A Look Ahead to the New Year

I am writing this column from Nova Scotia, where my family and I have enjoyed a Christmas holiday with my in-laws. Nova Scotia is my second home; I was stationed at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater outside of Halifax during my years flying on the Sea King helicopter and sailing with the Navy.  I met my wife Rebecca during my time in the military and it is important for our family to spend time with our family in Nova Scotia.  We have not been down east for Christmas since our youngest child was born, so it has been wonderful for our children to spend time with their grandparents and cousins over Christmas.

I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas with family and friends.  2015 shows tremendous promise for Canada and for our region.  In 2015, the Durham Region will join other communities in the GTA in welcoming the world for the Pam Am/Parapan Am Games.  The Pan Am Games take place from July 10 to 26, and the Parapan Am Games from Aug. 7 to 15. Durham will be hosting several events with Oshawa being the home to Boxing and Weightlifting events at the General Motors Centre.  Sports are a terrific way to teach skills to our young people, whether it is goal-setting or teamwork, so hopefully the Pan Am experience will inspire our up and coming athletes. Our government has tried to support this development through increasing support for our athletes through programs like Own the Podium and at the family level with the creation and recent doubling of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit (CFTC)Parents will be able to take advantage of the new $1,000 maximum limit in the spring of 2015 when they file their tax returns for 2014 and the credit will be made refundable beginning in the 2015 tax year.

As we step into the New Year and make resolutions to be or do better, you can rest assured that our government resolves to do the same. In the fall, we announced exciting tax enhancements to help families prosper. These enhancements will begin to take effect in this coming year. The Family Tax Cut introduces income splitting for families to help provide more flexibility for parents as they make decisions about how to juggle the challenges inherent in raising children and paying the bills. This cut will take effect starting in the 2014 tax year and couples can claim the credit when they file their 2014 tax returns this spring. The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) enhancements will take effect this January and will begin to be reflected when families will receive money in their pocket in the form of monthly payments in July 2015. We are increasing the UCCB amount for children under the age of 6 to up to $1,920 per year for each child, and we have introduced a new benefit of up to $720 per year for children aged 6 through 17. The Child Care Expense Deduction (CCED) will be increased by $1,000 for each child aged 7 through 16 and will apply for the 2015 and subsequent taxation years. This enhancement recognizes the rising costs facing families, and this benefit is being made refundable to help benefit lower income families.  I am proud of the fact that we came up with a program designed to ensure that every single family with children under 18 will directly benefit. No two families are the same and no family should be excluded from benefits because of a one-size fits all program from Ottawa.

On a personal level, beyond my regular resolution to try and shed a few extra pounds, I will once again strive to work hard to be an advocate for our community.  It is an honour for me to represent my hometowns in Parliament and I work hard to advocate for constituents and to secure the long term economic prosperity for our area.   I believe that government must help the vulnerable and create a positive environment for job creation, but a government should also live within its means and not burden our children with debts that arise only because of the failure to set priorities.  I think our government gets all of the big picture issues for families and seniors right because we set priorities and stick to a plan.  In 2015, we will become the only G7 country to have a balanced budget.  We are increasing funding for health and other priority areas, while also making sure the size of government is kept at an affordable level.  We are offering tax relief for Canadians and are opening new markets for our goods, services and agricultural products around the world.  Canada remains strong in a challenging and often dangerous world.

In October, there will be a federal election where residents in Durham and across Canada will have the opportunity to choose their local representative and the path forward for our country.  I hope to earn the privilege of remaining the MP for Durham and I firmly believe that the Prime Minister is the only leader with the ability to set key priorities for Canada’s success in the future.  Never hesitate to contact me if you ever have questions about my work in Durham or the priorities of our government.  Until then, I would like to wish you a healthy and prosperous new year.

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