House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.


The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I was rather amused yesterday when, after the throne speech, the Conservative members began to talk about how they were going to approach innovation. They talked about having more government online programs, for example.

While the government has been in power now for four years, I do not think I have heard a single announcement about any government online program. As a matter of fact, one has to look back to the Liberal government of Paul Martin. When Reg Alcock was a member of Parliament, he was a big champion and driver of government online programs.

How the Conservatives expect this particular innovation to create jobs is beyond me. In fact, a government online program should actually reduce jobs.

It is still a good idea to have government online programs, and not only to provide information but also for transactions so that people in disadvantaged and rural areas can get the same services as people in a city by doing a transaction on a computer, as opposed to taking a bus, driving into a city, and standing in line at a government office to fill out a student aid application, for example.

I would like to see the government start moving ahead in this area rather than dragging its feet, which it has been doing for the last four years.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, we can talk about an online government providing different programs. However, those living in rural areas, the agricultural workers, the farm workers and people living in small communities in outlying areas do not have access to high-speed Internet services. It is not an issue for high-speed Internet service providers in densely populated areas such as downtown Quebec City or downtown Montreal, where they can have thousands of subscribers in a very small block.

The reality of those living in rural areas is very different. In my riding, in Saint-François and Sainte-Famille on l'Île d'Orléans, in some areas of Charlevoix, in Sagard and Sacré-Coeur in the Haute-Côte-Nord region, Internet services are not available. We are living in 2010 and we want certain citizens to live as though it were 1940, before the computer age. That is totally unacceptable and the government should take responsibility and ensure that all Quebeckers can have access to high-speed Internet service.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Kenora.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to enter into this debate.

Moments ago in question period, members of the opposition tried to make it impossible for me to ask a question of the justice minister. They continually shouted me down. They talk a lot about decorum and make a big issue about democracy and the right to have their voices heard, and yet I had a difficult time speaking while they tried to silence me. That leads directly into what I have to say in regard to this issue at hand.

I rise today to help slay the mythological beast that nips at the heels of our government. Many Canadians have come to believe that once a party forms government, the members of Parliament in that party no longer listen to the people they represent. Many believe that assuming power suddenly catapults MPs into such lofty heights that we cannot recognize and empathize with the needs of Canadians. I can assure Canadians that nothing is further from the truth. Every MP on our side of the House has his or her finger squarely on the pulse of his or her constituents' needs and priorities.

This February I toured my riding of Yorkton—Melville from top to bottom. I visited with taxpayers in more than 40 villages, towns and cities. After many cups of coffee and hundreds of conversations with the people I represent, I was reminded again that their concerns are the same as mine.

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to come out to see me. It does help me represent my constituency here in Ottawa. I appreciate the effort they made to come and talk with me.

Although some concerns are regional in their nature, the single overriding priority that my constituents agree on is the need to maintain jobs and economic growth.

While Canada is on the road to recovery and the envy of many countries around the world, Canadians are not hoodwinked into believing that we are out of the woods just yet.

Canadians are realists. We are pragmatic about the future. We know that blind faith is not the route to economic stability. Growth is not something we can hope for. It is something that is engineered through strategic government planning. It also happens to be something that the current government has been doing very well.

This government predicted the economic storm long before those dark clouds appeared, and as a result Canadians have enjoyed a relatively soft landing from the global recession. As we know, there is a price to pay for that soft landing but it would have been so much tougher if the landscape had been littered with the bodies of widespread bankruptcies and increased poverty.

We readily admit that Canada did not emerge completely unscathed from the international economic malaise, but most industrialized countries are in awe of our success. That success is due in no small part to Canada's economic action plan. That action plan is the difference between Canada and the countries that were hammered by the recession. That action plan is the difference between the policies of our government and the other parties in this place.

The action plan is the difference between Canadians who have jobs to go to and those who have been cast aside by our political adversaries. The good news is that Canada's economic action plan remains in place to strive for job stability and economic growth. We have the toolkit to bring this economic downturn to its knees.

Who could possibly suggest that the 12,000 stimulus projects under way across Canada do not affect job stability? Simple arithmetic will reveal that Canadians are working because this government helped keep them working, and it was meaningful work that improved Canada's infrastructure, recreation facilities, airports, commercial buildings and private residences.

Too often government job creation is a paternalistic exercise where paid workers dig holes and fill them in again. Our government had the vision to make meaningful employment opportunities work for everyone. Canada needs to continue building itself and the builders need Canada as a customer.

When I was travelling through my riding during February, I was reminded that the people of the Prairies pull no punches. They have concerns over old age pensions. They have concerns about the Canadian Wheat Board, concerns about cattle prices, concerns about the environment, concerns about developing our natural resources. They have a lot of concerns about crime and punishment, and many other issues.

One of the things that came up time after time was the gun registry, which is something that I have tracked for a long time. They asked me why the other parties are trying to throw sand in the gears. They asked me why they are trying at committee now to seek to do what they can to counter what the will of the House decided at second reading.

While some of these concerns are unique to the prairie provinces, I believe that my riding is anything but an isolated microcosm. I believe that the concerned Canadians in Yorkton--Melville constituency speak for their ilk from the Maritimes to the Rockies.

All Canadians know that meaningful employment and economic growth are the pillars on which everything else is built. Economic stability underpins the route to health and happiness. It dictates our quality of life. As members can see, I am drawing a straight line between Canada's economic action plan and the ongoing quality of life we enjoy in this country.

In listening to opposition criticism of our action plan over recent months, it appears increasingly clear that if their parties populated the PMO, they would be sitting firmly on their hands.

They do not support the government's stimulus projects. They do not support our job protection strategies. They do not support our laser-like targeting of economic woes that have been threatening the treasuries of every country in the world. One can only wonder what the other parties' response would have been, and one can shudder at the prospect.

It is no coincidence that the opposition parties have managed to bray their disapproval when the cameras are turned on, and then just wring their hands in the private bowels of their meeting rooms.

They have announced no alternatives. They have announced no practical action. They have announced no solutions. Are they reticent to leak their sterling policy concepts for fear this government will steal them?

Alas, the opposition parties are floating side by side in a policy vacuum when Canadians need political creativity the most. They will no doubt toss their bricks into the government benches mere seconds after I sit down, but their own houses are made of micro-thin glass.

Contrary to the egos of many in the opposition, they have nothing to teach us about economic growth, and have much to learn. They may wish to start by digesting the salient points in Canada's economic action plan. They will likely be enlightened and privately delighted by what they see.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on his speech but there are a few things that I want to point out to him.

The member talked about how we were opposing for the sake of opposing and words to that effect.

First, he talked about the RInC program. This is a good example of how we on this side would like to raise the bar. This is a 50:50 program that requires a substantial amount of money from the smallest of communities, communities like those in my colleague's riding, and communities all over the place. The thing is that it is hard for these small communities to have the capacity to come up with the 50%.

Second, could my colleague update the House on the status of his private member's bill, or is it stuck in, and I will use his words, “the private bowels of the meeting rooms”?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of our RInC program. I did not mention it specifically but it is one of those projects that really stimulated the economy. I did not hear of a single community that objected to the fact that we gave it funds that it would not have been able to access otherwise.

On the second issue that my colleague raised, I presume he is talking about the bill that I had to scrap the firearms registry. That passed second reading with the help of my hon. colleague from Portage—Lisgar; because the opposition would not agree to any amendments, she has taken it through second reading in the House. I thank those opposition members who sided with us and who know that the firearms registry is a complete waste of money. There is some common sense over there.

My colleague asked where the bill is. It is going to the public safety committee. I hope that we will be able to hear witnesses on both sides of the issue and then I hope the bill will be sent back to the House.

Some on the opposition side have signalled that they would like to gut the bill and not send it back to the House in the same way it is presently constructed. That would be unfortunate seeing as the House already dealt with that issue. It is a simple issue. There is nothing complicated about it. It would then go to third reading in the House and follow the usual process.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Yorkton—Melville, for sharing his time with me.

It is, indeed, always an honour to rise in the House on behalf of the constituents of the great Kenora riding. I am speaking today in favour of the motion currently before the House, which ensures that jobs and economic growth remain the top priority for Canadians. This priority has been continually emphasized by constituents throughout the Kenora riding, be it in individual meetings, prebudget consultations or casual discussions at hockey arenas and coffee shops.

In yesterday's throne speech our government made it clear that we are determined to get the job done. We are determined to complete Canada's economic action plan by continuing to create jobs, facilitate access to credit, protect incomes and support communities, to name a few.

As we continue with our plan, we believe it is imperative to look ahead to the future. While we are beginning to regain optimism as our economy starts to recover, we must take a long-term perspective if we truly want to ensure that Canada emerges from this global recession stronger than ever. It is crucial, therefore, that we return to a fiscal balance and regain the strong budgetary position that differentiates Canada and is the key to our future growth.

In order to do so, we will begin to phase out stimulus spending as the economy bounces back. We will be a global leader, and by way of example, we will encourage other countries to do the same. There will be restraint on some federal government spending. However, rest assured that we will not be cutting programs that are of direct benefit to Canadians, programs like health care, education and pensions.

With Canada's economic action plan benefiting the great Kenora riding and many other ridings across the country in so many ways and on so many levels, communities in the Kenora riding developed specific strategies on how to maximize the local employment created by government infrastructure projects: local jobs for local people and local business.

Indeed, many of the priorities articulated yesterday by the Governor General are already being planned or implemented in the great Kenora riding. I would like to highlight a few of those. There is an emphasis on a skilled and educated workforce, supported through training, apprenticeship, opportunity creation and, I might add, with a particular emphasis on first nations in these regards, it has been well received in my communities.

We are reaching out to organizations in our communities that have not historically received much, if any, federal funding. Recently I announced FedNor funding to support a youth internship program at Women's Place Kenora. The intern will work to promote economic independence for women by assisting with research, marketing and project management.

Just last week HRSDC funding was announced to provide work experience to 10 first nations youth facing barriers to employment in isolated first nations communities in the great Kenora riding. There are, in fact, 25 isolated communities in the Kenora riding.

These are but a few examples of the investments our government is making that are integral for youth to make the transition from school to the workplace.

Along these same lines, I was delighted to announce, on behalf of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, federal funding for the construction of four schools in first nations communities in the Kenora riding, some of them completely isolated: Lac Seul, Cat Lake, Wabaseemoong and North Spirit Lake. This government is committed to working in partnership with first nations communities to reform and strengthen education, provide greater opportunities for students and increase the prospects for their success.

As noted in yesterday's speech, small- and medium-size businesses are the engine of our economy and create the majority of new jobs. Our government is committed to supporting these businesses by identifying and removing barriers to growth.

Through FedNor's Ontario development and community futures programs, we support three community futures development corporations in the great Kenora riding. Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corporation, Patricia Area Community Endeavours and Chukuni Communities Development Corporation all play a vital role in giving a hand up to new and existing small businesses.

Turning to the forest sector, I want to take this opportunity to speak about a particularly important sector in the great Kenora riding that has been particularly hard hit, in fact, before these recessionary times.

Our government is committed to helping when and where it can in this regard. We have committed more than $170 million to help the sector enter new international markets, use new technologies and established a forestry centre of excellence.

The $1 billion pulp and paper green transformation program has put pulp producers in a more competitive position. We have corrected the structural defect in the forest sector in northwestern Ontario. Pulp and paper mills will now be able to maximize their energy efficiency, reducing the environmental footprint and reducing the cost of production. This is particularly important in northwestern Ontario where the provincial government has yet to make available a competitive industrial hydro rate for our pulp and paper mills, and it puts us at a disadvantage here in Canada.

Our government also recognizes that the forestry sector in northwestern Ontario must diversify. In Canada's economic action plan, over $5 million were provided for the development of industrial and business lot sites in at least four different communities whose anchor tenants will be manufacturers of environmentally friendly forest products like Aspenware's biodegradable utensils and planer mills for the production of other value-added forest products.

Safe drinking water and effective waste water management was mentioned yesterday. The throne speech identified this as a key priority. I am happy to report that Canada's economic action plan has seen the replacement, rehabilitation and/or significant upgrades in progress with water and sewer infrastructure in the great Kenora riding. We are replacing, rehabilitating or upgrading waste water treatment plants and facilities throughout, including for isolated first nations communities.

My colleague mentioned recreational infrastructure earlier. He mentioned that Canada's economic action plan had significantly impacted the renovation and replacement of numerous community multiplexes, recreation centres, hockey arenas, cultural centres and seniors centres throughout the great Kenora riding.

There is other critical infrastructure. The government's commitment to provide funding for critical transport infrastructure, such as winter roads and bridges, airports and diesel generating stations do not just make our communities more sustainable but dramatically improve Kenora's capacity for industrial, commercial and residential growth, providing more jobs and more reliable sources of things like hydro generation for industries and communities that work often in remote, if not isolated, locations. Suffice it to say that we are working hard to cover all of the bases.

On this positive note I will conclude my remarks in support of the motion before the House by expressing my commitment to continue to work with communities in the great Kenora riding. I am excited about today's budget and the hard work I am about to do with the communities as we enter the second and final phase of Canada's economic action plan.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talks a lot about communities and about his emphatic belief in community strength and so on and so forth but I would like to ask him a question about raising the bar in helping out our communities.

The Speech from the Throne talked about the digital economy and how engaged we can be with the digital economy no matter where we are in this country. However, is he aware that there are still so many communities out there unable to get broadband Internet?

On behalf of the government, would he now declare in the House that the only way for this country to be engaged 100% in the digital economy is a commitment to a 100% coverage on rural broadband, yes or no?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's backdoor question but I will not speculate on the exciting news that we are about to hear in the next couple of minutes.

In a riding of more than 320,000 square kilometres, we do understand more than most ridings the importance of broadband coverage. As I say, we will wait for the Minister of Finance to report on any details with respect to that.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the question by my colleague from Newfoundland. It was pleasing to see the government in its throne speech finally recognizing the need for innovation and attention to government online programs.

The member says that he cannot look forward to tell us about broadband development. Perhaps he could look backward to the last four years. Since the Liberals left office, the present government has done nothing to launch government online programs. Could he name one program that the Conservative government has announced in the last four years in terms of government online programs that would have helped his constituents receive online and transactional services from the government?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised at the lack of information that the member would have to support this question. He has clearly never heard of the word BizPaL. I had an opportunity to make those announcements in the great Kenora riding. I appreciate the support of the Minister of Industry in these regards.

I will correct him, though. We are looking forward to the presentation by the Minister of Finance today.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the member for Kenora and his knowledge on the issues. Part of our plan here is to continue on the stimulus to create jobs. I would like him to talk a little bit about some of the stimulus and how it has worked in his riding. I know of some projects that have been very good in my own riding and I think in many others.

I would also like him to talk a little bit about the state of that deficit and how much worse it would be if this government had not spent and taken $40 billion off that debt prior to this.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, we were global leaders when it came to stimulus spending as a portion of our GDP. With respect to the great Kenora riding, I can report to him that we have many projects on the go of small and massive scale. Many of them are well underway. These have created jobs for the local economy, people and businesses. We have formed community groups in an effort to focus and maximize on the benefits of the stimulus program.

As I said in my speech, I am looking forward to entering the second phase of this economic action plan to build and improve on that.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have to question the member on the soft lob from the member from his own party where he basically bragged about the stimulus spending. The fact is—

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, they can clap and applaud all they like but the fact is that this country was seen as the best in the G8 in terms of its fiscal capacity. The government drove this country into its biggest deficit in Canadian history after, of course, its biggest spending budget.

Could the member for Kenora tell me about the importance, in terms of the stimulus spending, of the $100 million that the government has spent on advertising? How much was spent in terms of cabinet ministers going across this country one after the other doing photo op after photo op? How much did that add to the Canadian deficit?

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think there was a question in that huff and puff. I will just say that the folks in Kenora sure appreciate the work that this government has done. They like to see Canada's economic action plan and signs reminding them of where the federal government is spending moneys in their communities.

I note that the Official Opposition on the other side of the House has engaged in deficit fighting before. I can assure the member that, unlike his party, we will not be cutting health care in an effort to fight this deficit.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to ask a question and I thank my colleague from northwestern Ontario for his fine speech. He did not want to speculate on the budget but I am quite sure that in the budget billions of dollars will be going to the Premier of Ontario so he can bring in a harmonized sales tax.

I am wondering if my colleague from Kenora would have any comments on that.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know a couple of things about that member. He started his caravan in the great Kenora riding. They were poorly attended partisan events. When he went over to Thunder Bay he and his other Thunder Bay colleagues were soundly chastised for not focusing on the jobs that federal MPs have to do in their ridings.

This matter, as he ought to know, is a matter for the province to decide. We have an obligation to support that, as we have for other provinces, and that is the fact.

The EconomyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. It being 4 o'clock, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Ways and Means Proceedings No. 1 concerning the budget presentation.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

March 4th, 2010 / 4:05 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario


Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance


That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the budget documents for 2010, including notices of ways and means motions. The details of the measures are contained in these documents.

I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of these motions.

I also wish to announce that at the earliest possible opportunity, the government will introduce legislation to implement the budget measures.

As I rise in this House today, our nation is at a crossroads. We have passed through some steep and rocky terrain. Much of the territory was uncharted. We were prepared and we protected ourselves. We are making our way through, and our compass has not failed us.

The way forward remains challenging. Some would urge us to turn at this crossroads. Experience tells us that this would eventually lead us backward. We need to keep helping those who need a hand up. We need to stay on course.

We can see our destination on the horizon. It is a high point not only in our nation's history of increasing prosperity, but also a high point to which the world will look for inspiration. It is a Canada in which our children and grandchildren will surpass us. It is a Canada for which they will be grateful. They will be grateful, as we are grateful, for the work and wisdom of Canadians before us.

Canada has been drawn into a global economic recession. It has been deeper and more widespread than any since the 1930s.

A year before the crisis, we saw the risk of a slowdown. It originated outside our borders, but we knew it would eventually affect us. We reduced taxes on Canadian families and businesses, to stimulate our economy.

The crisis emerged more quickly and with greater force than anyone could have predicted. Many international financial institutions failed, but not here in Canada. Stock markets around the world plunged deeply. For a time the global financial system was at risk of shutting down.

Our government took immediate action to ensure that Canadian banks could keep lending. We kept our economy from grinding to a halt. We worked quickly with our partners in the G7 and G20. In a period of unprecedented uncertainty, we helped lead an effective, coordinated global response.

To lead our country forward, we presented a plan, a bold plan, Canada's economic action plan. It is a plan to protect Canadians and create jobs during the global recession. It is a plan to invest in our future growth. That plan is working.

We are in the middle of the largest federal investment in infrastructure in over 60 years. We are putting Canadians to work in almost 16,000 projects across this country. We are building better roads, bridges, border crossings, public transit, college and university facilities. We are providing extra help and training to Canadians who are out of work. We are providing special help to the most vulnerable communities and industries. We are helping businesses avoid layoffs to keep Canadians working. Through work sharing alone, we have helped protect the jobs of more than 225,000 Canadians.

Canada has faced the global recession from a position of strength. Because of prudent government regulation, none of our banks failed. None of them required a bailout from taxpayers, unlike their competitors in other countries.

Our government had managed the nation’s finances responsibly. We had paid down debt and reduced taxes, consistently and aggressively. As a result, we have been able to take extraordinary measures to protect the Canadian economy.

Like virtually all other countries, we have needed to run a substantial deficit to do so. Unlike other countries, we are in a position to ensure our deficit will be temporary. We can meet our current needs without jeopardizing our long-term growth. The proof is in our performance.

By key measures, Canada is performing better than the United States and other advanced countries.

Leading authorities praise the stability of our mortgage industry. They point to our financial system as the soundest in the world.

Before the recession Canada had the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G7 by far. After the recession Canada will still have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G7 by an even wider margin.

In 2010 the IMF estimates that Canada's debt to GDP ratio will be approximately 31%. In the United States the ratio will be almost 67%. In the United Kingdom it will be 75%, and in Japan 115%; and their ratios will continue to climb. Canada's federal debt to GDP ratio will begin falling in 2011-12.

Canada has also lost proportionately fewer jobs than the United States, our largest trading partner. In fact, the unemployment rate in Canada is now approximately one and a half percentage points lower than in the United States. This is the largest gap in Canada's favour in more than 30 years. Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has generated 135,000 net new jobs. In the same period the United States has continued to lose jobs month after month.

Our government has held hundreds of consultations with Canadian workers and businesses across the country, to chart the way forward.

Canadians remain concerned about jobs and the economy. They know that a speedy and strong recovery is not a given.

They also know that government must live within its means; that we cannot agree to every request for new spending.

Canadians understand the need for certainty, stability and steady leadership.

This is what our government has provided and will continue to provide.

As was said yesterday in the Speech from the Throne, the economy remains our central concern.

To address that concern, we present today a jobs and growth budget. In this budget we are completing our economic action plan, to create jobs now. We are also taking limited and focused additional measures to protect existing jobs and create new jobs. We are also looking ahead to secure our long-term economic growth.

Our government is focused on jobs and growth for one simple reason: Canadians are focused on jobs and growth. Some business owners are worried about having to lay off workers. Some families are worried about their jobs. Others are worried about whether there will be jobs for their children in the years ahead.

My job, our government's job, is to respond to these worries with help and hope. That is what drives us every day. That is what Canada's economic action plan is all about. That is what we have been working for since we were first elected to office: jobs, good jobs now; growth, an economy that keeps producing good jobs; Canada, the best place in the world to raise a family, work and do business, a country where our children can realize their dreams, a country that draws people from around the world to build a better life.

Today in this Budget our government restates its commitment to that vision.

First, we will continue meeting our country’s immediate needs, to secure our economic recovery.

We are fully implementing the temporary stimulus measures announced in Canada’s economic action plan.

We are investing nearly $20 billion to stimulate our economy over the next year.

Some say we should not follow through on our commitment. They say further stimulus is not needed.

Our government will stay on course. We will complete the rapid rollout of infrastructure projects across the country. These projects are creating jobs now. They are also giving us the modern infrastructure we need for long-term growth.

We will continue helping long-term workers. We will keep helping industries and communities hit hardest by the global recession. We will keep helping those who need it through extended EI benefits and skills training opportunities.

While following through on these commitments, our government is taking further action to protect jobs. In this budget we are extending by one year our enhancements to the work-sharing program. A business owner in Swift Current told me that without this program, her company would have had to close its doors. Her 37 employees would have been laid off permanently. Work sharing allowed her to keep them all working and now business is coming back.

I have heard great stories like this across the country. Work sharing is working. Today our government is keeping it working to protect Canadian jobs.

We are also taking action to protect the interests of seniors and Canadians planning for retirement. This month we will launch public consultations on how to improve Canada's retirement income system. We will continue working closely with the provinces and territories on this issue. We expect to make further progress on ensuring a strong and sustainable system when ministers meet later this spring.

In this budget our government is also creating new employment opportunities for young Canadians. We are increasing support for internships, to help post-secondary graduates get that crucial first job in their field. We are making new investments to help youth at risk, to help them enter the job market.

We are also supporting the innovative pathways to education program. This is a practical community-based program that is opening a lifetime of opportunity for many young Canadians. Our government will help extend this opportunity to many more.

We are creating opportunity on other fronts too, to ensure our long-term economic growth. We are supporting innovation in our colleges and universities, research hospitals and other research institutions. These investments will help create clusters of great new jobs on the frontiers of knowledge. They will promote better health, a cleaner environment and a more sustainable use of natural resources.

I am especially pleased to announce in this budget new funding for post-doctoral researchers. These fellowships will encourage the next generation of Canadian innovators to make their mark right here at home. They will help brand Canada as a top destination for the research leaders of tomorrow.

In this budget we are supporting the Canadian Space Agency and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. We are taking the next major step in the development of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.

We are helping to connect researchers and businesses and to bring new ideas from the lab to the marketplace. We are increasing support for research and development by small-sized and medium-sized businesses. We are also taking a historic step forward in making Canada more competitive in the global economy.

Last year we announced the elimination of tariffs on a broad range of machinery and equipment for manufacturers in Canada. In this budget we are taking action to eliminate the remaining tariffs on machinery and equipment. We are also eliminating tariffs on production inputs.

This will give Canada the status of being the first G20 country to become a tariff-free zone for manufacturers.

It will greatly reduce costs and paperwork for manufacturers in Canada. It will lower costs for consumers of Canadian manufacturing goods. It will make Canadian products more competitive here at home and abroad. It will help our manufacturers to invest and innovate, especially small-sized and medium-sized manufacturers.

It will help keep jobs in Canada and create new jobs for Canadians for years to come.

Canada has earned a global reputation for the soundness of its financial system. Our business taxes are increasingly low and competitive.

Our government will continue making progress in concluding free trade agreements. Combined with these advantages, this latest step forward sends a message to the world, “Canada is open for business”.

Our government will take further steps to reduce the paperwork burden for Canadian businesses. We will establish a commission to reduce red tape. The commission will include parliamentarians and private sector representatives. Its work will be of special benefit to small businesses, the engines of job creation in Canada.

We will also continue reducing taxes on all Canadian businesses.

We are staying on course to having the lowest corporate income tax rate in the G7 by 2012. Some argue that we should cancel these tax reductions.

Our government will follow through on our commitment. Reducing the tax burden on businesses is a key part of Canada’s advantage in the global economy. It helps protect existing jobs, and attracts investors to create new jobs for Canadians.

In this budget, our government is keeping another promise. We are taking steps to reduce the deficit, to return to balanced budgets in the medium term. We take the same approach that Canadian families take in managing their household budgets. We are spending what is necessary to meet an emergency. We are also looking beyond that emergency, to ensure we can keep paying off the mortgage and saving for our children’s education.

We are ensuring we will have the resources to sustain necessary spending on the priorities of Canadians. We are protecting our quality of life and securing our long-term prospects. Doing so requires choices: balanced, sensible choices.

Some are proposing big, expensive new government programs. These experiments would jeopardize our recovery and our long-term growth.

Others say reducing the deficit is not a priority. Our government is taking a more responsible approach.

Just as we will implement our stimulus package as promised, we will also end it as promised.

We will also increase restraint on government spending.

Our government has made major, necessary investments in Canada's military capabilities.

We have also raised spending on foreign aid to record levels. Canada's response to the catastrophe in Haiti shows the generosity and compassion of Canadians. It also shows the wisdom of these major investments.

We see it in the superb performance of our Canadian Forces in the rescue effort. We see it in the expertise and commitment of our foreign aid workers in the reconstruction.

Canada has achieved a much greater ability to protect our interests and project our values abroad.

We will now take steps to ensure we can sustain our spending on these priorities.

Defence spending will continue to grow. Starting two years from now, it will grow more slowly.

This year we will increase foreign aid to another record level. Next year we will freeze spending at that level.

In this budget we will also take action to ensure government lives within its means. Starting this year, we will freeze the total amount spent on government salaries, administration and overhead. We will freeze the overall budget of ministers’ offices. We will encourage members of the House of Commons and the Senate to do the same. We will introduce legislation to freeze the salaries of the prime minister, ministers, members of Parliament and senators.

We will launch a review of administrative services to improve efficiency and eliminate duplication.

We will also aggressively review all departmental spending to ensure value for money and tangible results.

Canadian families and businesses have accepted the need for restraint. Fairness requires that government too should have to keep costs under control.

Fairness also requires that we fulfill our responsibilities and not pass them off to others.

In this budget our government is closing unfair tax loopholes. These loopholes allow a few businesses and individuals to take advantage of hard-working Canadians who pay their fair share.

We are also repeating our promise. We will not balance the budget at the expense of pensioners. We will not balance the budget by cutting transfer payments for health care and education or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians. We will not pass on an unsustainable debt to our children and grandchildren.

This budget is based on an average of forecasts from leading private sector economists. These independent experts agree that this is a prudent basis for fiscal planning.

In this budget our government is presenting a clear three-point plan to return to balanced budgets.

First, we will complete our stimulus package on schedule.

Second, we will take specific measures to restrain the growth of program spending.

Third, we will launch a comprehensive review of administrative spending.

The bottom line is encouraging. In two year's time the deficit will be cut in half. In three year's time the deficit will be cut by two-thirds. Shortly after that, the deficit will be eliminated.

We will balance the budget, but not for its own sake.

A balanced budget over the long term is necessary for economic growth and job creation. Families understand this; businesses understand this.

We agree that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. There are times when government must step in, to keep our economy moving. At all times, though, government must remember the true source of our prosperity. We must promote, not replace, the talent and hard work of Canadians. We must support, not suppress, their freedom and creativity. This will allow us to go from strength to strength in good times.

This will enable us to meet challenges in hard times and come out of them that much stronger. Canada's history shows what a free people served by good government can accomplish together. We are at a key moment in that history as we emerge from the global recession. Our government means to be a partner in Canada's recovery, not an obstacle to growth. These principles have guided our government since we were first elected to office in 2006. They are the foundation of our broader plan to build a strategic advantage for Canada in the global economy.

We have already come so far since 2006. Prior to the recession, our government paid down the debt: $38 billion in just three years. We reduced the GST, a permanent tax reduction that benefits all Canadians, including those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. More than one million low-income Canadians are off the tax rolls altogether. Families have greater choice in child care and seniors can split their pension income for tax purposes.

We established the tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP. We are helping people with disabilities and their families to plan for the future through the registered disabilities savings plan. We have also reduced the federal tax burden on all Canadian taxpayers. For example, we have reduced the burden on families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000 by 20%. We have reduced the burden on families with incomes between $15,000 and $30,000 by more than 50%.

Our government has provided permanent tax relief to Canadian small businesses as well. We increased the amount of income eligible for the small business tax rate, first from $300,000 to $400,000, and then to $500,000. The federal general corporate income tax rate is dropping from more than 22% in 2007 to 15% in 2012.

Our government is also cooperating effectively with the provinces to reduce business taxes overall. As a result, this year Canada will achieve the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. By 2012 Canada will also have the lowest statutory corporate income tax rate in the G7.

The major measures I have just listed are not new, but they are ongoing. Together they provide a massive and permanent advantage to our economy. They are creating jobs for Canadians right now. They will continue to create jobs, good jobs, for generations to come.

The budget we are presenting today is a jobs and growth budget. That is what Canadians have told us is needed. That is the goal of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

This budget is also a key part of a long-term strategy.

Our government is letting hard-working Canadians keep more of what they earn to spend on their priorities. We are giving Canadian businesses the freedom to invest and innovate, to grow and create jobs. We are helping Canadian workers get the skills they need to thrive in the global economy. We are building the modern infrastructure on which the jobs of the future will depend.

We are maintaining the sound regulation needed for stability and growth. We are building Canada's reputation as an investment-friendly country, a country committed to free and open trade unburdened by the massive debts and higher taxes of our competitors. We are shaping an economy that will create more good jobs and a higher quality of life for all Canadians.

As I said at the outset, we stand today at a crossroads. We renew our commitment to moving forward. Challenges remain, but we do not lack for inspiration.

Just days ago the greatest athletes in the world gathered in the magnificent western gateway to our Canada. They came to celebrate excellence in a great tradition of international fellowship. They encountered here a breathtaking country and a decent and generous people. They also encountered the pride of our nation.

Let us savour the achievements of our Canadian Olympic champions. Let us look forward to the achievements of our Paralympic champions in the days to come. Let us take them as our models, a reminder of what we are made of, what Canadians can achieve.

Our future is reflected in their medals. Let us move forward, hopeful and confident, to realize that future together.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, on page 9 of the government's budget, members will notice an accumulated deficit of about $165 billion, $165 billion in accumulated deficit under the government's watch. It is an orgy of incompetence in spending.

Having destroyed the revenue base for the government, having no credible plan with respect to expenses, the government expects us to accept this budget as is. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, along with pretty well every other credible economist, says that the government cannot row its way out of this accumulated deficit.

My question for the finance minister is this. Will he present to the House a credible plan in a reasonable period of time whereby we come out of this accumulated deficit and end up with a clear, fixed plan for the end of this deficit, period?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend the budget to the member. He ought to read particularly pages 164 and 165, which set out the specific calculations, the budget 2010 savings measures that will take us to savings of $17.6 billion over the course of the next five years. This, together with the termination of the economic action plan at the end of the next fiscal year, will result in a near balance of budget by 2014-15.

If he wants to talk to economists about it, he can read their names in the second paragraph of page 32. It is a great read and the hon. member ought to read the budget.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, this budget raises a simple question: why was this House locked down unnecessarily for two months?

This is a “nothing for Quebec” budget, as though Quebec did not exist. There is nothing for the marginalized, nothing for informal caregivers, nothing for pensioners who have been scammed by white collar criminals, nothing for social and community housing, nothing to fight homelessness, nothing for volunteers who work year round and who deserve real tax and budgetary measures, not just a medal from the Prime Minister with his picture. There is nothing in the budget for those who help or those who need help. There are a few crumbs for forestry workers and companies. There is nothing meaningful for the environment, but a lot for nuclear power. There is nothing for our artists or our culture either.

When it comes to Canada's securities commission, there is nothing but bad news. There is no respect for Quebec's jurisdictions, its government or its assembly. The same is true for labour training. It is always the same insensitivity. A new administrative structure has been created to reduce administrative structures. That takes some doing! It is always the same arrogance. There is nothing for Quebec's tax harmonization. In summary, this budget does not contain anything that is acceptable to Quebeckers.

Nothing times nothing is still nothing. The minister did not take this opportunity to help Quebec. We deserve better than that.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question. We consulted with the Bloc before the budget. The first thing they asked for was help for the forestry industry. We addressed that in the budget.

We also had some good discussions about harmonization with the Quebec government. I talked to Quebec's finance minister, and our officials will continue to discuss the issue. The first thing we need is an agreement.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in it for seniors, for the unemployed, or for job creation. But there is something very specific. What happened between yesterday's throne speech and today's budget?

In yesterday's throne speech, on page 10 of the English version and page 12 of the French version, it says that the government will explore “ways to better protect workers when their employers go bankrupt”.

I just quoted a very specific statement from yesterday's throne speech, in which the government made a clear promise to better protect workers' pension funds should their employers go bankrupt, but today's budget does not even address the issue. What changed in that time?