Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the constituents of Elgin—Middlesex—London for helping me come up with this idea for a private member's bill, the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex for seconding it today, and members of all parties who have suggested they are in favour of it, some reading a lot more into it than there is. I would like to thank them all.
It would be good that Canadians could no longer go to jail for not filling out census forms.
Mr. Speaker, I would very much like to thank the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex for that excellent question. I would also like to commend the member for Essex, my parliamentary secretary, for all the great work that he has done on this project.
I can confirm for the House that an arrangement has been signed by all parties and all partners in the project to allow the U.S. customs plaza to be incorporated into the public-private partnership that will be building the other aspects of the bridge.
We said very clearly that we were not going to allow financial considerations to get in the way of having progress on this bridge, and indeed that is the case.
I think it is important to note as well that the entire amount will be compensated—
Mr. Speaker, I have had the privilege to hear some good debate from both sides here today. We heard one side; then the other. I think the essence of the question is the European free trade agreement, which, when it becomes a reality, would eliminate tariffs. There is much talk about whether the government would compensate an industry if it were to suffer from the free trade agreement.
Few people know that in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex, we have the largest freshwater fishing port in the world, where we also do some fish-processing. One of the things that I hear repeatedly from the fish processors is, “We can't get people to do the job”.
I want to lay this question out. The member may not have the answer but perhaps someone from the caucus would be able to give me an answer. Does she have the same situation there? Are they having a tough time getting people to work in these fish-processing plants?
Second, does it not stand to reason that the reduction of those tariffs, which in some cases are 20%, would make the fish-processing plants much more competitive and enable them to pay their workers more money and, subsequently, increase employment on the island?
The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex only has about 30 seconds left in the time available, but I will give him a bit more than that, given the member's question.
There being no other members rising, I will go back to the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex for his five minute right of reply.
Mr. Speaker, I will be shifting a little, but in many ways these two are linked in how we as a government believe that people who commit violent offences such as murder are very much linked with the missing and murdered aboriginal women's piece too. However, we are talking about Bill C-591, introduced by my hon. colleague. From the comments by the opposition, it appears that all parties will support this.
The bill would amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act and deny CPP survivor benefits and the OAS allowance to people convicted of murdering their spouse, common-law partner or parent. As the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex and others have pointed out, no one wants to see spouse killers receive taxpayer-funded financial benefits for their heinous act. It truly would be an insult to the taxpayer. It is an insult to the families of the victims as well as an insult to the principles of justice. Certainly no person who pays taxes and personally contributes to an insurance plan wants to see murderers receive a benefit for killing someone.
Currently, when someone murders their spouse for whatever reason, he or she stand to gain those benefits. Thankfully we are speaking of a very rare situation. Death at the hands of family members is not that common and the convicted murderers are not always eligible for these benefits anyway.
However, each year between 2003 and 2012, an average of 21 individuals in all age categories were accused of killing their parent or step-parent. Among them were approximately 5 to 6 persons accused who were between the ages of 18 and 25 and 3 of the accused were under the age of 18. That is absolutely appalling.
It is important to remember that many people accused of killing a spouse or parent are not found guilty of murder and among those convicted of murder, some do not qualify for these benefits in any case. Of these people, roughly half would be rendered ineligible for the CPP survivor pension and death benefit, one-third for the OAS allowance for the survivor and less than one-tenth for the surviving child benefit.
I will emphasize that fewer than 30 people each year would be affected in the context of a public pension system in which the CPP alone gives coverage to 13 million contributors per year. Again, it is a very small number.
We are proceeding carefully with the bill because we want to be fair.
It is important to note the legislation will only apply to people who have been convicted of murder rather than all those who are charged with murder. That is a basic principle of common law, that a person accused of crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand to speak to the private member's bill from my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Essex. It is always a treat when we get to bring forward private members' bills and introduce them in the House. I congratulate him on having his first one here today.
The bill he has put forward is important and excellent. It sounds like all sides of the House will support the bill, so I congratulate him on that.
I would like to focus on a few of the changes the bill would bring.
For the first part, the bill aligns with the commitments the government made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne, which focuses on victims of crime and to strengthen our justice system.
The bill would also ensure that victims' rights would be placed ahead of those of convicted murderers. The bill is based on the well-established common-law principle that an individual should not benefit from his or her crime.
By legislating the principle that an individual shall not benefit from his or her crimes by becoming eligible for CPP or OAS benefits as a result of committing murder, Parliament would provide clear legal authority to prevent murderers from receiving pensions.
The CPP benefits we are talking about are the monthly survivor pension paid to the spouse or common-law partner or the deceased contributor, the monthly children's benefit for dependant children up to the age of 18 or to the age of 25, if they are full-time students, and a lump sum death benefit usually paid to the contributor's estate.
For a common-law child to be eligible for the Canada pension plan survivor benefit, the deceased contributor must have made sufficient contributions to the Canada pension plan to generate such a benefit. The bill would also apply to the OAS program allowance for the survivor provided to low-income survivors aged 60-64.
Here is again how the bill would work. If the survivor of the deceased individual would normally be eligible to receive them, survivor benefits could initially be paid to an individual charged with murdering a spouse, common-law partner or parent. This eligibility would immediately be revoked when Employment and Social Development Canada was informed that the claimant survivor had been convicted of murdering the person in whose name the benefit would be paid. At this point, the claimant would be determined to have never been eligible for the benefit.
An overpayment would then be established for all CPP or OAS benefits the individual received as the result of the death and steps would be taken immediately to recover the overpayment.
In cases where the person would be convicted of murder but was subsequently found to be not guilty, for example as a result of an appeal, then the person would be entitled to the full benefit once the Department of Employment and Social Development was notified. This would include payments retroactive to the first day of eligibility resulting from the death of a spouse, common-law partner or parent.
With respect to the CPP, in cases where a person under the age of 18 is convicted of murdering a parent, the surviving child benefit can be paid until the child reaches the age of 18. That is because when a child is under 18, the children's benefit is not paid to the child, but to the parent or guardian to help with the costs of caring for the child.
We do not want to create a scenario where the surviving parent of the child convicted of murdering the other parent is forced to repay the children's benefits they receive. This would be punishing a victim who had committed no crime.
The Canada pension plan would be amended to ensure that under no circumstances could individuals known by the minister to have been convicted of murdering their spouse, common-law partner or parent be eligible for the CPP death benefit resulting from that death. This does not affect the estate of the person who has been murdered. The Canada pension plan death benefit could still be paid to the estate of the deceased.
Again, the bill is entirely consistent with, among others, the policy of the United States Social Security Administration, which makes individuals convicted of felonious and intentional homicide in the death of an insured wage earner ineligible for survivor benefits.
The United Kingdom also has legislation to prevent an individual who has unlawfully killed a spouse or partner to receive benefits resulting from the death.
To better enforce these new legislative provisions, the government would engage directly with victims, advocacy and stakeholder groups so they could easily notify the department when someone had been convicted of murder and the death of the victim would normally entitle the convicted person to the benefit. These amendments underscore and emphasize our government's commitment to maintaining a key principle of justice, namely, that a person convicted of a crime should not profit from that crime. It has been made crystal clear that the murderer of a spouse, partner or parent will not benefit from a crime by gaining CPP or old age security benefits.
It is clear that our Conservative government continues to stand up for the rights of victims and that Canadians can count on us to deliver results. I would also like to note, as I said at the start, we have heard from the New Democrats, the Liberals and the member who introduced the private member's bill that this is an important, common-sense piece of legislation that all members of the House can get behind. I truly think that most Canadians, if they knew that someone could murder a spouse or a wife and be eligible for government survivor benefits, they would be absolutely appalled.
What we have is legislation that is inherently sensible. I am appreciative that all members in the House will support it. It is the right thing to do and it sounds like we do have support from all members of the House.
Again, for the member for Chatham-Kent—Essex, congratulations on important legislation, and we look forward to moving it through the process and seeing this into law.
moved that Bill C-591, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act (pension and benefits), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present my first private member's bill, Bill C-591, an act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act.
It is an honour to have the opportunity as a member of Parliament, representing my constituents of Chatham-Kent—Essex, to make a positive impact on this great country, helping to make it a better place for us and our children. Bill C-591 is such an attempt. This bill would close a long-standing loophole that enables someone in Canada today, convicted of killing their spouse or their parent, from receiving their victim's CPP benefit or CPP orphan benefit.
This bill is consistent with a long-standing common law principle, known as ex turpi causa, that criminals should not benefit from their crimes. This bill would restore fairness to the victims and their families by ensuring that those convicted of first- and second-degree murder would not be entitled to their victims' benefits.
The bill would apply to those convicted of first- and second-degree murder, which by definition is murder involving deliberate acts with intent to kill. The bill would not include those charged with manslaughter, since manslaughter, by definition, is death resulting from unintentional actions, such as accidents, provocation, or history of abuse. I will address this issue later in my speech.
A conviction of first- and second-degree murder must be within the meaning of section 231 of the Criminal Code of Canada or its equivalent in a foreign country, provided that the minister is satisfied that the procedures were fair and unbiased.
One cannot imagine the horror of having a loved one murdered, yet every year in Canada we read of tragic cases where someone loses their life by an act of murder. Sadly, this is done, at times, at the hands of a family member.
In an article posted in The Sun on Saturday, December 21, 2013, the headline reads, “Murder cases close to home — 2013 sees deadly rise in family related slayings in Calgary”.
And of the tragedy in our first nations communities faced by our aboriginal women, the Native Women's Association of Canada reports in their fact sheet of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls that of the murder cases in the NWAC's database where someone has been charged, 23% are committed by a current or former partner of the victim.
John F. Conway writes in The Canadian Family in Crisis, Fifth Edition, “About 40% of homicides in Canada involve victims and suspects in a domestic relationship...”
These are shocking statistics. I am not suggesting that all of these tragic events would be affected by my bill but what I am saying is, today, in Canada, approximately 30 cases a year involving murder of a spouse, common-law partner, or child could be affected by this legislation.
How terrible a thing to suffer the horror of family violence, how much more the horror of murder, but to have the added pain of witnessing someone profit from their crime, a clear violation to the long-standing common law principle of ex turpi causa, by way of collecting the victim's survivor benefit, is not fair to the families of the murder victim, and it is an injustice that cannot be allowed to happen.
I will first define who would not be eligible by providing an explanation of the CPP death benefit package, followed by the procedure to be put in place, the role of the minister, consideration of appeals, burial payments, explanation of first- and second-degree murder, and then a wrap-up.
First, I will talk about those to whom the bill is targeted by way of examination of CPP death benefits and OAS survivor benefits.
The Canadian Pension Plan is a social insurance plan that provides contributors and their families with a modest income replacement upon retirement, disability, or death of a contributor. It is this last provision, death of a contributor that is the essence of Bill C-591. At the death of CPP recipient, the survivors are eligible for these benefits: the monthly survivor pension paid to the spouse or common-law partner; the monthly orphan's benefit for dependent children; and a one-time lump sum death benefit.
As well, under the old age security program, the annual allowance for survivors, ALWS, is provided to low-income survivors aged 60-64 who meet the residence requirements and have not entered a new relationship.
These are the benefits that are provided through the Canada pension plan and old age security to the survivor of someone who is receiving CPP or contributing to CPP upon death.
The bill would make changes to the act that defines these benefits so that no one who has been convicted of first- or second-degree murder and who would normally be entitled to receive the survivor benefits would ever collect the victim's pension or survivor benefits.
Allow me to define the role of the minister. When the minister is informed and satisfied than an individual has been convicted of first- or second-degree murder, the payment would immediately cease. In cases of death benefits paid, when CPP monthly survivor pension, monthly orphan benefit, or one-time lump sum, the individual convicted would be determined never to have been eligible for the benefit and as such it would be considered an overpayment. All or any CPP and/or OAS benefit payment would be deemed repayable.
However, what if the disentitled individual were found innocent upon repeal or is subject to a new trial? If the disentitled individual appealed the conviction or were granted a new trial, the decision to cancel the benefit as a result of the original conviction would remain in effect pending the final outcome of the judicial process. If the individual were subsequently convicted of a lesser crime or acquitted, the benefit would be reinstated upon the department being notified. The individual would be entitled to payments dating back to the first day of eligibility.
The CPP would not be amended for orphans under the age of 18. In Canada, children under age 18 are considered minors and as such those charged with care and custody of a minor would receive the CPP orphan's benefit.
However, the orphan's benefit that normally is paid directly to someone between the ages of 18 and 25 who retain their eligibility by attending school would not be available to a child who has been convicted of murdering a parent when he or she turns 18. This approach recognizes the guardian's expenses undertaken to care for the child and the fact that the guardian, in some cases the surviving spouse, has not committed the crime.
Let me now address the death benefit. As stated, the CPP would be amended to ensure that any individual convicted of murdering his or her spouse would not be eligible to collect the CPP death benefit. However, the death benefit would continue to be paid to the estate of the deceased to help with the funeral costs or if there were no estate, the person who paid for the funeral costs might be eligible to receive the costs.
While the legislation would not permit the death benefit to go to the murderer, even if she or he paid these expenses, it is important to note that the funeral expenses would already have been paid by the time the person was convicted of murder. If the murderer received the death benefit before being convicted, he or she would lose eligibility for the death benefit and would have to reimburse the department at that point.
Next, let me explain why the bill would only apply to first- and second-degree murder. As stated earlier, the amendments made by Bill C-591 are based on a common-law principle that individuals should not benefit from their crimes. This principle of ex turpi causa clearly applies to conviction of first- and second-degree murder. The principle does not apply as clearly or uniformly to cases of manslaughter and other offences since they do not necessarily involve the intent to kill and can involve abuse, provocation, or accident. Courts have said that the principle of ex turpi causa should not be applied automatically to manslaughter and other offences involving responsibility for a death without examining the specific circumstances of each case.
Further to the role of the minister, it would be impossible for the minister to proactively identify murderers nor would it be feasible to implement a tracking system due to major obstacles such as provincial and territorial privacy laws. Creating the legal obligation for the minister to proactively detect who is subject to this provision would set an obligation upon the minister that is impossible to fulfill.
Therefore, there must be engagement with victims organizations to increase awareness of these amendments. This can be done by calling the department, by writing, or by visiting a Service Canada office. The department can then verify ineligibility due to murder by first and second degree through a copy of an official document confirming the conviction.
As stated, it is estimated that approximately 30 individuals per year would be affected by this legislative amendment. Of those, roughly half would apply for CPP survivors' benefits, roughly one-third would be OAS allowance recipients, and less than 10% would relate to CPP orphan benefits.
Familial homicides are not all committed by spouses, children, or common-law partners, and not all cases are charged with murder, convicted, nor have all victims sufficiently contributed to the CPP or possible recipients of the allowance for survivors.
The intent of the legislation would not be to punish families. The focus would be on preventing murderers from benefiting from their crimes. An individual convicted of murdering his or her spouse would be ineligible for survivor pension. However, if there are children, the orphans' benefit would still be applied.
The proposed approach is feasible, cost-effective, and consistent with privacy laws. It respects areas of provincial and territorial jurisdiction, ensuring that the minister would be able to fulfill obligations.
In closing, nothing can take away the pain and suffering experienced by the survivors of a murder victim. No law can ever bring back those whose lives have been taken by such a cruel act of violence.
However, this bill would restore fairness to victims and their families. This bill would ensure that those convicted of first and second degree murder would not be entitled to their victims' benefits. None of us wants to see those who suffer the loss of a loved one suffer the added insult of seeing the one responsible for their death by first or second degree murder collecting the victim's benefits as well.
I hope that the bill is supported by all members of this House and sees swift passage after a thorough debate.
Mr. Speaker, I am surprised, with all the talk we have had this morning, there has been no talk about jobs. It is a fact that Canada has had the strongest job record of the G7. In fact, a million jobs have been created.
People in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex are concerned about well-paying jobs in the private sector.
Could parliamentary, I mean the Minister of State for Finance please inform the House how Bill C-31 would affect jobs and create quality jobs for my constituents and other Canadians as well.
Mr. Chair, we have heard today about our government's outstanding record of achievement with respect to creating jobs and economic growth. I would like to dedicate my time in exploring in more detail how we are building on these results by helping to connect Canadians with available jobs.
Despite our excellent employment performance, our government is constantly looking for ways to make it better. We find it unacceptable that many Canadians are still out of work, or underutilized, at a time when skills and labour shortages are emerging in certain sectors and regions.
As long as there are Canadians looking for work, we as a government cannot sit on our laurels and must take action. Indeed, many employers agree with us and continue to identify the shortage of skilled labour as an impediment to growth. In fact, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce list skills and shortages as the number one barrier to Canada's competitiveness.
Faced with this challenge, we have taken effective and concrete action to support the development of a skilled, mobile and productive workforce.
In the last fiscal year, 2013-14 alone, our government has transferred $2.7 billion to support labour market programming with $1.95 billion to provinces and territories, through labour market development agreements; $500 million to provinces and territories through labour market agreements included in budget 2007; and $218 million to provinces through labour market agreements for persons with disabilities.
What is more, we are investing over $10 billion annually in support of post-secondary education, which includes providing students with financial assistance through Canada student loans and Canada student grants, and specific programming targeted to first nations and Inuit students.
Since 2006, our Conservative government has provided support for skills training for youth through the youth employment strategy, with investments of over $340 million per year.
On the other end of the spectrum, our government has also taken action to support the labour market participation of older Canadians who wish to remain in the workforce. Budget 2011 extended the targeted initiative for older workers, a federal-provincial-territorial employment programs, providing assistance and offering activities to provide the employability of unemployed workers aged 55 and over.
Finally, we are supporting opportunities for aboriginal peoples through annual investments of $438 million, including support for post-secondary education, as well as project-specific training that responds to the demands of the Canadian labour market.
These are all important measures, but the real game change in our efforts to connect Canadians with available jobs has to be the introduction of a Canada jobs grant. By ensuring that federal funding responds to the higher needs of employers and by giving them the opportunity to participate meaningfully as partners in skills training, this initiative is transforming skills training in Canada.
The Canada jobs grant could provide up to $15,000 per person for training costs, including tuition and training material, which include up to $10,000 in federal contribution with employers contributing on average one-third of the cost of the training.
After consulting extensively with employers and provinces on the design of the grant, Canadians will be able to take advantage of it by July 1, offering them real support toward improved employment and earning prospects.
As important as this milestone is, economic action plan 2014 went one step further by creating the Canada apprentice loan to help registered apprentices with the costs of their training. It will do so by expanding the Canada student loans program to provide apprentices registered in Red Seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
Economic action plant 2014 also introduces the flexibility and innovation in the apprenticeship technical training pilot project to expand the use of innovation approaches to apprentice technical training.
With this initiative, we are continuing to work with provinces and territories to harmonize apprenticeship systems and reduce barriers to certification in the skilled trades, so apprentices can more easily work and train where the jobs are.
To further support apprentices, economic action plan 2014 takes steps to increase awareness of the existing financial supports available to apprentices through the employment insurance program while they are technical training.
It also announced that our Conservative government would improve the youth employment strategy to align it with evolving realities of the job market, and to ensure federal investments in youth employment would provide young Canadians with real life work experience in high-demand fields, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.
Although Canada boasts high levels of post-secondary achievement, the transition to a first job can be challenging. This is why economic action plan 2014 also dedicates $40 million toward the supporting of up to 3,000 apprenticeships across the country in these high-demand fields.
The Prime Minister Harper recently announced the details of the initiative at Fanshawe College, a great institute near my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex. Lasting between 6 and 12 months, these internships will give the participants the opportunity to gain the real life work experience and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace now and in the future.
To facilitate the linkages between the small and medium-sized employers and youth, we are reallocating $15 million annually within the youth employment strategy to support up to 1,000 full-time internships for recent post-secondary graduates and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Last but not least, economic action plan 2014 will invest $11.8 million over two years and $3.3 million per year ongoing to launch an enhanced job matching service to ensure Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs that match their skills in the local area.
The enhanced job match service will provide job seekers with modern and reliable tools to find jobs that match their skills and provide employers with better tools to look for qualified Canadians. Through a secure authenticated process, registered job seekers and employers will be automatically matched on the basis of skills, knowledge and experience.
Before I conclude, I would like to address one issue that is a concern to our government and all Canadians, and that is the abuse of the temporary foreign worker program. This is something we cannot tolerate, and any allegations of abuse of the program will be vigorously investigated.
Our message to employers is clear and unequivocal: Canadians must always be first in line for available jobs. As we announced in economic action plan 2014, our government will continue to pursue significant reforms to the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that employers make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians, and that it is only used as a last and limited resort when Canadians are not available.
These are just some of the central initiatives that will continue to drive our government's jobs and growth agenda, and connect Canadians with available jobs.
I am proud of this record, and would like to thank the hon. members for offering the opportunity to discuss it today. By helping Canadians acquire the skills that will get them hired or help them get better jobs, we are investing directly and effectively in our country's greatest asset, our people. The return on this investment is not just helping individuals, but also supporting their families, communities and our whole community.
Would the Minister of Finance take some time to tell the House what concrete action the government is taking to help connect Canadians with available jobs?
Mr. Speaker, I am proud and pleased to rise in the House today to speak on the important topic of the privacy of Canadians and public safety.
I will be sharing my time with the hard-working member for Chatham-Kent—Essex.
All governments are responsible for enforcing the laws and protecting national security, and they are also responsible for enabling law-abiding Canadians to live their lives without government interference. The government's role is to protect Canadians and ensure that their privacy is not violated.
It is always important to be mindful of this balance by ensuring that law enforcement has the tools it needs to do its job while law-abiding citizens continue to be free from any form of government harassment. It is with that in mind that I can assure the House that our government and I will strongly oppose the motion put forward by the NDP member for Terrebonne—Blainville.
I will strongly oppose the motion moved today since it does not provide any means of securing Canadians' information and it affects public safety.
Our Conservative government believes that protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians is very important. All government agencies, including those responsible for enforcing the law and for protecting national security, are always required to abide by Canadians laws, and that is what they do.
In fact, these agencies are subject to robust, independent oversight and review.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is subject to thorough review by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. SIRC is keeping an eye on CSIS. This committee has significant powers to review decisions and compel documents.
Additionally, it is made up of many eminent Canadians, including a former provincial NDP member, and it boasts as a former member the new premier of Quebec.
The new premier of Quebec was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Just like former members of the NDP, these members are Canadian citizens who are responsible for ensuring that the agency giving information to the government is complying with the law.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is also subject to review by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. These are independent agencies created by Parliament to ensure that public complaints about the conduct of RCMP members are reviewed fairly and impartially.
These two agencies ensure that everyone complies with the law. We even increased the powers of this RCMP oversight agency. Unfortunately we did not have the support of the New Democrats. People can count on our Conservative government to protect the privacy of Canadians and ensure their safety.
Now let us examine the type of information that the motion and the NDP are opposed to allowing law enforcement to access.
Only the most basic information, such as the name and phone number, may be released.
In all cases, this is done voluntarily, meaning that a company could decide not to co-operate at any time if it did not feel a certain request met the expectations of its customers.
This information is essential for compensating victims of wrongdoing and finding viable leads in an investigation. I am proud to be responsible for Canada's public safety. Every year, our department releases its annual report on the use of electronic surveillance.
Let me take this opportunity to clear up a misconception being advanced by members opposite. Any form of invasive surveillance, such as a wiretapping interception or looking at the content of any communication, requires a warrant. That is not what we are talking about today. We are talking about phone numbers, names, and addresses.
Let me be clear. What we are talking about today is voluntary disclosure by private businesses to law enforcement. That is the way this model works. This is a Canadian way, but it is also a standard practice that has taken place for many years. Indeed, it was implemented under the previous Liberal government, supported by the NDP, and we find it in G7 countries.
While we need to make sure the privacy of Canadians is protected, we must also ensure that those who break the law face the law, and face it with its full force.
That is why, since 2006, we have implemented over 30 measures to crack down on criminals, often without the opposition's support and even despite its interference. We want criminals to stay behind bars.
Unfortunately, the NDP has voted against such common sense measures. Let me provide examples of these measures: giving victims more information about convicted criminals, ending early parole for white collar fraudsters and drug dealers, cracking down on drug dealers who target our children. This is the law of the land, and I am proud to have supported those measures along with my Conservative colleagues. That is why Canadians know that only the Conservative government can be trusted to keep them safe.
We put a high priority on ensuring law enforcement can do its work, but this is not free-for-all information.
A spokesperson for Bell Canada recently said that Bell will provide law enforcement and other authorized agencies only with basic 411-style customer information such as name and address, which is defined as non-confidential and regulated by the CRTC. Any further information, or anything related to an unlisted number, requires a court order.
My colleagues are also going to talk about a measure that we put forward, a bill that seeks to ensure that Canada enters the digital era and that Canadians' privacy is protected while making sure that our security agencies are able to get the information they need to thwart plots and protect Canadians' lives.
It is a bit ironic that, today, we are debating a motion that seeks to restrict agencies' power and ability to protect Canadians, given that they have to follow the law.
I am proud to say that Canada is safer, more prosperous, and a better place to raise a family than it was prior to our government being elected in 2006. Over these years, it has been clear that this government is committed to protecting victims. It is committed to keeping criminals behind bars, but it is also committed to making the privacy of Canadians a target. That is why I will support our bill bringing Canada into the digital era, but I will oppose this motion.
Mr. Speaker, today, constituents of Chatham-Kent—Essex received positive news.
Would the minister for science and technology and FedNor please update this House on the new opportunities in the Leamington area and for residents of my riding?
Order. The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex is rising on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, last week, Heinz announced that it is closing its plant in Leamington, Ontario, beginning in June, 2014, leaving many of my constituents looking for work in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex. When I learned of the decision, I contacted federal departments to ensure that my constituents would receive all of the help available to them.
Could the Minister of Employment update the House on what the government is doing to ensure that those affected are aware of and accessing the government programs and services available and to help connect these individuals with available jobs in my riding?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex for his question about Canadian peacekeeping veterans.
Today I had the opportunity to have lunch with representatives of peacekeeping veterans organizations to express our government's gratitude for their service.
Today, on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, let us salute the thousands of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who served under a UN banner to defend freedom and the values we hold dear. Few words can express our shared appreciation and respect for each and every Canadian UN peacekeeping veteran for the great things they have accomplished.
Lest we forget.
Mr. Speaker, in my last introductory speech on Friday, I laid out the history of prior budgets to stress the importance of having a good fiscal position. As a result, it is possible today to speak of a budget that is the right budget for this time.
I spoke about the action our government took early on. It lowered taxes, for instance, so that today's average family of four pays $3,400 less in taxes. Our federal corporation tax has been reduced from 21% in 2006 to 16% and will go to 15% to make businesses more competitive and allow them to invest in their businesses. That will give them an edge in global competition.
We also paid down our debt by $34 billion between 2006 and 2008, while still increasing transfer payments to the provinces. We gave our municipalities much needed revenue by way of gas-tax sharing and made it permanent to ensure predictability. We began tackling red tape and other irritants that have hindered businesses in the past and helped create a healthy economic climate so that Canada could position itself against global competition.
I could go on explaining why these measures have helped make Canada the envy of our G8 trading partners. It was because of these pre-emptive measures that this government was able to provide the necessary stimulus by way of the economic action plan, announced in budget 2009, when the world faced a financial meltdown resulting in a shocking recession, which some even called a depression, that still afflicts much of the world today.
The stimulus money from this economic action plan has helped thousands of communities right across Canada update or replace aging infrastructure. For example, in my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex, this money has been used to repair roads and bridges, since this area has one of the highest concentrations of bridges in our country. We have reached a crisis point, with many bridges in need of repair and a municipality stretched to its full extent. There is water treatment in Leamington, community projects, and the list goes on.
Bill C-60 would build on all these past budgets. This budget would include a new building Canada plan with over $53 billion in new and existing funds. The gas tax fund would be indexed. There would be $14 billion allocated for major economic infrastructure projects that have national, regional and local significance. This is good news, again, for Chatham-Kent—Essex.
In addition to all this, the federal government would invest over $10 billion in bridges, meteorological services, national parks, VIA Rail, small craft harbours, ports, military bases and other federal infrastructure assets. Again, this is good news for Chatham-Kent—Essex.
The Windsor–Detroit crossing is critical to the economic well-being of my riding. Every day, for instance, trucks ship produce from our greenhouses in the Leamington area. Eighty per cent of what is produced in Leamington and the surrounding area, which is incidentally the largest collection of greenhouses in North America, is shipped to the U.S.
Anyone who has been on the Ambassador Bridge knows why it is so important to replace this aging bridge. Work has begun on the approach, and the project is well under way. This was made possible by budget 2009. I was pleased to be able to help open the Huron Church parkway project, and last fall I was also present when our Prime Minister signed the important agreement with Governor Snyder from Michigan to make the twin-span bridge a reality. All that was left was a presidential sign-off, and that was completed when President Obama signed off on this project just last month. This project will provide thousands of jobs in the next few years and until 2020, when the bridge is to be completed.
Included in budget 2013 would be additional moneys to keep this process going, making sure that there would be funds for permits, necessary licences, et cetera. They would be just part of our ongoing commitment to this important project.
Another part of our federal infrastructure asset fund that would affect Chatham-Kent—Essex would be the small harbour component. Few people know that the riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex has the largest freshwater fishing port in the world.
Wheatley Harbour is an important part of our community. Freshwater fishermen rely on the harbour, as does a shipbuilder named Hike Metal, which has built some very impressive ships throughout the years. The commitment by this government to freshwater harbours will enable me to go back to this community and continue to plan toward the success and improvement of Wheatley Harbour.
Like many places in Canada, my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex was severely affected by the economic downturn in 2008-2009. As was the case in many other areas, the measures enacted by our government helped to get people back to work, but we are not finished yet. Budget 2013 will help Canadians connect with jobs through such measures as the Canada job grant. This will connect skills training directly to employers.
Budget 2013 will also help create opportunities for apprentices by working with the provinces to reduce barriers through using practical tests as a means of accreditation. A new generation of labour market agreements for persons with disabilities is also going to be introduced, along with new programs for first nations youth. All this will be supported by programs connecting Canadians with available jobs.
These are a few of the exciting benefits of budget 2013 and a description of how they will affect my riding of Chatham-Kent—Essex. The budget also contains measures to strengthen major manufacturing industries across Canada and investment in research and innovation, and it will support leading-edge research and infrastructure.
I wish I had more time to speak about how the budget will help promote entrepreneurs, as this is an area near and dear to my heart. If we look at any package in a grocery store, at name brands of automobiles, at electronic equipment, et cetera, we see one thing emerge: the name of a individual or a group of individuals who had an idea and went to work, and after falling down and getting up and trying again, they brought this idea to market. This required an entrepreneur, capital and a market.
I am proud that this government recognizes and will encourage entrepreneurs, including youth, to create a healthy economic climate the some assistance to help spawn the next Research In Motion or Westport.
Of course, none of this would be possible without our government's continued commitment to free trade, and we are aggressively pursuing it. We are very close to signing an agreement with the European Union that would give us access to 500 million people. Our government, our manufacturers, our farmers and business people who rely on free trade will be able to compete.
Our government understands the need to help stimulate the economy, but just as importantly, we understand the need to get back to a balanced budget. Our commitment continues: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. This budget delivers on all of those.
The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex will have eight minutes remaining for his remarks when the House next returns to the question.
It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
Before I recognize the hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex on resuming debate, I will just let him know we only have about two minutes left before the interruption.
However, he can get under way, at least, and he will of course have the remaining time when the House gets back to business on this question.
The electoral district of Chatham-Kent--Essex (Ontario) has a population of 109,484 with 74,973 registered voters and 221 polling divisions.
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