Committee of the Whole on Bill C-30: Senator Klyne questions Minister Freeland

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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The Senate resolved into a Committee of the Whole on the subject matter of Bill C-30, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (temporary enhancement to the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax credit)

Senator Klyne: Deputy Prime Minister, a chief responsibility of government is to help those who are struggling, the most vulnerable. Doubling the GST tax credit for six months will have a positive impact for those living on a fixed income. Obviously, the rising cost of living affects everyone, but those living on a fixed income and those hovering near or below the poverty line feel it the most. There is an immediate need to support people in those categories.

We see the impact of inflation everywhere, not just at the grocery store and the gas pump. It’s my understanding that this bill is targeted to provide relief to those most in need, and it can’t come soon enough.

Could you please tell us if this measure of relief is means tested — I assume it is — and do you have a sense of what percentage of Canadians will qualify for this temporary enhancement?

Ms. Freeland: Thank you very much, Senator Klyne. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I believe this is the first time we’ve spoken in the Senate. It’s very nice to talk to you.

I agree with you very much, senator, that this relief is needed by people. That’s why I am grateful to all the MPs in the House of Commons who decided to support the measure so we were able to move it through quickly, and I am grateful to everyone here. You are all working late at night and interrupting your regular schedule to get this job done, and I’m sincerely grateful.

Part of our effort to make it possible to get that support to people quickly was to make a conscious decision not to reinvent the wheel. We used a pipe that already exists in Canada to support the most vulnerable, and that is the GST tax credit. We decided to double it for six months to give that extra support. That is what we’re doing.

The means test through which the GST tax credit is ordinarily provided applies in this case as well. It should be 11 million households.


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