April 28, 2015

CPC

Barry Devolin

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin)

I have the honour to lay upon the table the spring 2015 report of the Auditor General of Canada, pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g). This document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Auditor General of Canada
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CPC

Ben Lobb

Conservative

Mr. Ben Lobb (Huron—Bruce, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the tenth report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “The Statutory Review of the Pest Control Products Act, 2015”.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Health
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Elizabeth May

Green

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.

The first petition relates to the bill currently before this House, Bill C-51.

Petitioners from Saanich—Gulf Islands as well as Whitehorse and Mississauga wish this House to reject Bill C-51 as a dangerous bill that intrudes on constitutional rights.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Public Safety
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Elizabeth May

Green

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands who are concerned about the proposal for what is described as the northern gateway pipeline.

The petitioners call on this House to ensure that support for this project from the Conservative administration be withdrawn.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   The Environment
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NDP

Kennedy Stewart

New Democratic Party

Mr. Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition to the Government of Canada on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion of the new pipeline running from Edmonton to Burnaby. The signatories object to this pipeline and ask the Government of Canada to immediately act to prevent this new oil pipeline from proceeding through Burnaby.

The reasons are numerous. For example, the petitioners state that the pipeline would only create 50 permanent full-time jobs and would most likely be built using temporary foreign workers. Also they are upset that this new pipeline would not bring oil to be refined in British Columbia or be sold to Canadian consumers but instead would be shipped by tanker to foreign markets.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   The Environment
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present petitions on behalf of constituents in Scarborough—Rouge River who understand the struggles because of gridlock and the importance of the creation of a public transit strategy nationally in this country. Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a national public transit strategy, and it is estimated that over the next five years, there will be an $18-billion gap in transit infrastructure needs.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to enact a Canada public transit strategy that seeks to provide permanent investments to support public transit; to establish federal funding mechanisms for sustainable, predictable, long-term, adequate funding for public transit; and to ensure that all levels of government are working together.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Public Transit
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CPC

Leon Benoit

Conservative

Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today.

Two of them are on gender selection abortion.

The petitioners call for equal treatment for males and females before birth, asking that the practice of aborting those fetuses determined to be female because they are female be ended.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Gender Selection
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CPC

Leon Benoit

Conservative

Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is with regard to displaced Christians in Iraq.

The petitioners call on our government to continue to pay careful attention and to do what we can to help displaced Christians in Iraq.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Human Rights
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LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this petition deals with palliative care.

Recognizing that hospice and palliative care is an essential component of national health systems, the petitioners ask the Government of Canada to call for the inclusion of hospice and palliative care in the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Palliative Care
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NDP

Peter Julian

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from dozens of residents of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia from Delta, Richmond, Surrey, and Burnaby.

These petitioners call on the Minister of Health and the House of Commons to pass Bill C-356, sponsored by the member of Parliament for Nickel Belt, to put in place a national dementia strategy, including a comprehensive national plan to address all aspects of Alzheimer's disease and to ensure that we have national objectives to fight what for many people is one of the profound health issues in our country.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Dementia
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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CPC

Barry Devolin

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin)

Is that agreed?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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The House resumed from April 22 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government and of the amendment.


NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, from the outset I would like to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Hochelaga.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak today on this budget and on the NDP amendment. So many times in the House we have seen the movement of closure and time allocation, so I have not been able to speak on all of the motions and bills before the House, and I am very grateful that I have this opportunity today.

In an age of growing inequality, it seems that the Conservatives just want to help accelerate it. In Scarborough, my office hears about the need for jobs, the need for affordable and reliable transit, and the need for fairer immigration policies, among many other issues. Across Canada, communities are struggling to cope with major job losses.

In Scarborough, we are a fast-growing community. In 2011, there were about 616,000 people living in Scarborough. As an area, our average household income is below the provincial average, and so is per capita income. There are many people struggling to make ends meet in our community. We have many small and medium-sized businesses that are the real job creators. We have been waiting for a budget that meets our needs and priorities, but frankly, this is not the budget we need.

Canada's economy is not strong without a strong middle class, and Scarborough is home to many in the middle class. From this budget, it is clear that the Conservatives either do not understand the realities of middle-class Canadians or just do not care. Instead of taking action to help Canadians get ahead, the Conservatives are stubbornly pushing their schemes that would help only the richest 15% of Canadians.

The Conservatives simply do not understand the priorities of Scarborough and the priorities of Toronto. This region has lost hundreds of thousands of good manufacturing jobs, yet the Conservatives have offered the bare minimum of support for manufacturing and have failed to build a balanced economy. Toronto alone has lost 24,600 jobs in the last six months and nearly 100,000 manufacturing jobs since the Prime Minister took office. The Conservatives have failed to build a balanced economy that works for our city.

Looking at the budget, it is clear that it would not address our city's looming affordable housing crisis either. It would fail to extend funding for social housing. The $150 million in the budget would not address the scope of the challenges facing our cities. Right now, there are 167,022 people on the City of Toronto's affordable housing wait list. Our city is committed to working on social housing, but it needs federal support to meet this glaring need.

However, something we do see in this budget is the government's income-splitting scheme, which the former finance minister, Mr. Flaherty, strongly opposed. Financial experts have warned that 85% of Canadians would get nothing at all from the Conservatives' income-splitting scheme, yet this is what the government has put forward. This wasteful and unfair policy would take billions from middle-class Canadians, who need the help the most, and hand it over to the richest 15%. This makes no sense at all when one in two Canadians lives paycheque to paycheque and countless others work full time but still fall below the poverty line.

For ten long years of the Conservative government, we have seen billions dumped into tax giveaways to the largest corporations and tax loopholes for CEO salaries. With rising inflation rates and storm clouds looming for our economy, most of us would not benefit from this income-splitting scheme, which is really there just for the wealthy few, or from the doubling of the TFSA limit, or from the tax loopholes for CEOs. These would not benefit most Canadians.

Where are the measures in this budget that support middle-class Canadians? We know that people are going to need strong supports if this storm materializes and our economy faces a further downturn.

We could benefit from closing the tax loopholes to fund the recent commitment to eliminate child poverty. My motion to eliminate child poverty was supported almost unanimously here in the House, but we do not really see any measures in this budget that work toward that goal.

Unfortunately, this budget continues the $700-million loophole for CEOs to avoid paying taxes on stock options, forcing ordinary Canadians to pay more.

We could provide a helping hand for parents looking for child care, return the retirement age to 65 from 67 for Canadian seniors, and create a $15 minimum wage so that people have more money in their pockets and support they can rely on.

I must mention some of the victories, which are measures that are actually good in this budget. I am pleased to see that NDP proposals, which the Conservative government voted down in the House already, have now, of course, shown up in the budget. These are measures such as decreasing taxes on small businesses, increasing the time working Canadians dedicate to caring for their ill loved ones, stimulus for investment in manufacturing, and extending basic workplace protections for interns. I am also glad to see the government act on the NDP proposal to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing investments and new equipment.

It is great that any of the positive measures in this budget are really all NDP proposals. This demonstrates to Canadians that clearly we are ready to be the government and should just write the entire budget next time around.

Small businesses have watched their tax rate drop 1% since the Conservatives took office, to 11% from 12%, while watching the corporate tax rate drop 7%, from 22% to now 15%, which included a now defunct surtax, over the same period. This budget proposes to drop the small business tax rate by 2% by 2019, which is exactly what the NDP had proposed, but the Conservative government voted against it. It would bring the tax rate for small and medium-sized enterprises from 11% to 9%. Nevertheless, it is good to see the government adopting another NDP proposal.

We also believe in extending basic workplace protections for interns, and I commend the government for supporting this NDP initiative also. Again, I wonder why the government just recently voted down the same measures in my New Democrat colleague's private member's bill, but it is what it is.

The Conservatives have brought forward the NDP proposal for seniors for registered retirement income funds, RRIFs, and have reduced the amount seniors must withdraw from their RRIFs so that they are not forced to deplete dangerous amounts of their savings.

However, the Conservatives have broken their word to seniors on pensions, and this budget shows no sign of their changing course. The current government plans to raise the retirement age for old age security from 65 to 67, and the Conservatives have blocked progress to boost CPP and QPP benefits.

Finally, the budget accepts the long-time NDP proposal on the employment insurance compassionate care benefit that would extend it from six weeks to six months, which will begin in January 2016. I am very happy to see another NDP initiative brought forward in this budget.

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention at this point that access to employment insurance has dropped to historic lows following cuts by the current Conservative government, leaving many Canadians unemployed and unable to get the support they need. Sadly, this budget does nothing to ameliorate that situation.

I also believe that this budget is short-sighted at a time when Canada needs vision. What are we passing on or leaving behind to future generations?

The Conservatives plan to double the annual contribution limit for the tax-free savings account to $10,000. This is another unfair scheme that only helps the rich. Most Canadians can only dream of those kinds of savings. Worse yet, this measure will cost Canadians $20 billion over the next four decades. The response from the Minister of Finance that our grandchildren will deal the problem is simply unacceptable. It is not responsible to burden our grandchildren with this $20-billion problem just because this government wants to create another venue for their wealthy friends to put away more money. I wish the Minister of Finance thought of the vast majority of people living in Toronto who just cannot afford to part with $10,000 every year.

According to one of the new reports from the Metcalf Foundation, authored by one of my constituents, John Stapleton, on the working poor, 63 of Toronto's census tracts show an increase in working poverty rates between 2006 and 2012, while only 14 show a decrease. In 2012, the report noted, there was a major deepening of the incidence of working poverty in census tracts for the northern parts of Toronto, representing a constituency that is only north Scarborough. This is very concerning for me and the constituents I represent.

I would have liked to have had more time to go through more issues, such as gridlock and more instances of poverty. I hope someone will follow up with that in the questions and answers.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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NDP

Pierre Nantel

New Democratic Party

Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River on her speech, which pertained directly to her community and raised very specific things about this budget that we condemn, namely, the fact that this government's priorities are completely out of touch with the reality of Canada's middle class.

The government seems to have stolen its ideas from our platform—yes, we are prepared to take office—even though we have to admit that those ideas will benefit Canadians. What is more, our ideas seem to be the only good things about this budget.

Could my colleague elaborate on that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. Any of the good initiatives that we see in the budget are strictly taken from NDP proposals that we have made public over the last many years and which we have been working on for many years. It adds to the proof that when we combine all budgets at the federal, provincial and territorial levels, the NDP has balanced the budget more often than any other party. The Conservatives are now promising balanced budget legislation but those are just words coming out of their mouths. As usual they are saying, “Please, believe us. We are going to do better”.

Our country deserves better. That is what the NDP is doing. We are going to continue fighting for Canadians. The presentation of this budget goes to prove that the NDP is the only party that is standing up and fighting for middle-class Canadians.

New Democrats are ready to form government. We are ready to write the budget next time around.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet

New Democratic Party

Ms. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague would have liked to speak about infrastructure and public transit, but she did not have the chance to do so. I would like to give her that opportunity because I think she agrees with me that the budget is seriously lacking when it comes to infrastructure and public transit, particularly for a city such as Toronto.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan

New Democratic Party

Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan

Mr. Speaker, gridlock costs Canadian cities billions of dollars each year. Earlier, I presented a petition which says that Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a national public transit strategy. We know there will be a gap of $18 billion over the next five years with respect to infrastructure needs.

The NDP proposed a bold urban plan for permanent, stable and predictable funding for public transit. The Conservatives talk the gridlock game, but they do not really do anything. Their scheme is filled with so much red tape that the municipalities will not even be able to get their hands on the money they desperately need to invest in our crumbling cities.

In Toronto, bridges and roads are crumbling and are literally falling on top of cars that are driving below them. In Scarborough, we are so reliant on buses in our community. In Scarborough—Rouge River and north Scarborough we are reliant on surface level buses only. The Conservatives are continuing to leave people in Scarborough waiting on the streets for buses.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Mr. Marc Garneau (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments today, most of which I agree with.

One of the things we in the Liberal Party have noticed concerning the budget is the total lack of focus on something that is incredibly important, which is economic growth. As we know, in January our economy actually contracted. We heard the Governor of the Bank of Canada's comment about an atrocious start to the year. The CIBC said that we have the worst job quality in 25 years. The numbers are still pretty high on unemployment.

What would the NDP propose in terms of growth? I know New Democrats consider it to be an important aspect of the budget.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
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April 28, 2015