Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to respond to the motion of the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.
Let me preface my comments by stating that I am in no way intending to diminish the challenges facing the manufacturing or the forestry sectors. Rather I want to clearly show Canada the hypocrisy of the member's motion and underscore the radical socialist agenda that the NDP is trying to peddle to Canadians.
Let me state at the onset that the government takes the issues facing the manufacturing industry very seriously and we are addressing them head on. We have brought forward billions of dollars in assistance and every time the NDP has voted against these measures.
What is key to the manufacturing sector and the forestry sector is the need to have the right economic fundamentals so our companies and firms can put their full attention and efforts into responding to these world challenges. It is clear that Canadian manufacturers are determined to compete and succeed in the global economy. The NDP does not seem to comprehend that if Canada does not have an internationally competitive economy and tax structure, Canada will not attract new investment, the economy will go into recession and jobs, which rhetorically the NDP members say they would like to defend, will dry up.
When the economic fundamentals are working, businesses have the best opportunity to make their mark and succeed.
Thanks to this Conservative government, the fundamentals of Canadian economy are working and jobs are being created. While other global economies are experiencing uncertainty, we are alone in the G-7 in maintaining ongoing budget surpluses and falling debt burden. Our unemployment is at the lowest in 33 years and our overall employment grew by roughly 360,000 jobs in 2007.
Yes, there are challenges, but also opportunity to ensure that all Canadians share in the benefit from our economic success. Certainly this desire extends to include the manufacturing sector overall. It is not an easy task. While the new jobs generated by our economic gains in thriving sectors offset losses in other sectors, the problem is more complex than that. Otherwise the significant measures the government has introduced to encourage skill development, such as the apprenticeship tax credit and the apprenticeship incentive grants, would represent a sufficient response. However, in a country as large and diverse as Canada, these challenges have a real and profound impact on small communities that have come to rely upon a particular manufacturing plant or mill.
The government took action to respond to these kinds of adjustment pressures. The $1 billion community development trust represents our government's support for provincial and territorial efforts to build a stronger, more prosperous future for communities and workers affected by current economic volatility. The trust allows provinces and territories the flexibility to invest in those projects that best help vulnerable communities and individuals, while respecting Canada's international obligations.
Do not take my word for it. Five provinces, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador, have stepped up to leverage the money provided in the trust since it was announced on January 10. We have every confidence this money will be put to good use. By working together, the federal, provincial and territorial governments can best help take the economic challenges we face today and turn them into economic opportunities tomorrow.
The community development trust is one way the government has responded to the needs of workers, businesses and regions affected by economic difficulties.
Despite the NDP's rhetoric, the government has delivered much more. Conservatives delivered the targeted initiative for older workers, which the government seeded with $72.5 million from budget 2006 and has recently expanded with a further $90 million source from budget 2008. Here is another initiative to be delivered at the community level.
Canadian industry needs the skills and knowledge of workers 55 to 64 years of age, especially in the communities that rely upon single industries. While these workers are laid off because of the economic problems in the industry, we need to find some way to keep their knowledge and skills in the labour market.
These are examples of ways in which we have taken tangible action to address the challenges the hon. member mentions in his motion, but we have done much more.
The hon. member refers to tax measures. His motion falsely insinuates that our tax policies do not benefit Canadian companies in all sectors, including those in manufacturing and in forestry. Only the NDP cannot comprehend that cuts to the general corporate tax rate are advantageous to manufacturing and forestry companies. These tax cuts will help manufacturing and forestry companies be more competitive, create wealth and, most important, create jobs for ordinary Canadians.
With the tax measures introduced by the government, manufacturers and processors will receive over $9 billion in tax relief by 2012-13. Our initiatives will give Canada the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7 by 2010. Furthermore, we have also extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sector for three additional years.
This was a key recommendation of a unanimous 2007 industry, science and technology report, supported by the NDP member for Windsor West. When it came time to stand up and be counted, the radical socialists voted against their own critic's recommendations. It is unbelievable.
We have allocated $33 billion to the building Canada infrastructure plan, including $2.3 billion for trade related infrastructure and $2.1 billion for gateways and corridors, of which at least $400 million will be in support of a new Windsor-Detroit crossing, an important crossing for manufacturers.
Our 2008 budget also has introduced improvements to the SR and ED tax credit program and provides $34 million more per year for collaborate research for specific industries, including manufacturing, important elements that will contribute to improving innovation so Canadian companies can compete with the best.
For auto manufacturers, we are investing $250 million over five years to support R and D projects that will produce green automotive technologies. Coming from Oshawa, I know how important that is.
We are also helping our manufacturers to extend their business globally. We have improved Export Development Canada's export guarantee program to assist small and medium sized manufacturers in fulfilling export contracts. This is in addition to the $174 million over two years to increase security and minimize delays at our borders. These measures brought forward by this Conservative government will surely benefit our industries, including manufacturing and forestry, attract new investments and will create jobs in Canada.
For the forestry industry, we have resolved the costly and prolonged softwood lumber dispute. The agreement eliminates U.S. countervailing and anti-dumping duties. It brings an end to costly litigation. It protects provincial forest management policies and it has returned over $5 billion to Canadian producers. Again, sadly, the NDP voted against this deal.
We have also provided $127.5 million to strengthen the long term competitiveness of the sector and a further $200 million to facilitate action to combat the mountain pine beetle.
We have provided $25 million for a forest communities program that will assist 11 forest based communities to make informed decisions on the forest land base. Budget 2008 allocated $10 million over two years to promote Canada's forestry industry to international markets as a model of environmental innovation and sustainability.
Over the past two years this Conservative government, led by our Prime Minister, has indeed taken important steps to set the overall business climate so our industries can grow and become more globally competitive.
What today underscores is the hypocrisy of the NDP toward Canada's manufacturing and forestry industry and workers and the radical socialist agenda that it is trying to peddle to Canadians. However, Canadians will not have the wool pulled over their eyes. Canadians know this government is showing leadership and is delivering for manufacturers and forestry workers and industry when it needs it the most. It is the NDP that must stop playing games with the lives of workers and should start supporting the government's endeavours.