies will leave their head office here so that they can continue to take advantage of the Canadian tax cuts but meanwhile they are shipping the jobs elsewhere. Canadian workers are out of work, which means they are not paying taxes anymore. In fact, those workers must collect employment insurance, if they are able to qualify.
We notice that the government's approach to that, which was picked up from the previous administration, is to make it more difficult for people to qualify. There is a heck of a way to save money. People who need help from government because they have been thrown out of work are unable to get access to the help their family needs. They then end up on welfare and, in many provinces, they must get rid of most of their assets before they can even qualify for welfare.
In other words, what we have here is a system where a tax cut given to a corporation here can ultimately result in a Canadian worker being thrown out of work and ending up on welfare. How the heck can anyone say that policy makes any sense whatsoever for the working families of this country? The truth is that it does not and it needs to change.
Another example is John Deere in Welland, a long-standing Canadian firm that generated lots of work over many years. It took the corporate tax cut and shut down its factory. We have Vale that went on the attack against workers' pensions.
What are we doing here? Are we trying to help in the race to the bottom so that workers in any country have less access to a secure retirement? That makes no sense whatsoever. The list includes Merck and Xstrata. I could spend the entire day reading off a list of companies that have taken the money and run. A small business will not do that.
Small businesses, which cannot transfer their jobs to China or elsewhere, will use the tax cuts to create jobs in companies here in Canada. That is why we must support our small businesses now. It is their turn.
We have to wonder whether this government has not lost confidence in its employment strategy. We have to wonder whether it is continuing to provide tax breaks for big corporations just to please its privileged friends. If this government really wanted to stimulate growth, it would not make large cuts to balance the budget. Yet that is what is found in this budget—$17 billion in cuts over the next five years. We are talking about $17 billion. In what areas will these cuts be made? Health care? Education? Help for seniors? We do not know. There is a certain lack of transparency in this regard. The government hopes that we will not see the effects of its cuts. Will cuts be made to regional development programs? We know who will have to pay the price of these federal cuts. It is families.
I want to say that the official opposition will press the government to balance the budget through growth rather than cuts. Our diverse and talented team will be monitoring this government's actions. We will show in detail the human costs associated with each cut that the government plans to make.
The real test of the government will be its ability to deliver on its own priorities while respecting the majority of Canadians who voted for something else. That takes wisdom and statecraft. On balance, the budget fails that test because it fails the sweeping majority. It helps out the corporations and insiders, to be sure. I do not want to suggest that the budget is not helpful to anybody. However, it leaves millions of families at the back of the line. Too many of them are without family doctors. Many are concerned about their jobs and retirement. Many are struggling to make ends meet and are worried about the spending cuts that are to come and what the impact might be on their families. We all remember Walkerton and we do not want to see the absence of government involvement in protecting Canadians resulting in tragedy.
I choose to remain optimistic about what the House can accomplish. It is not a government known for compromise, and old habits can die hard, but we have seen some glimmers in some areas, as I mentioned: the HST compensation for Quebec, the return of the eco-energy home retrofits and the helmets to hard hats for veterans. Therefore, in good faith, I will reach across the aisle and say to the government that it just needs to try harder.
Canadians of all political stripes have sent us here to work together. They will not let the government forget it. The official opposition will not let the government forget it. This budget, unfortunately, does not come close to delivering enough for Canadian families. However, we are still eager to work with the government to get the job done.
Therefore, I move:
|| That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following:
|| That the House not approve in general the budgetary policy of the government unless the government brings in additional measures to correct the government's poor record of fiscal management, to address adequately the current jobs crisis in the economy, to address the shortage of family doctors and other health professionals, to deal with the need to provide Canadians with a comfortable retirement and a secure vehicle for their retirement savings, to lift every Canadian senior out of poverty, to make life more affordable for low and middle income Canadians and to address the government's failure to substitute a more targeted approach to job creation for its ill-conceived, across-the-board, corporate income tax cuts.
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate. In doing so I also take the chance to thank the good people of Toronto Centre who have seen the wisdom of returning me to this place once again. This has been my 11th meeting with the voters, both federally and provincially, and I am very proud of the fact that I have managed to achieve this point in my life and have been able to receive the confidence of a great many people.
I think of my own constituency and we all do when we talk about budgets. I think of a constituency that probably has some of the wealthiest people in the country living in it; some of the most successful entrepreneurs, younger couples who are achieving great success, people who are doing very well in their lives and see great opportunities for themselves and for their families.
At the same time, Toronto Centre happens to have the largest amount of social housing in the country, as the Leader of the Opposition will well know because of his work municipally. It has a vast and considerable population of homeless people. It also has a number of people who fall somewhere into the middle of that group. So, we have the richest and the poorest and we have the people in between.
The essential message that I bring to the House and to the people of Canada about this budget is that it is not a budget for everyone. It is not a budget that brings Canadians together. It is not a budget for one Canada. It is a budget that focuses on a certain group of people. It does far more for those who are better off than for those who are not. In that sense, it is a budget that fails our vision in the Liberal Party, of being able to talk out of all sides of our mouth at exactly the same time, when we say that the search for prosperity for Canada is exceptionally important and the success of our businesses is exceptionally important.
We have learned the hard way, as a country, what I call the “Billie Holiday maxim”. When she was asked what was the big lesson she had drawn from her life, she said: “I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better.”
Canada needs to become richer. We need to become more prosperous. In achieving that prosperity, both for individuals and as a country, we become more successful, but we are also more able to share that prosperity and to ensure that everyone is included. Perhaps as much as any member in the House from my time in politics, I have learned a very simple lesson. That is that the water buffalo look at each other very differently when there is no water. We understand that is what can happen in a recession.
When I look at this budget, not only do I see the elements it contains, but I also see what is missing. The budget contains some measures, but there are measures missing. That is essentially the problem with this budget. I also see that this document is permeated by a sentiment that is not good for Canada at this time: complacency. I see complacency in the attitude of the government, which seems to think that, having won a majority, it no longer needs to talk about the needs of all Canadians and that it can concentrate instead on the interests of a few. That is the problem I see.
When we look at what is missing, let me mention three words: the first word is “poverty” and the second two words are “climate change”.
When we look around the world, we see a world that is far more unstable than the one the Conservatives are describing. We see a sovereign debt crisis taking place in Europe, a crisis that has now become infectious and threatens the economic balance of the entire world.
We saw just two years ago, and who among us needs to be reminded of it, that because of the degree of integration of the world financial system, a failure of the banking system in the United States from people making loans to people to whom they should not have been lending money created a world economic crisis that we can now all read about.
We are facing the same risk with respect to the failure, not of a few homeowners or a few thousand homeowners or tens of thousands of homeowners, but of entire countries. None of us should be unaware of this. None of us should be unaware of the difficulties facing our neighbour in the United States with respect to its economic growth and the challenges now facing Japan because of the tragedy of the tsunami.
Therefore, I find that the Conservatives are playing a game in this budget of what I call “let us pretend”. Let us pretend there is no continuing instability in the world economy. Let us pretend there is no poverty in Canada and no challenge of a shared prosperity, which we in the Liberal Party believe is the central challenge of our time. Let us pretend, on behalf of the Conservative Party, that we know what we are doing, that we have a plan.
The finance minister is asserting a very false certainty in his deficit projections. He is pretending that he knows what the deficit will be next year. He is pretending that he knows what it will be two years from now, and then he is pretending that he knows what it will be three years from now.
The trouble is that we remember the Minister of Finance. We remember that he was the one who came into this House in 2008, after the last election, and told Canadians, “Crisis? What crisis? Deficits? What deficits? Problems? What problems?” thereby causing a political crisis that dominated the affairs of this country for two full months, forcing him to a deathbed conversion of saying, “Aha, now we have to do the economic action plan. Now we have to start putting money into the economy. Now we have to start running deficits”.
I heard the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance talking for a full two years about how vital it was for Canada to run a deficit, how important it was for Canada to take on more debt, that this was a crucial act of national statesmanship. I only wish I had heard those words from the Conservatives around 1990, 1991 and 1992, but I digress.
The only thing missing in the government's statement and its description of the costs and challenges that we will face is the cost of certain key programs, one of which has been covered by the Leader of the Opposition in his comments, but one of which was not.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke a lot about the cost of the corporate tax cuts, which are in fact a significant bleeding of the fiscal capacity of the Canadian federal government to address the financial problems that all of the country faces.
Our view is that further corporate tax cuts at this time are unnecessary to achieve tax competitiveness, which is a very important objective of public policy but which has gone from becoming something that seemed like a wise course in public policy to becoming an indulgence that we can no longer afford.
However, I want to refer to one other item that is not in the list of things, because it relates to a major debate that we will be having in this country in the fall, and that is the cost of prisons. The government is about to take this country on a course with respect to the reform of the criminal justice system that will repeat every significant error made in the United States and made in Europe, particularly in the U.K., for which those countries are now repenting and seeing the folly and unwisdom of their ways.
The government is pretending as if the simple solution to every act of crime and every misdeed in our society is to simply throw the accused into jail and, essentially, to throw away the key.
The cost of that is going to be borne by every Canadian and the provinces and the municipalities. It ignores the fact that our correctional institutions are about to become the largest mental health institutions in the country.
It is a direction for Canada that is completely unnecessary and that is also going to have devastating impact on the overall economic and social health of the country. I can assure the government that we in the Liberal Party intend to fight these measures every step of the way.
The government speaks a lot about its majority. In fact, I think I heard the phrases “majority mandate”, “mandate” and “majority” at least a hundred times yesterday, and I am sure I will hear it a thousand times before the day is done and before this week or the next three weeks are done.
Let me just remind the House—
Mr. Paul Calandra: Much more than that, for the next four years.
Hon. Bob Rae: I note the heckling. I am not listening to it.
Forty per cent of those who voted have spoken, but that still means that most Canadians are looking elsewhere for leadership.
We simply have to understand that reality.
I will come back to that point.
The majority of Canadians do not have the same priorities as the Conservative Party. That is important. We acknowledge the facts: the Conservative Party has a majority in the House, but it does not have a majority in the country. It is difficult for the Conservative Party to accept this reality. In fact, the Conservatives can do as they wish in the House, but they cannot shirk their responsibility to respect public opinion in Canada.
I would like to talk about the options available to Canadians. Throughout the country, a movement that is open to and ready for change recognizes that Canadians want a different kind of politics. This movement believes that the government is there to serve Canadians. It is a popular movement that understands the economic challenges, but that does not believe that the ideologies of the past will help.
We in the Liberal Party believe that public policy should be driven by facts and evidence, not by ideology. Every step of the way we will be challenging those policies coming forward in the House from wherever they come that are not supported by facts and evidence.
We also know that a great majority of Canadians know that poverty and climate change, words that we in this party insist on using, are realities that we want addressed. I would say to the Leader of Opposition that the problem is not just poverty among seniors but among all Canadians. It is poverty among children that is a problem and it is poverty among our aboriginal population that is a problem.
We in the Liberal Party know that Canada's prosperity cannot be taken for granted. We also know that this is no time for smug or self-satisfied complacency.
When we look at health care and at the issues of crime and social justice that I have talked about and at our tax policies, and, particularly, when we look at the importance of aboriginal issues that have still not been faced up to by the House and Canadians, we must recognize the real and present danger that we are dealing not with one Canada but with two, with those who are in and those who are out; with those who are benefiting from the good things in life and those who are not; those who have a stake, a position and security, and those who have none.
These things are avoidable. As Canadians, we do not have to accept this fate. We can lead the way as a country by saying that we want to set a standard for our country in the world and that we want to be at our best in the world. Yes, we want prosperity. Yes, we want our businesses to succeed. Yes, we want to create a truly progressive entrepreneurial culture in this country. However, we understand full well that it will mean nothing if there are still millions of people unemployed and millions of people living in poverty, and if there are those who go to bed at night in a room with six or seven people who wonder, as the wind is whistling through the windows of an overcrowded house on Big Trout Lake, in their aspirations if there is not a better world and a better place.
We must recognize that despite all of our successes, Canada has the highest suicide rate in the western world. That principally is because there are far too many young Canadians, young teenagers, young aboriginal people in particular, who do not see a way out, who do not see hope and who do not see opportunity.
As we reflect on our budgets, they are not just about what businesses or the chamber of commerce think. A budget is not just there for taxpayers, even successful taxpayers, but a budget is there for every single Canadian, whether homeless or with a home, whether on the street or in the most comfortable place, whether living in rural Canada or urban Canada
The definition of a good politics is a politics that brings everyone together. When I look at the budget, I see a consistent politics that tries to divide, that tries to separate, that says the government is there for some but not for all.
One simple fact would demonstrate this, the tax credits the government has given. These tax credits only go to people with taxable income. It is very simple to understand. I was attempting to explain it to the media yesterday, because they were asking what the difference was between a refundable tax credit and a non-refundable tax credit.
Let me provide the simple facts. Last year 24.5 million returns were filed , of which 15.2 million owed net federal tax and 9.3 million owed no federal income tax after all the credits and deductions. The fact is that without net income, one will not get the benefit of the tax credits.
In my riding, who needs piano lessons but does not get access to them? It is the poorest kids in my riding. Who has problems taking care of their loved ones? Who has problems taking care of their mother or their father?
Who needs the tax credits provided by the Conservatives? They are not simply tax credits for Canada' middle class. They should be for everyone and not just for some. Quite frankly, that is the difference between the vision of the Liberal Party and that of the Conservative Party.
For those reasons, I will be moving an amendment to the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. I move:
|| That the motion be further amended by adding the following:
||“and rejects the government's budgetary policy because it does nothing to improve the worsening living conditions and opportunity gaps facing aboriginal people, fails to present any plan that fosters long-term, sustainable prosperity and equal opportunity for all Canadians, deliberately excludes low-income Canadians from qualifying for new tax measures by failing to make them refundable tax credits, abandons the federal government's role in the development and maintenance of affordable housing, continues to display a lack of federal leadership on health care particularly by ignoring the need to begin negotiations with the provinces on the successor to the 2004 health accord and leaves Canadians in the dark as to which programs and services will be cut in order to meet the government's deficit projections”.
Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my very good friend, the Minister of State for Science and Technology.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak about budget 2011, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.
Before beginning, Mr. Speaker, congratulations to you on your recent appointment in the House of Commons as the Acting Speaker in the House. I look forward to our time together in the chamber and I trust that you will serve this Parliament with great distinction.
Since this is my very first speech here since the election and since the start of the new Parliament, let me take a moment to thank a few individuals.
First and foremost, I thank the Prime Minister for entrusting me with this role once again. It is a privilege to work with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State for Finance on things like the budget.
Second, I want to take a moment to thank my family. My family stood by me during the election and I thank them for their love, their support and their patience, as I am away about five days a week.
I also take a moment to thank the people who came out to my campaign during the election. They will never be forgotten. I owe them a tremendous thanks from the bottom of my heart.
Last, but certainly not least, I really want to take a moment to thank the people of Saint Boniface who, once again, have put their trust in me to represent them in Ottawa. I will work very hard to address their needs and I hope never to disappoint them.
During the election campaign, I had the chance to speak with literally thousands of people. One thing I heard again and again, at the doors, was that people wanted their government to remain focused on the economy and jobs.
Budget 2011, introduced yesterday, reflects that priority. Here are a few of its highlights to support job creation.
Our government will be extending the accelerated capital cost allowance to help manufacturers and processors make new investments in machinery and equipment.
We will enhancing or extending programs to help businesses keep workers, like the work-sharing program, the wage-earner protection program and the targeted initiative for older workers. We will be renewing programs to help unemployed workers. We will be providing a hiring credit for small business. We will be supporting youth entrepreneurs with an investment of $20 million. We will also be reducing red tape by upgrading the BizPaL service and further consulting Canadians through the Red Tape Reduction Commission.
We will be supporting economic sectors, through hundreds of millions of dollars, in support for innovation, investment and market diversification in the agriculture, energy, mining, manufacturing, tourism and forestry sectors.
We will also be investing in clean energy technology and innovation. We will be legislating permanent gas tax funding for municipalities to support infrastructure priorities.
The next phase of Canada's economic action plan will also keep taxes low and make additional targeted investments to support jobs and growth and control government spending to stay on track to eliminate the deficit, while protecting transfer payments for crucial services like health care and education.
Included in those many important measures are tax breaks for hard-working Canadian families, support for our country's most vulnerable seniors, support for family caregivers, help for Canadians looking to make their homes more energy efficient and improvements to our justice system to make our streets safe, among other things.
In short, this is truly a plan to help everyday Canadians.
This is what Doug Northrup of H&R Block told the Times & Transcript recently:
|| The federal budget...is seen as a “people budget”...As a tax professional, I get people coming to me every year asking if there's anything new that will bring them more money back, and now there is. The average family will see a few more dollars coming back to them and seniors will see it in their monthly cheque.
It is clear that the budget reflects a focus on the economy and maintaining and creating jobs. However, there are some important items I would like to mention that should not be missed.
First, I will talk about the helmets to hardhats program introduced in the budget.
As the granddaughter of three World War II Veterans and a huge supporter of our brave men and women in the armed forces, I am very happy to see this initiative in the budget. This program will connect releasing Canadian Forces members and veterans with opportunities and careers in the construction industry.
In fact, just last week I mentioned this program to my friend Wendy Hayward, who was here for my swearing-in ceremony. Wendy is the mother of Corporal James Arnal, who was the eighty-eighth Canadian soldier to lose his life while bravely serving in Afghanistan. I had the pleasure of serving in the Winnipeg Police Service with Corporal Arnal's father, Ray Arnal. Wendy and her family have committed to helping Canadian armed force soldiers through the pillows for soldiers charity, among others. She was very pleased to hear of our government's dedication to the helmets to hardhats program.
This is what the Canadian Building Trades had to say:
|The Helmets to Hardhats Program has a track record of integrating military professionals into the best paid, most respected technical jobs in the construction industry....This program is a game changer for young veterans--we aim to place as many of the 5,200 transitioning professionals as possible each year. This is a cross promotional venture--good for the Military and good for our trades.
Another important measure of the next phase of Canada's economic plan includes new investments in the areas of public safety, security and justice, including: $30 million for the first nations policing program; $26 million to support the federal victims ombudsman to give victims a greater voice in the justice system; $1.6 million annually to the communities at risk security infrastructure pilot program to support security enhancements for communities victimized by hate-motivated crime; $20 million for youth crime prevention programs; and, finally, a commitment to scrap the wasteful and useless long gun registry that every elected police officer in the House of Commons voted to eliminate.
Here is what the Canadian Police Association had to say:
|| The inclusion by the Conservative government of a renewed investment in the Youth Gang Prevention Fund...will help provide police services across Canada with the tools and resources they need to target at-risk youth, and keep them away from the lure of organized crime.
With nearly 19 years of police experience, I have worked with countless victims and their families, and I am proud to be part of the government that is committed to putting the rights of victims before the rights of criminals.
To that end, and as promised in our platform, we will provide enhanced EI benefits to the parents of murdered or missing children and parents of gravely ill children. We will amend the Criminal Code to double the victim surcharge and make it mandatory in every case, without exception.
Our government will also reintroduce comprehensive legislation, including: to crack down on organized drug crime; to end house arrest for serious and violent criminals; to end house arrest for serious personal injury offences, such as sexual assault; to eliminate pardons for serious criminals; to establish tougher sentences and mandatory jail time for sexual offences against our children; to strengthen the handling of violent and repeat young offenders; to give police and courts the tools they need to investigate crimes and prevent acts of terrorism; to allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism in Canadian courts; and to streamline long and complex trials to ensure justice is delivered swiftly.
We will also tackle the drug trade and drug use in prisons by ensuring that every federal inmate will undergo drug testing at least once a year. Prisoners in possession of illicit substances will face appropriate additional charges. Parole applicants who fail drug tests will be denied parole.
As a Métis woman, I would also like to mention how important it is that we put measures in this budget to protect women. Several times women are referred to as the victims of crime. These measures will help us to protect not only the women of Canada, but those very vulnerable aboriginal women who so often are abused or forced into exploitation.
I look forward to a government that will continue to address the needs of those women, both on reserve and off reserve.
This is the platform I ran on and I intend to do my very best to ensure that these commitments come to fruition. I encourage all members of the House to actually read the budget, to see these wonderful measures for our most vulnerable, to actually adopt these measures in a timely fashion so our seniors can get that increase to the guaranteed income supplement, so we can better protect our Canadian people and ensure that we return to a balanced budget and reduce that deficit as quickly as possible.
I look forward to questions.
Hon. Gary Goodyear (Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to say how honoured and humbled I am, and thankful to the voters of Cambridge and North Dumfries for choosing once again to have me come to this great place to represent them. I would like to thank my board and all my volunteers, and especially the Prime Minister, who has asked me to continue to serve this country as Minister of State for Science and Technology and Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
I would also like to congratulate the members opposite, the members for LaSalle—Émard and Kingston and the Islands for having been chosen by their leaders as their party's lead spokesperson on science and technology. I look forward to working with them constructively to move this nation forward.
I am proud to stand here today as the Minister of State for Science and Technology to outline new investments in our science and technology initiatives and innovations that will underscore the government's continued commitment to Canada as a world leader in research, innovation and technology adoption.
In order to succeed in the knowledge economy, Canada must attract and develop the talented people we need, as well as increase our capacity for world-leading research and development, improve the commercialization of that research, and promote education and skills development.
This government has a long-standing, very strong record of commitment to science and technology ever since the release of our national science and technology strategy in 2007. This strategy recognizes the critical and important link between knowledge and the capacity to innovate, and the success in the global economy.
More important than simply having a strategy and talking about it is the implementation of that strategy, that vision. Consequently, our government has made significant investments to attract and develop talented people, strengthen Canada's capacity for world-leading research and development, and improve the commercialization of research in previous budgets, including Canada's economic action plan.
Now, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan builds on these earlier investments and strategies. It provides significant resources to strengthen Canada's global research leadership, supports commercialization of research by fostering business innovation, and advances a digital economy strategy as well.
Science and technology investments included in budget 2011 build upon the more than $6.3 billion provided under years one and two of the economic action plan. Every single budget that this government has placed on the table, including this year's budget, has increased science and tech investments.
I am honoured now to take the House through some of budget 2011 moves to produce the next phase of our science and tech strategy. At a time, I might point out, when other countries are struggling just to maintain their existing commitments to research, science and innovation, Canada is setting the pace and we are moving forward.
We continue to demonstrate with the current budget our commitment to build a research advantage in science and tech. We seek to maintain our leadership, and it is a leadership position in the G7, in terms of research and development performed in the higher education sector as a percentage of our economy.
This budget this year, as others in the past, will see an increase to the federal granting councils' combined annual budgets of $37 million per year. We will also add $10 million per year to the indirect costs of research programs for costs such as those related to operating and maintaining facilities at Canada's universities and colleges that receive granting council funding.
Other budget 2011 initiatives aimed at strengthening our research advantage as a nation include $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada excellence research chairs. These are the pivotal research chairs on the planet and are highly sought after from around the world. As well, there is up to $100 million to help establish a Canada brain research fund to support Canada's neuroscience research and accelerate discoveries on some of the most profound neuropathic disorders facing Canadians and their families.
There is $65 million for Genome Canada to launch a brand new competition in the areas of human health, as well as sustain its operating costs and those of its centres until 2013-14.
Indeed, $50 million over five years, beginning in 2012-13, to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo to support its leading-edge research, its education, and its public outreach activities.
Beginning in 2011-12, $35 million over five years to support excellence in climate and atmospheric research at Canadian post-secondary institutions through our Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada or, as we call it, NSERC.
Over five years, $12 million for a tri-council competition to establish a Canada-India research centre of excellence. This is part of our government's wider India engagement strategy.
There is $4 million over three years, beginning in 2011, to support the construction of a cyclotron for production of the next generation medical isotopes. This will be located in Thunder Bay, as a regional research institute.
We have also set up an expert panel of six eminent Canadians announced in last year's budget, led by Mr. Tom Jenkins of Open Text Corporation. It will provide this government with recommendations on maximizing the federal programs that are set out to promote business innovation. In the meantime, budget 2011 includes targeted resources to improve commercialization and support demonstration of new technologies in the marketplace.
Some of these great initiatives include: $12 million over five years starting in 2011-12 for NSERC's Idea to Innovation program to support joint college and university research and development projects with promising commercialization potential; $3 million, also in 2011-12, and $5 million per year ongoing, starting in 2012-13, to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or NSERC, to support 30 new industrial research chairs at colleges. This is a great program.
There is $40 million over two years to support the development and demonstration of new clean technology projects through Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
Budget 2011 also includes initiatives to make Canada a leader in the development, adoption, and use of digital technologies and content, such as: $80 million over three years for a pilot initiative delivered through the industrial research assistance program or, as we call it, IRAP, to support collaborative projects between colleges and small and medium-size businesses that accelerate the adoption of information and communication technologies.
As well, $100 million per year in support of Canada media fund which invests in digital content across multiple platforms, including television, leading-edge applications for the Internet, wireless, and other emerging platforms.
Our government has a plan that we set out in 2007. The real test with anything is not just talking about ideas; it is in implementing them and seeing their success grow. We are not just talking, but we are acting and acting in the best interests of this nation. With this budget, yet again, we have demonstrated our willingness and ability to implement that plan. We will continue to make Canada a leader in research, science and innovation.
This budget sustains our commitment to improve the quality of life of Canadians, create high-wage and better-quality jobs, and enable Canadians to compete in the knowledge economy.
I look forward to working with my parliamentarian colleagues and all Canadians to building the economy of tomorrow in which Canada realizes its vast potential as a world leader in and through science, technology and innovation.
Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, let me say once again how very honoured I am to be back in the House and to represent the constituents of Parkdale—High Park, the people who voted for me and put me here. I am very proud to have earned their trust and honoured to be part of a record-breaking complement of women in the House.
I am also honoured to serve as finance critic in the first ever New Democrat shadow cabinet and look forward to a constructive, energetic and positive relationship with the finance minister.
I congratulate my friend on his re-election and on receiving a stronger mandate for his government. But I will commit to regularly reminding him that he must defend the interests of all Canadians.
The reason that the Minister of Finance had all the freedom of his majority government to table his budget yesterday is because there is something wrong with our voting process. A majority of voters—60%—opposed his party and his budget during the election.
Although I respect the government's majority in the House, I hope that he will agree to respect the majority of the citizens of Canada—the real majority.
Many of the people who voted for change are still looking to Ottawa for help. They are working harder than ever and their household debt is soaring, student debt is soaring, their retirement has never been less secure and they are tired of being pushed to the back of the line.
Four and a half million Canadians just voted for my party's plan to take practical first steps to make their lives better. They voted for better front line health care, stronger retirement security, a break on their family budget and full-time job creation, good quality jobs that will support them and their families. Those Canadians will clearly feel let down by this budget that once again puts well-connected insiders ahead of their families.
Canadians want us to use a constructive approach in the House of Commons. In that vein, I will take the time to acknowledge the positive aspects of the minister's speech.
We welcome the fact that Quebec is being compensated for harmonizing its sales tax with the GST. It is something our party often requested, and we feel that we have been heard on this issue.
We also welcome the reinstatement of the eco-energy retrofit program, even if it is just for one year. As we have said all spring, that program has created thousands of jobs and leads to billions of dollars in economic spinoffs. It also allows us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tonnes a year. Many families have been able to save hundreds of dollars. This program should never have been abolished. It is a very important program. We must now consider adopting a permanent program to retrofit various types of buildings in Canada in order to make them more energy efficient.
We also welcome in principle the government's commitment to strengthening Canada's fiscal bottom line. As the finance department itself confirms, New Democrats have the best fiscal record, bar none, across all orders of government. We are very proud of that record.
Provincially, by and large, these governments have built their record while investing in families and avoiding destructive program cuts that other parties here have engaged in.
Federally, we will have to wait four more years to try our hand, but Canadians can count on us to share our best practices and advice in the meantime. We look forward to that.
The $36 billion federal deficit is now $13 billion lower than the minister projected in the budget of 2010. It is $13 billion lower. That is quite a change. The deficit is declining largely because of economic growth and our economy has substantial capacity for more growth.
More than 1.4 million Canadians were unemployed on April 1. That is nearly 300,000 more than before the recession took hold. So when my hon. colleagues say that we have recovered all of the jobs lost since the recession, they stand corrected. We are 300,000 jobs behind where we were at the start of the recession.
Hundreds of thousands more find themselves struggling in involuntary part-time work. We all know people who are working two, sometimes three jobs to support themselves and their families. This is the tragedy lurking behind the government's job numbers.
We see a steady shift away from quality jobs to less secure work with uncertain hours, fewer benefits and no pensions, the so-called precarious jobs. Getting these Canadians back to work in family supporting jobs could inject another $75 billion into our economy in wages alone, before multipliers.
Here is how the official opposition would return Canada to fiscal balance. We would do it by investing in quality jobs, boosting household incomes and GDP, and therefore government revenues. We would create good quality jobs. That is a key priority for Canadians right across this country.
We have also proposed reducing the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. Why have we done that? This would give a boost to a sector that creates nearly half of all new Canadian jobs, small businesses right across the country. I think of my own riding of Parkdale—High Park where we have small businesses that are really the lifeblood of our local economy.
We have proposed direct job creation tax credits to reward every new hire in small, medium and large businesses. We have proposed investing in vital infrastructure to create jobs that make our cities more competitive hubs in the global economy.
However, this budget picks up on none of these practical suggestions to spark job creation.
The budget continues to bank on a job creation strategy that is not effective, namely the unconditional tax cuts for corporations.
After lowering corporate tax rate to 16.5%, they intend to lower it even more next year to 15%. It is not really necessary to lower taxes even more, and it will cost the public purse another $3 billion.
The combined tax rate of the federal and provincial governments is currently far below the tax rate in the United States. These cuts are therefore not necessary. The Department of Finance points out that investment in infrastructure creates seven times more economic spinoffs.
There is no evidence that corporations are using these tax cuts to create jobs. Instead, they prefer to use the money to pay off their debts, increase their profits, give their CEOs bigger bonuses, or even invest abroad and lay off workers here at home.
I look at Electrolux which eagerly accepted Ottawa's largesse before shipping 1,300 manufacturing jobs to Memphis. It took the money, put it in its back pocket and then laid off all the workers.
The six big banks just received an additional $1.1 billion bonus from Canadian taxpayers over the last four quarters. That money is not going toward creating jobs.
Why would the minister expect a job strategy that failed yesterday to succeed tomorrow? We have a job crisis in this country. Why would he plough ahead knowing that finishing his rate cutting experiment will leave an annual $15 billion hole in the treasury?
After giving big businesses $15 billion every year, the minister is trying to get that money back by shifting the burden to Canadian taxpayers. First of all, over the next five years, he plans to collect $17 billion more in EI premiums than he will pay out in benefits. That is completely unacceptable. It is a slap in the face to workers and employers. The Conservatives do not seem serious about their desire to help small businesses and to lead Canada back to recovery.
In addition, now the minister is threatening to cut federal spending by another $17 billion over the next five years. Focusing on cuts instead of on economic growth is not the right strategy for returning to a balanced budget.
Let me ask the question my leader asked earlier. Where will the minister find this largely unspecified $17 billion? Will he cut transfers to health care after a few years? If not now then later on perhaps. Is that why we see no first steps in this budget toward training more doctors and other health care professionals, nurses, midwives? If not health care transfers, will he cut funding to Health Canada, Statistics Canada, Environment Canada or any of the countless departments and agencies that contribute to a stronger, healthier population of Canadians, programs that Canadians count on?
Will the minister make the spectre of deep cuts his constant pretext to ignore calls to invest in Canadian families because the needs are huge? We need to strengthen front line health care. We need to make life more affordable for Canadians. Canadians are stretched. We need to improve pensions for people who are retired or about to retire. We need to invest proactively in job creation. We need to pull seniors not just some of the way but all the way out of poverty. It is unacceptable that we have any senior living in poverty in a country as wealthy as Canada.
These are the priorities that millions of Canadians voted on in the recent election.
The budget deficit is $13 billion lower than the minister projected in budget 2010. The year before he was off by $22 billion so I guess he is getting a bit closer. Accurate deficit projections have not been the forte of the Minister of Finance. Canadians are all too familiar with governments overstating deficits to justify spending cuts. This is no time for deep spending cuts.
We are also hearing credible warnings about the possibility of a double-dip recession. We are hearing it from U.S. economists and from the Governor of the Bank of Canada. This is no time to be pulling $34 billion out of this economy in combined spending cuts and over-collected EI premiums, not with Canada perched on the edge of a fragile recovery.
Even when things are going well, we know that workers and their families tend to be hit the hardest by budget cuts. These families are already worried about their retirement pensions and the bills they need to pay at the end of the month. These families need high-quality jobs to contribute to Canada's economic recovery. Instead of shifting the burden onto them, we should be making investments that benefit these families, taking affordable and effective action, and creating jobs to stimulate growth and increase income in order to achieve a balanced budget in the long term.
The government needs to remember that it governs for all Canadians, not just well-connected Conservative insiders, not even just for its own voters, but for all Canadians, and certainly they include the sweeping majority of Canadians who want to see parties work together in the House of Commons. The sweeping majority of Canadians want to see solutions that bring people together across party lines and across regional lines.
We are ready to do our part. However, if the government wants to meet the challenge with us, it is going to have to do much better than it has done in the budget.
Mr. Mike Lake (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, CPC):
Madam Speaker, please note that I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
As this is my first time rising in the House since the election, let me start with some thanks. First, I would like to thank my constituents of Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont for giving me the honour of serving them once again.
I thank my wife Debi and my kids, Jaden and Jenae. I love them and their understanding of the importance of this job that keeps me away from them and away from home 130 nights a year. When we started six years ago, we said this would be our family adventure, and it has been a wonderful one, not always easy, but wonderful, nonetheless.
To my staff in Edmonton and Ottawa, my re-election is really a vote of approval for the service that we perform together for our constituents. I would like to thank them for their hard work in that regard.
Finally, I thank my volunteers. Of course, I cannot name them all, but I know I would not be here without them. They are like an extended family to us and we are truly blessed by their incredible efforts and support. In particular, I would like to publicly acknowledge my campaign co-managers, Bill Witzke and Leigh Johnston, who literally put in countless hours and ran a fantastic campaign.
As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, I welcome the opportunity to outline the government's agenda to support Canadian business, foster innovation and promote competitiveness.
Budget 2011 continues to focus on the task at hand, shepherding our country through the global economic recovery, while at the same time continuing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable economic growth.
In the context of the current global economic rebalancing, Canada has stood out among nations as a pillar of economic strength. To date, we have successfully navigated through global economic turbulence, thanks to timely, temporary and targeted interventions.
In response to the global recession, Canada's economic action plan provided $60 billion in extraordinary stimulus to support jobs and growth. The results speak for themselves: first, seven straight quarters of economic growth. For those of us on this side of the House the most important statistic is this: Canada has created nearly 540,000 net new jobs since July 2009. That speaks to the strength of our economy, the ingenuity of Canada's small and medium size enterprise sector, and the strong economic record of our government.
In the last election, our party said that we would focus on the economy, as we have done in the past and as we will continue to do in the future. That is what Canadians expect of us and that is what this budget delivers. In particular, the budget takes key steps to help businesses, including the thousands of small businesses across the country that are so fundamental to Canada's economy. For example, we are providing $20 million over two years to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to help young entrepreneurs become the leaders of tomorrow.
To make it easier for all entrepreneurs to determine the government licences and permits they need, we have also announced measures to upgrade the BizPaL service and expand online capabilities. As we make it easier for Canadians to start new businesses and to build those businesses, we will continue to see new jobs and growth in the Canadian economy.
I would now like to focus on two additional priority areas where we can support jobs and growth, the digital economy strategy and research and development.
Supporting jobs and growth means giving workers and businesses the tools they need to succeed in a competitive global economy, tools which include digital technologies. These technologies power activities in all areas of the economy, from manufacturing and transportation to advanced telecommunications and web-based services. They also provide a platform for all sectors to become more innovative and productive.
This is about setting the stage for the economy of tomorrow, and our plan announces a suite of initiatives that will contribute to this strategy.
Our government is doing its part by announcing measures that will ensure that Canada provides world class infrastructure and a competitive framework to encourage the private sector to create and adopt new information and communications technologies.
Additional initiatives will help Canada develop the digital workforce of tomorrow and create Canada's next generation of digital content by providing $80 million in new funding over three years through the industrial research assistance program to help small and medium size businesses accelerate their adoption of key information and communications technologies through collaborative projects with colleges; $60 million over the next three years to promote increased student enrolment in key disciplines related to the digital economy; and $100 million per year to the Canada media fund for investments in the creation of digital content across multiple platforms.
Our government has also committed to reintroduce and seek passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users. The copyright modernization act would bring Canada in line with advances in technology and international standards, as well as provide a framework that is forward-looking, flexible and technologically neutral.
Overall, these measures will help ensure that by 2020 Canada's economy is leading edge, driven by innovation, boosting productivity and sustaining high levels of prosperity.
I am proud that our government is taking the steps necessary to foster long-term growth in the economy and providing young Canadians with as many opportunities to succeed as possible.
Beyond the digital economy, the global economy depends increasingly on knowledge and innovation. In order to be a global leader, Canada must attract and develop talented people, increase our capacity for world-leading research and development and promote education and skills development. Our government measures will help strengthen Canada's leadership position by supporting international research collaboration and world-class research centres in Canada.
Specifically, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan announces new resources to support leading edge research, to improve commercialization and support the adoption of new technologies in the marketplace, including: investing an additional $37 million per year to support the three federal granting research councils and providing an additional $10 million per year for the indirect costs program to support costs such as those related to operating and maintaining research facilities; investing $53.5 million over five years to support the creation of 10 new Canada excellence research chairs; investing $4 million over three years to support the construction of a cyclotron for the production of medical isotopes at the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute; and providing $50 million over five years beginning in 2012-13 to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to support its leading research, education and public outreach activities.
Research and innovation drive jobs and create opportunities for Canadian companies to succeed all around the world. Our government knows that Canadian students, businesses and workers have the skills to succeed. We know we can compete with anyone in the world. With this budget, Canadians know they have a government that believes in them.
Our plan is supported. Here are just two examples of what Canadians had to say about these measures. Seneca College president, David Agnew, says:
|| This budget speaks to the role that colleges play in increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. This on-going investment also illustrates the important role that our students and graduates play in today's economic prosperity.
The president of a Toronto company, Darcor Casters & Wheels, Rob Hilborn, says:
|| These budget measures supporting the link between businesses and polytechnics will increase innovation and entrepreneurship for many Canadian companies. Budget 2011 opens more doors for small and mid-sized firms to access college research facilities and talent.
In conclusion, budget 2011 will position us on a path to a stronger economic recovery. As we move ahead, we will keep taxes low, we will create jobs, we will promote investment and growth, we will encourage innovation and we will deliver on initiatives that improve Canada's business environment.
I am proud to support this plan and I hope all members will join me in passing this budget expeditiously.
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC):
Madam Speaker, as this is my first time rising in the House following the election, I will take a moment to thank the people of Oak Ridges—Markham for returning me here. As I said during the campaign, there is not a day that goes by that I am not honoured to serve them in the House and not a day that goes by that I do not thank them for giving me this opportunity to serve our community.
I also want to thank the members of my campaign team for all of the hard work they did to help me get re-elected. I thank my campaign manager, Mathew Ellis, who came back to help me win my second election, and the over 200 volunteers who each and every day knocked on doors and set up signs, not just during the election but in the lead up to the election.
I must say that when I was first elected to this place two and a half years ago, I won by a small plurality of 542 votes. This last time I increased that a bit with a margin of 22,000 votes. While I would like to think that it was my own hard work, I know that it was due to a lot of hard work by the team that surrounds me in both my constituency office and in my Parliament Hill office.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank my constituency team led by Natalie James, Rena Sassano and Owen Macri and, on the Hill, Alli Filleul and my volunteer student Michael Seccareccia. They have done a tremendous amount of work to help me reach the people in my community. My riding is the largest riding in Canada in terms of population. It is twice the size of a normal riding. They have worked very hard to help me secure my re-election.
Of course it goes without saying that I thank my family, my beautiful wife Melanie and my beautiful daughters Natalie and Olivia for their understanding and the sacrifices they make to allow me to be here. They are my best supporters and some of my best advisors. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank them because without them I would not be able to be here in Ottawa living out my dream each and every day.
When I first came here in 2008, the world was changing. We were in the midst of what is now being called the great recession. It was, of course, a recession that did not start here in Canada but, with a global economy, we felt the effects quickly.
Before I was elected, the government, the Prime Minister and the award-winning Minister of Finance made some changes. They knew something was coming and, as the world economy was heading toward choppy waters, they decided that the best way to keep our economy going was to reinvest in Canadians. They did that by paying down almost $40 billion worth of debt. They did that by reducing taxes for families and for businesses. We reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5% so that Canadians and businesses would have more money in their pockets to invest in themselves, their families and their communities.
We invested in families. As I said, I have two small children, a five-year-old and a three-year-old and, thanks to some changes that we introduced, my family receives $100 per child, as do all Canadians with children under six. It has been a big help to Canadians in meeting the everyday needs of their families.
We also invested in infrastructure. In phase one of Canada's economic action plan, we did what Canadians asked us to do. We sat down with our counterparts at the municipal and provincial levels. Canadians were telling us that they wanted us to work together to get us through the economic downturn and that is what we did. The results in communities like mine and the York region were some $300 million worth of investments in roads, bridges, public transportation and community centres.
We invested in areas that would help us create jobs and also improve infrastructure so that as we emerged from the global economic downturn our small businesses, our communities and our job creators, small, medium and large, could seize on the benefits of the first phase of the economic action plan. The results have been spectacular. We have seen some 540,000 jobs created, as was mentioned by the parliamentary secretary.
In my community, the results are evident across the riding, and it is because of the hard work of this government. It is also because of the hard work of Canadian taxpayers and the fact that we were able to work with our counterparts at the municipal and provincial levels to get the job done for Canadians.
The minister reintroduced his budget, which is the second phase of Canada's economic action plan. I am just as excited about the next phase as I was about the first phase of the economic action plan because the minister has made out a path to a balance budget. Not only that, we will be doing this a year ahead of time.
As I was out on the campaign trail, Canadians told me that they wanted to see the government back into a balanced budget. They understood the investments that we needed to make in the economy during a recession. They approved of it, but they wanted to see us move toward a balanced budget, and we will do that.
As I said earlier, we will continue to invest in job creation for our small, medium and large job creators. In the last Parliament we introduced the Red Tape Reduction Commission. It is criss-crossing the country, working with small businesses to find out where government is getting in the way and impeding them so we can reduce the red tape and regulation to allow them to meet their potential.
As well, we are introducing a small business hiring tax credit so small businesses in main streets such as in Stouffville, where I live, can hire students, hire individuals and unleash their potential to create jobs.
We are extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers.
I represent a portion of Markham that is known as one of the high tech capitals of Canada, but the manufacturing industry in Markham was hard hit by the recession and the lead up to the recession. Some of the changes we made to reduce taxation will allow them to invest in new machinery to upgrade facilities and compete, not based on a low dollar but based on productivity. This allows manufacturers to create jobs, expand and compete. They are not only competing with other Canadians; they are competing around the world.
In Markham they are succeeding and it is because of the hard work of this award-winning Minister of Finance and this entire government. We understand that we need to unleash the potential of our economy and our communities.
We are doing more and are again focusing on families.
In this budget we introduced some increases to the GIS for our seniors. On this side of the House, we understand it was our seniors who helped make this the best country in the world in which to live, invest and raise a family. We are going to support our seniors.
We are introducing a children's art tax credit to make it a little easier for families that want their children to participate in their communities.
We are introducing a family caregiver tax credit. As the population ages, we know it will sometimes fall upon the rest of the family to take care of the parents or grandparents. We want to support them as they do that.
We are also introducing the volunteer firefighter tax credit.
I represent four communities: Markham, Stouffville, King City and Richmond Hill. In two of those communities, King City and Stouffville, it is volunteer fire fighters who put their lives on the line each and every day in responding to hundreds of calls for help. I know our communities would not be as successful as they are if it were not for the hard work of these brave community volunteers.
I had an opportunity to meet with some volunteer firefighters before and during the election. They were very excited that a government had finally recognized the hard work and sacrifices they made. I am very pleased this budget will continue those investments.
As I said earlier, I am extraordinarily proud to have the opportunity to represent my community in the House. Over the last two years in government we have helped guide the country through the worst global recession in history. We have done that while providing more money to Canadians. We have done that by providing support for small, medium and large job creators. We are unleashing the potential of our communities across the country so they can compete not only locally but globally with anybody, any time.
I am so excited about the future of our country because of everything that this government has done to help unleash Canada's potential. We should all be proud of what we have done and thank Canadians for the hard work they have done to allow us this success.
I congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on being appointed Deputy Speaker and I congratulate all the members for being elected as well.
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Madam Speaker, congratulations on your posting. I know you will serve with honour and distinction in the chamber and hopefully there will be some changes.
First, I want to offer condolences to the member for Kitchener—Conestoga. He continues to work at this time and his commitment to people across Canada is very impressive.
I want to thank the constituents of Windsor West for returning me to the House. I was first elected in 1997 and 2000 as a city councillor and federally in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011. Having a break from elections is a good thing for me and my family. I want to thank my spouse Terry, as well as my daughter Alexandria and son Wade for allowing me to do this. They have paid an incredible price and I am truly grateful for all of the small things we are able to treasure because of this opportunity.
I also want to thank my staff. It is very important to recognize Joanne, who filled in for Melanie, as well as Karen Kieran Darlene and Ian, who have been tremendous supporters of mine for many years and have done great work for the residents of Windsor West. They often put in far too many hours because they love their jobs and I love working with them. It is very special to have them as a support system.
Last, I want to thank all the volunteers, the other candidates who ran in the election and all those who participated in the open democracy. We have a declining vote ratio and it is critically important to get younger people to vote and recognize that our democracy has to change to re-engage people.
When we look at what is happening on the world stage now, people are using cellphones and other types of devices to text and email and are demonstrating on the streets for the right to vote.
It is important to support veterans by recognizing that they have made the ultimate sacrifice in the past, and will in the future, by giving us the opportunity to have a franchise. Despite the misgivings of our democracy, it still is the best in the world and I look forward to improving it.
I want to move now to the budget. The NDP has moved an amendment to the budget related principally to the fact that many Canadians are still falling behind. I find it very interesting that the government often refers to the fact that, measured against the world, Canada is doing much better. It is bragging in a sense about that. However, the reality is that, despite what is happening in Canada, too many people are falling behind and it is no way to measure ourselves.
When we look at the situation in the United States, it is also in a spiral. Just because we are doing modestly better than the U.S. does not mean the decisions we are making are right, principally the continued gutting of the public purse and the increasing expenditures on issues that Canadians do not support.
It is clear the government has delivered a budget that is very similar to the last one, which was not voted on because the government was brought down, for the first time in history, on a non-confidence matter as it did not provide the proper economic information to the chamber related to planes and prisons. It was not due to the budget. It was due to the fact that the House had lost confidence in the government. That is why we had an election, in which New Democrats made history.
It is important to recognize that the vast majority of Canadians do not support the direction in which the government is moving. We are hopeful there will be some amendments and improvements to the budget. What I have heard on the streets of Windsor West and across the country is that planes and prisons are not priorities for Canadians. In fact, people are interested in pensions and pharmaceutical issues related to health care costs.
I had a recent conversation with a veteran at the Windsor Veterans Memorial Services this past Sunday.
I forgot to mention when I started my speech that I will be splitting my time with the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I apologize for that, but I was anxious to thank the people of Windsor West when I began. However, I am very honoured to share my time with the member for Burnaby—New Westminster.
It is important to think about the people who are having a hard time getting by. The government's priority is large corporate tax cut reductions. People are not getting the same type of treatment.
Yes, we do see a modest improvement to the GIS of a few hundred million dollars, which is $1.15 a day, as has been pointed out by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, when it is broken down. That will enable seniors to get a cup of coffee a day more. So, perhaps that will lead to a boon at Tim Hortons for a caffeine fix in the morning, but it is certainly not going to take away from the problems that they are facing with regard to paying rent, having a pension that is going to be sustainable and also participating in society. I heard that at the veterans memorial services.
If we look at where the government's priorities are, and I asked this of the Liberal leader, they are under the ideology of large corporate tax cut reductions which supposedly lead to economic development and growth. When we start to look at the real numbers and the real situation we find that this ideology is flawed and is not working.
In fact, when we look at the number of different issues around this since we have had large corporate tax cut reductions, research and development has fallen to 3% in 2008. It is actually the lowest amount since the 1990s. We see deepening trade deficits. Canada's trade deficits, which were in a surplus a number of years ago, are now in a deficit because we have been using the wrong economic policies. Also, we have more foreign control over Canadian companies. We have witnessed a series of takeovers where there were supposed to be undertakings that were going to protect Canadian jobs that never took place or are actually in the courts, one being U.S. Steel right now, where Canadian jobs were usurped.
In fact, we saw those companies actually relocate some of those jobs overseas. They did a vertical integration in the industry where they bought Canadian natural resources and basically either flatlined them or reduced them so that their commodities abroad would actually rise in price. We have seen that with a number of Canadian companies in the mining industry and the steel industry. We have seen other takeovers, like Nortel, where we have lost our place in the world. Where we used to be the cutting edge, we have now basically flatlined in this regard and the government has done nothing to protect those jobs.
There is an issue with regard to productivity. Productivity is stalled in Canada. We have seen that not being the workers' fault but the fact that we have actually had lower investment in research and development and modernization of our plants. Because of the government's policy on the border between Canada and the U.S. where basically 40% of Canada's trade comes through my riding every single day, it has allowed the militarization and the thickening of the border without challenging the U.S. about these issues. It has signed a series of agreements and protocols in the hope that it would get some relief with regard to trade and tourism, but that has not happened. In fact, the exact opposite has happened. Some of those deals that the government has signed have created more problems right now in reduced services and increased problems. It has affected our ability and capability to compete.
In fact when we look at where this has been going, it has also driven the dollar up. The large corporate tax cuts and a petrodollar based upon export of raw resources has driven our dollar up approximately 20%, in terms of overvaluation. So manufacturers in the hotbed of Quebec or Ontario, and even other parts of Canada, are now competing at a disadvantage because we have artificially inflated the dollar and we watched the U.S. devalue its dollar. That makes it difficult when manufacturers with branch plants here are looking at expansion, renewal, a whole series of things, they are also looking at the border and saying that maybe they will invest in the United States, especially given the massive incentives they have had.
Interestingly, the U.S. has done it differently. Instead of large corporate tax cut reductions which is basically the ideology here, in terms of the Conservatives and the Liberals prior to that, the U.S. has done it through targeted initiatives. It has been stealing back its jobs and so forth, and we have done nothing about that. We witnessed this strategy with the softwood lumber industry, in particular, but it is also happening in the manufacturing sector.
Where has the money gone? The money has gone to a series of tax cuts. The tax cuts and subsidies for the oil and gas industry have resulted in the fact that they pay around 10.6% in federal tax. Meanwhile, every other corporation out there playing with value added is actually paying 16.5%.
The result is that the value-added manufacturing sector has been subsidizing the oil and gas industry at a time when people are getting ripped off at the pumps, being gouged by unfair practices that have cost people in their pocketbooks. This has to stop. This is why the budget fails and New Democrats are not going to stand for it.
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to the budget that has been presented in the House.
I would like to start by thanking the voters of Burnaby—New Westminster, who honoured me by re-electing me for the fourth time to the House of Commons in the election held on May 2. I would also like to thank my family: my partner Limei, my son Stefan, my parents Ruth and Terry Julian, my sister Randi and her family, my brother Patrick and his family. They were all, and continue to be, extremely supportive of the work that I do in the House and my long absences from home in British Columbia.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to my staff in Ottawa, Henri Sader, Mounia Lahbabi, and in my Burnaby office, Sandra Bell, Katrina Chen and Marja Kauppi, all of whom provide excellent services to the constituents of Burnaby—New Westminster. It is because of their work that I am able to do the work in this vastly enlarged NDP caucus that will be playing such a key role in the years to come.
I would like to address the budget and follow up on the comments of my colleague from Windsor West about how the Conservative government has approached what is basically a retread budget.
I do not think it is a secret to any of the Canadians who live across this country who are on the main streets out in the real world in this country that for them, Tory times have been very tough times. If we look at the last five years and look at the erosion of employment in many of our key sectors, we can see just how difficult it has become for Canadians under the mandate of the Conservative government.
No one votes Conservative because they expect a better health care system. Conservatives have not been renowned for building an effective public health care system, for providing access to public education, for providing the kinds of services that Canadians need. Nobody votes Conservative for those reasons, but we would expect the one thing Conservatives would be able to get right would be the economy.
However, we see here that what the budget does is simply enhance the previous measures the Conservatives have taken that have led to what is very clearly an economic decline for ordinary Canadian families, for the middle-class and poor Canadians.
As the member for Toronto—Danforth, our leader, said earlier today, it does not mean that there is not anything good in the budget. Corporate CEOs and corporate lobbyists will find this budget very much to their liking, but the reality is on Main Street in this country there is very little that ordinary Canadians will have to be joyful about.
We have seen, and other NDP speakers have raised this issue, $60 billion doled out in massive corporate tax cuts. These are not targeted tax cuts. These are not tax cuts that are linked to job creation. These are not tax cuts that are actually linked to building viable community economies. This is just money that is shovelled out the back of a truck. After five years of seeing these progressive policies of massive corporate tax cuts, we have to wonder just where Canada has ended up.
The Minister of Finance likes to point to the slight increase in the overall job creation, but the reality is over the last five years, given the growth in labour force, which is 1.5% a year, that the Conservatives have the responsibility of creating 300,000 additional jobs every year. How have they fared? StatsCan gives us the results. The results are that there is a million jobs deficit. Over the last five years since the Conservatives have been in power and where they needed to create about 300,000 new jobs or new people coming into the labour force every year, they needed to create 1.5 million. They have actually created about half a million jobs overall and these jobs have largely been part-time or temporary in nature, certainly not the permanent, family-sustaining jobs that Canadians are calling for from coast to coast to coast.
If we dig even deeper and look at the statistics around where these jobs have been created, they tend to be in the low end, in the temporary, part-time and in the service sector, but what has actually happened with the type of manufacturing and value-added jobs that are the basis, the foundation of the community economy across the country? When we put those figures out, they show a narrative of why it is becoming increasingly difficult for Canadian families.
In manufacturing we have seen, on the Conservative watch, something that started under the Liberals, which is why they are in the penalty box. However, it is has continued under the Conservatives. We have lost 250,000 manufacturing jobs since they came to power.
We have lost jobs in the agricultural sector. As you know, Madam Speaker, being from British Columbia, we have lost tens of thousands of jobs in the softwood lumber sector. That has not been in just British Columbia: it has been right across the prairies, it has been in northern Ontario, it has been in Quebec. It is due to a foolish strategy that was put into place by the Conservative government.
Overall, in manufacturing we have seen a significant decrease in good family-sustaining jobs that have been available in our economy. What we have seen is a growth of part-time, temporary, low-wage jobs in this country. That is the Conservative legacy. The reality is that just to maintain the labour force, they are a million jobs short from when they came to power.
The Conservatives will point to the unemployment rate and say that the unemployment rate is not that bad. We have heard some Conservatives say that, but the reality is that the only reason the unemployment rate has not gone through the roof is that there are progressively an ever-increasing number of Canadians who have simply opted out. They are not in the labour force. They are not counted as part of the labour force participation rate. That is a singular growth we have seen under the Conservative government: the number of Canadians who simply cannot find work.
Coming from a riding that has been economically challenged by Conservative policies, I can tell members that we have seen the fallout from the softwood lumber sellout that led to the closure of three mills and the direct loss of 2,000 jobs in my riding and my area.
We also see how the other economic policies of the Conservative government have impacted Burnaby—New Westminster. There has not been any overall comprehensive strategy to bring new Canadians, who often come with a wide variety of skills and abilities. There has been no real movement on credential recognition, aside from some ribbon-cutting. As a result, in a lot of cases we are seeing that labour force participation has meant that new Canadians are simply realizing they are not going to be able to provide their skills, their abilities, their experience and their education to Canada.
When we look at the Conservative legacy after five years, what we see is a loss of good jobs, continued sellout and stimulation of exports of raw materials. The Conservatives are renowned for exporting raw bitumen, raw logs and raw minerals, and the manufacturing sector has suffered. Value-added manufacturing has suffered.
What is the net result?
We know the debt load of the average Canadian family has climbed over the past decade. It has doubled, which means that Canadian families are facing the erosion of real income. It is not the corporate lobbyists or corporate CEOs, but the middle class, the ordinary Canadian families. It is the middle class and poor Canadians who are contributing and are the bedrock and foundation of our country. The erosion of that income has led to record levels of debt.
What does this budget do to address their issues, aside from $60 billion in corporate tax cuts? Not much.
For the average senior and hundreds of thousands of seniors living in poverty, we have seen that if they are a couple, they get $1.15 more from the Conservative government. It is shameful. It is disgraceful, especially when the HST imposed on B.C. charges $2 a day for those same seniors.
For students facing record debt levels, particularly in British Columbia, there is nothing in this budget that addresses their problems.
The reality is that 4.5 million Canadians voted for the NDP because they wanted to do away with those old policies that only lobbyists benefit from. That is why there are so many of us here now. The 103 NDP members are listening to Canadians, and we will pressure this government to change its policies, which are not good for ordinary families, for middle-class Canadian families or for the poorest Canadians. That is our mission and what we will continue to focus on in the years to come.
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, for Official Languages and for the Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Peace River.
I am very proud to rise here today to speak in favour of the budget presented by my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance. I am proud of our government's economic management in a time of a financial crisis, management that allowed us to come out ahead of most major industrialized countries.
Indeed, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Canada will be the first G7 country to return to a balanced budget. Our government has chosen a prudent yet rigorous approach to reduce public spending and eliminate the deficit. We are focusing on low taxes, job creation and sustained growth, in order to maintain the social programs that are so important to Canadians, while creating a solid financial foundation to ensure long-term prosperity.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is determined to make its activities more efficient and effective, and to save Canadians money. In this regard, the department wholeheartedly supported the Government of Canada's priority to return to a balanced budget through a strategic review of all departmental spending. Public Works and Government Services Canada met all the requirements of this very important exercise. Among other things, PWGSC will continue to support the reallocation of resources under the strategic and operating review announced in the budget in order to meet the government's most important priorities.
Canada's economic action plan has been a great success. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, I know that this department has played a major role in the economic action plan through its accelerated infrastructure program.
I am very proud of what PWGSC has achieved in terms of revitalizing the government's important capital assets; these achievements are nothing short of exemplary. I am very pleased that we have been allocated an additional $148 million over five years to preserve PWGSC's engineering assets.
We are fully committed to ensuring that public infrastructure meets the highest safety standards while creating jobs for local economies.
In the Canada first defence strategy, our government promised Canadians that it would provide our men and women in uniform with the equipment they need to do their difficult and dangerous work. We have already begun to make good on this promise, and we have made excellent progress to date, particularly in the area of shipbuilding. The national shipbuilding procurement strategy is a completely new approach to military procurement. We are optimistic that the lessons learned from this initiative will help us to improve procurement strategies in general.
First and foremost, we decided that our ships would be built in Canada by Canadians. This means that, in addition to building the ships that our navy and Coast Guard need to defend our country, we will also be creating permanent, highly skilled jobs across the country. We will support the marine industry, which is one of the key drivers of the economy and the lifeblood of many communities, and we will do so while fully respecting the department's fundamental values of openness, transparency and fairness.
We consulted extensively with the industry, and listened to what it had to say, before implementing the national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Therefore, we know that long-term planning and stable funding are essential to business growth. That is why we are making this commitment.
We also learned that we must work more closely together within the public service. Therefore, we adopted a teamwork approach for the entire government with respect to defence procurement by placing the emphasis on streamlined monitoring and approval processes.
These significant improvements to the military procurement process can guide our approach to procurement in general. Hence, industry will be able to do business with a Government of Canada that has reduced red tape and the time it takes to sign a contract and start the work.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is pleased, and rightly so, to have reduced the time required to purchase important military goods by more than half. For example, with respect to replacing our aging fleet of Hercules aircraft, the request for proposal for the 17 aircraft was issued in August 2007 and the $1.4 billion U.S. contract was awarded in December 2007. This procurement process, which was approved in June 2006, was completed in just 18 months, well within the anticipated time frame of 48 months.
My government believes that our procurement spending can and should be used to maximize our aerospace, shipbuilding and defence sectors' global competitiveness, and we will ensure that that is the case. The same goes for procurement in general. It must be in line with all of our economic objectives, and one of the areas we are actively targeting is innovation.
Innovation is an essential economic driver, and governments are in a position to choose to support entrepreneurs and dreamers who create, innovate and invent.
In last year's budget, we introduced the Canadian innovation commercialization program to help launch Canadian innovations. I am pleased to announce that the first round was a huge success and that we will soon be starting a second round. The Canadian innovation commercialization program helps Canadian businesses market their new technologies, products and services. Our work will help strengthen and diversify our economy.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is looking for government partners to test the innovations and to provide feedback to the businesses to help them successfully market their innovative products. In short, our government is doing more than innovate, since, in purchasing goods and services to support employment and our country's key industries, we are reaching out to businesses that create jobs and we are supporting them as they develop new products and profitable services. This is an entirely new approach to working with the private sector to help us build the prosperous and safe Canada that we want and are working so hard to achieve.
Mr. Chris Warkentin (Peace River, CPC):
Madam Speaker, my colleagues and I want to congratulate you on your re-election and your appointment as Deputy Speaker.
I want to take the opportunity, and I am hoping I will be given the latitude to do this, to give some thanks. This is my first opportunity to speak in the House since my election. It is my third election in five and a half years and there are a lot of people to thank for the time they put in leading up to, during and subsequent to the election campaign. As we know, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of even after the election is completed.
First and foremost, I want to thank the folks in my riding who supported and voted for me in unprecedented numbers. I recognize it is an incredible responsibility that I have been given for the third time and I want to thank each and every person who supported me. I recognize that 100% of the constituents did not vote for me, but I am here for 100% of them in my riding and I will do my utmost over the next number of years to represent the interests of my community in the long term.
I want to make brief reference to some of the team members who helped me get elected. First and foremost, I want to thank my campaign manager, Alden Harms, who was dedicated throughout the campaign to getting me elected for the third time. He has been my right-hand man through three elections and did an incredible job, as he always does.
I want to thank Lydell Torgerson, my official agent, a leading accountant in the province of Alberta. He has been recognized by his colleagues and dedicated a significant amount of volunteer time to my campaign. I want to thank him in the House for his ongoing dedication in getting all of the necessary paperwork done in order to fulfill the requirements that Elections Canada has.
I want to thank Dena Short, who works day in and day out to manage the office in my constituency. For that, I owe her a great debt of gratitude. I certainly want to recognize her work, as well as that of Lamont Anderson who was in charge of the sign crew. He worked diligently to get the signs up and down and taken care of.
I want to take the opportunity to thank the dedicated staff in my constituency office, as well as my Hill office, who make me a more popular guy, quite frankly. They are the people who continue to work day in and day out to represent my desire for my constituents, which is that they be well represented. Anybody who comes into my constituency office is always well represented because of the staff. I want to thank Trudy, who has been with me for the last five and a half years, and Kim and Crystal, who have also been with me for the last number of years. Their commitment to my constituents is, without question, their number one priority and I want to thank them.
I also want to thank my family, my mom, dad, siblings and their families for their support. Having five siblings is always positive because more people will vote for one and then when they have spouses as well, that increases the base. They went well beyond what they were called on to do during the election campaign in many capacities and I want to thank them.
I also want to thank my immediate family, my kids for giving me the luxury of being able to campaign, as well as my wife, who is a remarkable person. She is really the trooper in my family. She is the one who holds everything together during very stressful election campaigns and has given me great latitude in doing my job and serving my constituents. She really is an amazing partner and has dedicated the last five and a half years to working with me to represent the constituents in my riding.
I wanted to extend those thanks before I moved on to the budget.
Today I am talking about the low-tax plan for Canadians that the minister brought forward yesterday. Of course, this was not an entirely unexpected budget. We expected many of the provisions within the budget. Obviously, we had a preview of this budget last March prior to the election campaign and then we fought during the campaign for the opportunity to reinstate the budget and to have it debated in the House and hopefully passed by it. However, we did add a few other things to the budget. We made a number of other commitments in the election campaign and those things are being followed through with.
Our Prime Minister said that we were going to get things done, get back to work, and do a whole host of things in addition to the budget that was put forward before. Those things are included in this budget. I think that is a testament to the commitment of our finance minister and Prime Minister to doing what we said we were going to do during the election campaign. I give them a lot of thanks.
Canadians can be reassured that we are intent on doing what we said. We are seeing the evidence of that in this budget as well as in the Speech from the Throne. My many thanks to the finance minister for including those provisions in the budget. I know my constituents, as well as many of my colleagues' constituents, are depending on those things being carried out.
When I was first elected, my hope was that I would be able to represent my constituents well and build a stronger, more vibrant community. I was a small business owner at that point in time. My wife and I had just recently been married. I had been involved in politics for a number of years. I had been an active member of our association for over 10 years.
I hoped to become an elected member of this House to get a few things done. I was a small business owner and I was increasingly frustrated by the government's response to small business owners. Increasingly, we saw a government, in a previous incarnation, that was hard on small business owners, the engine to our local economies. I was often disappointed with the responses and an increased tax burden that small business owners were expected to bear.
Over the last five and a half years since my election, I have worked to advocate on behalf of small business owners. I believe it is important that we give all of the latitude that is necessary for small business owners to innovate and to create jobs in our local communities.
This budget is an extension of some of the things that we have seen over the last five and a half years in terms of reducing the tax burden for small business owners, for giving more resources to small business owners, and in paying tribute to small business owners for what they are, the drivers of our national economy.
One of the important measures within this budget, that there has not been a lot of attention drawn to, is the fact that our government has made the commitment to continue along the effort to reduce red tape for small businesses.
I had the opportunity in the last Parliament to sit on the red tape reduction commission. I had to opportunity to travel across this great country. What was remarkable, no matter where I went in this country, were the similarities in the concerns that I heard from people which were incredibly consistent.
We heard of struggles in terms of getting certain things done. Oftentimes it related to unnecessary red tape within the federal sector. We also heard about red tape that was in provincial and municipal jurisdictions as well.
I had the opportunity to sit on that commission with representation from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Catherine Swift was a representative on that commission. It actually brought forward the information, its analysis, that Canadian businesses bear a cost of approximately $30 billion on an annual basis in trying to comply with red tape.
That is red tape that comes from the federal government, the provincial governments and the municipal governments. What is distressing is that oftentimes there is a duplication or redundancy in that red tape from the federal level, the provincial level and the municipal level.
I am so excited to see that the federal government is committed to continue on the effort of the red tape reduction commission to continue to see red tape slashed at the federal level. It has made the commitment that it is going to reduce that red tape to a manageable level to help support small businesses.
Unfortunately, red tape disproportionately affects small businesses. Large businesses have large accounting firms and large legal representation, and are able to manage to get through it. Disproportionately small businesses are affected by it.
As a member who comes from the small business sector, I am really pleased and very thankful to see that our government is going to continue to reduce red tape for small businesses across this country.
Mr. Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NDP):
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.
My congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and chair of the committee of the whole.
I am pleased to rise in the House as a spokesperson for the constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. It was an incredible opportunity for me to stand for the New Democratic Party in the last election and to talk with my constituents about its plans and programs. The warmth and receptiveness of the good citizens, whether they voted for me or not, was truly overwhelming and I certainly appreciate it. As has been said, regardless of whether I got their vote, once elected I am the member of Parliament for all constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
Since the election, I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of groups. As can be appreciated, regardless of how hard one worked during the campaign, one's duties commence immediately upon the time of election.
Of the groups I have had the opportunity to meet with one was DASC Industries. This is an organization that provides important work opportunities for women and men who have certain challenges. It is looking for some capital support from the government, which is a proposal that I have indicated my support for.
Some of the groups that I had the opportunity to have some discussion with since the election are: Evergreen House, an important museum in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour; the Cole Harbour Heritage Museum; a group of parents for a local elementary school in Dartmouth North; the Take Action Society; the Supportive Housing for Young Mothers; Dartmouth Learning Centre; Main Street Dartmouth and Area Business Improvement Association; Boys & Girls Club of East Dartmouth; and, of course, my good friends whom I swim and work out with at the Dartmouth YMCA. When I go home to Dartmouth—Cole Harbour on the weekends and once the House rises, I will have the opportunity to do more of that.
As well, on June 5, I had the opportunity to participate in a D-Day parade organized by Branch 31 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
I look forward to seeing my colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, continue to stand as our veterans affairs critic and an advocate for seniors. I would urge the government, as I know he would, to take measures toward fixing the clawback on veterans pensions and give these brave men and women the respect and support they deserve.
I also look forward to my role in international trade and will work to make sure that we enter into strong agreements that strive to support and protect workers, communities, producers, and the environment both here at home and abroad.
My main priority in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour at this point is to engage in dialogue with non profit and community organizations, police, veterans, families, seniors, businesses, and as many people and groups that I can, to hear their stories, realities, ideas and solutions, and bring those voices to Parliament.
Right now, part of my community is struggling with crime issues and I had the opportunity to meet with the chief of police and HRM. These crime issues cannot be solved by overly simplified approaches such as tougher laws and more prisons. I suggest to members opposite that it requires innovative, responsive community-based approaches.
Many communities that are struggling with inadequate health care services must have their needs and concerns addressed. Many young families are teetering on the brink of financial crisis because the cost of daily living keeps rising but their income, their security and their prospects for good jobs are not.
Indeed, there are issues in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and in communities across this country that the government is in a position to impact in a significant and positive way if only there were a commitment and a political will to work with and for all the people of Canada who possess a wealth of insight and experience. We would be wise to draw from that fantastic resource.
The people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour sent me here to do some very important things: to be their voice in the House of Commons; to represent their thoughts and interests; to work as a member of this Parliament to make their lives better, their communities stronger and our country better and stronger; and to help shape our nation into the thriving, sustainable and compassionate global leader we all know we can be.
I am ever mindful of that job and of the commitment and responsibility that accompanies it. I am also deeply grateful to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for the trust they have placed in me. I intend to work very hard to ensure I live up to my end of that bargain.
That is why I feel it is so important to draw attention to the weaknesses in the budget presented before the House yesterday. This is not a budget designed with the Canadian family in mind. It does not acknowledge the reality that the people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and across this country are facing.
This budget will see cuts to DFO and to ACOA. It makes no commitments of any substance to the people I am here to represent. It barely even gives a nod to the millions of Canadians who voted for change in this country. For the most part, the budget caters to those who, I would suggest, are already doing quite well and ignores the very real and pressing needs of many of our citizens. It does nothing to create meaningful social or economic progress for Canadians.
To point to job creation numbers as a sign of success when many of those jobs are part-time with no benefits, no security and a minimum wage that is not a living wage, is not progress. To cut this country's deficit by cutting the very programs and services that many Canadians count on and to not even be up front about where and how deep those cuts will be is not progress. To put the interests of large corporations and the interests of the Prime Minister and his closest allies ahead of the interests of Canadians and citizens who work hard every day to support their families and their communities, the people who are the heart and soul of this country, is not progress.
As the official opposition, we are more than a voice for our constituents. On behalf of our nation, we are also the eyes, the ears and, where needed, the conscience of this House. The budget does not sit particularly well with that conscience because it fails to address or even recognize the needs of Canadian families.
We have been charged with holding the government accountable to all the people of this country. It is a critically important job and we have every intention of living up to our end of the bargain. Will the Government of Canada live up to the bargain that it made with all Canadians, and not just the ones who voted it into power? I say to the members opposite that hope springs eternal.
Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NDP):
Madam Speaker, not so many weeks ago, in the middle of the federal election campaign, I met a Newfoundland fisherman by the name of Paul Critch. Paul owns a 60-footer and she was tied up at Prosser's Rock boat basin on the south side of St. John's Harbour, the largest fishing port in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Paul is about my age, maybe a couple of years younger, in his early 40s. He is strong and he is capable. We do not see as many such men on the wharfs these days I am sad to report. Paul Critch is also a fifth generation fisherman. We stood there on the wharf on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean, about as far away from Ottawa as one can get in this country, a place that many federal bureaucrats, even those with DFO, probably cannot even imagine. We had a conversation about the fishery and where the fishery was headed.
Paul said that he named his boat Chelsea and Emily after his two daughters. Upon the birth of his second daughter, Paul said that his father remarked, “Thank God it is not a boy. A grandson would have to go into the fishery, and who wants that?”.
This is what Newfoundland and Labrador has come to in terms of our once great fishery, the greatest fishery in the world on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the fishery that we presented to Canada in 1949.
Sixty-two years later and our commercial groundfish fishery for species such as cod and flounder are on their knees. They have been managed to annihilation. History of the Newfoundland Cod Collapse is the title of a book that was released in 2010. As the title indicates, managed annihilation contends that northern cod were administered into virtual extinction. I give members three guesses as to who did the administering.
We are supposed to run out of oil. We are not supposed to run out of fish. We have hit rock bottom. The time to rebuild is now. Better late than never.
It has been 20 years since the northern cod moratorium and commercial fishing was stopped off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time in 500 years. It has been 20 years since the biggest layoff in Canadian history and what has been done? Nothing. Rebuilding is the furthest thing from the mind of the Conservative government. Rebuilding is a foreign concept.
I sat and listened to the Minister of Finance, the member for Whitby—Oshawa, Monday as he tabled his budget. I listened to every word. It is a wonderful thing to be able to hear a member of Parliament when he or she speaks.
I compliment the leader of the New Democrats, the leader of Her Majesty's official opposition, for his no heckling policy. Before this life, I worked as a journalist for almost 20 years. I have sat in the gallery of my home legislature and watched as politicians behaved like insolent children. It is not a pretty sight and it can be an embarrassing sight.
As I read this morning in the Ottawa Citizen:
|| We need passionate, even biting, debate in Parliament. What we don't need are childish insults and grandstanding.
Well done I say to the Leader of the Opposition and member for Toronto—Danforth.
I listened to the Minister of Finance when he spoke so proudly of the budget but I saw more of the same for my province. We have hit rock bottom but the Conservative government sees fit to pound us further into the ground. That will be enough of that.
Under program review, the Conservative government has seen fit to further cut the budget of Fisheries and Oceans Canada by almost $85 million. That will be $9.1 million gone this fiscal year, $18.9 million gone in 2012-13 and a further $56.8 million gone in 2013-14. That will be $84.8 million less for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue doing what little work it is doing today. On top of that, according to federal budget estimates, DFO's overall budget is almost $145 million less this fiscal year than last fiscal year, plus, as I have outlined, $87 million in savings targeted by the Conservative government in cuts to DFO.
To make matters worse, and, yes, they can still get worse, the Minister of Finance spoke in this chamber Monday about finding a further $4 billion in savings. Where is that $4 billion going to come from? From fisheries? As they say where I come from, “You can't get blood from a turnip”. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador have nothing left to give.
What I so dearly would have loved for the Minister of Finance to announce Monday was an inquiry into the fall of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries. The fisheries fell almost 20 years ago and they have yet to rise. The question is, why? The call for an inquiry is supported by my party, the New Democratic Party. Where does the Conservative government stand on an inquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries?
John Crosbie once asked, “Who hears the fishes when they cry?” I can answer that: no one.
I have another question, a bigger one. Who hears the fishermen when they cry? The New Democrats hear the cry.
Do the Conservatives hear the fishermen when they cry, the few fishermen who are left?
I will continue to listen when members opposite take to their feet. The fishermen of Newfoundland and Labrador will be listening as well.
Maybe some day we will want our sons to be fishermen again and our sons will want to be fishermen.