Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Fundy-Royal.
The budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is good news as regards job creation. This budget is in line with the federal government's long term strategy to improve the state of public finances, so as to create conditions that will promote employment, as well as short and long term growth.
The government will also continue to invest in immediate and longer term initiatives to create jobs, which is a top priority for me and the federal government. Let us not forget that 715,000 new jobs were created since the Liberals took office, in 1993.
Extending the federal infrastructure works program is an excellent example. The government will spend $425 million on that program, for a total of $600 million this year.
I am also very pleased about job creation initiatives in rural areas, since my riding includes some large rural areas. In this regard, regional tourism will get increased support, through an amount of $50 million allocated to the Business Development Bank of Canada, as well as an additional $45 million, over a three year period, to the Canadian Tourism Commission, and additional funding to the Farm Credit Corporation.
Over the next three years, the federal government will allocate $1 billion for job creation initiatives for young people. The Minister of Human Resources Development recently announced that $225 million would be earmarked for the creation of jobs for young Canadians. These initiatives will provide a more promising future to many young Canadians who wish to join the labour force.
I also want to mention the creation of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, an investment of $800 million by the government, which will ensure that Canadians remain on the cutting edge of research and technology, areas which will help our industries to remain competitive and to create jobs in the future.
Given the Liberal government's sound economic management during the last three years, it is not surprising that private sector forecasters are expecting more than 300,000 jobs to be created this year and also next year. Having said that, I can assure the House that the Liberals will keep up their efforts to create jobs for all those Canadians who are still looking for work.
In the time remaining I would like to deal with some of the criticisms that the government has received with respect to job creation. I have already indicated that in the first three years of the Liberal government's mandate Statistics Canada confirms that approximately 715,000 net new jobs have been created by the Canadian economy. This compares to a net loss of 71,000 jobs during the last three years of the previous government's mandate. Under the previous Tory government the unemployment rate was at 11.4 per cent at the time that the Liberal government was elected in 1993.
The current rate of unemployment is 9.7 per cent. This is obviously much too high. One person in Canada unemployed, seeking work and unable to find it is a human tragedy. There will never be an acceptable unemployment rate until unemployment is eradicated.
I do not think it is a fair comment to indicate that because the official unemployment rate issued by Stats Canada is still at 9.7 per cent that the Liberal government's record on employment and setting the conditions that lead to employment creation is bad. Look at the 715,000 jobs that have been created by the Canadian economy in that time period.
We still have 1.5 million unemployed people which is certainly not acceptable and is certainly a cause for concern to everyone, particularly to those people who are unemployed, but 715,000 people have found jobs. The reason that the rate still remains as high as it does is because more people have come into the work force. This is something that the government cannot control. It can encourage people to obtain more training so that they will be in a
position to seek employment, but it does not preclude people from coming into the workforce.
I do not believe the official unemployment rate is the proper indicator one should be looking at to measure the government's performance in job creation. It should be the total number of net jobs created.
The opposition parties are saying that the government should provide tax relief. By giving Canadians tax relief, more disposable funds would be available for them to make purchases and this would stimulate the economy.
I would like to draw the House's attention to the low interest rates which have the same effect. The government has managed the economy and has been able to reduce the deficit. It has shown responsible fiscal management and interest rates have dropped dramatically. They are at their lowest of the last several years.
I have two examples of the savings and benefits that people can obtain. I quote a Royal Bank report from October 1996 on home ownership indicating that a five-year $100,000 mortgage has a payment of $765 per month. The same mortgage for the same term except for the higher interest rate in 1990 required monthly payments of $1,200. The Royal Bank indicates that this is the equivalent to receiving an $8,000 raise in salary. This is as a consequence of the lower interest rates.
Similarly, on a new car loan of $15,000 over a four-year period, the lower interest rates today are resulting in savings of almost $500 per year. Again, that is an example of where money is being made available and is being freed up as a consequence of the fiscal management of the government and the lower interest rates.
It has been necessary to have certain cuts in spending in certain programs that have led to the reduction of the deficit. That leads to the more favourable interest rates. Now that the deficit is being reduced and is below the finance minister's targets, he is able to start paying the dividend for the suffering that all Canadians had to endure over the last few years to reach this point.
This budget shows Liberal vision. It shows Liberal values. The investments being made are in areas of child poverty, education, benefits for the disabled, research and development and also for the community action program for children.
CAPC is a program that is receiving increased funding when it was scheduled to receive a reduction in funding. The community groups and agencies in my riding with which I have met were very concerned about the scheduled reduction in funding. I am sure they will be very happy to see that the CAPC program is not going to be reduced but will be increased.