Standing Committee on Finance (FINA)

The House Standing Committee on Finance split its time this week between its study on Tax Incentives for Charitable Donations and the start of its study on Bill C-25, which provides the legislation for the creation of Pooled Retirement Pension Plans, or PRPP’s. Regarding the study on tax incentives, witnesses from the charitable industry such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and others gave testimonies, suggestions, and answered MP questions.  While some witnesses expressed reservations, many others fully supported the adoption of the Stretch Tax Credit proposed by Imagine Canada, which would increase the eligible tax credit available for those who donated more over time. Furthermore, all witnesses unanimously favored capital gains tax exemptions to be extended to gifts of privately held securities and real estate, as they are currently only applied to the donation of publicly listed securities.  However, the committee also heard from witnesses that any tinkering with tax policy would have limited results, and that MP’s should use their public platform to attempt to bring about a true change in culture regarding Canadians willingness to engage the civic core.

To start off its study on Bill C-25, Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies testified and answered questions from MPs on the proposed legislation.  The minister focused on the low administrative and financial burdens PRPP’s impose on small businesses, as well as the fact provincial governments have privately expressed support, as key benefits to the plan. However, opposition members pressed the Minister on why he did not pursue more options with the framework of the Canadian Pension Plan, which would guarantee savings amongst all Canadians.  There was some debate between the government and the opposition as to whether the competitions between financial institutions to offer PRPP’s would drive the administrative costs down below the levels of the CPP.  When the Committee resumes after the coming break week, it will hear from other industry stakeholders regarding Bill C-25.