Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to speak in support of the 2007 Speech from the Throne. From the moment the speech started, I knew that it was a defining moment for not only our government, but also all Canadians. And I was not disappointed with the vision this government has for Canada's future.
Canadians have every reason to be proud of their country and of what we have accomplished. We have worked together to build a nation that serves as model for the rest of the world. Advantage Canada, our government's long-term economic plan, is based on sound fiscal management. Canadians now want a government that will help them build on this heritage, a government that sets clear objectives and that gets real results.
To meet those expectations, our government set out in the Speech from the Throne, its vision of a Canada based on the following five priorities: strengthening Canada’s sovereignty and place in the world; strengthening the federation and our democratic institutions; providing effective economic leadership for a prosperous future; tackling crime and strengthening the security of Canadians; improving the environment and the health of Canadians. In the final analysis, Canadians want a government that will be accountable for its actions and their results. They want a government that gives priority to Canadians and their families.
Today, Canadians are holding on to a bigger share of their income because we have reduced taxes, including income taxes. Families have a real choice in terms of day care thanks to the universal child care benefit. Canadians can now count on a government that is determined to help them receive the medical care they need more quickly, and a government that is tackling crime and strengthening the security of our cities.
All of these matters are of great importance to Canadians. That is why they elected our government: to improve conditions for them and their families. Canadians want a government that gets concrete results. Thanks to the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister, our government is getting those results. The economic and fiscal update this fall will spell out our progress toward achieving those objectives.
Let us stop for a moment to reflect on some of the initiatives launched by our government to show how we are investing in our families. In terms of taxation, for example, we have delivered or announced tax reductions amounting to more than $41 billion over three years for Canadian companies and individuals. The family is the basic unit of our society and our government will continue to support our families and help them to achieve their dreams of a better and more secure future.
One of the first measures taken by our government in its first budget was to honour our promise to reduce the GST. We immediately reduced it to 6%, which was an important step because it really was a reduction with general application. It affects all Canadians, whether individuals or families. In the Speech from the Throne last Tuesday, the government announced that it will deliver the second part of its election promise and will reduce the GST to 5%. Our government keeps its promises.
In the 2006 budget, we also introduced the universal child care benefit to provide support for families.
This plan is giving families the resources to make the choices that will enable them to balance work and family as they see fit, regardless of where they live, their particular circumstances or their preferences.
With Advantage Canada, the government has committed to working with the provinces and territories to do away with the social security trap by implementing the working income tax benefit to make work more profitable for low- and middle-income Canadians.
The working income tax benefit is designed to make work more lucrative and attractive for approximately 1.2 million Canadians who are already part of the workforce and to encourage them to keep working. Moreover, we expect that the working income tax benefit will encourage about 60,000 more people to join the workforce.
In Budget 2007, the government followed up on the group's recommendations by announcing a new registered disability savings plan to help parents save money to ensure the financial security of their severely disabled children. This plan, the first of its kind in Canada, will ensure the financial security of disabled children, improve their quality of life, and bring peace of mind to their parents.
The tax fairness plan allows pension income splitting for pensioners. This initiative will give families a greater incentive to save and invest their money to ensure their financial independence following retirement.
As I said earlier, our government will continue to invest in our families and our future. As we said in the Speech from the Throne, we are committed to helping those who want to escape the hardships of homelessness and poverty. As you know, the new homelessness partnering strategy came into effect on April 1, 2007. The strategy's $269.9 million over two years will promote new structures and support measures to help the homeless and people at risk create a better, safer future for themselves.
We have accomplished great things, but we still have a lot to do. Our government believes that families, individuals and businesses are still paying too much tax.