Mr. Speaker, I am very proud today to rise in the House of Commons and have the honour of speaking on Bill C-52. Unlike the previous speaker, I will focus on some really positive initiatives that I think Canadians are very proud of when they look at our government.
Once again, I am proud of the excellent work that the finance minister has done in constructing a budget that meets the needs of ordinary Canadians. Our budget package provides a plan that will aspire to create a stronger, safer and better Canada. This will be achieved through restoring fiscal balance, reducing the tax burden on working families, investing substantially to protect the environment, and promoting our health care system.
In communicating with my constituents from the riding of Edmonton—Strathcona, I have received tremendous support for this new budget. Edmontonians feel confident that Canada's new government is continuing to speak to their needs by providing a focused fiscal agenda, something the previous Liberal government failed to do for 13 years.
Specifically, budget 2007 speaks directly to the students at the University of Alberta, to business owners and entrepreneurs on Whyte Avenue, and to ordinary parents and grandparents who put a premium on family. It is these individuals who get up every morning and go to school and to work in order to better their lives and those around them. Canada's new government wants to help them be successful.
In the past, the previous government sought to impose one size fits all solutions for very real problems. Our vision is different.
Canada's new government does not claim to have the answer to every problem or to be better prepared to address all the problems ordinary Canadians have.
Canada's new government is willing to listen to Canadians, get an understanding of their issues and provide them with the resources necessary to achieve their goals and realize their dreams. That is what Canada's new government has done and what Canada's new government will continue to do.
Students at the University of Alberta will benefit exponentially from the money allocated in this year's budget. Building upon the targeted tax relief outlined last year, budget 2007 will invest substantially to improve Canada's post-secondary education system. Our government will allocate $1.3 billion to science and technology research, coupled with a 40% increase in funding for Canada's post-secondary institutions.
In addition, budget 2007 outlines 14 supplementary monetary investments that will specifically target areas of R and D, employment training and post-secondary scholarships. All of these investments will ensure students at the University of Alberta are receiving a world class education and the necessary skills to compete in a globalized economy.
I am proud to say that Canada's new Conservative government has once again delivered for students.
Students graduating from university, technical schools and other institutions of higher learning want to know that employment will be attainable immediately upon graduation. That is why budget 2007 proposes a number of measures that will enhance infrastructure and the necessary resources for business to succeed.
For example, a small business owner on Whyte Avenue in my constituency can expect to benefit from the government initiative to reduce the paper burden by 20%. Less time will be spent on excessive government red tape and bureaucracy, and more time can be spent on driving the economy, thus creating jobs.
Furthermore, the capital gains tax exemption for small business owners will be increased to $750,000 from $500,000. Undoubtedly, this will help business people in Edmonton--Strathcona reap additional benefits from their investments.
Additionally, budget 2007 speaks to the needs of ordinary families across Canada and in my riding of Edmonton--Strathcona. Since taking office, our government has always made working families a number one priority and I am proud that we have proven that once again in this budget.
Working families in my riding can expect to receive a new $2,000 per child tax credit for children under the age of 18, along with the elimination of the marriage penalty on single earning families.
Additionally, Canada's new government also wants to help parents save for their children's post-secondary education. That is why the Minister of Finance has transformed the RESP program to allow parents to contribute more on a yearly basis and has increased the lifetime contribution limit. Education is important to Canada's new government and we want to help parents help their children to succeed.
Finally, budget 2007 sets out comprehensive funding to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality. Undoubtedly this is something that will benefit all Edmontonians by making a cleaner, healthier environment.
Some examples of these environmental initiatives include: rebates of up to $2,000 on new fuel efficient vehicles; investments in biofuels; the $1.5 billion ecotrust to help clean up our land and water; $22 million to enforce environmental protection laws; and, of course, a new national water strategy.
In closing, I would like to say that the government cannot spend Canadians' money better than they can spend it themselves. This budget recognizes that Ottawa can do more with less and Canadians can do more with more.
I am delighted that my constituents finally have a government that recognizes the need to support them in their choices by giving them more resources with which to shape their own future.
In short, by offering a broad based fiscal plan that targets their specific needs, budget 2007 will make a difference in the lives of Canadians and particularly the lives of people in Edmonton—Strathcona.
I cannot emphasize enough the fact that I have heard from so many people who are pleased to see a focused fiscal plan. I have had a number of phone calls and emails over the last number of weeks and months since the budget was tabled in the House, with particular examples of how families feel that the government understands their concerns and needs. In particular, there is a breadth of knowledge and there is the diversity of my riding, with Canadians who range from seniors to students to business owners. They all feel that this budget was very focused in its delivery and that it aims to help a number of them.
In particular, I will emphasize the University of Alberta. It is clear from the work done in the previous budget and then in this budget that we can see the support this government is giving to the future, particularly when we see what is happening in Edmonton and in Alberta with their current economic growth and the challenges we are facing in managing that growth. This government has implemented a number of measures to support that growth and to build on it to enhance what is happening with all the growth in Alberta.
I think back to the last budget when we made simple changes that were never made by previous governments, one being to allow foreign students the chance to work off campus. So many of them come to this country looking for new opportunities.
My family still operates a small business, as members know. I had very humble beginnings before I came to this place. I ran a small business on Whyte Avenue for a number of years. A number of our family members and others benefited from this change last year, especially in a really hot labour market where we have had a challenge in finding and retaining people.
Now we are able to have that opportunity for students who are looking for new or better opportunities in coming to Canada. Not only is it an opportunity for them to make the most of their education, but it is also an opportunity for them to then afterwards get value from that education by being in the Canadian workforce. Hopefully many of them will decide to remain here in Canada and we will benefit from those skills.
Our government even has opened up the opportunity for them to be able to look at staying here. Unfortunately, the previous government talked a lot of talk when it came to immigration opportunities and supporting students, but it really delivered very little. That seems to be the legacy of the previous government. That is something we wanted to change when we took office.
We have had a Prime Minister and a finance minister with clear leadership. When they put certain directions or changes on the table it is to deliver real results. Not only have we seen that in the budget, but we have seen environmental changes put in place. The previous government's record is unacceptable. As I mentioned earlier to the member for Richmond, a 33% increase in emissions under the Kyoto protocol is not real results. We are looking to improve air quality and the health of Canadians in working with them to implement those changes.
That is why many of the changes we have implemented in budget 2007 will help to actually integrate Canadians in working with their governments and helping shift behaviour. Those changes will benefit Canadians in the long term with real results, something that has been missing in this country for a number of years. That is the type of feedback I am getting from my constituents, who are proud to see a government and a finance minister with the vision to lead, for a change, and not follow.