Mr. Speaker, I see everyone is very happy that I am getting up on debate and I too am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-52 at report stage. It has been a long road but here we are at report stage.
The bill proposes to implement certain measures from budget 2007 along with other tax initiatives along with other tax initiatives that were announced prior to the budget.
I would like to start today by giving a quick tour of the key themes and messages of budget 2007. I will then outline the key measures in Bill C-52 and illustrate how they fit into the big picture.
Today, Canada is strong. Canada's new government has a plan to make it even better for tomorrow. The measures in budget 2007 will help up achieve that goal. It will do so by delivering on the commitments made in “Advantage Canada”, the government's long term economic plan for Canada.
It takes historic action to restore fiscal balance with the provinces and territories by investing an additional $39 billion over the next seven years. These important investments are made in things that matter to Canadians: a modern health care system, a strengthened post-secondary education system, new child care spaces, a clean environment, an approach to labour market training that is more responsive to the needs of Canadians, and infrastructure like roads, bridges and public transit.
Budget 2007 builds on action from budget 2006 by further reducing the tax burden in Canada to make it easier for working families to get ahead and stay ahead through initiatives such as the tax back guarantee and our working families tax plan.
This year's budget cracks down on corporate tax avoiders to restore fairness to Canada's tax system. It invests in the social priorities that have come to define Canada as one of the truly great and caring nations of the world. In short, budget 2007 is an ambitious catalyst for action that builds upon the tremendous progress we made in our government's first budget.
This budget is about making our strong economy even stronger. We know that by creating a climate of hope and opportunity, and providing the necessary tools so Canadians from all walks of life can reach their full potential, Canada can be an example to the rest of the world, an example of a truly great and prosperous nation, an example of a compassionate and benevolent nation.
Canada's new government aspires to a stronger, safer and better Canada. Budget 2007 is a path to those ends.
Bill C-52 gives effect to the policies and programs that will get us there. A key element of budget 2007 is the restoration of fiscal balance with the provinces and territories and Canadian taxpayers.
Bill C-52 proposes to legislate key budget measures on fiscal balance, delivering on the specific commitments made in budget 2006 regarding fiscal balance and going even further. Through these measures fiscal balance is restored in a principled way, in a national context, and by respecting existing agreements and commitments.
To begin, the fiscal balance is being restored with the provinces and territories by putting transfers on a long term principles-based footing.
Bill C-52 proposes to legislate renewed and strengthened equalization and territorial formula financing programs that will provide more money over the next two years to eligible provinces and the three territories.
It also proposes to renew and strengthen the Canada social transfer making it fair by providing the same support to all Canadians regardless of where they reside and by making significant new investments in support of post-secondary education and children.
The budget also takes another step toward restoring fiscal balance with Canadian taxpayers through major tax reductions and the tax back guarantee. I will come back to the tax reduction point in a moment.
Moreover, we are making governments more accountable to Canadians by clarifying roles and responsibilities, and we have strengthened the economic union based on the plans set out in “Advantage Canada”.
Canada's new government has said all along that Canadians pay too much tax. We have not just talked about doing something about it, we have done something about it in our very first budget last year and again this year in budget 2007.
Since coming to office, Canada's new government has taken action that provides almost $38 billion in tax relief for individual Canadians. Over this year and the next two years, there will be $38 billion in additional tax relief. This kind of action illustrates our commitment to deliver on our promise to reduce taxes for Canadians.
Budget 2007 not only takes historic action to restore fiscal balance in Canada, but provides significant tax relief for individuals, with a focus on supporting working families with children. For example, budget 2007, through Bill C-52, would introduce the working income tax benefit and the working families tax plan. The working income tax benefit would build on the recent progress made in lowering the so-called welfare wall, notably for families with children, through the federal, provincial, territorial national child benefit initiative.
For some Canadians, the working income tax benefit could represent the difference between being better off and worse off as a result of taking a job. For example, a single parent who takes a job, before the bill is passed, can lose almost 80¢ of each dollar earned to taxes and reduced income support, and that is not accounting for additional work related expenses or the loss of in kind benefits.
The working income tax benefit would reward work and strengthen incentives to work for more than $1.2 million low income Canadians by providing up to $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals. To help Canadian families get ahead, the working families tax plan would also introduce a new $2,000 per child tax credit for children under 18. The new child tax credit would benefit about three million taxpayers. What is more, it would take up to 180,000 low income Canadians off the tax rolls and would provide more than 90% of taxpaying families with the maximum benefit of $310 per child.
We also propose to increase the spousal amount to the same level as the basic personal amount. We also, in the bill, enact the tax fairness plan, which delivers over $1 billion in additional tax savings annually for Canadian pensioners and seniors, including income splitting.
We also, as I mentioned earlier, in this bill have the tax back guarantee. This means that the government guarantees that it will use the interest savings from national debt repayments to reduce personal income taxes.
We also have invested in the health care system, the 10 year plan to strengthen health care, which provides $41.3 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories. In this budget we built on that commitment with Canada Health Infoway and with other measures. We also have invested in a cleaner, healthier and safer environment.
I urge the House to support the bill and the measures in it, which would take our country forward in a better and stronger way, and will be helpful for all Canadians, whatever their situation.