Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon with other passionate speakers we have heard from today on Bill C-63. I would like to present my humble view on Bill C-63, the budget implementation act, 2017, no. 2, which is the second and final piece of legislation to implement budget 2017.
Budget 2017, much like budget 2016, is built on a number of transformational measures our government has put in place that are benefiting Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Our government's commitment to the middle class and those working hard to join it is unwavering. Budget 2017 is delivering results in my riding, my dynamic and beautiful riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, and across Canada.
We see the results of our plan with an economy that is growing at rate of over 3%. More importantly, approximately 450,000 Canadians now have jobs, most of them full time, and they are now able to provide a better future for their families.
In my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, we are seeing the impact the Canada child benefit is having.
In just a one-month period, families in my riding received a total of 9,140 payments that benefited 16,110 children, with an average payment of $470, and a total payout of $4.3 million. That is change. That is hope and hard work. That is keeping a commitment. On an annual basis, that is nearly $52 million going to families in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. Those are monies that are going directly to help families pay for educational expenses, clothing for their children, and children's sports activities.
In fact, I am proud to say that the Governor of the Bank of Canada commented this week at the Standing Committee on Finance that the Canada child benefit provided a boost to the Canadian economy, a boost to the gross domestic product, of 0.5%. That is something to be applauded.
Our government believes that better is always possible, and I am proud to say that we have now committed to indexing the Canada child benefit, the CCB, a full two years early. Due to a strong economy, the fastest growth rate in the G7, and prudent financial management by our Minister of Finance, the member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, starting in July 2018, families will see their CCB indexed. This measure alone will provide Canadian families with an additional $5.6 billion to support them over the 2018-19 to 2022-23 period. For example, a single parent of two children, making $35,000 a year, will receive $560 more next year. It is tax-free, monthly, very simple, and very effective. They can use this money for books, skating lessons, or as winter approaches, warm clothes.
Governing is about helping families, and I am proud to state that the CCB has lifted approximately, looking at the data from 2013 to now, 300,000 children out of poverty in our country. Again, that is something to be applauded, and I would hope my colleagues on the other side would applaud that and vote for that.
When we speak about growing the economy and increasing the potential growth rate of the economy to improve the standard of living for all Canadians, the focus must be through the lens of innovation. Innovation is something that was absent in this House of Commons for the last 10 years. We need a focus on innovation and on helping companies in Canada innovate, grow, commercialize, and yes, earn money for their shareholders and do well.
Our government is delivering on this agenda. In the past few weeks, the minister of innovation announced the superclusters agenda, something that has been applauded by individuals and stakeholders from coast to coast to coast. It is something I am very proud to support, because it is the right thing to do to increase the capacity of this economy and to get Canadians working in good, high-paying jobs.
In the budget implementation legislation we have before us, we will include this innovation through further investments through the business development corporation. It will include $600 million in new financing for clean technology firms and $400 million that will be put in place for the venture capital catalyst initiative.
When we are thinking about clean technology and venture capital, we are thinking about incubators. We are thinking about people taking risks. We need to be there, partnering with these individuals.
When I think of clean technology, and I see what is happening globally with the amount of renewable energy being put in place to run facilities, whether it is a hospital or a school, Canada needs to be at the forefront. Even today, the Prime Minister was in Toronto with representatives from Alphabet, looking at how technology was transforming the world. We are partnering with these entities.
If we look at our skills training and immigration programs, we want the best and the brightest to come to Canada. We want to harness that human capital. Clean technology is about that. That is where we are going. If I could use a hockey analogy, that is where the puck is going. I was glad to play ice hockey for 20 years of my life, and, to me, that is where we need to be going.
Again, this financing will be put in place with the Business Development Bank, with an increased capital contribution of $1.5 billion to $4.5 billion.
Our government believes in tax fairness. During consultations with small business owners, manufacturers, and professionals, including my own extensive consultations with leading tax experts, we found that tax fairness, done right, both strengthens our economy and our middle class. That is what we will do, and what we are doing.
On this front, Bill C-63 phases out billed-basis accounting practices for designated professionals, but for the law profession, I want to note that we are protecting legal services provided through legal aid or on a pro bono basis, as well as measures are put in place for contingency fee arrangements. In addition, we will give professionals a five-year period to adjust to the new rules. This is both fair and right. This has been done after extensive consultations with these designated professionals.
I have the privilege of representing a riding that contains thousands of private businesses. In fact, the city of Vaughan, which I have the pleasure of representing, along with the member for Thornhill and the member for King—Vaughan, contains nearly 13,000 private businesses. It is one of the most entrepreneurial cities in Canada. I am proud to state that in 45 days from now, people will be able to take the subway, arriving in the city of Vaughan from the city of Toronto. Those decisions were made in prior years. We are executing them and we are quite happy. I would like to invite members of Parliament in the GTA to visit the riding, take the subway, and come visit our great bakeries, restaurants, and tourist attractions.
I am proud to be part of a government that invests in small businesses and that will lower their taxes from 11% in 2015 to 9% in 2019. Promise made; promise kept. It was in our platform, and we have fulfilled that commitment. Businesses will receive up to $7,500 of tax savings. They can choose to invest that in human resources, human capital, or capital equipment, return it to their shareholders, or invest to grow their business. That is what is growing our economy. That is what it means to deliver on our campaign commitments.
As a trained economist, someone who worked on Bay Street, someone who worked on Wall Street, but, more important, someone who grew up on Main Street, in very humble surroundings, I understand that businesses are the main drivers of economic growth and job creation. Our government is committed to ensuring that businesses, whether it is the local bakery, the manufacturer, or the tech startup, operate in an environment that allows them to be successful. More important, as a competitive individual, it will allow them to win and compete globally and take a market share.
Canada is considered an open economy, dependent on trade and global investment. We need to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral relations with our trading partners in other countries throughout the world. We succeed as a country, as a nation and its people, only when we have the foresight to make those policy choices that focus on measures to grow the economy for the long term, not short-sighted policies like augmenting the long-form census, like the prior government did. We need to make decisions based on evidence, based on what works and what does not work. We can only know that with good data. Thankfully, our government put the long-form census in place again.
Trade and investment has literally lifted hundreds of millions of people on this globe out of poverty. In Canada, it has improved the standard of living for millions of Canadians.
As part of Canada's commitment to its global partners, we will now move forward as the first North American member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. I am proud of this. There are currently 57 founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, including Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. I challenge the members on the opposite side, because I have heard some of the questioning on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, why we should not be a partner with it, why we should not be at the table there. The Germans are there, the Brits are there, the Italians are there, the French are there, the Australians are there. Why should Canada not be there as well? I have heard that question. I was very disappointed in the other side.
This represents a long-term economic opportunity for Canada and Canadian companies to explore new commercial opportunities. We know that jobs connected to trade on average pay higher and provide better benefits to Canadians. We see that through our ports, whether someone is a longshore person, whether it is in the Port of Halifax, the Port of Montreal, the Port of Vancouver, the Port of Prince Rupert. I am proud that in September we had the preliminary application of the comprehensive European free trade agreement and that our government continues with with its global partners. We must do so.
It is clear that the government's investments in people, our communities, and our economy are working.
We have the fastest-growing economy in the G7 and that is something we should be proud of. We are reinvesting the benefits of that growth back into the people who contribute most to that success.
Our economy is growing faster than it has in a decade, growing 40% faster than the United States or Germany. We all know that as a country we must always assist those who need a hand on occasion and are working hard to join the middle class. Yes, we talk about the middle class, but what does it really mean? What does it really mean to put in place policies to assist them? There are the Canada child benefit, cutting taxes for nine million Canadians and providing over $20 billion of tax relief over a five-year period, and increasing student loans for low- and middle-income Canadians. I can go on and on.
As a nomination candidate, I argued for an increase in the working income tax benefit, and I was very proud to say that our government will move forward with an enhanced working income tax benefit. This benefit is a refundable tax credit that would support low-income workers and provide important financial support to low-income Canadians to improve their financial outcome when working. This is important. A work income tax benefit encourages the labour force participation rate to rise. It was first introduced in a Liberal government under former prime minister Paul Martin, and augmented by the other side but the idea came from us.
In 2015, there were 1.4 million Canadians who benefited from the working income tax benefit, and our investment of an additional $500 million in this expansion is an investment that is, for me as a sort of policy wonk and an economist, something I fully support. This is something that is moving people off welfare to work, encouraging people to join the labour force. It is something very important, that is transformational. It gives people who may be in a precarious job situation, part-time workers, and those earning $16 or $17 an hour a bit more cash at the end of the year, some money for them to put more food on the table and pay for school supplies for their kids. That is what our government, which I am proud to be a part of, is fighting for every day. That is what I fight for in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. I know my riding is blessed with many entrepreneurs and we are doing phenomenally well with a number of investments from all three levels of government. At the same time, any government should only be judged by how it treats those who are less fortunate, those who need a bit of assistance.
There are many items in Bill C-63, and one of them is to include legislation on flexible work arrangements for federally regulated entities. That speaks to the changing nature of work and the changing nature of responsibilities that families have, whether that is for bereavement leave, for when someone gets sick, or a family member having to augment his or her work-life balance. It is something that we recognize and that is contained in Bill C-63. We all should be proud of it. I hope other employers, even in the private sector, where possible, could put it into effect.
In Bill C-63 we have also introduced changes to the tax code that will ensure that the sale of principal residences by all Canadians remains unchanged, but at the same time that there are no concerns raised by the sales of residences in Canada by non-residents in particular, so that our Canadian housing market will remain strong and stable. We have ensured improved tax fairness for homeowners, something I am very proud of.
In Bill C-63, we have made changes to the Bank of Canada Act, specifying that the bank may make loans or advances to members of the Canadian Payments Association. We clarified some rules regarding CDIC, specifying that the Bank of Canada and CDIC are exempt from stays, where obligations are secured by real property or immovables.
Budget 2017 is the next step in our government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow the economy, and provide more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it. If we look at the foundations we have put in place, Bill C-63 continues the investments we need to make in our economy for Canadians. Whether it was increasing the guaranteed income supplement by nearly $900 million so that over one million single seniors are better off today than they were in the beginning of 2015, our government was there. Whether it was listening to the provinces and hammering out an agreement on an enhanced Canada pension plan, we were there and got it done. Whether it was listening to auto manufacturers' concerns and changing their program through the auto innovation fund to remove the strings attached to as to whether the terms of the funding provided is a grant or a repayable loan, we were there, because we know that we need to be at the table in today's economy. Whether it was our skills agenda, we made the strategic investments that we needed to make. Whether it was ensuring that low and middle-income Canadians have access to Canada student grants or assistance so that they can get the education they need for better jobs, we were there.
I am also proud of the Minister of Immigration who yesterday tabled the government's increased immigration levels. I do not really want to use the word “immigrant”, because my parents were immigrants. I look at them as newcomers, newcomers whose hopes and dreams are being fulfilled in Canada on a daily basis.
We know the demographic challenges that we face here in Canada. We understand them quite well. We know the retiree-to-worker ratio and understand that we face demographic headwinds. The only way to solve these challenges it is to bring newcomers to Canada. Canadians from coast to coast to coast are accepting, diverse, inclusive, and tolerant. They will welcome these folks and build an even stronger country.
I was very proud to rise today to talk about a number of measures contained in Bill C-63, which builds on budgets 2016 and 2017. Our government has laid out a road map with the measures in Bill C-63 and has continued to grow our economy, with an unemployment rate now at the 6% level, something we have not seen in many years, with full-time jobs and the labour force participation rate ticking up. Even the governor of the Bank of Canada commented that our labour force productivity over the last two years has increased to levels not seen in over 10 years.
As an economist and someone who is fiscally responsible, I know that the government has done everything with an eye to maintaining Canada's AAA credit rating and a strong fiscal foundation. Our fall economic update shows that we have been able to lower the debt to GDP ratio, the anchor I look at, which will be trending below 30%. It is something that we can all be proud of. It is something that we need to keep our eye on as a government to measure how our investments are doing in growing the economy at over 3%, a rate that has not been seen in a number of years, and creating full-time jobs, over 15,000 a month, and ensuring that we make key investments in the industries where we know that growth is happening and where our innovation strategy is taking hold.