Mr. Speaker, as a member of the environment committee, I am always looking for environmental best practices, and as the member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, I am always proud to speak about the great achievements of my community. The Grand River Conservation Authority lets me do both.
The GRCA conserves the natural environment in the middle of a thriving metropolitan area of 39 municipalities with a population of close to one million people.
The GRCA is the first watershed management agency ever created in Canada. It delivers outdoor education to more than 50,000 children per year, and its 12 conservation areas are visited by more than one million people each year.
The GRCA is built on partnerships, which is an excellent model for conservation efforts.
Having spent a lifetime hiking and paddling around the Grand River, I am extremely proud of the GRCA's excellent work.
Congratulations to board chair Jane Mitchell, executive director Joe Farwell and everybody at the GRCA.
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member for Kitchener Centre. Having been there not that long ago, I know that small business is a very important part of the economy in his riding. I would like to know whether the member has described for the businesses in his riding, especially, small- and medium-sized businesses, how $2.3 billion would be taken out of their pockets because of the increased tax on dividends. Has he done that? Has he had a response to that move in this particular budget? I would love to hear what they had to say about that.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill C-60, economic action plan 2013 act no. 1, the government's bill to implement the budget.
It is important when considering any budget bill to understand the circumstances to which it must respond, so I will begin with those.
First and foremost, the economic polices of this government during and after the world's worst economic recession in almost 80 years are recognized around the world as an example for others to follow. Governments alone, of course, do not create jobs or prosperity. However, it has been a happy, if unintended, blessing to have been led by a Prime Minister with a strong grasp of economics through these troubled times. Keeping taxes low, time limiting stimulus spending and focusing on long-term infrastructure and job creation investments, while modestly restraining program spending, have been key, sensible policies for supporting our recovery.
Canadians can be grateful that time and again the Conservative government has been able to resist the high-tax, high-program spending demands of the opposition. This was particularly challenging during the recession, during two and a half years of opposition-controlled Parliament. Fortunately, the last election produced a strong, stable Conservative majority government to stave off reckless tax-and-spend policies.
As a result, Canada has led the G7 significantly in net employment gains of almost 950,000 since the recession and in GDP growth. Just this week, Statistics Canada announced that Canada's economy grew once again in February.
While Canada has fared well in global comparisons, we continue to confront significant global challenges. The eurozone remains in recession. The United States, our major trading partner, is experiencing only very modest growth. Global competition from emerging economies is very intense. Too many Canadians are still looking for work.
Fortunately, this bill addresses the challenges we face. It would strengthen the Canadian economy and increase jobs, all while supporting Canadian families and respecting taxpayer dollars. This bill would deliver on the real concerns of Canadians.
One of the timely, targeted measures included in this bill is the reform of the temporary foreign worker program. The temporary foreign worker program was created to fill acute labour needs when Canadians are not available. Canadians have expressed real concerns about the use of this program by some. The program was never intended to bring in temporary foreign workers to replace already employed Canadian workers. Recent events that suggest otherwise made very clear the need to reform this program to match that intent.
The reforms brought forward in this bill stem from the government's ongoing review of the program to ensure that Canadians are the first to be considered for available jobs. The bill would increase the government's ability to revoke work permits and labour market opinions, enabling immediate action against employers who do not comply with the program's rules. Changes to the bill would require employers using the temporary foreign worker program to pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage for a job. These are common sense changes to the program to remove unintended incentives to look abroad for employees.
The bill also introduces user fees for employers applying for foreign workers so that these costs are no longer absorbed by taxpayers. The bill does not dispute the ongoing need for temporary foreign workers to meet acute labour shortages. Rather, these reforms create incentives to hire Canadians and ensure that temporary foreign workers are a short-term solution to skill shortages. These reforms introduced in this program would ensure that Canadians are always at the front of the hiring line.
To fulfill the commitments of the 2013 budget, this bill would also deliver targeted tax relief. The enhancement of the adoption expense tax credit, the new first-time donors super credit for charitable donations and the expansion of tax relief for home care services are all targeted tax relief measures to support Canadian families.
This bill would also remove tariffs on imported baby clothing and sports equipment, resulting in significant savings for families. All parents know the expenses that come with raising a family. From basic necessities, such as clothes and food, to education and recreational activities, it adds up very fast.
Through the delivery of the family caregiver tax credit, the child tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit, the average family now saves $3,200 a year in tax reductions compared to when the present government took office.
These tax credits deliver important savings for Canadians. However, the fact is that the price of too many products needed to support families are consistently priced higher in Canada than the same products sold in the United States. Through the removal of tariffs on imported baby clothing and sports equipment, this difference will be reduced.
The bill also delivers a two-year extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance for eligible manufacturing and processing machinery. This demonstrates that the government recognizes the importance of sectors that provide skilled jobs. The bill provides continued support for Canada's manufacturing employees, support that is especially important for my constituents in Kitchener Centre.
Canada's manufacturing economy will compete in the global economy. Members need not take my word for it. The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, a key stakeholder in the manufacturing sector, has already come out and said this:
The federal budget sends an important signal. It positions manufacturing and exporting at the heart of Canada's Economic Action Plan by focusing on practical steps that will enhance competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and business growth.... This is very good news for companies creating jobs in Canada, investing in our communities, and developing and selling world-class products and services around the world.
Constituents in my riding of Kitchener Centre are well aware of the importance of a healthy manufacturing sector, a major economic driver in southwest Ontario. The manufacturing sector employs approximately 1.8 million Canadians across Canada. In providing tax relief for new investments of manufacturing equipment, this bill creates a favourable environment for manufacturing employees.
As mentioned, in addition to tax credits to support Canadian families, this bill also ensures that taxpayer dollars are respected. The bill takes steps to close tax loopholes that allow a select few to avoid paying their fair share.
The government has already introduced loan rules to prevent foreign affiliates from converting otherwise taxable surplus income into the form of loans, thereby avoiding taxation. This bill also provides an information reporting regime for tax avoidance transactions. This, in turn, will help the government track down and monitor a loss of tax revenue and collect it for the rest of us.
Hard-working taxpayers can be confident that this bill will ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes.When everyone is paying their fair share of taxes, it keeps taxes low for Canadian families and improves the incentive to invest in Canada. I am very pleased that the budget implementation bill delivers a solid plan for creating jobs and economic growth, all while keeping taxes low and balancing the budget by 2015.
This bill is great news for my constituents in Kitchener Centre. I invite all members of the House to put aside partisan differences to join me in supporting jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity. Please pass this bill.
I thank both the member for Kitchener Centre and the member for New Brunswick Southwest for their comments on this question as I continue to study it.
I have heard from several members now on this issue. While there is no doubt members feel strongly about some of the practices that may have happened at committee, members do know that committees have chairs to enforce the rules of the committee and to make decisions about decorum and proper proceedings at committee. Until there is a report back to the House, there is really nothing for the Speaker to delve into.
Although the member for Malpeque encouraged me to use my good offices to address this concern, of course, until the procedures are followed and the committee has reported back to the House, the Speaker does not play a role in that. While all this discussion is very interesting, unfortunately for the member for Malpeque who feels aggrieved of this, there is nothing the Speaker can do at this time. I rule that there is not a question of privilege properly before the House to rule on.
The Chair has notice of other interventions on the question of privilege raised on March 26 by the member for Langley. I will hear first from the hon. member for Kitchener Centre. I will hear him and then the member for New Brunswick Southwest.
The electoral district of Kitchener Centre (Ontario) has a population of 107,540 with 79,062 registered voters and 202 polling divisions.
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