Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand in my place and speak to this important piece of legislation.
The pipeline safety act is another example of our government's commitment to protecting both Canada's economy and the environment. Our government knows that the two do go hand in hand.
As Canadians know, our government is dedicated to creating jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for everyone across this great land. That is our first priority. However, we also recognize that jobs and economic growth cannot come at any price. As the Minister of Natural Resources has said repeatedly, no project will proceed under our plan for responsible resource development unless it has been proven safe for Canadians and for the environment.
In fact, we have spelled it out very clearly as a commitment in our Speech from the Throne:
Our government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government's plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks to the environment and local communities.
The pipeline safety act is one more example of our government's promise made, promise kept approach to governing. I would like to read two more sections from our throne speech, because they outline the necessary action we promised to take on pipeline safety:
Our government will: Enshrine the polluter-pay system into law; Set higher safety standards for companies operating offshore as well as those operating pipelines, and increase the required liability insurance.
With Bill C-46, we are delivering, just as we promised and just as Canadians would expect from their government. I am truly proud of that. We are doing exactly what we said we would do.
Specifically, this new legislation for pipeline safety focuses on prevention, on preparedness and response, as well as on liability and compensation.
As the Minister of Natural Resources said when he launched this debate, the amendments in this act send a clear message. The Government of Canada will ensure that Canada's pipeline safety system is world class, that first nations are involved in pipeline safety operations, and that taxpayers are protected. These are fundamental responsibilities for a federal government, and we are fulfilling our obligations fully and directly.
I am also pleased to see that members opposite have agreed that Bill C-46 is another important step in our efforts to ensure that Canada is a world leader in pipeline safety. As the member for Hamilton Mountain said, “I would be less than honest if I did not acknowledge that the amendments appear to be a step in the right direction”.
Moreover, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley said, “This may sound strange, but I have looked forward to some version of such a bill for many years”. It is strange, since New Democrats are completely opposed to all form of resource development. However, we appreciate that they recognize an excellent piece of legislation when they see one.
Just as important, it appears that all sides of this chamber have finally acknowledged that Canada's energy sector is the key engine driving our economy. The oil and gas industry alone contributes almost 8% to our gross domestic product. It employs 360,000 Canadians directly and indirectly, and it generates more than $23 billion annually in government revenue to help pay for social programs like health care, education, and infrastructure.
At the same time, pipelines are crucial to the safe transport of oil and gas across our country and to markets beyond our borders. As we have heard many times during this debate, Canada has an enviable record on pipeline safety. Of all the oil and product transported through about 73,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipelines in Canada, 99.999% of it has arrived safely.
My colleague from Nanaimo—Alberni captured this point very well with a reference to his home province of British Columbia. He said:
We had a pipeline going through Burnaby for more than 60 years, and most people in Burnaby did not even know it...
As my colleague for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry said:
...most homes in Canada are heated with natural gas, all of which is delivered by pipelines, but Canadians do not need to give it a second thought because it all happens so safety and seamlessly every single day.
Canada has a reputation for building and operating pipelines safely. This is one of our country's many strengths, and our government is determined to keep improving upon this record. That is why we have already implemented other important measures. For example, we gave the National Energy Board new authority to levy administrative monetary penalties and additional resources to increase its inspections and audits each year. As a result, oil and gas pipeline inspections have increased by 50% a year and comprehensive audits of pipelines have doubled.
The pipeline safety act would move those yardsticks even further. I would like to highlight a few examples. At the top of the list is the proposal to enshrine in law the polluter pays principle, to ensure that polluters would be held financially responsible for any costs and damages they cause. The legislation would also introduce absolute no-fault liability and require companies operating pipelines to hold minimum financial resources for incident response. For companies operating major oil pipelines the requirement would be set at $1 billion. As well, the pipeline safety act would, in exceptional circumstances, provide the NEB with the authority and resources to take control of incident response and cleanup when a company is unable to do so. Also, the new legislation would expand NEB authority to recover costs from industry for that backstop.
Furthermore, we are working with aboriginal communities and industry to enhance the participation of aboriginal peoples in all aspects of pipeline operations, from planning and monitoring to responding to incidents. This would ensure that aboriginal peoples participate fully in related employment and business opportunities.
These are all right and good measures. They are perfect examples of how our government is leading the way in protecting the well-being of Canadians, our communities and the environment. They also remind us of how safety standards can and should be enhanced as technologies evolve and regulations are improved.
The pipeline safety act delivers on all of these fronts. It ensures that Canadians keep setting the bar when it comes to the safe transport of oil and gas. I urge all members to support this valuable piece of legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the member for Nanaimo—Alberni from the great province of British Columbia for that question.
Today in the heart of Stanley Park, local residents joined our government and the Province of B.C. to celebrate the completion of extensive renovations to the Vancouver Aquarium, which hosts over one million visitors per year.
These renovations will help maintain the aquarium's reputation as a world-class leader in aquatic research and as an international destination, providing hundreds of local jobs and generating over $100 million annually for the local economy.
Through the Vancouver Aquarium's revitalization expansion, our government is showing its continued commitment to tourism, jobs, and the local economies of—
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Nanaimo—Alberni for his support of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Today our government is proud to welcome home HMCS Whitehorse and HMCS Nanaimo from their successful deployment on Operation CARIBBE. Congratulations to the men and women on both ships for their excellent work in this mission to stop illicit drugs from hitting the streets in North America.
Our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces demonstrate leadership abroad. Their work is critical to the success of these joint operations. Taking part in joint operations with our allies helps keep illicit drugs from entering Canada and has a significant impact on the safety of our citizens. The Canadian Armed Forces made major contributions to Operation CARIBBE and stopped more than 5,000 kilograms of cocaine.
Bravo Zulu to the men and women in uniform.
To the member for Nanaimo—Alberni, I made a ruling already this morning on the basis that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley was raising what on the surface might have appeared to be a separate issue but was related and relevant to the motivation of the member who originally brought the concurrence motion forward.
I have been following the discourse by the member for Winnipeg North and am not finding quite the same tie in. I have heard the member for Winnipeg North say on two occasions now that we will soon see the relevance of his speech, so I would invite him to draw that relevance to the attention of the House. That noted, he can go ahead with his speech.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to stand today on behalf of the residents of Nanaimo—Alberni and enter the debate on extremely important federal legislation.
Bill C-4 is an act to implement measures contained in budget 2013. It is the second such bill therefore we could refer to it as BIA 2, the budget implementation act 2. Budget 2013 continues our government's drive toward creating jobs and promoting economic growth in a highly competitive world. It also continues our steadfast drive toward returning to fiscal balance by 2015. Why this bill is relevant and how it is managed is extremely important to the lives of each and every Canadian.
First, let me remind those watching the debate that Canada was slammed by an economic tsunami in 2008, one that was not of our making, but one that crashed across our borders. It started south of our border with a subprime mortgage meltdown. As the credit crisis and housing defaults put financial institutes in peril, the U.S.A. and other nations backstopped the banks to prevent panic south of the border. They spent billions of public dollars in bailout money to institutions like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
Businesses had trouble maintaining cash flow and major industries, like the auto sector, danced along the edge of insolvency. It quickly spread around the globe. Many nations were faced with huge financial commitments to stabilize their financial institutions and prevent wholesale collapse.
As the world economy spun, our government had to act fast to keep Canadians employed and provide incentives and retraining programs. Part of the economic action plan was targeted short-term spending on infrastructure, investments that would generate economic activity, keep people employed and improve the quality of life in communities across Canada.
Our plan worked. In fact, it worked so well that since the depths of the recession in July 2009, we have generated nearly a million new jobs, more than 80% of those in the private sector. We have been driving toward balanced budgets year by year with targeted measures to keep our economy moving forward. Canada has the best job creation record in the G7, the most stable banking sector and the lowest debt to GDP ratio.
Why is this important? It is important because debt is strangling economic opportunity and competitiveness in many nations. The commitment of this government and the Prime Minister is that we will bring Canada back to balanced budgets and we will do it without raising taxes and without slashing transfers to the provinces for services upon which Canadians depend.
I am pleased to report that we are on track to do exactly that. Our Minister of Finance recently reported that we would achieve this objective not only on time, but ahead of time. We will, barring world circumstances beyond our sight or control, achieve that objective and a healthy surplus by the fiscal year 2015.
Budget 2013 and Bill C-4 continue to drive toward balanced budgets. There are provisions that impact British Columbia in a significant way, such as $92 million for innovation in the forest sector. These funds will help our forest industry continue the transformation to compete in new global realities.
Budget 2013 includes measures to protect the iconic west coast Pacific salmon. In fact, the entire Pacific salmon stamp, collected from recreational fishers on the coast, is valued at just over $6. For years, $1 from that stamp used to go to the PSF, the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Now the entire value of that stamp, which would be a value of about $1.2 million, will go to the Pacific Salmon Foundation and into projects that restore salmon habitat. In partnership with local environmental groups, we have salmon enhancement societies and streamkeepers, which share great interest in bringing them back stream by stream, which is the model of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
In addition, this budget brought in the recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. That is a further $10 million over two years to help activist groups, like the ones I mentioned, advance causes that help restore fisheries habitat, improve the riparian zones and remove obstacles that prevent fish from getting up to their spawning grounds.
This is like one project that was announced in my riding. A major highway culvert was eroded and it was restored so the fish could get past that obstacle and up to the spawning grounds. These projects, collectively, have a huge impact on helping our great iconic salmon resource on the west coast.
The funds dramatically increase the reach of our premier salmon habitat restoration institute on the coast. Doing so allows mother nature to do her thing. As we remove obstacles and improve the riparian zones and spawning grounds, it helps mother nature help the salmon do what they do best, which is to reproduce successfully and create opportunities commercially, for first nations through their food cultural ceremonial programs and recreational anglers. One of the reasons many people move to British Columbia and coastal B.C. is to take part in a tremendous fishing opportunity.
Since 2006, our economic action plan has cut taxes in over 150 different measures to make our economy more productive. As a result, the average Canadian family is saving about $3,200 each and every year in reduced federal taxes. That means more money to meet family needs and address priorities of their own choosing. On this side of the House, we think that is a good idea. It allows Canadians to manage their own money, invest in priorities that strengthen their families, help their children participate in activities that are meaningful to them and ensure the needs of their families are met.
Bill C-4 continues our drive to job creation and economic stimulus. I would like to refer to a few of these measures.
I will talk about renewing the hiring tax credit for small business and other measures, such as closing tax loopholes to ensure tax fairness. The one I mentioned earlier was the accelerated capital cost allowance in a question for the member opposite, a measure that would allow manufacturers to invest in equipment upgrades. There are other measures like extending the lifetime capital gains exemption to increase the rewards for investing in small business in Canada and closing tax loopholes to protect the inherent integrity and fairness of our tax system.
The number one priority of our government is creating jobs. The hiring tax credit recognizes the important role of small business in sustaining Canadian communities. Economic action plan 2013 proposes to extend and expand the temporary hiring credit for small businesses. The measure provides up to a $1,000 credit against an increase in EI premiums for businesses. Small businesses are the engines of job creation. This measure was first introduced in budget 2011. It helps defray the costs of taking on a new employee and permits local employers to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities. It is estimated some 560,000 small businesses could potentially benefit from this measure, saving them an estimated $225 million in federal taxes in 2013.
With regard to tax fairness, since 2006, including measures in the 2013 economic action plan, the government has introduced more than 75 measures to improve the integrity of our tax system. One example in budget 2013 is to close tax loopholes that permit certain individuals and/or institutions to avoid tax. Included are stiff penalties to curb a disturbing new trend, which is the electronic suppression of sales software that is designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.
Specifically, the following administrative money penalties and criminal offences apply. For using electronic suppression of sales software, there is an administrative monetary penalty of $5,000 for the first infraction and up to $50,000 on subsequent infractions. For possession and acquisition, there are even higher penalties for the manufacture, development, sale and possession. There are also criminal offences for those involved in this type of tax avoidance. Those measures are broadly supported by business and job creators across Canada. If I had time, I would quote the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, which issued a statement commenting on closing the tax loopholes and tax fairness measures in the budget. It concluded by saying that it supported efforts to maintain the integrity of our tax system.
The tax relief for new manufacturing and equipment is a very important measure, and there are many other measures in this budget that are important for advancing our economy and bringing us back to balanced budgets. I hope all the members opposite will join with us in passing these measures to keep Canada moving in the right direction.
Order, please. The member has been in the House for a number of years. He knows he is to address his comments to the Chair and not to other members.
The hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today.
The first is from about 140 citizens in my riding of Nanaimo—Alberni. They are communities such as Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Coombs, Errington and Bowser. They wish to draw the attention of the House to concerns about genetically modified alfalfa. They note that it requires variety registration before it can be legally sold as seed in Canada, but it has already been approved for human consumption and environmental release and is currently planted in test plots in Canada. They are concerned about unwanted contamination by GM alfalfa and the impact that would have on organic farming.
Therefore, the petitioners are calling on Parliament to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa.
Mr. Speaker, in terms of the early exchange that the member for Nanaimo—Alberni had with the member for Saint-Lambert, I wonder if the member would not agree with me that there is a difference between refugee claims, treating refugees and dealing with the refugee issue, and accelerating Canada's dealing with the immigration claims of those people who are seeking reconciliation with their families.
We have been arguing for a clear policy in the office in Beirut as well as in Amman that would allow those offices to deal on an accelerated basis with people who wish to be reconciled with their families in Canada and to make sure those claims are dealt with on an expedited basis because they are living in a refugee camp.
I hope the member would understand the difference between what we are asking for and what he is saying in terms of the broad issue of resettling all the refugees. I think everyone agrees that we do not resettle all the refugees until we can figure out whether there is a political solution available in Syria. However, that is different from the people who have a connection with Canada and with Canadians and whose claims are not being treated right now on an expedited basis.
Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here today. It has been a busy afternoon in the House of Commons, so it is nice to get on with the debate and the country's business.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.
The people of B.C. are just as excited about this budget as the people of Saskatchewan, because there are so many good things in it for our constituents and Canadians right across Canada.
Canada has been doing very well throughout the global crisis. The World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system as the safest in the world. We have a good, solid banking system, so our constituents can take comfort in knowing that their deposits are safe and secure. Another thing to point out is that Canada has a AAA credit rating, the best credit rating in the world. Canada has been doing very well in light of the financial crisis that has been going on around us.
One of the other things we should talk about is job creation. While other countries are losing jobs and suffering massive unemployment, we are creating new jobs here in Canada. We have created 950,000 net new jobs since the start of the 2008 global crisis. That is amazing if we look at what is going on around the world.
Saskatchewan is in a unique situation when it comes to jobs. The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan is sitting right at 3.7%. That is basically telling me that anybody who wants a job in Saskatchewan can get a job.
When I go back to my riding and talk to business owners about what they require in order to see more expansion and growth, the common theme is the lack of employees. They are looking for ways to get not just new employees but skilled employees. They need plumbers and electricians. They need people with their journeyman status.
Canada's economic action plan 2013 addresses those needs. The first action our government took was to bring in the Canada job grant. This program would allow a maximum benefit of up to $5,000. The federal government will put in $5,000, the business will put in $5,000 and the provincial government will put in $5,000 for skills training.
When I talk to people like some of the ag machinery dealerships in my riding, they tell me that they need more heavy-duty mechanics. They can embrace a program like this and take advantage of it. With the free skills training, they can create heavy-duty mechanics out of a common employee. Those are the kinds of things that businesses require, and they are there in economic action plan 2013.
Another thing people in Saskatchewan are looking for is a way to get their journeyman status more quickly. This has been addressed in economic action plan 2013. We need more journeymen mechanics, plumbers and electricians in Saskatchewan. I am looking at remodelling a house, and I have to wait up to four months just to get a plumber. I have to wait up to three months for someone to put in a furnace. The skills shortage in my riding of Prince Albert is extreme, and this action plan will hopefully help to alleviate some of those concerns.
I want to point out some things that are unique to my riding of Prince Albert.
Aboriginal youth come to Prince Alberta from northern ridings looking for work. These are the people we need to get into the skills training program, and we have set up funding to do that. We are going to see more of that going forward. More aboriginal people are going to be participating in the economy. When we talk to chiefs with James Smith Cree Nation and Muskoday First Nation, this is something that they want. They want to participate in the economic boom going on in Saskatchewan, and this plan will allow their band members to do that. This is going to be great for Canada as a whole.
Another thing in the budget is the new building Canada plan. When I talk to my mayors, councillors and reeves, they tell me they want to see some sort of bankable method of payment from the federal government. The community improvement fund is a consistent fund of $32.2 billion over 10 years. Municipalities will be receiving funds they can bank on. They can use the money for a variety of different projects. They can use it for water or sewer, as may be done up in Nipawin, or they may want to use it for road construction in Kinistino. These are indexed funds that they can count on going into their coffers year after year. They are bankable and predictable, so municipalities can budget around them and plan on them and use them according to their needs.
The nice thing about this fund is that it is fairly wide open with respect to utilization. Municipalities can use it for a variety of projects. As I said, it can be used for a water project or to build a road or pave a street; those options are there. That is the nice thing about this fund.
I was talking to a couple of reeves over the weekend, who were very excited because these funds are bankable and predictable. It is something they asked for, and we actually gave it to them.
Then there is $14 billion for the new building Canada fund. One thing we have to recognize is that Canada is an exporting nation, but we need to keep building infrastructure. We need to take advantage of the resources we have, but in order to do that, we have to build infrastructure. We have to build roads. We have to put in infrastructure to get to the mines. We have to put in infrastructure to get the product to market. These are things that will be addressed by the $14 billion fund. Canadians recognize it as an important need and as something that will help our economy grow for a long time into the future.
We have the $1.25 billion renewal of the P3 Canada fund. The Province of Saskatchewan is embracing that fund. I know other provinces have embraced it. Here is a practical way to get projects built in a way that allows both the private sector and the public sector to participate, and the benefit is for the taxpayer, without a doubt.
Of course we have $6 billion under the current infrastructure programs for the provinces, territories and municipalities from 2014-15.
When we look at the new building Canada plan, there is over $53 billion over 10 years for infrastructure. That is a substantial amount of money, and it is probably the longest period of time that any money has been consistently given to the provinces and municipalities for infrastructure needs. It has never been done in the history of Canada for this length of a period of time.
Saskatchewan is an agricultural province that has gone from agriculture to mining. It has lots of resources, but it also has great world-class research. Genome Prairie is a good example, and it is nice to see core funding of $165 million going to the Genome projects that will be spread across Canada. That is groundbreaking research from which we will see benefits for years and years to come, and I am happy to see it in the budget.
We are also supporting and helping businesses to invest in innovation, thus making them more competitive and creating more high-paying jobs here in Canada.
Those are the items in the budget that will provide long-term growth and prosperity, not just for members sitting here but for our kids and our grandkids.
We cannot forget families. The family structure is such an important structure. We have to look at the variety of ways we can help families.
One of the things in the budget that is really great and unique is enhanced tax relief for families that are adopting children or those using home care services. That is important. That is actually something that families and taxpayers can use. They can look at it and say they have a government that appreciates their needs and requirements. It is in the budget, so I cannot see how members would ever vote against something like that.
I am a hockey player, and many of us have hockey kids. If parents can get baby clothes tariff-free and get cheaper, tariff-free hockey equipment, that again is supporting the family structure and is very positive.
We have $1.9 billion over five years going for homelessness and housing. The $1.9 billion is a substantial amount going into something that is drastically needed.
I wish I had a lot more time, because I could go on for 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes, but I am going to speed up on some of the things I also see happening here that are important to highlight.
Last year I did the Nijmegen march. I went to Groesbeek Cemetery in Holland. Not a blade of grass was out of place. Every tombstone was correct. The respect the people from the Netherlands give to our soldiers is amazing. With the increase and doubling of the funeral service reimbursement, we can do that here in Canada for our veterans also. That is very important. Taking it from $3,600 to $7,300 is something that our vets deserve, and it is nice to see it in the budget.
In closing, I would highlight something that is very important to me because I come from Saskatchewan. It is the fact that we are going to get to a balanced budget. What other country in the world is going to talk about getting to a balanced budget after going through a global recession since 2008? In 2015-16, we are going to have a balanced budget.
In Saskatchewan we have had a balanced budget. The premier has done a great job in making sure spending is kept under control--
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nanaimo—Alberni for his hard work and leadership.
In fact, today we are welcoming to Canada Peru's minister of national defence, Pedro Cateriano Bellido, and the commander of the Peruvian navy as well, admiral Carlos Roberto Tejada Mera.
Canada enjoys a strong relationship with Peru based on shared values, including democracy. I am pleased to tell the House that later today we will be signing a defence co-operation memorandum of understanding that will help guide our future defence relations in areas such as policy, peace, humanitarian operations, disaster response and military education and training.
This agreement strongly supports the growing ties between Canada and Peru and our government's leadership in the Americas.
Muchas gracias, mis amigos
The electoral district of Nanaimo--Alberni (British Columbia) has a population of 121,434 with 95,882 registered voters and 286 polling divisions.
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