moved for leave to introduce Bill C-657, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (small brewery tax credit).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce today a bill to amend the Income Tax Act, small brewery tax credit.
Currently, microbreweries account for 6% of the overall beer market share in Canada, a number that is estimated to triple in the coming years. The bill would effectively provide a tax credit for Canadian brewers who brewed less than 15,001 hectolitres in a year. It would also be an automatic tax credit for brewers producing less than 5,000 hectolitres annually and the formula specific to those brewing between 5,001 and 15,001 hectolitres.
The New Democrats recognize the importance of taking immediate action to help those breweries thrive. The industry is steadily growing in my riding, with Walkerville Brewery, BREW, Motor Craft Ales, Craft Heads Brewing Company, and soon Rock Bottom. It is vital that we help these small businesses grow and expand for the future. The bill will do just that. What is good for the breweries will result in reinvestment in our local communities through jobs, training and revenues to drive the Canadian economy for years to come.
I would like to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his work on the bill as well.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to address the question from the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. In fact, I am glad this question has been raised.
Our government is keenly focused on creating jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for Canadians. In fact, since the depth of the global recession in 2009, the Canadian economy has posted one of the strongest job-creation records in the G7 over the recovery, with nearly 1.2 million net new jobs created. These are overwhelmingly full-time, private sector jobs in high-wage industries.
However, the recent report released by CIBC highlights a problem our government has been feverishly working to solve over the past few years. The report clearly states that workers need the right skills to meet the demands of the labour force. The problem is not the decline in well-paying jobs; the problem is that there are not enough Canadians with the right skills to fill the jobs that are available. In other words, we have too many people without jobs and too many jobs without people.
How do we deal with this challenge? First, we must take action now to help Canadians get the skills and training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow. That brings me to one of our government's top priorities: helping Canadians get the skills they need for the available jobs.
We understand the need for accurate and robust labour market information to help Canadians make the best possible decisions when it comes to training and education. We are also collaborating with the provinces to share labour market information. Better labour market information is a good start, but we also need to change some attitudes.
While Canada has the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates of people aged 25 to 64 among OECD countries and the G7, 53% to be exact, a degree does not guarantee a job. Where are the jobs, one might ask? Many of them are in the trades.
Let me give hon. members of the House an idea of the demand for trade workers. BuildForce Canada says we will need more than 250,000 construction workers in the next 10 years. The mining industry says we will need more than 125,000 workers by 2020, and the petroleum industry says we will need more than 125,000 workers by the year 2022.
The Conference Board of Canada, last summer, found that Ontario is losing out on over $24 billion in economic activity and $3.7 billion in provincial tax revenues annually because employers cannot find people with the skills they need. Why is it so difficult to find people to fill these jobs? The answer is simple. Not enough young people are choosing to enter the skilled trades.
In a study completed by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum in 2013, fewer than half of high school students said they would consider a career in the skilled trades. That is a big problem. Right now, in some Red Seal trades, nearly half the workforce is over the age of 45. We need to work together to inform young people about the opportunities in the skilled trades, opportunities to do fulfilling work and to earn a good living.
Our government is also working to support apprentices. For example, we have introduced apprenticeship grants. To date we have issued over 500,000 grants. There are two types of grants available to apprentices in a Red Seal trade. The apprenticeship incentive grant provides $1,000 to apprentices who complete their first and/or second year or level, up to $2,000. The apprenticeship completion grant provides $2,000 to apprentices who have completed their training and have obtained their journeyman certification. In total, an apprentice can get $4,000 from our government with these two grants.
Additionally, we have introduced the apprenticeship job creation tax credit, the tradesperson's tools deduction credit, flexibility and innovation in apprenticeship technical training, and the new Canada apprentice loan. This new measure provides apprentices in designated Red Seal trades with up to $4,000 in interest-free loans per period of technical training. These interest-free loans will help apprentices with the cost of training, which can be particularly difficult while they are supporting their families. These loans remain interest free until apprentices leave or complete their training programs, for up to a maximum of six years. They will also encourage more Canadians to consider careers in the skilled trades.
We need to work with other stakeholders in both the private and public sectors to find a long-lasting solution to our labour issues. By working more closely with employers we can ensure that training is better aligned with the job opportunities in different regions in different sectors.
At the same time, businesses also need to have a stake in the outcome. If employers want their concerns about skills shortages to be taken seriously, they have to show that they are contributing to a solution. One way this can be done is through the Canada job grant. Through this grant, the government provides up to $10,000 per person toward the direct cost of training, with the employer contributing, on average, an additional one-third of these costs.
The Canada job grant is part of the new Canada job fund, an agreement through which the government provides $500 million annually to the provinces and territories for investments in skills training. We are working very hard to give Canadians the support they need to prepare for the job market.
Another way to help fix the problem is to start by acknowledging that our education and training systems urgently need reform. Provincial governments need to realize that the choices they made in the 1970s and 1980s, and in my home province in the 1990s, to gradually downgrade vocational education were very shortsighted. Forty years ago, most high schools offered vocational training, but now the number of technology courses taken by secondary school students has dropped dramatically. We need to change this. That is why today I want to call on all families, and society's leaders in general, to lend their voices by telling younger Canadians that choosing a career in the trades is not about settling for second best. These are well-paying, honourable, and rewarding careers. They help build self-worth, pride, and ultimately, strong and healthy families.
Our government believes strongly in the need to change hearts and minds when it comes to jobs in the trades. When it comes to the skills-gap issue, we cannot address it in isolation. We have to attack it from all angles. I want to assure members that we are definitely doing that.
We also cannot forget about a key segment of our population, a very educated segment: new immigrants. In fact, they hold a disproportionate number of graduate degrees. They account for nearly half of all Ph.D. holders and 40% of master's recipients. Unfortunately, despite their qualifications, skilled immigrants are chronically underemployed. According to the 2014 labour force survey, the unemployment rate for recent immigrants last year was 12.9%. That is nearly double the unemployment rate of the general population.
Over 70% of economic immigrants to Canada are unable to work in the fields for which they are trained, and that is really unfortunate. Why should foreign-trained doctors and other professionals be driving taxis and waiting tables because of the lengthy and expensive processes they have to go through to have their credentials recognized in Canada? Not only is this a terrible waste of human potential, it is also a serious loss to our own economy.
Our government is committed to improving the foreign-credential process in Canada, and we have taken important action in this regard. We have invested $50 million to develop a national framework to streamline foreign-credential recognition for key occupations. We have been meeting with regulatory authorities representing engineers, nurses, dentists, physicians, engineering technicians, and other occupations to learn the best ways to streamline their credential recognition.
Our government's work on foreign-credential recognition began years ago. In 2011, we made a commitment to provide loans for recent immigrants to help pay for skills training and accreditation. In 2012, we kept that promise when we introduced the foreign credential recognition loans pilot project. For many new immigrants, getting traditional loans can be very difficult. This partnership between the federal government, financial institutions, and community organizations gives internationally trained workers modest loans to help cover the costs of having their credentials recognized so that they can find jobs in their fields more quickly.
Just recently, our government also launched a new panel on the employment challenges for new Canadians as part of the action plan to improve foreign-credential recognition for internationally trained professionals. We are also continuing to provide financial support to improve credential recognition in 24 target occupations that represent over 80% of newcomers.
Our government recognizes the financial challenges many Canadians are facing today. That is why we are keeping taxes low for families. For parents, this means that they will have more to invest in their children's futures. This in turn will help the next generation of Canadians who will grow up to participate in the workforce and the economy.
It is clear to me that supporting strong families and preparing Canadians for jobs go hand in hand. Canadians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. The low-income rate has been declining and now sits at an all-time low, using the most recent comparable data.
Canadian families in all income groups have seen increases of about 10% or more in their real after-tax and after-transfer incomes since 2006. We want to keep this momentum going, and investing in the well-being of all families is the best way to do it. That is why our government is proposing new measures to help make life more affordable for families.
Let me explain to the hon. members of the House how we are keeping taxes low for families.
I am proud to say that we have proposed enhancing the universal child care benefit by providing almost $2,000 per year for each child under the age of six and by introducing a new benefit of up to $720 per year for each child aged six through 17. More than two million new families will now benefit from the universal child care benefit, for a total of about four million families nationwide.
This direct financial support provided by the Government of Canada helps parents while allowing them to choose the child care option that best suits their family's needs. Whether people work in the paid labour force or stay at home with their children and live in a small town, rural community, or large urban centre, these benefits are having a real and measurable impact.
That is not all we are doing. Our government is also introducing a new family tax cut. The family tax cut is a federal non-refundable tax credit that would allow a spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower-income tax bracket. More than 1.7 million families in Canada would have more money in their pockets, something our government is very proud of.
Furthermore, we are introducing a $1,000 increase in the maximum dollar amount that can be claimed for the child care expense deduction, effective in the 2015 taxation year. The government also proposes to double the children's fitness tax credit from its current limit to $1,000 for the 2014 and subsequent tax years and to make the credit refundable for 2015 and subsequent tax years.
As children grow up, families need better access to post-secondary education. That is why, through the Canada education savings program, the government encourages families to start saving early for their children's education. Modest-income families benefit from the Canada learning bond. The Canada learning bond is $500 the federal government deposits into a registered education savings plan, better known as an RESP. A child may be eligible for another $100 per year, up to a maximum of $2,000. Most importantly, parents or primary caregivers do not have to contribute any of their own money to receive the Canada learning bond.
When they open an RESP, parents can also receive the Canada education savings grant. The federal government adds between 20% and 40% of contributions to the RESP, depending on income, with a lifetime maximum of $7,200 per child.
On this side of the House, we are proud of the range of support we provide for Canadians throughout their entire lives. From education and training to immigration and lowering the tax burden, we are helping Canadians create a better economic future for themselves and for our country as a whole.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for introducing this opposition day motion. This motion is pertinent and important to the vast majority of Canadians because it relates to our quality of life and standard of living here in Canada.
I want to read the motion. It states:
That, in light of sustained high unemployment since the 2008 recession and the long term downward trend in job quality since 1989 under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, as documented by CIBC, the House call on the government to make the first priority of Budget 2015 investment in measures that stimulate the economy by creating and protecting sustainable, full-time, middle-class jobs in high-paying industries in all regions of Canada and abandoning its costly and unfair $2 billion income-splitting proposal.
It is an excellent motion.
In raising this motion, we are calling for a number of changes that we want to see take place.
The Minister of Finance quite surprisingly called the CIBC statistics sham statistics. He is saying that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, that radical socialist organization, has produced sham statistics. However, no one can deny the long-term decline in employment quality in Canada over the last 25 years or that we need to take immediate action in budget 2015 to turn this trend around. We need to create good-quality jobs, we need to protect and improve existing jobs, and we need to address some of the key challenges of the middle class more broadly.
When I speak to people in my riding in Parkdale—High Park, I find that although they may have what have traditionally been secure middle-class jobs, a growing number of them are feeling insecure. Young people are going into these formerly good middle-class jobs on term contracts, on short-term hirings. They may be receiving no benefits and can be in that precarious situation for years. That makes it difficult for them to get on with their lives, because they never know if they will be able to keep their job. The CIBC has done us a real favour by presenting this report highlighting the growing precariousness of jobs across Canada, but we have some practical solutions to propose, and I want to get into those in a few minutes. However, let me first speak more about my community in Toronto in Parkdale—High Park.
Toronto is now the inequality capital of Canada. We see greater and faster-growing inequality in our city than anywhere else in the country. As I said, we see a growing insecurity even in traditional middle-class jobs, but the number of very precarious jobs, minimum wage jobs, is vast and growing. People are on very unpredictable, precarious schedules and do not get enough hours to make a living, or they work full-time hours but do not make enough money to live because they are at the bottom of the pay scale.
Thanks to the work of a constituent, University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski, we are now aware of a great disparity in inequality between neighbourhoods. Increasingly, those at the bottom of the income scale are newcomers, new immigrants, people of colour, visible minorities, and women. Different neighbourhoods around our city demonstrate great and huge differences with respect to equality. In fact, over the last decades inequality has widened in our city at twice the national average, so it is ballooning.
The OECD has confirmed what we know from studies about inequality: growing inequality hinders GDP growth. It hinders the broader economy and is invariably negative. We also see other social problems that result from inequality. Increased violence, increased imprisonment, addiction, obesity, greater ill health, and increased child mortality are all social outcomes of rising inequality. They should certainly should trouble all of us.
In my city of Toronto, 165,000 people are on the waiting list for affordable social housing. I see people who are badly housed and living in very poor conditions. They live with mould. Elevators frequently do not work in their buildings. Appliances do not work. We see families that are subject to a great deal of overcrowding because they can afford only a bachelor or a one-bedroom apartment, even though they have kids who should have their own room, their own space, because it is impossible for them to study otherwise.
As well, because of the lack of investment in infrastructure, people cannot get around the city. To get to their minimum-wage jobs, they have to stand an hour or an hour and a half on a bus and then on the subway to get to the other side of the city.
We are seeing growing stress on people at the growing bottom of the economic scale and we are seeing greater stress even on those in the middle. The all-time high personal debt that Canadians are experiencing means that people are taking on more and more personal debt. They are swimming faster and are running faster just to stay in the very same place. They are taking on more debt just to maintain their current standard of living.
I want to thank CIBC for its study on employment quality, which is entitled Employment Quality—Trending Down. The Minister of Finance said, shockingly, that it is based on shoddy statistics. I would argue that the bank has no vested interest in embarrassing the government, but in fact is doing the country a favour and helping us all by pointing out this very dangerous and destructive trend.
The bank's report is very clear. Our measure of employment quality is now at a record low. Employment quality is at a record low. That is a pretty shocking statement. As well, the report says the trend is clear: since the 1980s, the number of part-time jobs has risen much faster than the number of full-time jobs. The damage caused to full-time employment during each recession was in many ways permanent, and full-time job creation was unable to accelerate fast enough during the recovery to recover the lost ground.
The report also argues that the decline in employment quality in Canada is more structural than cyclical. In other words, just coming out of a recession is not doing the job. We have structural problems in our society and our economy that need to be dealt with by serious measures. What we have seen over 2014 is a 0.7% increase in employment. Employment is essentially stagnant.
Here are some of the things we should be doing. Rather than giving the wealthiest 15% a tax cut with an income-splitting proposal, which is a Leave It to Beaver mentality that will keep the good little lady at home, we should be creating jobs, helping families, helping young people, and investing in a national child care program.
What we should be doing immediately is raising the minimum wage. Let us give Canadians a raise and help them pay their bills. New Democrats want to see a $15 minimum wage.
We should be investing in infrastructure and building good-quality housing. Let us also help small businesses, which are big job creators. Let us help them invest in innovation and hiring and let us extend the accelerated capital cost allowance so businesses can create good middle-class jobs by investing in new technology.
New Democrats know what works. We have a plan for reviving the economy. Why do the Conservatives not get on board, accept our ideas, and include them in budget 2015? Then we can get the job done for all Canadians.
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.
I have heard both submissions. We probably have enough to get going along the same vein.
I thank both hon. members for their interventions. True enough, the issue of relevance is indeed a limit on speech in this place. However, as the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley referenced, there is a great degree of latitude on the part of members.
I am cognizant of the fact that the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is not quite at the halfway point of her remarks in her 10-minute speech. I am fairly certain she will be incorporating some of these ideas into addressing the question before the House, as she has customarily done in the past.
The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
The electoral district of Skeena--Bulkley Valley (British Columbia) has a population of 91,926 with 61,318 registered voters and 201 polling divisions.
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