Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Edmonton—Spruce Grove.
“Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth”, that is what budget 2010 is doing for Canada, and that is what I heard in Newmarket—Aurora during my prebudget consultations. My constituents wanted to see their government lead the way on jobs and growth.
Seniors, families, single parents, entrepreneurs, and youth all came out to have their say on what was important to them, what they felt would help improve their lives, and what they wanted their government to do on their behalf. Our government listened and we delivered a jobs and growth budget.
I think it is important to remember that this budget is an extension of the prudent management and vision our government has consistently demonstrated. Entrepreneurs and business leaders know, and they are the generators of jobs and economic wealth, that to be successful one has to have a solid long-range plan.
I remind the House that back in 2006, our government laid out a strategic long-term economic plan called “Advantage Canada”. It was a plan that charted our country's future course. It was a road map that acknowledged we were in a transition economy, one that was evolving to new jobs of the future, requiring new skills and a new way of thinking. It mapped out and answered these questions: where do we need to go and how will we get there?
We set out to strengthen our nation; show a modern, ambitious and dynamic Canada to the world; create jobs; help entrepreneurs start businesses; and provide the wealth Canada needs to invest in health care and strong communities.
This contrasts with members of the opposition, especially those on the Liberal benches, who have no long-term plan and each day decide to take on a new issue to discuss. Our government chose to take a solid long-range view to planning.
How did we do it compared to the rest of the world? As members know, we were one of the last countries in the world to enter the recession and one of the first to come out. The International Monetary Fund predicts that Canada's economic growth will be the best of all G7 countries in 2010-11.
We recognize the challenges facing us. The world economy is changing. New players are emerging as major economic powers, and competition in the world markets is fierce. These are challenges we set out to meet head-on. We also said that as we adapted these global changes would also bring tremendous new opportunities for Canadians.
In 2006 we identified five advantages for Canada and set our road map to translate these into opportunities. These five pillars were the following. Our tax advantage included reducing taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Our fiscal advantage was aimed at continuing to eliminate our debt, even after we recover from the recession, and creating a strong foundation on which to build sustainable prosperity.
I am proud to say that before the recession hit we were able to reduce our debt by a record $38 billion, allowing for that interest saving to be reinvested. Our entrepreneurial advantage aimed to reduce regulation and red tape, and build a more competitive business environment. Our knowledge advantage was aimed at creating the best educated, most skilled, and most flexible workforce in the world.
Our infrastructure advantage included creating modern world-class infrastructure to ensure the seamless flow of people, goods, and services across our roads and bridges, through our ports and gateways, and through public transit.
Budget 2010 is a continuation of this work that is helping us achieve these goals. We are making great progress. We are on target to establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Our goal of cutting paperwork by 20% for businesses has been met. That is a record of which we can all be proud.
I know what it takes to run a small business and I understand what it takes to create jobs. As a business owner, I had to plan and execute my business strategy or I would no longer be in business. Our government takes the same approach, for we cannot finance the programs Canadians rely on without taking care of the revenue generation.
The recession, which none of us expected, may have slowed down the implementation of advantage Canada. However, instead of throwing up our hands at this unanticipated course of events, our government reacted assuredly and with a plan. We did this by bringing forward fiscal stimulus that was targeted, timely and temporary in our economic action plan. Throughout this economic crisis, we maintained our objectives and our long-term goals.
Some adjustments had to be made because of the global economic situation. For example, we saw our investments expedited through the economic action plan, which has seen 19,000 infrastructure projects initiated across the country. I submit that by rising to the challenge, we have given Canadians and the world confidence that Canada is a great place in which to invest.
I would also like to point out that prior to budget 2010, our government undertook one of the largest prebudget consultations in history. We invited ordinary Canadians to share their thoughts, suggestions and priorities with us. I personally held a prebudget consultation town hall in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora and held numerous round tables and drop-ins.
I can personally attest that the input I received was duly considered by our Minister of Finance. In fact, many of the suggestions put forward in my riding were contained in budget 2010. Suggestions such as conducting value-for-money audits of departmental spending, strengthening the laws governing intellectual property and copyrights, and launching a digital economy strategy were all submitted by residents of Newmarket and Aurora.
The strategic investments our government has been making through our economic action plan are paying off. New jobs, new partnerships and new products have resulted from investments such as that involving the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce which received assistance from the community partnership fund.
That project involves a unique partnership between the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce, the Newmarket Public Library, Southlake Regional Health Centre and the town of Newmarket and has created shared digital infrastructure. Not only did this project create immediate jobs, but it was leveraged so that the chamber now works with local businesses to assist them in opening new markets and developing a competitive edge in the knowledge-based economy.
Small and medium size businesses employ half of Canada's workforce and are leading the way out of the recession. Budget 2010's commercialization innovation program for small and medium size companies will also support this sector by helping these companies develop and market new technology, thereby creating new markets and new jobs.
This is just one of the many specific strategic actions that our government is taking to help businesses today create the jobs of the future. A jobs and growth budget: that is what we planned and that is what we have put forward.