moved that Bill C-19, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, I would like to first say that, like so many Canadian women, I was both shocked and deeply worried by the news from the United States last night about abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed this morning that the leaked document was authentic, but that it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.
I also want to recognize that this decision is a decision for American judges, American politicians and the American people. However, having said that, and speaking here today as a woman, as a mother and as Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, it is important for me to begin by underlining our government's clear and determined commitment to protect a woman's right to choose. I want every single woman and girl in Canada to hear me say that here today.
Abortion is a fundamental right. Feminists fought for decades to secure it, and here in Canada we will not let it be undermined in any way. As part of Canada's feminist foreign policy, it has been a priority for our government to support the reproductive rights of women and girls around the world. We will continue to do so with greater determination than ever.
We cannot take any of our rights, including this fundamental one, for granted. In a democracy like our own, our rights are ultimately secured by the will of the people, as expressed by the decisions of their elected representatives: all of us here in the House. That is why it is so important for me to make this statement today and why all Canadians, especially all Canadian women who care about a woman's right to choose, need to be active and vigilant and need to speak out.
I am pleased to start today's debate on Bill C-19, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 7, 2022 and other measures.
I would like to begin by explaining the context of the current debate. When COVID‑19 struck for the first time, Canada suffered a tremendous economic shock. Three million Canadians lost their jobs and our economy shrunk by 17%. This gave way to the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Our main objective was to keep Canadians at work and to keep their employers afloat. That is why we provided unprecedented emergency help to Canadian families and businesses. It was a bold plan and it worked.
We have recovered 115% of the jobs lost in those awful first months, compared with just 93% in the United States. That means that more than three million jobs have been created or recovered. Our unemployment rate has declined to just 5.3%. That is the lowest level since Canada first began collecting comparable statistics in 1976. Our real GDP is 1.5% above where it was before the pandemic, with annual GDP growth of 6.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021, and a remarkable 13.9% on an annualized basis in February of this year.
The IMF projects that Canada will have the strongest economic growth in the G7, both this year and next. Last Thursday, S&P again affirmed Canada's AAA credit rating and gave us a stable outlook. This is in part thanks to the emergency support our government provided to rescue Canadians and the Canadian economy. It is thanks to the remarkable grit and determination that Canadians have shown over these past two years.
However, there are still challenges ahead. Inflation, a global phenomenon, is making things more expensive in Canada too. Snarled supply chains have driven prices higher at the checkout counter. Buying a house is out of reach for far too many Canadians.
Russia's illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is directly contributing to higher food and energy prices, both here at home and around the world. We need to do better as a country at innovating and encouraging small businesses to grow.
We need to continue to address the existential threat of climate change, which is why, with the investments outlined in the budget and through Bill C-19, our government is focusing on growing our economy and making life more affordable for Canadians.
One of the pillars of our plan is investing in the backbone of a strong and growing country.
People need homes in which to live. The problem is that Canada does not have enough homes. Our budget contains the most ambitious plan ever put forward by a federal government to resolve this fundamental problem. Over the next 10 years, it will help us double the number of new homes built in Canada. To build the new homes Canadians need, we must make a great national effort that will demand collaboration from all levels of government.
That is why Bill C-19 contains measures aimed at investing in building more homes and bringing down the barriers that keep them from being built. For example, the bill provides for up to $750 million to help municipalities address public transit shortfalls caused by the pandemic. To increase the impact of this investment, the provinces and the territories will have to commit to match the federal contribution. This funding will also serve as a lever for the construction of new homes. The provinces and territories will have to accelerate their work with their municipalities to build more homes for Canadians.
We also need to make the housing market fairer, which is why Bill C-19 will legislate a two-year ban on allowing foreign investors to buy houses in Canada. We know that foreign money has been flowing into Canada to buy residential real estate. This has fuelled concerns about the impact on costs in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, and across the country. Canadians are worried about being priced out of the housing market. By banning foreign purchases of Canadian housing for two years, we will make sure that houses in our country are being used as homes for Canadian families, not as a speculative financial asset class.
We will make all assignment sales of newly constructed or renovated housing taxable for GST and HST purposes. Bill C-19 will help seniors and people with disabilities live and age at home by doubling the home accessibility tax credit's annual limit to $20,000, which will help make upgrades such as wheelchair ramps more affordable.
A growing country and a growing economy also demand a growing workforce. With Bill C-19, we would make it easier for the skilled immigrants that our economy needs to make Canada their home by improving our government's ability to select applicants from the express entry system who match the needs of Canadian businesses.
We would also invest in the determined and talented workers who are already here by making it more affordable for people working in the skilled trades to travel to where the jobs are. This legislation would introduce a labour mobility deduction for tradespeople that would allow workers to deduct up to $4,000 per year for travel and temporary relocation expenses as part of an effort to reduce labour shortages in the skilled trades.
We would also introduce 10 days of paid sick leave for workers in the federally regulated private sector, which would support one million workers in industries like air, rail, road and marine transportation, banks, and postal and courier services.
The budget invests in the skills that Canadian workers need to fill the good-paying jobs of today and tomorrow, and it would help break down barriers and ensure that everyone is able to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Passing this bill is critical to that effort.
In addition, Bill C-19 will enable us to continue the work we are doing to maintain a sound tax system where everyone pays their fair share.
Our government knows that people who can buy expensive cars, planes and boats can also contribute a bit more. Canadians also know this. We were elected on this promise and we intend to keep it.
To this end, we are following through on our commitment to introduce a tax on the sale of new luxury cars and aircraft with a retail sale price of over $100,000. This tax will also apply to the sale of boats that cost more than $250,000.
Today, anonymous Canadian shell companies can be used to conceal the true ownership of assets including businesses and property. Through this legislation, our government would hasten the creation of a public and searchable registry of federally incorporated companies before the end of 2023, two years earlier than planned, to help counter illegal activities including money laundering and tax invasion. This would also help to prevent shell companies from being used to avoid sanctions, and would allow the tracing and freezing of financial assets. This effort is particularly pressing as Canada works hard with our allies through the new Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force to target the global assets of Russia's elites and those who act on their behalf.
That brings me to the way that Bill C-19 would allow the Canadian government to cause the forfeiture and disposal of assets held by sanctioned people and entities, and to use the proceeds to help the people of Ukraine. Among our allies, Canada is leading the way on this work. We would be, with the passage of this bill, the first member of the G7 to take this important step. I can think of no better way to pay for the very expensive work of rebuilding Ukraine than with the seized assets of the Russian leadership that has waged this war.
In 2019, we introduced a national price on carbon pollution to make sure that it was no longer free to pollute anywhere in Canada. In provinces where the federal system applies, the proceeds are returned to Canadians and their communities.
For those living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Bill C-19 will change the delivery of climate action incentive payments from a refundable credit on tax returns to quarterly payments, starting in July of this year.
In Canada and around the world, climate action is now an economic necessity. Trillions of dollars can be invested in good jobs and the clean industries of today and tomorrow. Thanks to meaningful measures, the 2022 budget will enable Canada to benefit from the green transition.
One of these measures is the new Canada growth fund, which will help attract the billions of dollars in private capital we need to transform our economy at speed and at scale.
We will make zero-emission vehicles a more affordable choice for Canadians. We will build and expand the national network of charging stations for zero-emission vehicles. We will make new investments in clean energy. We will also help Canadians and Canadian companies benefit from the transition to a clean economy. One of the measures included in Bill C-19 consists in cutting tax rates in half for businesses that manufacture zero-emission technologies.
We recently introduced the 2030 emissions reduction plan, the 2022 budget and the bill we are debating today. The measures contained in these three documents represent a more sustainable economy for Canadians today as well as for future generations.
Bill C-19 will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. It will help grow our economy, it will create good jobs and it will help us continue building a Canada where nobody is left behind. I hope all hon. members in the House will support the swift passage of this bill in the weeks to come.