Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance for Pre-study of Bill C-19, the Budget Implementation Act

Speech

May 2, 2022

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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee, for inviting me to speak on Bill C-19, the Budget Implementation Act.

The budget I tabled last month was released against the backdrop of Canada’s remarkable and rapid recovery from the COVID recession.

Canada has seen the best jobs recovery in the G7. We have recovered 115 per cent of the jobs that we lost in those awful first months, compared to just 93 per cent in the United States.

More than three million jobs have been created or recouped.

Our unemployment rate has declined to just 5.3 per cent—that is the lowest level since when we first began collecting comparable data almost five decades ago.

Our real GDP is 1.5 per cent above where it was before the pandemic.

The IMF projects that Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7 both this year and in 2023. 

And last Thursday, S&P Global Ratings—again—affirmed Canada’s AAA credit rating.

This is, in part, thanks to the emergency support we put in place to rescue Canadians and the Canadian economy.

And it is thanks to the remarkable grit and determination that Canadians have shown these past two years.

But we still do have challenges ahead.

Inflation—a global phenomenon—is making things more expensive in Canada, too. Snarled supply chains have driven prices higher at the checkout counter. Buying a house is out of reach for far too many Canadians.

Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is directly contributing to higher food and energy prices—both here at home and around the world. This impact is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

We need to do better, as a country, at innovating and encouraging small businesses to grow. We need to continue to address the existential threat of climate change.

Which is why, with the investments outlined in this budget—and through Bill C-19—our government is focusing on growing our economy and making life more affordable for Canadians.

One of the pillars of our plan is investing in the backbone of a strong and growing country: our people.

People need homes in which to live, but, Mr. Chair, Canada does not have enough of them.

This budget represents the most ambitious plan that a federal government has ever put forward to tackle that fundamental issue, and it will put Canada on a path to double the number of new homes we build over the next ten years.

We also need to make the housing market fairer.

Which is why, for example, Bill C-19 will legislate a two-year ban on foreign investors. Homes need to be for Canadian families to live in. They cannot be a speculative asset class. We will also make all assignment sales of newly constructed or renovated housing taxable for GST and HST purposes.

And—something that I know members of this committee care about deeply—Bill C-19 will help seniors and persons with disabilities live and age at home by doubling the Home Accessibility Tax Credit’s annual limit to $20,000, which will make upgrades like wheelchair ramps more affordable.  

Mr. Chair, a growing country—and a growing economy—also demands a growing workforce.

With Bill C-19, we will make it easier for the skilled immigrants that our economy needs to make Canada their home by improving the government’s ability to select applicants from the Express Entry System who match the needs of Canada’s businesses.

We will also invest in the determined and talented workers who are already here by making it more affordable for people working in the skilled trades to travel where the jobs are.

This legislation would introduce a Labour Mobility Deduction for Tradespeople, which would allow workers to deduct up to $4,000 per year of travel and temporary relocation expenses as part of an effort to reduce labour shortages in the skilled trades.

Bill C-19 will also continue our government’s work to ensure we have a robust tax system where everyone pays their fair share.

Through this legislation, our government will speed up the creation of a public registry of federally-incorporated corporations to before the end of 2023—two years earlier than planned—to help counter illegal activities, including money laundering, corruption, and tax evasion. And let me point out this is only a first step.

This is particularly pressing as Canada works hard with our allies through the new Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Taskforce to target the global assets of Russia’s elites and those who act on their behalf.

This brings me to how Bill C-19 will allow the government to cause the forfeiture and disposal of assets held by sanctioned people and entities, and use the proceeds to help the people of Ukraine.

Among our allies, Canada is leading the way on this effort. We would be the first member of the G7 to take this important step, and I can think of few better ways to pay for the very expensive rebuilding of Ukraine than with the seized assets of Russia’s leaders.

And in the interest of time, Mr. Chair, I will quickly list a few of the other measures in Bill C-19 that I trust members of this committee—and, indeed, our colleagues in the House—will surely support.

Bill C-19 will implement a tax on luxury cars, planes, and boats.

It will cut taxes for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies.

It will implement ten days of paid sick leave, which includes industries like air, rail, road, and marine transportation, and banks, postal, and courier services.

It will put money back in Canadians’ pockets more regularly, by moving Climate Action Incentive payments to quarterly payments instead an annual payment through your tax return.

And it will help provinces and territories tackle the backlogs of surgeries by providing a $2 billion top-up to the Canada Health Transfer.

Mr. Chair, Bill C-19 will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. It will help grow our economy, it will create good jobs, and it will help us to continue building a Canada where nobody is left behind.

And so, I hope that all Honourable Members here will support its swift passage through the House in the weeks to come.

Thank you.

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