Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in debate today. I would like to take a moment to recognize the hon. member for Brant. I believe this was his maiden speech in the House, and certainly, we can see why he was elected by the good people of Brant. I congratulate him.
I would like to spend some of my time today in drawing attention to the aspects of the economic action plan that will directly benefit the residents of South Shore—St. Margaret's, my riding in Nova Scotia.
The plan will have a significant impact on the province of Nova Scotia. We will see an increase in federal transfers. We will see improvements to our infrastructure. We will see tax relief. We will see a strengthened province of Nova Scotia emerge from these turbulent economic times.
Nova Scotia will receive support through major federal transfers in 2009-10. This long-term growing support helps ensure that the province has the resources required to provide essential public services and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social safety net.
Total federal support for Nova Scotia since our government came to power has increased 14% and will continue to grow. Total federal support reached $2.7 billion in 2008-09, a $363 million increase from 2005-06. Nova Scotia this year will receive $1.5 billion in equalization and the accord offsets this year, a 14% increase from when the Liberals were in government. By having equalization grow in line with the economy, we ensure the program remains sustainable and affordable, something I think all Canadians would support.
Nova Scotia will also benefit from an initial Crown share settlement payment of $234 million this year. Our government has guaranteed that Nova Scotia is the chief beneficiary of its offshore resources. The Crown's share settlement payment along with those offshore resources signifies Nova Scotia's share of those resources, something which the previous government refused to share with the province of Nova Scotia.
$334 million in gas tax rebate funding for 2007-14 has begun flowing and will flow to Nova Scotia municipalities through the extension of the gas tax agreement from 2010-14. That is $334 million over a seven year period going directly into Nova Scotia municipalities. Even as Nova Scotia sees above average natural resource revenues, we will protect its equalization and accord offsets from declining under the current formula, with fiscal capacity measured exactly as in 2005.
Aggregate entitlements continue to grow by 3.5%. We are protecting transfer support to Nova Scotia. Federal financing to the province of Nova Scotia will be assured, dependable and predictable. Health transfers will continue to grow by 6%. Social transfers will continue to grow by 3%.
Nova Scotia will also benefit from continued, targeted support in 2009-10, including $46 million as its share of the following: the $1.5 billion clean air and climate change trust, the $1 billion community development trust, the $612 million patient wait times guarantee trust, the $500 million public transit capital trust, the $400 million police officers retirement fund and the $300 million HPV immunization trust.
All of those funds and trusts continue to give dollars to Nova Scotia and continue to help the citizens of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia will receive $14 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year and new funding to provinces and territories beginning in 2008-09. Nova Scotia will benefit from the increased funding for infrastructure. We will be accelerating and expanding recent historic investments in infrastructure with almost $12 billion in new infrastructure spending over five years.
That type of investment by the Government of Canada will provide Nova Scotia with its share of the $4.5 billion over two years for infrastructure projects such as bridge rehabilitation on the national highway system. It will accelerate payments up to $75 million over two years for infrastructure projects in Nova Scotia alone and provide $3.9 million in one instance alone for harbour development at the lower east Pubnico wharf.
I, along with the member for West Nova, worked on this project. Although it is outside of my riding in Nova Scotia, this is a great project and the type of project that will ensure that the fishery will continue to prosper and gain momentum in Nova Scotia and not become some relic of the past. By investing in our coastal communities and the wharf, we can ensure that the fishery that starts at the wharf has a wharf to return to, the processing industry remains strong and that it continues to be a viable part of Nova Scotia's economy.
There is action in the budget to support businesses and communities, addressing short term economic challenges facing sectors, such as forestry, regions and communities as a result of the global economic crisis. Let us be clear. There is a global economic crisis. We need to be very much aware and very careful where the future takes us.
Support for the forestry sector alone is $170 million nationally over two years. The budget invests $500 million nationally in the agriculture industry. I listened to the former member say that there was nothing in the budget for agriculture. Half a billion dollars on top of the money we have already invested in agriculture is a significant investment. There is support for shipyards, with $175 million invested nationally.
This budget will invest $246 million nationally in cultural and arts programming and the tourism industry.
All of us in this place have a political bias. All of us tend to want to support, first, our constituencies; second, our provinces; and third, our national party. We look at the local picture, the micro-picture and the macro-picture of what is going on in the nation.
I seldom quote other writers in my speeches in the House but this time most of the budget and what it means to the ordinary man and woman on the street trying to work for a living, trying to make ends meet and trying to raise their families in Canada has been neatly written up by Ray Turchansky in the Edmonton Journal. He says, “The basic amount”, in addition to government stimulus, “the budget hoped to give people the impetus to save and then to spend”.
I think those are very correct and wise words. The basic personal amount, on which we pay no federal tax, already slated to go up from $9,600 to $10,100 due to indexing, now goes to $10,320, after which we pay 15% tax.
The 22% tax bracket started at $37,885 in 2008. It was indexed to $38,832 and now opens at $40,727. The 26% bracket that began at $75,769 last year was already bumped up to $77,664 and now starts at $81,452 this year. These are major tax reductions for Canadians who are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. This, along with the 15% tax credit for people 65 and over, applied to an age amount of $5,276 last year, indexed to $5,408 and now stands at $6,408. These have been a major improvements to the taxation system.
There have been changes and gains to RRSPs and RRIFs. First-time home buyers acquiring or qualifying for a home can get a 15% tax credit on $5,000.
This is a good budget. It is good for Canadians and certainly good for people in my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's. I urge all opposition members to lay partisan politics aside and support the budget.