Budget bill checks off Conservatives' pre-election 'to-do' list
Budget implementation bill lumps in other things Harper government wants passed
The Harper government has tabled its budget implementation bill, which once again contains more than just this year's budget measures.
The legislation, expected to pass before Parliament rises for the summer, reads like a pre-election must-do list for the Conservatives.
Its short title, the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, suggests its main purpose: implementing the crux of the budget Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled two weeks ago.
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But its official title — an Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures — more accurately reflects how other things are rolled into the finer print.
At 167 pages, its size doesn't match past doorstoppers, like the 450- and 457-page versions from the spring and fall of 2012 that set off howls of protest (as well as actual protests) off and on Parliament Hill.
But the strategy is the same: Stephen Harper's government heads out on the hustings this fall, and budget or beyond, it's got stuff it needs to pass quickly.
What's in C-59?
Here's a quick look at what's included in the bill introduced Thursday in the Commons:
- 2015 Budget tax measures: Changes announced by Oliver last month to RRIFs and TFSAs, the small business tax rate, capital gains exemptions, disability savings funds and veterans benefits are all included, as is the new home accessibility tax credit.
- Family tax cut and benefits changes: Announced by the prime minister last October and re-announced by Oliver in the budget.
- Federal Balanced Budget Act: Announced as a separate bill, it's rolled into this one for passage.
- Prevention of Terrorist Travel Act: Also announced as a separate bill, but rolled into C-59 to allow security officials to seize passports from would-be terrorists and sex offenders.
- Parliamentary Protective Service: Previously-announced changes to security on Parliament Hill, as the RCMP takes over security for the Parliamentary precinct following the Oct. 22 shootings.
- Public service sick leave: New authorization for Treasury Board to establish and modify, despite existing laws and ongoing contract talks, the "terms and conditions of employment related to the sick leave of employees," including the establishment or modification of a new short-term and long-term disability program.
- Patent Act and Trade-marks Act changes.
- Compassionate care leave extension: Now up to 28 weeks, and related EI benefits extended to 26 weeks.
- Copyright Act changes.
- Export Development Act changes.
- Canada Labour Code changes to include unpaid employees (for example, interns.)
- Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act changes to harmonize contribution rates for senators and MPs.
- National Energy Board Act changes to extend the duration of natural gas export licenses.
- Employment Insurance Act eligibility changes.
- Canada Small Business Financing Act changes to increase the amount of gross revenue allowed in the definition of "small business."
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act changes.
- Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act changes.
- Immigration and Refugee Protection Act changes, to expand the use of biometrics and electronic documents.
- First Nations Fiscal Management Act changes.
- Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act changes to enact previously-announced injury and caregiver benefits.
- Ending the Long-gun Registry Act changes to exempt applicable records from Access to Information rules.