Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak in strong support of the jobs and economic growth act.
The jobs and economic growth act and budget 2010 are key components of Canada's aggressive plan to protect and grow our economy through Canada's economic action plan. As everyone in the chamber would agree, our economic action plan is on the right track in getting results for Canada's economy and Canadians.
Indeed, Statistics Canada recently reported that over 24,000 net new jobs had been created in May. That was the fifth straight month of job gains in Canada and helped show yet again that Canada's economic action plan is working.
Clearly, our Conservative government is on the right track for Canadian families. Since July 2009, employment in Canada has increased by 310,000 jobs. We have seen eight months of solid gains in the past 10 months.
What is more, under our Conservative government, Canada's economy is leading the way internationally. Statistics Canada also recently announced that Canada's economy grew 6.1% in the first quarter of 2010, the strongest in the G7. Even better news is that both the IMF and the OECD are forecasting Canada to have the strongest economic growth among the G7 and all major advanced economies this year and next.
In the words of John Manley, the former deputy prime minister under the former Liberal government and the current president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives:
It used to be said that when the United States sneezes, Canada catches a cold. This time it was different: the impact of the recession was not as severe in Canada as it was on the other side of the border. Nor have we suffered as badly as Europe....
Meanwhile, the consensus among international forecasters is that Canada will lead the G7 this year and next in economic growth.
Clearly, we have a lot going for us....
Nevertheless, we must remain cautious. The larger global recovery remains fragile. While Canada's recovery appears strong, we cannot lose focus. The economy must remain our number one priority.
As a recent Toronto Sun editorial noted:
—the job growth numbers support [the] Prime Minister['s]...contention Canada's economic recovery is among the strongest in the world. You only have to look at the economic carnage in Greece...to appreciate that. What politicians of all stripes on Parliament Hill need to remember is that for average Canadians, the economy is job one.
Our Conservative government agrees. That is why we are working to fully implement Canada's economic action plan through the jobs and economic growth act and helping ensure a sustained recovery continues throughout the country. That is why I would like to spend my time today stressing the importance of the many budget 2010 items that are being implemented through the jobs and economic growth act.
As we know, budget 2010 delivers year two of Canada's economic action plan, a plan that has delivered and will continue to deliver $61 billion in effective stimulus, boosting economic growth and supporting Canadians and their families during the most severe global economic recession since the 1930s. At the same time, the plan is helping build Canada's economic advantage well into the future.
The economic action plan, including budget 2010, is making a real difference in communities across Canada. It is protecting and creating jobs, building and improving vital infrastructure and housing, and further strengthening our highly competitive tax system.
Let me spotlight some specific budget 2010 measures in the jobs and economic growth act, measures that Canadian families are relying on and that underscore the need for all parliamentarians to support this act.
As we recently celebrated tax freedom day on June 5, I would like to highlight certain tax breaks we are implementing through this important legislation. Before that, let me note for the information of the chamber that tax freedom day was three weeks earlier under our Conservative government than under the tax and spend Liberals when it was June 26.
Since taking office in 2006, our Conservative government has cut over 100 taxes and reduced the overall burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. All that translates into total savings for a typical Canadian family of over $3,000 per year.
We are building on our proud record of tax relief in the jobs and economic growth act and will help more and more Canadian families keep more of their hard-earned money where it belongs, in their own pockets.
One such measure seeks to improve the universal child care benefit by ensuring single parents receive comparable tax treatment to single-earner two-parent families. This change will ensure that single parents are not disadvantaged. Moreover, and more importantly, it will provide nearly $200 in tax relief for each child under six that a single parent may have.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada has applauded this tax relief as well by stating:
I am pleased that the government has recognized that single parent families have been unfairly penalized through an excessive tax clawback....
I further note that this also fulfills a promise our Prime Minister and the Conservative Party made during the most recent election campaign.
We are also building on our proud record of tax relief for job-creating businesses in the jobs and economic growth act with measures such as extending the mineral exploration tax credit. Canada's mining sector and the people it employs represent a key economic sector. By supporting the ongoing development of Canada's mining sector, we are supporting important benefits in terms of employment and investment in infrastructure, especially for Canada's more rural and remote communities.
As noted in budget 2010, flow-through shares permit businesses to relinquish or flow through tax expenses associated with their Canadian exploration activities to investors, who can then deduct the expenses in calculating their own taxes. This allows job-creating businesses to attract the investment they need to grow and expand.
The mineral exploration tax credit is an additional benefit available to individuals who invest in flow-through shares equal to 15% of specified mineral exploration expenses incurred in Canada and renounced to flow-through share investors.
Through the jobs and economic growth act, our Conservative government is proposing to extend the eligibility for the mineral exploration tax credit for one year to flow-through share agreements entered into on or before March 31, 2011. I note that this particular measure has been very well received throughout Canada.
The mayor of Timmins, Ontario, Tom Laughren, has noted it “will definitely benefit our region”.
The Mining Association of British Columbia, or MABC, welcomed the extension and other budget 2010 measures, noting:
With British Columbia's mining industry emerging from recent economic challenges, MABC is encouraged by this federal budget's initiatives that will help ensure that recovery does not falter.
The Mining Association of Canada, MAC, also added its support, remarking:
These continue to be economically challenging times for our industry, and MAC is encouraged by budget initiatives aimed at maintaining the course....MAC views the federal budget 2010 as being appropriate for the times as global economies recover from turbulence.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada also added its voice extolling the extension as it promotes exploration which is critical to Canada's economic recovery and long-term growth.
Finally, even the NDP member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay was forced to admit it was positive for northeastern Ontario. The member also told his local paper, the Northern News that the retention of flow-through mining tax credits continues, and that is something he has been pushing for. For that reason alone, one would think the NDP member of Parliament for Timmins—James Bay would reconsider his opposition to the jobs and economic growth act.
On top of supporting our mining sector, this bill also takes a step to assist Canada's manufacturing sector and the many Canadians whose jobs depend on its continued health.
The jobs and economic growth act implements the budget 2010 pledge to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers by eliminating all remaining tariffs on productivity-improving machinery and equipment, and goods imported for further manufacturing in Canada.
I am proud to say that this will make Canada the first country in the entire G7 and G20 to be able to make this claim. This important initiative will be a significant incentive for our manufacturing sector.
It is estimated that this commitment alone will create 12,000 jobs, diversify trade and boost Canada's manufacturing sector as well as its overall productivity. It means that Canadian manufacturers will be able to import goods for further production in Canada by Canadian workers without the red tape and paperwork of tariffs and the costs of complying with discouraging customs rules.
Our Conservative government's campaign against tariffs will give our manufacturers across the country a competitive advantage in the global marketplace by lowering production costs, increasing competitiveness and enhancing innovation and productivity. With that said, it is little wonder we have heard such overwhelming positive reaction to it across Canada. I would like to take a moment to share a small sampling of that reaction.
The C.D. Howe Institute explained:
Eliminating all tariffs on inputs is an absolutely brilliant move. Tariffs are just plain dumb in imposing costs on businesses. It certainly inhibits productivity growth and the ability to compete. And it is a superb message...in terms of attracting investors but also in taking a leadership role in establishing an agenda aimed at trade liberalization and broad-based economic growth.
The Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce in Ontario applauded the move as a positive step that will allow manufacturers to be competitive, and stated:
Our local manufacturers work on global competitiveness. They have to be competitive and this will allow that to happen.
The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council added its praise as well, because it will help manufacturers by “reducing their input costs and therefore improve their productivity and competitiveness”.
The Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership called it “a big deal” and stated:
This is just a fabulous story. Improving productivity is key for Canadian manufacturers seeking to sell on the international market. Much high technology equipment must be imported from Europe and Asia, so eliminating tariffs helps to make it more affordable for Canadian manufacturers.
The Canadian Apparel Federation welcomed the move as well. It said:
Canadian firms can be successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace because they have a proven record of delivering quality, fashionable merchandise on a quick replenishment basis to their retail customers throughout North America. Eliminating duties on our raw materials allows Canadian apparel manufacturers to do so on a cost-effective basis.
Even the Canadian Meat Council, which represents Canada's meat processing industry, praised the announcement, saying:
[It] helps Canada's meat processing industry modernize their operations and better compete globally through the elimination of tariffs on a range of machinery and equipment....
Finally, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters had the most glowing reaction to this important announcement. I will quote it at length:
Removing tariffs is a good thing for Canada. Eliminating manufacturing tariffs is a bold move by the government. Tariffs tie up goods at the border and cost importers time and money. With the removal of tariffs it frees up that time and saves importers big money. Tariff reduction would make it easier to bring in internationally imported machinery used in the manufacturing sector and allow Canadian businesses to update or replace older models and become more effective.
Again, that was but a small sampling of the extremely positive reaction to the landmark measures in the jobs and economic growth act, to make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers.
I could literally have spent my entire 20 minutes for this speech relaying the outpouring of positive accolades. However, there is more in the jobs and economic growth act. While the economic action plan is without a doubt a measured and powerful response to an extraordinary challenge, it was never meant to be a permanent one. The action plan contains a built-in exit strategy to ensure that its measures are temporary.
Moreover, our government is committed to winding down temporary stimulus spending by March 31, 2011, as scheduled, as the first step in the government's strategy to return to balance.
Even more, our Conservative government will lead by example through belt-tightening of its own. As noted in budget 2010, we are freezing the operating budgets of the bureaucracy. To build on that, the jobs and economic growth act would freeze the salaries of the Prime Minister, all ministers and members of Parliament, and senators.
As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation noted, “It's good to see politicians leading by example”.
In my remarks here today I have presented only a few highlights of the jobs and economic growth act. Clearly, we need to fully implement Canada's economic action plan. We must ensure that it stays on track, and we can, with the passage of this important legislation.
I call on all members to put aside partisanship and to help enable us to have a stronger economy well into the future. I call on members to help to ensure that in every region of Canada families and businesses are paying less tax and that unemployed workers are receiving better support and new training and can see hope for more jobs in the very near future.
That is why I urge the House to support the jobs and economic growth act as the next step in Canada's economic recovery.