Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege and honour to rise in this place today in my capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and participate in the response to the budget.
Before I begin, permit me to make a short message. I want to recognize the excellent work done by the first round of parliamentary secretaries, particularly my predecessor and friend, the hon. member for London East. Along with my 24 recently sworn in colleagues, I acknowledge the significant role played by our
predecessors in bringing about the many accomplishments of the government during the first half of its mandate. My fellow parliamentary secretaries and I look forward to upholding that high standard set by them.
I also extend my congratulations to the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working with her appreciate her sincerity and dedication to her parliamentary duties. I am confident she will do a solid job in her new role as Deputy Chair of the committee of the Whole.
With regard to the budget, I have listened intently to the members opposite. We all realize it is easier to criticize good government than it is to provide it. Although constructive criticism is a valuable tool of democracy, the key difference between those who provide good government and those who merely criticize is courage. Good government is driven by courage and concern for the well-being of one's nation. Unfortunately in most cases, the destructive criticism offered by members opposite is driven by political opportunism, posturing and underwhelming tactics.
I am proud to say that on this side of the House the principles and practices of good government have been enhanced by the courage and constructive criticism within our own caucus. In recent days there has been a great deal of gloom and doom espoused throughout the country by those who seem to have overlooked our nation's great potential. The recent speech from the throne focused on ensuring opportunity for Canadians by means of a strong economy, providing security for all Canadians and bolstering a modern and united country. The budget secures our financial future. Our deficit reduction plan remains on track.
It has been said that the primary role of a good government is to make things better for the governed. This government is offering hope and opportunity for all Canadians who are willing to show courage, resolve and faith in our great nation.
We are providing hope and opportunity by challenging the private sector to create jobs for young people in our country. We will also double the number of federal student jobs available this summer. This initiative will help to reduce the unemployment rate among young people and provide them with valuable work experience and decent wages.
Canada has a competitive advantage in the world with respect to aerospace and environmental technology. In fact there is some excellent science and technology research work being conducted at McMaster University in my riding of Hamilton West. In order to bolster our national and international strength in this area, the government has committed itself to the development of a Canadian technology network.
Since the Canadian economy is so heavily dependent on exports, the government will make every attempt to continue tapping into emerging markets abroad in order to further enhance our share of the international demand for Canadian goods and services.
With regard to security, we have to ensure that all Canadians are provided with an adequate social safety net. That means protecting vital social programs like medicare and making sure that Canadians in need of health care services have universal access to them. We must provide pension security for our seniors, as well as for future generations to come. A secure social safety net is too important to ignore. In fact Canadian core values are reflected by our social safety net and our willingness to preserve it.
With regard to employment, although Hamilton has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire country, there are still many people in my hometown and in other cities across Canada who are looking for work. To address this, the government remains committed to implementing a new employment insurance system this summer in order to help Canadians find jobs and keep them.
Canada is blessed with a highly employable workforce. Our job is to create a climate that is conducive to increased levels of personnel recruitment in the private sector and stable employment. With the help of the provinces and the private sector, we will achieve our goal of generating jobs and stimulating economic growth in Canada.
In the process of strengthening our nation and making things better for the governed, the Government of Canada has made significant progress in several areas.
In the transportation sector, with which I am most familiar, the government has taken steps to ensure that Canada has a safe, efficient, affordable, globally competitive and environmentally sound national transportation system.
In aviation the government has reached an agreement in principle with a not for profit corporation called Nav Canada to commercialize Transport Canada's air navigation system. This move will save taxpayers $1.5 billion and will eliminate a $200 million a year subsidy. A year after signing a historic open skies agreement with the U.S., Canada is reaping the benefits of increased air services to various Canadian and American destinations.
Transport Canada is also proceeding with the transfer of select Canadian airport facilities, such as Hamilton Airport, to municipal and local area interests. The transfer of various Canadian airports combined with the creation of a national airport system will strengthen Canada's air transportation system and make it more responsive to regional and community based needs and economic objectives.
In the rail sector, the recent commercialization of CN represented the largest and most successful initial public offering of shares in Canadian history. The government remains committed to implementing legislation which will make it easier for Canadian companies to move people and goods safely, efficiently and affordably across Canada by rail.
In the marine sector, under Canada's new marine policy, ports will be commercialized. A national ports system will be created consisting of those ports that are important to domestic and international trade.
These are just a few examples of the progress that is being made by this government in the transportation sector.
It is worth noting that over the past 28 months we have followed through on almost 75 per cent of our red book commitments. At the same time we have managed to reduce the federal budget deficit to its lowest level in two decades.
It is also worth noting that the budget contained no tax increases. The budget provides Canada with a framework for growth and security. Furthermore, deficit targets have been and will continue to be met. This should be comforting for all Canadians.
The government is following through with a new tax free seniors benefit which will be incorporated into the OAS/GIS pension income credit and the age credit; tax relief for recipients of child support payments; a $50 million allocation to the Business Development Bank which will allow for the extension of up to $350 million in loans to small and medium size businesses; over the next three years $315 million for youth job opportunities which includes doubling youth summer employment program funds from $60 million to $120 million.
One hundred and sixty five-million dollars over three years will be for education and skills development for young people; $270 million for technology and innovation initiatives; 25 per cent per month increase in the education tax credit; $170 increase in the tuition education credit; $500 increase in the registered education savings plan; $10,500 increase in the lifetime education contribution limit.
It was stated by the Canadian press news agency that the federal budget represents: "Deficit reduction without tears or taxes. The Minister of Finance delivered a good news budget on March 6 that adds muscle to his deficit fighting strategy with minimal sting for ordinary Canadians".
As we approach the second half of our mandate with the support and constructive input of concerned citizens throughout Canada, as stated earlier the government will continue to make decisions designed to make life better for the governed.
I am proud of our accomplishments and I am optimistic about the future of our great nation and the collective future of my fellow citizens. I consider it a great honour and privilege to serve my constituents and my country. I believe in good government. I believe the people of Canada deserve nothing less.