Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise in the House of Commons to speak on economic action plan 2014 and the budget implementation act flowing from it, because in many ways they complete a very important journey. That journey, in the next year, will see a return to balanced budgets here in Canada. What is most important to us as Conservatives is that the journey has taken place without increasing taxes, an approach and a journey that my colleagues on the opposite side, the NDP and the Liberals, would have turned to during the economic crisis. Our government was consistent that we were not going to raise taxes on families, on seniors, or on job creators. So, we have had no tax increases and will have a return to balanced budgets.
I would be remiss if I did not say that one of the key shepherds on that journey has been my colleague, my friend, and my neighbour, in fact, the member of Parliament for Whitby—Oshawa, who, working with the Prime Minister and our caucus, ensured that we kept our commitments that we started during the worst of the downturn in 2008-09 to get to a balanced budget and where we are now.
I would like to remind my colleagues in the House where we are now. We are in a unique position of leadership in the G7. We have the best economy in the G7 right now. We will be the first G7 nation to have a balanced budget in the coming year. We lead in job creation, with almost one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession, and the vast majority of those are full-time. We have the best debt-to-GDP ratio among our G7 colleagues. We have the top financial institutions and regulatory environment in the world.
In many ways, we are the envy of our friends and are not only going to continue with that success but also ensure that Canada remains a leader under our government.
It is also important, whenever I stand in this place, that I recognize my role as the member of Parliament representing Durham, which is a proud part of Canada in southern Ontario, with deep century-plus roots in agriculture; a leading role in energy with Darlington Nuclear Generating Station; and with a proud history of manufacturing, both large and small. Our government has been taking the prudent steps to ensure that all of those industries and families that derive their wealth and wellness from them thrive.
Just this week, CIBC released a report showing that in the years since the great global recession, we have stronger and more productive manufacturers. We have more small and medium-size specialty manufacturers in southern Ontario that have withstood the global challenges that some of our best friends and allies are still facing but are now starting to thrive.
I would also look to the recent report by the Lawrence Centre in the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, one of the leading business faculties in the world. It just completed a study on the future of Canadian manufacturing by looking and learning from the success of some of our leading manufacturers in southern Ontario. Its conclusion was that a revitalized Canadian manufacturing sector will rely on the private sector and that the only role for government is really to promote and support an environment that allows the private sector to flourish. I cannot think of a better report that exemplifies the leadership of our government in the last few years, and I will tell members why.
The manufacturers that are succeeding in Ontario and, indeed, across the country are not just selling their goods and services here in Canada. They are looking around the world to be globally competitive.
What has our government done? We now have 38 new countries where our exporters will have most-favoured nation status. With the work of this government and the Minister of International Trade, in particular, in delivering the agreement in principle on CETA and our first trade agreement in Asia, with South Korea, we are building new markets that will allow our exporters not just to sustain their operations but also to grow and create employment.
Looking at the budget itself, page 98 shows a variety of other factors beyond just opening new markets. We are simplifying taxes for 60,000 small to medium-size enterprises in Ontario by streamlining the GST or HST credit rebate process and creating a new class of depreciable property. That is building upon our accelerated capital cost allowance, allowing those manufacturers to become more competitive.
I also refer the people of my riding to page 124 of the budget, which talks about the auto innovation fund, our government’s multi-year commitment to securing our auto sector in southern Ontario. We have just put another $500 million into that fund over the next two years, on top of the over $300 million already invested on innovation in manufacturing in southern Ontario.
We are also looking at science and technology. Canada leads the OECD on funding for research at our universities to make sure that we innovate and are creating jobs for the next generation.
Our most recent budget adds to that, with the Canada first research excellence fund, a $1.5 billion fund that will be used by researchers, innovators, and universities across Canada to make sure that Canada remains ahead in science and technology. I would like to thank Dr. Tim McTiernan and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in our area of Durham for their work in science and in training the next generation of job seekers.
Durham is also known for its rich quality of life. While my business background has me passionately speaking about business issues and our government’s success on the economic front, I am also proud that we are looking at recreation, culture, and other things that make our quality of life in Durham and Canada so strong.
I am proud of our government’s recreational fisheries conservation partnership program. This last budget is doubling the annual funding for that program over the next two years.
In my community, before my election to Parliament, I was fortunate to work alongside dedicated volunteers at Valleys 2000 and the Bomanville Creek Anglers Association who, for many years, had been looking at making sure that migrating fish species on the Bomanville Creek could reach their spawning grounds despite dams and obstacles in their way. With funding from this fisheries conservation partnership plan, that group of volunteers in Bomanville has created a fish bypass channel, which, for the first salmon and trout run this spring, will allow those fish to bypass a dam and spawn up creek. I have to thank those volunteers, led by the late Al Strike, Harold Hammond, Reverend Frank Lockhart, Dave Lawson, Steve Kay, Jack Hampsey, and a range of other passionate volunteers from our community who got that program to where it is at. Our government was happy to help complete some of the funding.
As a veteran myself, I have to note that, as stated on page 223, our government maintains its strong commitment to our veterans and their families. With a $108 million commitment to the Last Post Fund, we are taking this funeral and burial program intended for impoverished or indigent veterans and are expanding it beyond its mandate from World War II and Korean War veterans to modern-day veterans so that no one will slip between the cracks. That is on top of our funding increases in the last budget for those services specifically.
The budget also mentioned the Afghanistan commemoration. I will be one of many MPs here who are proud to stand with Canadians for the families of the fallen on May 9, when we commemorate one of Canada’s most sustained missions abroad in which over 40,000 of our best young men and women served our country when called upon.
We are also putting a priority on hiring injured veterans. Each year, approximately 1,000 men or women from the Canadian Forces release as a result of injury. We are putting them at the top of the priority hiring list for the civil service, a measure that I hope the opposition and the public sector unions can finally get behind to put those veterans in a place that will make sure they thrive when they transition out of uniform.
We are also putting increased spending into the My VAC Account and other resources so that veterans can access their services.
It is always an honour for me to rise to represent my riding of Durham. I am happy to have highlighted a few measures that make our budget and its implementation so pivotal for Canada.