Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to talk about the motion before the House. Let me say wholeheartedly that I agree with it. The motion reads:
That this House take note that, while Canada is starting to recover from the global economic recession, the recovery is tentative and uncertain and the number one priority of Canadians remains jobs and economic growth, now and for the future.
Canada is certainly showing signs of economic recovery, but while these signs appear to be better than predicted, they are still not strong enough to warrant switching our government's focus from economic stimulus spending to that of deficit reduction. The stimulus to the economy through Canada's economic action plan is proving to be effective. Jobs are being created, consumers are spending more, and there is hope that brighter days are ahead for Canada.
Across Canada there are 12,000 stimulus projects, which are creating and preserving jobs. Just as planning and taking action by our government before this recession meant a softer landing than many other countries have faced with their economies, so too will the strategies we are now taking enable us to have a stronger economy in the future.
Since coming into office, we have lowered taxes for both individuals and corporations, given more tax dollars to the provinces and implemented innovative new ideas, such as the tax-free savings account. These measures, among many others, have enabled Canadians to have a more secure financial footing when the global economic recession hit, but the government has also taken steps to assist Canadians who need our help the most. Those are Canadians living in poverty.
We have provided low-income Canadians with tax relief, we have brought forth a child tax credit to go along with the universal child care plan already introduced, and we have made significant investments that have targeted groups prone to poverty, such as seniors, aboriginals and the working poor.
Seniors have further been helped by the action plan as we raised the age credit amount. We reduced the required minimal RRIF withdrawal and injected investment of $400 million over two years for the construction of social housing units for low-income seniors. This was on top of previous initiatives by our government that dramatically reduced the number of seniors living in poverty, such as pension income splitting and doubling the pension income credit.
Social housing concerns have been addressed as our government has invested an extra $2 billion over previously announced programs that will help many of our most disadvantaged, including aboriginals, low-income seniors and people living with disabilities, to have access to affordable housing. Construction of social housing, and repairs and renovations to existing units is well underway and this will lead to the creation of more than 11,000 new homes, as well as upgrades to tens of thousands of others.
When the current economic storm first hit, our government acted quickly, along with other nations, to loosen credit and invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and stimulus spending. We not only met but exceeded recommended targets of such spending set out by the International Monetary Fund.
As was mentioned yesterday in the Speech from the Throne, we have taken and will continue to take steps to encourage corporations to settle in Canada. The benefits of this strategy are obvious as stable, well-paying jobs are created for Canadians. Our government remains committed to continuing this thoughtful and forward-looking strategy.
We are committed to implementing the second year of the economic action plan to ensure the recovery we have witnessed so far continues to gain strength. This plan has already reaped huge rewards for communities across Canada and will continue to do so. For example, in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook, I have been honoured to take part in many positive announcements of new funding and I would like to share some of these success stories with you.
Just a couple of weeks ago I participated in an announcement in Hamilton, Ontario, with the Minister of State for Science and Technology and Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The minister announced a federal government contribution of $2 million toward planning costs for the Canada Bread Company to build a $100 million facility in the southern part of Hamilton, in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook. This project will create close to 300 construction jobs and almost 300 full-time production positions once the facility is built and fully operational.
Needless to say, this is wonderful news for the greater Hamilton area, which has been hit hard not just by economic circumstances over the last two years but even before by a steady erosion of manufacturing jobs. Another part of my riding, the communities of Grimsby and West Lincoln, will greatly benefit from $12 million in joint provincial and federal funding that was announced just before Christmas to help build a new YMCA in Grimsby.
I am pleased to announce that construction is slated to begin early next month. We all know the benefits to families and communities that have a YMCA where they can participate in a wide range of fun and healthy activities. Not only do the construction jobs provide short-term relief from the current recession but with the wide range of full-time jobs that will become available once the project is completed it will provide the area with long-term sustainability and the opportunity for growth that will continue to keep the local economy firmly on track.
The eastern tip of my riding has also seen the very real benefits of the government's stimulus as there have been millions of dollars flowing into the communities of Pelham and Fonthill to help with everything from major road construction, which is a part of the downtown revitalization, to funding several parks in the area through the popular recreational infrastructure Canada program, better known as RINC.
RINC has provided funds to other projects and one that has been close to my heart is Marydale Park in Glanbrook which will serve the greater Hamilton area. Federal and provincial funding of $2 million means that this park will become a reality. As its website states, people of any age or ability, including those of us who use wheelchairs, scooters or walkers, will be able to fully and independently enjoy the playing fields, trails, pools, boating, fishing and much more.
Marydale Park will be one of the first barrier-free parks in the province of Ontario and not only will be barrier-free, which means more than just wheelchair accessible but truly barrier-free, but it will also have an eco-friendly design. This park will be powered by natural renewable energy through wind, solar and geothermal resources. I think that is impressive in terms of the original design. Marydale will also allow for increased freedom to roughly 90,000 or so citizens of the greater Hamilton area who for one reason or another are limited in the activities that they can participate in.
This is a great example of win-win projects that our government has focused on with its funding priorities. Construction jobs are being created during the building process, permanent jobs are being provided once the facility is open and perhaps more importantly there is a real and lasting benefit to the surrounding community as it uses the new facilities.
By placing an emphasis on economic growth both for now and the future, as this motion states, our government is committed to the jobs and the economic climate that will help pay down the deficit in future years. As was so well stated in the Speech from the Throne yesterday, “Spending designed for a rainy day should not become an all-weather practice”. Our government is well aware that stimulus spending is not forever, but it is crucial that we must do all that we can to ensure that the primer we have now, given to jump start the economy, is just not taken away too soon before the recovery gains a proper foothold and continues to build momentum.
Another thing that I am encouraged about in the Speech from the Throne as well is the focus on jobs and some of the things that we are looking at, namely, trying to commercialize new technologies. One of the things we hear as we talk to people around the province and across the country is that as we struggle with manufacturing jobs that are not what they used to be. We need to learn how to commercialize the technology that we are producing in our fine institutions across the country.
Our government spends a lot of money on research and development and on technology. I believe that the jobs of the future are going to come from how we can commercialize some of these things.
One of the things that the government talked about in the Speech from the Throne was looking at the digital medium as one of these areas. I can assure the House that these are important things and I believe a lot of the new jobs can come from that.
I believe there is a two pronged approach. We have been able to invest in the poor, we have been able to invest in affordable housing. and I believe those are very important because those people need a leg up and an opportunity to get back on their feet so that they can also find work.
Equally important is creating jobs. If we do not have jobs it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people who cannot find work, and so I believe it is a two-tiered approach. We can lower taxes to attract more corporations and businesses, and then with those jobs we will continue to help people rise out of poverty and be able to get a leg up which I believe is so very important.
I believe that this is what the motion before the House and this debate recognizes. Therefore, I applaud it being brought forward for debate and I certainly appreciate this opportunity to speak to it