Mr. Speaker, we have taken a number of steps and a number of initiatives to ensure that we can address the issue of poverty. We have not just looked at reports or talked about it; we have actually taken concrete steps that have had meaningful results and have had an impact.
Our view is that the best way to fight poverty is to get Canadians working, and our economic action plan is doing just that by helping grow our economy and increasing the number of jobs. In fact ,we have created over 400,000 jobs since July 2009. We have done a number of things such as preserving and protecting jobs by job sharing. Over 250,000 jobs were protected.
We absolutely have made sure that the economy will go forward. We have reduced taxes. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We have reduced taxes right across the board. We have ensured that an average Canadian family of four will have $3,000 more in its pockets than it would otherwise have had under the previous government. We have done a number of things in that direction.
We have invested moneys to ensure that people get the skills and training they need so they can get jobs that will be meaningful to them and will help them along.
Every action we have taken has been to help Canadians and their families become independent.
We have introduced an interesting benefit called the working income tax benefit, to make work pay and help low income Canadians over the welfare wall. It helped over 900,000 people in the first year.
I can say that regarding members of the member's party, the Liberal member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour had this to say:
I support very much the direction on the WITB. I think improving the working income tax benefit is a very positive thing.
While we were at the human resources committee, the then minister of children and youth, Deb Matthews said:
...I was happy to see in the budget that there are some initiatives that will directly improve the quality of life and the standard of living for kids living in poverty. The increase to the WITB will directly help low-income families. Thank you for that. The housing initiatives are, of course, very helpful. The increase in the CCTB is also appreciated.
That is one initiative that has been particularly helpful.
At the human resources committee, Ken Battle, the president of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, said that the working income tax benefit is “very important in terms of reducing poverty among the working poor, who make up about half of low income Canadians”.
As I have mentioned, we have invested about $4 billion in training to help over 1.2 million Canadians.
We have also increased the amount that families in the two lowest personal income tax brackets can earn before paying taxes.
We have taken a number of initiatives with respect to housing. It is important to ensure that people have a place to stay and a roof over their heads. We have invested $2 billion to repair and build new social housing. We have provided specific amounts for seniors and for persons with disabilities, and specific amounts for first nations and those in the north. These have all been very significant amounts of money. We have close to 9,000 projects completed or under way under the economic action plan.
All of these are steps to ensure that there is more funding.