Moved second reading of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures.
He said: Honourable senators, it is my great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures.
In preparing my remarks for today, I benefited from being able to use as a resource some of the previous budget implementation speeches given during this Parliament. To paraphrase our colleague Senator Pratte in his second reading speech for Bill C-86 on December 4, 2018, what is before us is a long bill, so this will be a long speech. Make yourselves comfortable.
Yes, this is an omnibus bill but, as was also explained by Senator Pratte, budget implementation acts are by their very nature omnibus bills.
Honourable senators, I will start by saying frankly that this is a good piece of legislation. Of course, I am the sponsor so my words should not come as a surprise, but I do genuinely see this as a strong budget. It is not perfect but no bill ever has been nor ever will be.
My belief is strengthened by the fact that on top of sponsoring this legislation, I am also a member of the National Finance Committee, one of nine Senate committees that participated in the pre-study.
During the National Finance pre-study of Bill C-97 alone, we heard from witnesses from across government as well as stakeholders over 12 meetings before we even received the bill last Thursday. In short, I have thought about this legislation a great deal, as I know many of you have.
Bill C-97 includes key measures that were announced in the government’s most recent budget. The government has also outlined the next phase of its plan to grow the economy by investing in the middle class, which means that it is providing more support to those who need it most.
Some measures are especially noteworthy, including the Poverty Reduction Act, improvements to seniors’ retirement security, incentives for first-time homebuyers, support for veterans in their transition to civilian life after military service, the Canada training benefit and changes to student loans, the part of the bill entitled “Climate Action Support” and issues affecting Indigenous peoples that also affect all Canadians.
These are the themes on which I will focus, but I will also discuss the provisions that have proven to be more controversial: those formalizing the creation of the Departments of Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs after the dissolution in 2017 of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the provisions concerning journalism, and the proposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
What I intend to do, colleagues, quite simply is to explain why this bill deserves your consideration and support.
First, I would like to offer some points on a matter which always elicits much comment in election platforms and campaigns and during budget time, especially when it does not happen. I speak, of course, about balanced budgets.
The battle always seems to be between balancing the budget or engaging in deficit spending to support economic growth, as if one could not strike, well, a balance between the two. It is no secret that this budget is not a balanced one. Much has been made about that, harkening back to a promise to balance the books, made during the election campaign of 2015, by the end of the government’s first mandate. The previous federal government promised, and attempted, to achieve the same goal over its decade in power but, through a combination of external and internal factors, this became elusive.
Think, colleagues, about the worldwide sovereign debt crisis of 2008 to 2009. Since then, we have witnessed the impact of lower commodity prices and sudden changes in the global trading system. There are always stresses on our fiscal framework. Bill C-97 introduces just under $23 billion in new spending over six years. The rationale behind the plan for deficit spending is to stimulate the Canadian economy where growth may be cooling.
Honourable senators, the decision by the government to spend money in this budget and to thus not pursue fiscal balance was done out of necessity, not mismanagement or irresponsibility.
I witnessed and participated in the previous government’s very capable handling of the global financial crisis of 2008-09 from Berlin where I engaged with the European Central Bank. These matters are not easy, and they are not easy for a country like Canada. As the old saying goes, “You need to spend money to make money.” This is not about spending tax dollars on fancy, big-ticket items. This is about the economic need to make smart investments in Canada’s future and middle class over paying down the debt. We must do so, however, responsibly, to ensure that future generations benefit from world class services and education today so that they can succeed tomorrow.
Across a number of important metrics, the fact of the matter is that the Canadian economy is sound. It continues to be supported by solid fundamentals including high levels of consumer confidence and a growing labour market. More than 1 million jobs have been created since 2015 and the national unemployment rate is at its lowest levels in more than four decades.
Of course, despite the generally good news in this area, we cannot forget that there are regions of this country that have been hurting. Canada’s national unemployment rate currently stands at 5.7 per cent. The four provinces of Atlantic Canada, however, have long faced higher-than-average unemployment. This has largely been due to the predominance in that region of seasonal work and more reliable, higher-paying opportunities in other parts of Canada.
These realities have both pushed and pulled skilled workers from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Many Atlantic Canadians, in years past, made their way west, especially to Alberta, for high-paying jobs in that province’s energy sector. That is no longer the case at the same level.
Our friends in Alberta have been facing a severe economic downturn since it began in 2014, made worse in 2015 when the price of oil plummeted. We know the effect it has had not only provincially, but nationally. Saskatchewan has also been impacted by lower commodity prices, particularly of oil and uranium.
It also goes beyond pure economics, when we take into account the negative impact on real people, given the stress that such uncertainty in making ends meet can have on one’s mental health.
While the economic downturn ended in 2016 and things began looking up, Alberta is still facing unemployment higher than the national rate, at 6.7 per cent in April — this according to the most recent monthly labour force survey carried out by Statistics Canada. That is an improvement, albeit a slight one, over the rate for March. Hopefully this trend will continue and bring some more relief to a province that has long been a key economic engine for our country.
Despite the struggles faced, especially by Alberta and Atlantic Canada but also Saskatchewan, Canada’s overall economy is strong.
Our success is also recognized beyond our borders. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Monetary Fund expect Canada to be, after the United States, the second-fastest growing economy in the G7, on average, over this year and next.
As a former ambassador to one of our closest G7 allies, Germany, and having been a deputy minister a few times, including for last year’s G7 summit in Charlevoix, I can tell you just how important this statistic is. What this means in practice is that our federal debt-to-GDP ratio, the debt relative to our economy, is not just decreasing but is on track to reach close to its lowest level in almost 40 years.
Colleagues, this does not get enough attention domestically. I can promise you, though, that this impressive fact is very much envied by many of our friends in the developed world. A low debt-to-GDP ratio is a critical indicator of fiscal health.
In the same vein, our deficit-to-GDP ratio is projected to reach a low of 0.4 per cent by 2023-24. That is in comparison to another of our G7 partners, the United States, where the federal government deficit-to-GDP ratio was 3.9 per cent in the last fiscal year and could reach almost 5 per cent in the coming years.
Another important point is that Canada is also the only G7 country that has free trade agreements with every other G7 nation. Once the new NAFTA — or CUSMA as we call it now — makes its way through Parliament, we will be in an even better position. You will get to hear from me again on that point, colleagues.
Budget 2019 demonstrates continued investment in people and a strategy to grow the economy for the long term in a fiscally responsible way. Investments the government has made over the last year to support households and to promote export development and business investment are expected to promote growth now and into the future. This has helped to make Canada one of only 10 countries that continues to receive a AAA credit rating, with a stable outlook from all three of the world’s biggest credit rating agencies: Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s.
In order to provide support to Canada’s hard-working entrepreneurs, the government cut the small business tax from 10 per cent to 9 per cent at the start of this year. This represents the second cut made to the small business tax rate in just over a year. For small businesses, this will mean up to $7,500 in federal tax savings each year compared to 2017 — savings they can reinvest to purchase new equipment, develop new products or create new jobs.
With measures introduced to accelerate business investment in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, the average overall tax rate on new business investment in 2018 was almost 5 percentage points lower than in the United States and the lowest among G7 members.
Colleagues, the long-term dedication to strengthening Canada’s economy and promoting investment should triumph over short-termism. I’m sure the coming election campaign will no doubt tell the tale.
In order to reduce poverty, in the fall of 2018, the government introduced the Poverty Reduction Act. This is a cause our colleague, Senator Miville-Dechêne, was the first to champion in the Senate. The Poverty Reduction Act proposes to codify ambitious and concrete poverty reduction targets. In particular, based on the 2015 levels, the act aims to reduce poverty by 20 per cent over five years and by 50 per cent over 15 years.
Also, for the first time in Canada’s history, Bill C-97 proposes an official poverty line. This market-based measure focuses on the cost of buying basic goods and services such as clothing, shelter, food and transportation.
The act will also establish the National Advisory Council on Poverty, which will be mandated to undertake consultations with the public, including people with personal experience with poverty, and subject matter experts. The council will provide advice to the minister responsible for overseeing the Poverty Reduction Act with regard to ways in which to reduce poverty and will also be required to submit an annual progress report.
Since 2015, $22 billion has been invested in measures to support poverty reduction. These measures include the Canada Child Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the National Housing Strategy, the Canada Workers Benefit and the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program.
Due in part to recent investments, the government surpassed its 2020 target three years ahead of time, with over 825,000 individuals helped out of poverty between 2015 and 2017.
This is part of why the plan to invest, thereby running modest deficits, instead of balancing the budget is so important. Helping Canadians handle the costs of living is a key component of supporting the middle class. You can see that in the way Bill C-97 seeks to support seniors.
On that subject, many seniors choose to remain active and continue to work after retirement — I’m looking all around me; there are a few of us here — for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, some working seniors are being penalized for staying in or returning to the workforce.
They face significant reductions in their Guaranteed Income Supplement or Allowance benefits for every dollar of income they earn above the existing $3,500 annual GIS earnings exemption.
Part of the problem is that self-employment income is not eligible at all for this exemption. This means that seniors lose out on their hard-earned income.
This is something the Budget Implementation Act seeks to remedy. Beginning in July 2020, Bill C-97 proposes to help seniors keep more of their GIS or Allowance benefits and income by enhancing the GIS earnings exemption.
Doing so will accomplish three things: extend eligibility for the earnings exemption to include self-employment income; allow for an increase in the fully exempt annual amount from $3,500 to $5,000; and introduce a partial exemption of 50 per cent on up to $10,000 of annual employment and self-employment income beyond the initial $5,000.
Essentially, eligible seniors would be able to fully or at least partially exempt up to $15,000 of income. This means seniors who wish to continue working after retirement will be able to keep more of the money they earn. Bill C-97 would also ensure that all Canadian workers receive the full value of their earned benefits.
The proposal here is to proactively enroll, starting in 2020, CPP contributors who are age 70 or older but who have not yet applied to receive their retirement benefit.
While the number of people who do not apply for their pensions is relatively low — an estimated 1,600 in 2020 — it is still significant.
The effect of this measure is important. Approximately 40,000 more Canadians would begin to receive the CPP retirement pension to which they are entitled.
Of note, two thirds of these currently unenrolled seniors are women. The average monthly pension payment will be around $300, which could be of huge benefit to many senior citizens.
Whether you’re a senior or a young person fresh out of school, one thing we all must think about is where we’ll live and how we’ll pay for our home. Adequate housing is, after all, a right recognized under international law to which all human beings are entitled. Budget 2019 announced a number of new initiatives to make it more affordable for Canadians to rent or buy a home. It builds on the government’s plan to address issues surrounding housing affordability, an issue that concerns adults of all ages and many middle-class families.
Every Canadian wants, and deserves, a safe and affordable place to call home. However, that’s not easily attainable for too many people. High house prices in some of Canada’s largest cities mean that many Canadians still struggle to find, maintain and afford a good, safe place in which to live.
To help, Bill C-97 will put in place a new first-time home buyer incentive. This would allow first-time homebuyers who save their minimum 5 per cent down payment to finance a portion of their home purchase through a shared equity mortgage with the help of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Through the CMHC, qualified first-time homebuyers would be eligible for a 10 per cent shared equity mortgage for a newly built home or a 5 per cent shared equity mortgage for an existing home.
It is expected that about 100,000 first-time homebuyers will be able to benefit from the incentive over the next three years.
With this extra help, Canadians can lower their monthly mortgage payments, making homeownership more affordable and attainable.
Bill C-97 will also increase the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000, providing first-time homebuyers with greater access to their RRSP savings to buy a home.
There will also be new investments to increase the supply of homes to buy or rent. This is the best way to alleviate high prices and cool what has become a very hot housing market.
Dealing with finding affordable housing is not easy at the best of times and can make the transition to civilian life for members of the Canadian Armed Forces that much more challenging. The reality is that becoming a civilian after years and sometimes decades of loyal military service can be challenging for some members. This is especially true for those who must leave the forces due to illness or injury. To make post-military life easier, Budget 2019 proposes a number of initiatives, such as ensuring veterans receive personalized support services and enhanced training on transitioning to civilian life.
In addition, Bill C-97 proposes to expand eligibility for the education and training benefit to supplementary reservists. This benefit already provides veterans who were regular members of the forces with up to $80,000 for education. Now supplementary reservists will also have access to this support.
The value of education and training, after all, cannot be understated. It is critical to building and maintaining a strong and engaged workforce. As we know well, the world is changing rapidly in many ways. In recognition of that, Budget 2019 will help students and workers of all ages find and keep good jobs today and into the future.
This is crucial, because the jobs of the future may look nothing like the jobs of today. The evolving nature of work means that people may change jobs many times over the course of their working lives. I think, as most of us know, young people today already do this much more frequently than did previous generations.
Budget 2019 introduces a new personalized, portable tool to help all Canadians get the skills they need to find and keep good jobs, the Canada training benefit.
Bill C-97 would implement an important part of the benefit, the Canada training credit. This credit will provide working Canadians between ages 25 and 64 with up to $5,000 over the course of their careers to pay for up to 50 per cent of eligible training fees.
In addition, Budget 2019 announced the Employment Insurance training support benefit, which will provide up to four weeks of paid leave every four years for workers to pursue training.
One of the best good-news stories of this Budget Implementation Act is the amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. The purpose of the changes is to relieve some of the substantial financial pressures faced by students who must take out loans.
The amendments will ensure that new graduates do not need to worry about interest on their student loans accumulating immediately after completing their studies, as is currently the case.
With this measure, student loans will no longer accumulate any interest during the six-month non-repayment period — the grace period, as it’s called — after a student borrower leaves school.
These changes, which would come into effect in November of this year, in combination with the commitment in Budget 2019 to lower the interest rate for student loans, will result in savings of about $2,000 on student loan costs for the average borrower.
Budget 2019 also proposed an ambitious target: Within 10 years, every young Canadian who wants a work-integrated learning opportunity would get one. To support this goal, Budget 2019 proposes to provide funding to support up to 40,000 student work-integrated learning opportunities per year by 2023-24.
In addition, Budget 2019 also proposes to provide funding to the Business/Higher Education Roundtable to match these placements by 2021.
In total, this means that the government will support up to 84,000 new job placements per year by 2023-24.
Many of these positions, and those in the broader workforce, will be ones that focus on the transition to a green economy — and ones that deal directly with the stark reality of a changing climate.
As we all know, climate action in general is, quite literally, a hot topic. Whether you believe that climate change is a real and present danger or that it is exaggerated or even a hoax, the fact is that our planet is in trouble.
Humans caused the dire environmental crisis afflicting the earth, but humans can also reverse it. Action can be taken, but it must be done quickly and effectively.
Bill C-97 seeks to protect the environment and Canadians and reverse some of the damaging effects of climate change through some important measures.
The first measure provides support to increase the number of energy efficient residential, commercial, and multi-unit buildings all while lowering energy costs. This is an investment that will support activities like home energy retrofits that can help lower Canadians’ monthly energy bills and reduce energy consumption.
Second, the Budget Implementation Act would provide a one-time municipal infrastructure top-up investment in order to build new cleaner and healthier communities. This commitment will double the funds available to municipalities and help communities fund their infrastructure priorities, including public transit, water, and green energy projects. This puts in place a plan to protect the health of Canadians today and into the future, all while growing our economy in a sustainable way. The health of our economy is largely connected to the health of our land, both of which are central to our nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.
A critical part of advancing reconciliation and self-determination, and thus strengthening this most important relationship, is ensuring that Indigenous peoples are able to fully contribute to and share in Canada’s economic success, to which I referred at the beginning of this speech.
Budget 2019 proposes significant investments in Indigenous economic development. Investments such as these are important because they generate revenue for Indigenous communities, which tend to be reinvested into skills, health and social services.
Some of the investments proposed in Budget 2019 include supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs and economic development in First Nations and Inuit communities through the Community Opportunity Readiness Program; enhancing the funding of Metis capital corporations to support the start-up and expansion of Metis small- and medium-sized businesses; supporting the Indigenous Growth Fund to allow Aboriginal financial institutions, including Metis capital corporations and others, to support both more Indigenous entrepreneurs and more ambitious projects; and increasing targeted support to the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs through Futurpreneur Canada.
Further, Budget 2019 also takes action to help communities reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages and to sustain important cultural traditions and histories.
As I said at the outset, while this is a budget of positive measures, there are three that have elicited particular attention and some criticism: formalizing the creation of the Department of Indigenous Services and the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs; changes to the Income Tax Act to support journalism, specifically the independent panel established by the government to make recommendations on the eligibility criteria for the tax measures proposed in Bill C-97; and amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Bill C-97 will officially create the Department of Indigenous Services, which will work collaboratively with partners to improve access to high-quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Metis. One of the most important reasons for the creation of this department is to ensure we effectively work toward services and programs for Indigenous peoples being delivered by Indigenous peoples. Reaching this goal, over time, will also be a main criterion against which the success of the department will be measured.
This legislation will also formally establish the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Its mandate has, and will continue to be, to renew nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationships between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Metis.
The relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples is vitally important to ensuring the strength and prosperity, now and for generations to come, of our Confederation. This relationship must be properly nurtured and respected in order to work toward reconciliation from which we will all benefit.
There have been concerns expressed, including from some honourable senators, about these provisions in the budget implementation act. Of course, concerns over the departmental split have also been officially expressed by our Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples through its report to the Senate.
In particular, clarity has been sought regarding some of the language used in the legislation. Given the importance of getting these particular measures right, the government worked with its partners, including the Assembly of First Nations, on amendments that better reflect the unique concerns of Indigenous peoples.
A number of amendments based on these discussions were introduced to the bill in the House of Commons before we received it in the Senate. As with most legislation, this provision may be revisited in the future, as circumstances may warrant.
On the path toward reconciliation and self-determination, we must acknowledge that things can evolve over time. The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has recommended that Division 25 of Part 4 be removed altogether from Bill C-97 and reintroduced as its own legislation.
I must stress, colleagues, as a final point — for now — on this issue, that this provision is not coming out of the blue. The split of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs into the Department of Indigenous Services and the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs was announced almost two years ago and recommended more than 20 years ago.
In August 2017, when the creation of these two departments was announced, the government was implementing a recommendation made by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996. These two departments have been fully functional and doing good work for nearly two years. Bill C-97 simply formalizes the establishment of the two departments, especially their individual roles and responsibilities. These departments are in full flight, with a minister and deputy minister assigned to each, along with the budgets, staff and officials to match as a result of an order-in-council designating Indigenous Services as a department in November 2017.
We cannot and should not simply undo all of that.
While the names of the recommended departments have changed in 23 years, the purpose of today’s proposal is, in fact, the same as yesterday’s: to improve the delivery of vital services to Indigenous peoples so that we may work toward real reconciliation and the advancement of our most important relationship.
The second area that has received attention and some criticism surrounds changes to the Income Tax Act regarding journalism. The government has chosen associations representing Canadian journalism to serve on an independent panel of experts that has been set up to make recommendations on the eligibility criteria for the tax measures proposed in Bill C-97. Doubts have been expressed by those concerned about how “independent” this panel could be. This provision has been especially contentious in committees in both the Senate, at National Finance, and indeed the other place. The overarching criticism is that this measure will lead us down the slippery slope toward reduced press freedom.
Colleagues, like many of you, I worked in countries where press freedom is not only lacking, it is non-existent. There are many countries around the world where journalists work bravely under the very real threat of violence or even death. For too many, threats turned into action.
That is not to say that journalists in Canada do not have need to worry, but critical stories of big business and government here are not met with violent retaliation. What journalists here — and everyone who cares about a free press — do worry about is the decreasing number of daily and regional newspapers.
Since 2008, 250 of Canada’s daily news outlets have closed down due in large part to low advertising revenues and the rise of online news and social media. In just one day in November 2017, in a deal between Postmedia Network and Torstar, 36 news outlets went out of business. Three hundred people lost their jobs that day. When print media, and their digital partners, go bankrupt in big cities, that is bad enough. When it happens to small papers in rural areas, that is devastating.
A number of you here in the Senate have been journalists in your previous lives. You understand better than anyone how fundamentally important journalism, and a free press more generally, is to democracy. Journalists uncover and share information with citizens that helps to ensure governments and corporations are held to account. This makes our democracy, and our country, stronger, but journalists cannot do their jobs if they don’t have proper funding.
The fact is that the newspaper business is struggling, as I briefly outlined. That is why the government introduced provisions in Bill C-97, based on its commitments in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement and Budget 2019, to provide additional relief and support to independent news media. I’m confident the proposed measures will bolster our news outlets nation wide and enhance, rather than hinder, press freedom in Canada.
Finally, I wish to highlight the concerns raised about proposed changes in Bill C-97 to Canada’s asylum rules. Our colleague Senator Omidvar has been especially vocal in sharing the valid concerns of her and others. Our country’s system for assessing refugees and asylum-seekers is envied around the world. In Senator Omidvar’s own words, it is “the gold standard,” and I think she is right about that. It is a huge part of why Canada is seen, rightly so, as an open, welcoming and compassionate society.
In my former life in the foreign service, my first posting abroad was at our embassy in Cuba, where one of the many hats I wore was visa officer. I was responsible for issuing visas to Cubans and others wishing to visit Canada. Many of them decided to stay.
For every reason you can think of, from all corners of the world, people want to come to our country, whether to see the unparalleled beauty of our land or seek safety from violence and persecution, Canada is viewed as a beacon of hope and acceptance for the world’s most vulnerable people.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-97 will not change that. Essentially, the budget implementation act proposes that asylum and refugee claimants would be ineligible for protection in Canada if they had already made a claim in a country with which we have agreements to share intelligence and biometrics. These countries being our Five Eyes partners: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The goal of this measure is to deter irregular migration — to reduce numbers that began to rise in 2017 — and to encourage people genuinely in need of protection to make their claim in the first country to which they arrive that has a mature asylum system rather than making claims in multiple countries. All of our Five Eyes partners have such robust systems in their own countries.
Concerns with this have centred mainly around the feeling that Canada is turning its back on its global reputation as a safe haven for asylum-seekers and on its international obligations. Neither of these is the case. Even the Canadian office of the UNHCR here in Ottawa supports the proposed changes to our asylum laws. For balance, Amnesty International and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers do not.
Canada is not trying to deter migrants from coming here. It is not trying to deter refugees and asylum-seekers. Canada is trying to deter irregular migrants. It is proposing doing so in a way that still respects our domestic and international obligations.
To help allay concerns, however, the government amended Bill C-97 in the other place regarding oral hearings. Specifically, Bill C-97 has been strengthened to explicitly state in the legislation that the right to an oral hearing is guaranteed. Nobody claiming refugee status or seeking asylum will be turned away without having an opportunity to plead their case. If it is determined that a claimant would be at serious risk of harm or persecution if returned to the country from which they fled, they would remain in Canada under our protection.
Ultimately, the government is trying to better manage the flow of migrants, making it more efficient and to bring finality to claims, all while respecting our obligations and history as an open, welcoming and compassionate country.
Honourable colleagues, I promise that I’m coming to the end of my speech.
I hope to have succeeded in my goal of outlining what are the main reasons why I believe Bill C-97 contains strong, positive measures.
I hope to have also alleviated the concerns that were raised about some of the bill’s provisions.
I’ve been a senator for only eight months, and this is the first time I’ve shepherded a piece of legislation through the Senate, whether a government bill or otherwise.
There has been a great deal to learn. It is always made that much easier when you have strong support. I thank my more experienced colleagues from all groups in this chamber who have offered their help and guidance. I also appreciate the excellent engagement at committees that participated in the pre-study. In particular, thank you to my fellow members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, especially our chair, Senator Mockler. I also wish to express my appreciation to the clerk of the committee, Gaëtane Lemay, and our analysts, Alex Smith and Shaowei Pu.
We are all in this together, and of course, work on this bill is not yet complete.
Honourable senators, we all know how important budget implementation acts are. This one is no different. I hope that having concluded a thorough and thoughtful pre-study of the bill, you will join me in supporting Bill C-97 at second reading and that it may reach Royal Assent as expeditiously as possible. I thank you for your patience and attention.