May 8, 2015

NDP

Guy Caron

New Democratic Party

Mr. Guy Caron

Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague's comments, but I listened to the two speeches on our side of the House. These speeches had a very specific connection to income inequality and gender inequality in this very specific debate. There was a very clear connection to the content of the motion. However, when a member starts talking about TFSAs or other measures that have nothing to do with this specific debate, it detracts from the topic and I think it detracts from the seriousness of the motion we are debating.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Harold Albrecht

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Harold Albrecht)

I would point out, as I did earlier, to all members that there is some latitude allowed for debate within the various issues that we deal with here in Parliament. I think the hon. member had started on that, is progressing to that and is pointing out the different ways in which taxes have been reduced. I would urge her to come to the point of the GST specifically to this motion that is currently before the House as early as she can.

The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Patricia Davidson

Conservative

Mrs. Patricia Davidson

Mr. Speaker, many of the people who use feminine hygiene products are those who have young families. I would also like to talk about some of the means that we have introduced to help young families who, again, need to avail themselves of the feminine hygiene products.

We also introduced the children's fitness tax credit and the children's art tax credit to help families with children. We put more money in the pockets of families with children by introducing the universal child care benefit, UCCB. All of these things are making it easier and more palatable for women to be able to afford the feminine hygiene products.

We have also introduced the registered disability savings plan, a tax assisted savings plan that helps individuals with severe disabilities. This helps them and their families save for long-term financial security. Again, this is a group that is affected and uses feminine hygiene products.

We enhanced support for caregivers of infirm dependent family members by introducing the family caregiver tax credit and by removing the $10,000 limit on eligible expenses that caregivers can claim under the medical expense tax credit in respect of a dependent relative. Again, this puts more money back into the pockets of those who need to purchase feminine hygiene products.

We have provided additional support to adoptive parents by enhancing and increasing the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child.

We have enhanced support for workers by introducing the Canada employment credit, which recognizes employees' work expenses for things such as safety gear, uniforms and supplies. Again, this is a group that uses feminine hygiene products.

We further provided support to students and their families, which we heard about from the opposition side, by exempting scholarship income from taxation, introducing the textbook tax credit, making registered education savings plans more responsive to changing needs, and lowering the program duration requirements for the tuition, education and textbook tax credits applying to foreign university programs.

We have assisted first-time homebuyers, who are often in the younger age groups of our residents, by introducing the first-time homebuyers tax credit, and increasing the registered retirement savings plan withdrawal limit under the homebuyers plan.

For Canadian seniors and pensioners who helped build this country, we have provided about $3 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief by increasing the age credit amount by $2,000. We have doubled the pension income credit amount to $2,000, and have raised the age limit for maturing savings in registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans from 69 to 71. We have also introduced pension income splitting. This benefits over 2.2 million Canadians. The opposition may ask what this has to do with feminine hygiene products, and I would like to state that regardless of age, there are feminine hygiene products that are used by women in every age group in this country.

Building on this tremendous record of tax relief, the Prime Minister announced in October 2014 further tax relief and benefit increases for all families with children. This includes enhancing the UCCB, increasing the maximum dollar amounts claimable under the child care expense deduction, and introducing the family tax cut. The enhanced UCCB will provide an increased benefit of $160 per month for children under the age of six, and a new benefit of $60 per month for children ages six through seventeen, effective January 1, 2015.

The family tax cut allows a higher income spouse or common-law partner to effectively transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse or common-law partner up to a maximum benefit of $2,000. Again, this is putting more money back into the hands of those who need it. We have also doubled the amount of expenses that may be claimed under the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 starting in 2014, and have made the credit refundable starting in 2015.

Most recently, economic action plan 2015 took our government's record of tax relief one step further. It announced an increase in the TFSA annual contribution limit to $10,000, effective for the 2015 and subsequent taxation years. This represents tax savings of about $1.1 billion over the 2015-16 to 2019-20 period. I could spend my entire time today listing off all the ways that we are helping to lower taxes, create tax fairness, and letting Canadians keep more of their own money.

The opposition likes to talk about tax fairness in today's motion, as though this is something they have any experience in achieving. They also like to forget that they voted against every single tax cut that this government has brought forward.

Our government, on the contrary, actually understands that tax fairness means lower taxes for all Canadians in all income levels, and not only do we understand it, we are making it a reality. These tax reductions have helped build a solid foundation for future economic growth, more jobs, and higher living standards for Canadians. This is good for the overall economy and the right thing to do, which is why tax relief has been a commitment by this government since 2006. This commitment starts right at the most fundamental level, the family.

Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from our government's low-tax plan. In fact, more than one million low-income Canadians have been removed from the tax rolls altogether. Measures introduced by our government since 2006 will provide tax relief and benefits of up to about $6,600 for a typical two-earner Canadian family of four in 2015. That is a lot more money left in the pockets of Canadians as a result of our actions to spend as they see fit; all of that, may I add, is while balancing the budget.

One of the most significant ways to ensure the prosperity of Canadians is to keep Canada's books in order and bring the budget to balance. We promised Canadians that we would balance the budget, and we delivered on that promise. However, we did not do it by raising taxes or cutting transfers for education and health care. We focused on controlling operating expenses for federal departments and identifying efficiencies that focused on making government operations leaner. A balanced budget will preserve Canada's low-tax plan and allow for further tax reduction, fostering growth and the creation of jobs for the benefit of all Canadians.

Canadians across the country, including in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, understand the importance of living within their means and expect government to do the same. This new balanced budget legislation will prevent future governments from running deficits, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
NDP

Guy Caron

New Democratic Party

Mr. Guy Caron

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech, and I would like to raise this point again.

The motion we are discussing today is very specific. It is about removing the GST from feminine hygiene products. The member did not talk about that except for maybe in the first two minutes of her speech. Now she is talking about the law on balanced budgets, which has nothing at all to do with the specific motion we are discussing today.

She has been talking for at least six or seven minutes but has not addressed the matter before us. I would like to ask my colleague to speak specifically to the content of the motion we are discussing today.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

I appreciate the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques's comments.

As the Speaker said 15 minutes ago, the subject before the House today is related to the GST. As the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton said, when the subject is related to taxes, quite a few reasons and arguments can be relevant to the subject before the House. I find that the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton has connected the two issues. It is difficult to speak specifically to the subject before the House, particularly when that subject is the GST.

I therefore give the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton two more minutes.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Patricia Davidson

Conservative

Mrs. Patricia Davidson (Sarnia—Lambton, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear for this House. Our government is always looking to examine further tax decreases and exemptions. That includes looking at things such as has been brought forward here today. On top of presenting Canadians with a balanced budget, this government can always be counted on to further reduce Canadians' tax burden. All consumers benefit if the general sales tax rate is kept as low as possible, by maintaining the comprehensive base for the tax and targeting tax relief more broadly than through specific product exemptions.

The GST applies to a very broad base, with only a limited and narrow set of exemptions. This includes prescription drugs, certain medical devices, basic groceries, residential rents, and health care services. Specific tax relief from the GST is provided for low and modest-income Canadians through the GST credit rather than excluding more items from the tax base. The GST credit provides up-front support to low and modest-income families and individuals to offset their sales tax burden, thereby ensuring that sales tax burdens are sensitive to differences in income and family type. In spite of the reduction in the rate of the GST to 5%, the GST credit has been maintained at existing levels. By putting more money in the pockets of Canadians, we are helping them to make ends meet and spend more on what matters to them.

I do find it a bit rich to think that the NDP is even advocating for any tax relief. It is the very same NDP that has voted against every tax decrease that we have introduced. Our government will continue with our low-tax plan for jobs, growth, and security. I hope that the opposition members will finally support our low-tax plan. They did not support the reduction to the GST, but now is their chance to support our low-tax plan for all Canadians. With their new-found zeal for tax relief for Canadians, I would hope that the New Democrats will take every opportunity to support the real tax relief we have been putting forward since we took government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
NDP

Guy Caron

New Democratic Party

Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, that was a very long 20-minute speech.

I have a very simple question for the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

How can she justify the fact that there is no GST on Viagra or Cialis, while GST does apply to feminine hygiene products? My question is very specific, so I would like a very specific answer.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Patricia Davidson

Conservative

Mrs. Patricia Davidson

Mr. Speaker, certainly I do not think I said anywhere in my speech that the designation of feminine hygiene products was something that did not need to be looked at. I am quite sure that the member was listening, but I am not sure what he was hearing.

Members need to know that we have spent nine years reducing taxes for Canadian families. As a result, the tax burden for families is at the lowest level that it has been in 50 years. A typical family is saving up to $6,600 a year in taxes. These things all go toward helping those people afford what they need to afford, and families certainly have reaped the benefit, of up to $6,600 a year, as I said.

We have been opposed every step of the way on these reductions, but we will continue with them. We do know that this government will put more money back in the pockets of Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke a lot about the federal budget, but I am inclined to believe Jim Flaherty over the current government. In fact, the tax breaks that the Conservatives are talking about are in essence tax breaks for Canada's wealthiest people. It is not a fair budget.

They can contrast that to what the Liberal Party is talking about, such as the middle-class tax break of 7%, and so forth. We are proposing a fair tax system. I found the spin in the member's speech a little interesting, no doubt right from the Prime Minister's Office.

My question is very specific. Other provincial jurisdictions, through PST, have recognized the value of exempting feminine hygiene products. Why would Ottawa not recognize what the provinces are doing and allow for the exemption?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Patricia Davidson

Conservative

Mrs. Patricia Davidson

Mr. Speaker, I did have some comments in the original text of my speech that were going to refer to some of the Liberal proposals, but thanks to the member opposite, with all of his points of order, I ran out of time to do that. It may be at a future time that we can discuss some of the issues the member would like to discuss.

I do want to remind people that we have been working for nine years, reducing taxes for Canadian families. I have said that before; the tax burden is at the lowest level it has been in 50 years.

Canadians know that this is the government that is putting money back in their pockets. I do not believe I said anywhere in my speech that we were opposed to this motion. I cannot recall that I did, although everyone is implying that I did. As far as I am concerned, we are not opposed to it.

The government is certainly going to consider this proposal in future budgets, and we will go from there.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Dan Albas

Conservative

Mr. Dan Albas (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that this particular proposal will benefit people, particularly those of lower income. This goes back to the greater aim of what the government has tried to do, which is to provide tax relief for everyone.

Would the member not agree that cutting the GST from 7% to 6% to 5% would probably benefit people of low income better than any other measure? As appropriate as this motion may be, would not broader-based tax relief for people of lower income go further for Canadian families?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Patricia Davidson

Conservative

Mrs. Patricia Davidson

Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes, of course. We have lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, and that put money back in the pockets of every Canadian.

The other thing I think we need to keep in mind is the fact that the GST credit, which was set when the GST was 7%, has not been decreased, although the GST has. The money going back to those low and middle-income Canadians has remained at the level that it was. It has not been decreased.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton)

The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton will have five minutes remaining in the period for questions and comments when the House next returns to debate on the question after another part of the day's business.

Before we get on with statements by members, I would also like to thank the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga for helping out with the chairing duties this morning, which he did quite well, I understand. Other duties took me out of the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Feminine Hygiene Products
Permalink
CPC

Dan Albas

Conservative

Mr. Dan Albas (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, this weekend the finest junior hockey teams in Canada will meet in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba to play some hockey, but not just any hockey. This is the RBC Cup. Across Canada, 129 teams from 10 leagues competed to be the one of just five teams in Manitoba trying to take home the cup.

It is my great honour to congratulate the players, coaches and management from the Penticton Vees, which are one of these five teams.

What is truly exciting about the Penticton Vees this season is that the team is not led by a gifted few, but rather it is led by hearts, hard work and, most important, team work. This is perhaps one of the most balanced total team efforts in recent history, and that is a great example of the leadership in the organization.

As the fans in Penticton like to say, “Go Vees Go”.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   RBC Cup
Permalink
NDP

Réjean Genest

New Democratic Party

Mr. Réjean Genest (Shefford, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform the House that, in partnership with the City of Granby, the Université de Sherbrooke plans to create a centre of excellence, the Carrefour d'innovation en technologie écologique, or CITE, this fall in the new phase of Granby's industrial park. Needless to say, I am delighted that the Université de Sherbrooke is coming to Granby, because it will help us meet the needs of the region's manufacturing sector in terms of innovation and training, through its partnership with the public, private and academic sectors.

There is no doubt that the activities developed at the CITE by the university's researchers and its corporate partners will clearly define the economic identity of the region, and this niche identity will become a benchmark in the bio-upgrading and eco-design of products made from biomaterials. That is why I am confident that the financial spinoffs of this project will be shared locally, as well as across Quebec and Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Environmental Technology Innovation Centre
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CPC

Jim Eglinski

Conservative

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, Canada's biggest professional cycling event will be held in Alberta this year, from September 2 to 7, with riders from across the globe participating, and an anticipated 45 million TV viewers.

The cycling event will start in Grande Prairie on September 2, through to Grande Cache, the Municipal District of Greenview, on September 3, and on to Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park. There will be a sprint up Marmot Basin on September 4. On September 5, the world-class cyclists will continue on to Edson, then to Spruce Grove on September 6, ending in Edmonton on September 7.

I encourage all Canadians to cheer on the participants by attending this world-class cycling event in beautiful Alberta. Come visit us and enjoy the great ride.

If people want to see more about this, they can watch it on www.tourofalberta.ca.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Professional Cycling
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, for so many reasons, it is great to see President Aquino from the Philippines in Canada, building what will be no doubt a very positive relationship in the years ahead.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the state dinner for President Aquino and what a privilege it was to be sitting with a YouTube sensation Maria Aragon. She is a talented young lady with an amazing voice. Maria was famously discovered by Lady Gaga. Her video has views in excess of 55 million people. She sang in front of Princess Kate and Prince William. In 2011, she was the most searched term in Canada.

Maria will be releasing a single and an album in the next few months. Hailing from Winnipeg, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Maria who is in Ottawa today.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Arts and Culture
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CPC

Gerald Keddy

Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Barry MacDonald, past president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society.

Barry's tireless work in lighthouse preservation has been instrumental in protecting historic lighthouses across Nova Scotia and across the country, safeguarding them for future generations.

He also provided his expertise during the drafting of the 2008 Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, important legislation that created a process for designating and preserving historically significant lighthouses across Canada.

Most recently, Barry and society members have been champions of the Sambro Island lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in the Americas. Since 1759, the Sambro Island light has guided countless people to safety, away from the dangerous rocks and shoals that surround the island, and onward to Chebucto Head and into Halifax Harbour.

Because of Barry and the support of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, I am certain that the light will continue to be part of our history.

I thank Barry for all of his service and dedication to lighthouse preservation across Canada.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Lighthouse Preservation
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière

New Democratic Party

Ms. Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate World Red Cross Red Crescent Day and recognize the critical work of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The movement, the largest humanitarian network in the world, is dedicated to preventing and alleviating human suffering in warfare and in emergencies, such as epidemics, floods and earthquakes.

This World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day marks the 50th anniversary of their seven fundamental principles of action. These principles—humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality—are the basis of the movement's decisions and actions around the world.

Today we recognize the dedication of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and it national societies, including the Canadian Red Cross, of course.

I commend them on their work to protect the life and dignity of those in need.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   World Red Cross Red Crescent Day
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CPC

Mark Adler

Conservative

Mr. Mark Adler (York Centre, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III arrived in Canada. I, along with some of my parliamentary colleagues, as well as scores of members of the Filipino community, were on hand to give him a warm Canadian welcome.

Canada is home to one of the largest Philippine diaspora communities in the world. In fact, some 800,000 Filipinos currently call Canada home. Many arrive here under the caregiver program. Once here, in addition to working long hours, many take courses to upgrade their skills. They come to Canada to be part of our Canadian family, and what a contribution they are making to make Canada a better country for all.

I am proud to say that York Centre is home to one of the largest Filipino communities in the country. Each year we celebrate Philippine Independence Day in Earl Bales Park, where tens of thousands attend. In late August, the entire Bathurst-Wilson area is closed to traffic, where over 100,000 people attend the festival Taste of Manilla.

It is my great pleasure to welcome President Aquino to Canada. I know he will feel right at home in our great Canadian family.

Mabuhay.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   President of the Philippines
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May 8, 2015