Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell.
I want to start by addressing the fact that I personally feel this is the best budget that the people of Canada, and particularly the people of Alberta, have seen for a generation.
For far too long, we have suffered at the hands of a Liberal government that chose the privileged class over hard-working Albertans who work 60 hours a week to keep our province prosperous. For far too long, we Albertans have had to deal with Liberal governments that chose to pit one region against another for partisan purposes. For far too long, Alberta has suffered at the hands of fiscal mismanagement from successive Liberal governments that promised everything and delivered nothing. At the end of the day, they just did not get the job done.
Turning the page, however, today is a great day for Canadians. With the release of budget 2007, Canadians will finally have fiscal balance. Thanks to Canada's new government, we have rectified Liberal negligence by providing a budget that has something in it for everyone. From families to farmers to seniors to military personnel, this budget leaves no rock unturned.
Canada's new government is giving back to Canadians. We are putting money back where it belongs: in the hands of hard-working Canadians.
In the province of Alberta alone, fiscal balance is being restored with over $3 billion in 2007-08. Our government is giving provinces the resources they need to deliver the front line services that matter to all Canadians.
Finally, we have a government that respects the role of the Constitution and the role of municipalities and the provinces.
During my first term in office, I have had the privilege of knocking on many doors. One such door I want to tell a quick story about was in Redwater. I was talking to a nice young lady by the name of Carrie Fischer. When I knocked on her door, I asked if I could go in and elicit her support. She said certainly, but she had a message she wanted to give me first. I sat down at her kitchen table, across from her three young children, and listened to her talk about how she felt she had been mistreated for years by the Canadian system of taxation. She felt that as a married mother who stays at home to look after her children she had been penalized because her husband goes off to work.
I am proud that our Prime Minister has listened to those people sitting around kitchen tables. Hard-working families are the backbone of this country and Canada's new government recognizes this.
Families in Alberta and across the nation will enjoy a new $2,000 child tax credit that will provide more than three million families with tax relief of up to $310 per child. In Alberta, parents will save an estimated $173.2 million.
Albertan families will also enjoy a new “working income tax benefit” of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. This will benefit Alberta workers, with over $55.2 million going back into their pockets.
That is not all. Alberta residents will save roughly $30.2 million with an increase in the basic spousal amount that will provide tax relief of up to $209 to a supporting spouse or a single taxpayer supporting a child or relative.
Alberta taxpayers will also save $13.5 million with an increase in the RRSP and registered pension plan maturation age limit from 69 to 71 years of age. This is well over $272 million back in the hands of Alberta families alone.
The buck does not stop there. Canada's new government is just getting started.
Farmers and homegrown biofuel producers will also have their fair share of what it means to have a government that not only listens to their problems but also acts on those problems.
One billion dollars will be committed to farmers for the improvement of national farm income programs. Of that commitment, $600 million will go toward contributory-style producer savings accounts.
This is exactly what farmers in my area are asking for. In Westlock--St. Paul, we have some of the most progressive, advanced, hard-working farmers in the world. They feel they need a system like this. They feel that we need to make some of these changes to help get rid of the CAIS program and move on to a new style of program. This is exactly what they are looking for.
While there will be an additional $400 million paid directly to producers to help address high production costs, Alberta farmers will receive roughly $210 million of these initiatives. That is $1 billion and $210 million more than the Liberals ever gave Canadian and Alberta farmers respectively.
Homegrown biofuels producers will also be able to put their hands on the money, given the $2 billion in incentives for renewable fuel production over a seven year span. A renewable fuels operating incentive program will bring stability, allowing the domestic ethanol and biodiesel industry to finally flourish and compete with national and international markets.
The program will provide 10¢ per litre for domestic renewable gasoline, ethanol, and 20¢ per litre for domestic renewable diesel production for the first three years. By bringing over 20 new world class biofuels facilities to Canada and creating over 14,000 new jobs in rural communities, this provides a new market for over 200 million bushels of Canadian grains and oilseeds.
I had the privilege this summer of going around my riding to many town hall meetings and talking to hundreds of different producers. All of them were very hopeful that we would not go just partway in the budget, that we would not just promise something, give a little bit of what was promised in the first year and 20 years later have it all doled out when it is too late.
Our producers wanted us to do it and to do it right the first time. I am proud to say that our Minister of Finance has heard that message loud and clear and our Prime Minister has endorsed it. These initiatives are exactly what our agricultural producers have been looking for.
I would be very remiss if I did not speak on one of the most pertinent issues in my riding: the men and women of our armed forces. It has been my biggest privilege as a member of Parliament in this first 14 months to serve and to have the opportunity to deal with many of the men and women from CFB Edmonton and from CFB Four Wing, Cold Lake. I have taken a lot of time to listen to what these men and women have to say to us and to what they have to tell their government.
I want to tell another quick story. When I was in Bon Accord during the campaign, I was knocking on doors. Like most politicians, I was a little nervous at the beginning. A man walked up to me and said, “Is that a politician coming up here? If it is, I've got something to tell him”. He happened to be a sergeant in our armed forces, with over 20 years' experience. He was very perturbed. He said that we send our armed forces over there and give them difficult missions, which they do not mind, and they do not mind being worked hard or being put in harm's way because that is why they signed up, but he said they do mind us not giving them the means, the tools and the equipment to do their jobs properly.
I am proud to say that I had the opportunity to go back this summer to talk to that same gentleman. He thanked me and wanted me to pass on the message to the Prime Minister or whoever is in charge of it, because at the end of the day the forces got what was most important to them: the tools and the equipment they need to do their job properly.
I am proud to say that we are putting in $60 million per year to level out the allowances paid to soldiers serving in army field units. This is very important for the men and women of CFB Edmonton. There is also $10 million for operational stress injury clinics, showing that we are concerned about the men and women not just while they are in theatre but also when they are out of theatre.
There is $19 million going to the veterans ombudsman to help ensure the enhancement of the veterans' bill of rights. Probably most important, as I have already stated, there is $175 million in budget 2007-08 for the Canadian Forces Canada first defence plan.
I am running out of time. The budget has so many tremendous things to talk about, but I will wrap up by mentioning municipalities. I served as a town councillor in the community of Barrhead and had the privilege of dealing with many of the concerns that come forward at the local level. One of the biggest concerns is that municipalities are never given the funding or the tools to do their job.
Once again, our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance have listened to this. They have brought forward $16 billion in infrastructure over a seven year period. They have also brought forward $2 billion per year to municipalities from 2010 to 2013 by extending the gas tax fund transfer. Most important for Albertans, they have increased the transfer by $171 million by per capita funding. That is very important.
It is a privilege to speak to the budget. I look forward to taking questions.