The Canadian government is backing down slightly on its mammoth budget implementation bill and has agreed to send it to 10 different committees for study, CBC News has learned.
The bill is more than 440 pages long and would change more than 60 laws and regulations.
The Conservatives are refusing to split the bill for debate, but will allow it to be studied by the appropriate committees, including:
- Aboriginal affairs.
- Fisheries and oceans
- Human resources.
- Public safety.
The finance committee will also study the bill, for a total of 10 committees.
Budget bills usually go to the finance committee for study, but opposition MPs were pushing for other committees to study the changes that affect laws that fall under their area of expertise.
Government planned for committee split
A spokesman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says that it was always the government's intention to split the bill, and that Flaherty had mentioned it in an interview last weekend.
The Liberal Party issued a press release Wednesday morning claiming victory on the matter and saying that there was no way the finance committee would have been able to handle the legislation on its own.
"That is why Liberal MPs gave notice of motion yesterday in 11 separate committees asking them to study the various aspects of the bill that pertain directly to their own mandates," the party said in the statement.
The Liberals had moved to have three other committees study changes, but were refused. They'd moved for:
- The government operations committee to study public sector pension changes.
- The health committee to study cuts to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission.
- The industry committee to look at changes to scientific research and experimental development credits.
Last spring, the government set up a special subcommittee of finance, including a number of MPs who normally sit on the environment committee, to study the provisions of the bill related to the environment and natural resources. The opposition had wanted the bill split up into separate parts for more extensive study, but the government refused to co-operate on the grounds that opposition MPs would vote against it anyway, so it didn't matter whether they split the bill or pushed it through a single committee.
The bill, C-38, passed into law without incorporating any of the amendments moved by opposition MPs.
Related on HuffPost:
The Conservative government has introduced Bill C-45, the second omnibus budget implementation bill. Here's a brief look at what's inside the 450-page document. <em>With files from CBC</em>
MP And Public Service Pensions
<strong>UPDATE</strong>: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/19/mp-pension-changes-passed-bill-c-45_n_1987522.html">MP Pensions have been hived off from the omnibus bill and passed without further debate in a surprise deal between the government and opposition parties</a>. Starting as early as January 2013, public servants and MPs will have to contribute 50 per cent of the payments into their pensions. MPs will also have to wait until age 65 to start collecting their pensions, or be penalized if they start at age 55. The precise date for MP pension changes is Jan. 1, 2016. There will be no change to the current eligibility for MP pensions of six years of service.
The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board will be dissolved, and an interim means of establishing premium rates set up to replace its work. The Crown Corporation is currently run by a seven-member board. This move continues employment insurance changes started with the first omnibus budget bill, as cabinet gradually receives more authority to reform EI.
Changes To The Indian Act
The bill makes what could be controversial changes to the Indian Act, amending it to change the rules around what kind of meetings or referenda are required to lease or otherwise grant an interest in designated reserve lands. The aboriginal affairs minister would also be given the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering an absolute surrender of the band's territory.
Environmental Assessment Act Tweaks
Last spring's changes to the Environmental Assessment Act are tweaked further in this omnibus bill.
Hiring Tax Credit
The bill will extend a popular small business hiring credit.
New Bridge To U.S.
C-45 also facilitates the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River at Windsor, announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last summer. Certain legislation will be changed and other legislation won't apply to this bridge. Three federal bodies will cease to exist with the passage of this legislation.
Grain Act Amended
The bill also amends the Canada Grain Act, simplifying the way it classifies grain terminals, repealing grain appeal tribunals, and ending several other requirements of the current Act, giving the Canadian Grains Commission more power to regulate the grain industry. These changes follow the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over wheat and barley sales in Western Canada, which take effect for this year's harvest.
Hazardous Materials Under Health
All the work of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission will be transferred to the health minister.
Merchant Seamen Board Under Labour
The Merchant Seamen Compensation Board will see its authority transferred to the Minister of Labour. The three-person board currently hears and decides benefit claims for merchant seamen who are injured or disabled as a result of their work and are not currently covered by provincial workers' compensation benefits.