Thank you very much, and good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable members.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear today and to address issues that matter most to Canadians, all built around the theme of prosperity. Our brief contains a four-point plan, which I believe is available on the table, to build a more prosperous and competitive Canada.
My comments today will focus specifically on tax reform and interprovincial trade.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate the government on the recent Speech from the Throne and the economic statement. We are pleased to see that the federal government shares our views relating to tax reductions and improved internal trade.
The recently announced tax relief plan is a welcome departure from the ad hoc targeted tax cuts and special provisions directed to particular groups or sectors, to which Canadians have grown accustomed. This $60 billion plan is long overdue. The government has the fiscal room and can afford to reduce the tax burden on Canadians. Moreover, economists, business leaders, academics, think tanks, and well-respected national organizations have all been calling for lower taxes, including broad-based tax relief, for several years now.
There is consensus. We know that lower personal and corporate income taxes are the key ingredients to more investment, increased productivity, better jobs, and a higher quality of life, so the government's tax relief plan is a step in the right direction. However, CGA-Canada does not believe it goes the distance.
After years of tinkering with tax legislation, we are still left with a system that remains unnecessarily cluttered, complex, inconsistent, and it is not serving its purpose efficiently or effectively. We need tax reform, and we need a panel of experts to do the work, to consult widely in a public forum, to debate the issues, and to offer informed, independent advice to the government. The appointment of an expert panel is the centrepiece of our submission.
An expert panel would be indispensable to improving Canada's taxation and regulatory regime, to developing and advancing Canada's tax advantage in global world markets, to ensuring that national prosperity and economic growth are the end result, and to reshaping our system so that it is fairer, simpler, more efficient, and competitive. Canadians deserve nothing less.
The issue of internal trade has been a longstanding concern to CGA-Canada. We have examined this issue from all angles. We have written policy briefs and spoken to the issue before parliamentary committees. CGAs themselves have used the agreement on internal trade to eliminate certain restrictions such as access to public accounting.
We have reached the following conclusion. In this era of ever-increasing globalization, where Canada's exports totalled $524 billion, representing 36.4% of our gross domestic product in 2006, it is ludicrous that the movement of goods and services across our provincial boundaries still remains a challenge. We are encouraged by the federal government's pledge to play a leadership role in the strengthening of the economic union. We also welcome measures adopted by the Committee on Internal Trade and the Council of the Federation.
CGA-Canada believes all governments must work together to create a fully functioning and effective domestic market, where goods and services move freely. It would be easier and less costly to do business. It would remove obstacles to growing Canadian businesses. It would make our economy more productive and more competitive. In short, it would be of tremendous benefit to all Canadians.
Here is the remedy we propose: establish a set of open trade principles and an internal trade tribunal, and implement panel findings through an enhanced and enforceable dispute resolution mechanism. CGA-Canada has joined forces with several other national organizations to seek improved interprovincial trade. We are anxious to work with the government towards this goal.
To conclude, we wish to urge the committee to consider the recommendations put forth in our submission, namely, appoint a panel of experts to review the tax system so that it is simpler, transparent, and fair, with low internationally competitive tax rates, and to tear down trade and labour barriers within Canada. Other elements of our four-point plan include capitalizing on Canada's knowledge advantage and further supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs.
We believe our plan is reasonable and achievable and would provide a solid base to build a more prosperous and competitive Canada.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time. We welcome any questions the committee might have on these or other recommendations contained in our brief.