Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my speaking time with my colleague, the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission.
At lunchtime today, I had the privilege of addressing the Outaouais chamber of commerce to outline the government's budget plan and principles. As we know, most businesspeople experience the daily reality not only of the constraints and obligations imposed by corporate budgets but also the possibilities created by such budgets.
Of course, the Canadian government's budget is much more complex than that of the companies and institutions whose representatives I met at this luncheon today. Nevertheless, the budget unveiled by the Minister of Finance last week and the budgets that our businesspeople and family heads may be preparing have something fundamental in common: when the goal is fuzzy, the means to achieve this goal cannot be efficient. In other words, both in the House of Commons and in the chamber of commerce, a clear vision and a specific plan are required. Above all, courage and determination to follow through are necessary, even when the times are hard, and especially when they are.
From the three budgets we have brought down since we took office, it is clear that our government is following a specific course based on sound principles.
The first principle is the following: Canadians are overtaxed, and Canada's debt load is too high. From its inception, the Conservative Party has voiced that conviction. Now that we are in government, we are taking decisive action to reduce the tax burden of all Canadians and pay down the national debt.
The steps our government has taken to date will produce $200 billion in tax relief this year and over the next five years, $140 billion of which will be for individuals. Never in the past 50 years has this country seen a lower tax rate.
In addition, taxes will continue to decline, thanks to our tax-back guarantee. So, as we pay down the federal debt, interest savings are being returned to Canadians in tax relief. Because are reducing the federal debt by more than $37 billion, including $10.2 billion this fiscal year, personal income tax reductions provided under the tax-back guarantee will amount to $2 billion.
We have reduced consumption taxes, income tax, corporate taxes, excise taxes and even taxes on savings through our new tax-free savings account.
The tax-free savings account is the single most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of the RRSP in 1957. It is the first account of its kind in Canadian history. It is a flexible, registered, general purpose account that will allow Canadians to watch their savings grow tax-free.
These measures will result in a rather significant improvement of the financial situation of all Canadians. And we are not stopping there. Over the coming years, our government will continue to reduce taxes and to repay the debt.
Our government also believes that we, as individuals, businesses and public administration, must live within our means. That is why we are currently conducting a thorough review of the expenditures of every federal department. That program review is also designed to improve the services provided to the public, and to ensure that these services reflect the priorities of Canadians.
We have reformed the employment insurance program so that it will adequately fulfill the role for which it was created. From now on, any surplus will be used to reduce EI premiums, and not to help out the government.
Here is another Conservative principle: initiative and effort are the best instruments to ensure the economic progress of society, and the financial security of individuals and families. Without private businesses and individual responsibilities, we simply cannot support a strong and sustainable economy. The government wants to ensure that Canada is a country of choice to launch a business and to make it grow.
Reducing our overall tax burden at the federal level is providing a terrific shot of adrenalin for the national economy. Actions taken by the government since 2006 are providing $21 billion in incremental tax relief to Canadians and Canadian businesses this year. This is a significant and substantial economic stimulus equivalent to 1.4% of Canada's GDP. As a share of the economy, this is significantly greater than the stimulus package offered by our American neighbours.
Given the increasingly stiffer international competition, we must take measures to encourage investments and to increase our competitive advantage.
Some may know the old joke, “How do you start a small business in Canada?”; the answer being, “Start with a big one and just wait”.
We are experiencing the opposite. And the best way to ensure that our businesses can maintain their viability, expand and conquer new markets is to relieve them of excessive taxes and regulations. That is why we abolished the federal tax on capital—