Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise, representing the people of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission where, by the way, the daffodils are blooming and the cherry trees are in flower. On their behalf, I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance on a good budget.
I remember being in a meeting about 18 months ago where we were all expressing concern about the global economic situation. The recession had really not hit us yet but we could see it coming. Like a tsunami, we knew we could not avoid the effects of it. It did not start here, but we knew we needed to take strong action to mitigate those negative effects that were coming and that is what we did.
Since July 2009, 135,000 jobs have been created and that is not including the 225,000 jobs that were maintained through our work sharing program, a very good program. Some 16,000 infrastructure projects have been completed or started and we delivered $3 billion in general personal income tax relief as a way to address this economic downturn.
Statistics Canada recently announced that Canada's economy for the second straight quarter grew and in the fourth quarter of 2009 by 5%. This represents the strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in almost a decade partly due to an increase in infrastructure funding supported by stimulus projects across Canada. So our government is taking action to ensure that Canada leads the global economic recovery and budget 2010 will help us lead the way.
Jobs and growth, which is what this budget is all about, come in a variety of forms. I am here today to speak briefly on this budget and what actions our government has taken to ensure that Canada's fisheries sector is a key player in our goal to lead the way on jobs and growth.
The fishing industry in Canada employs over 80,000 people and is worth approximately $14 billion. The commitments our government has made in budget 2010 prove once again that we recognize the importance of fisheries to a robust Canadian economy. Specifically, budget 2010 contains funding for seafood certification and traceability, small craft harbours, and a new hovercraft for our Coast Guard, among other things.
Let me talk a little bit more about each of these. First of all, there is catch certification. Many people do not realize the contribution that our seafood industry makes to our economy and our coastal community. Canada is the world's sixth largest seafood exporter with fish and seafood being Canada's largest single food export commodity. It is not grain, or beef, or pork, it is fisheries products. So access to international markets is essential to Canada's fish and seafood industry which exports 85% of its production. In 2010, the European Union will implement a new regulation where fisheries exporting countries need to provide catch certificates attesting that the marine fish and seafood products are legally and sustainably harvested.
Our government recognized the need to protect the livelihood of our fishing communities and is committed to ensuring that the Canadian fish and seafood industry maintains access to key markets around the world.
Budget 2010 provides $7.2 million over two years to support a new catch certification office. Through this office Fisheries and Oceans will issue certificates to exporters ensuring that the Canadian fish and seafood industry remains competitive and maintains employment in both the harvesting and fish processing sectors.
More specifically, the funding provided in this budget enhances DFO's ability to: first, provide traceability systems and support to the fish and seafood industry; second, to support IT upgrades to facilitate DFO audits of industry record keeping systems to ensure the validity of legal harvest; and third, to issue Government of Canada validated catch certificates within prescribed service standards to these exporters based on checks of licence status, catch reports, and existence of a fisheries management plan.
Our catch certificate will provide assurance that the seafood products come from a properly licensed, regulated and reported fishery that is regularly monitored and audited to ensure that catches are obtained legally.
Currently, only the European Union has the legal requirement to demonstrate this for imports coming into its countries, but we expect that this might well happen in other countries. This funding will allow our government to support the industry in meeting these new market requirements.
Given that the European market is worth approximately $500 million annually to the Canadian fish and seafood industry, I believe that this is a very sound investment. I know that Canada's fish and seafood industry, as well as its hard-working employees, will feel the same.
Along our coast the small craft harbours program provides a network of safe and accessible harbours. These harbours support the commercial fishing industry and the broader interests of the coastal communities. In many communities small craft harbours represent the only federal presence.
In fact, I have a colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador who reminds me from time to time that harbours in his province are as important as Highway 401 is to Torontonians and the only refuge for vessels during rough weather.
Nearly 90% of all fishing landings in Canada, valued at approximately $2 billion, occur at small craft harbours. This alone illustrates how important these harbours are, not only to our coastal communities but to Canada as a whole and to our economy.
Our government recognizes the important roles that small craft harbours have in our communities. Funding initiated under the 2009 economic action plan for small craft harbours, $200 million additional over two years, will continue in 2010. To date 242 repair, maintenance and dredging projects are in the engineering or tendering process or are under construction and some have been completed and $88 million of this allotment will be spent in 2010-11.
This funding will improve fish harvesters access to better harbours and will facilitate their ongoing operations. It will also provide a stimulus to small communities by maintaining and creating construction jobs, and by supporting employment in other industries such as the service and tourism industry.
This I feel perfectly embodies the title of budget 2010, “Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth”. With our government's funding for small craft harbours we are continuing to lead the way.
More than just numbers, these investments illustrate our government's ongoing commitment to the people who live in smaller coastal communities and rely on small craft harbours so they can do their jobs and provide for their families in a safe and secure way.
In budget 2010 our government continues to invest in the safety and security of Canadians by committing $27.25 million for a new Canadian Coast Guard air cushion vehicle, otherwise known as a hovercraft.
On the west coast at the Sea Island base, the Coast Guard operates two hovercraft, one of which needs to be replaced. These vessels are used to conduct searches, transport ill and injured people, tow disabled vessels and provide logistical support during on-water incidents.
We hope we never have anything like the landing on the Hudson River to deal with, but if we ever do, we will be very glad to have this investment in British Columbia.
Another issue which affects all Canadians in waters from coast to coast to coast is the issue of invasive species. Aquatic invasive species pose a major threat to Canada's biodiversity, our ecosystems, and ultimately to our economy. That is why we have put in place Canada's invasive alien species strategy. Budget 2010 renews the funding for that program to the tune of $38 million.
DFO will receive $8 million over two years to allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to continue to invest in research, prevention and control of these invasive species, including the management of the sea lamprey in the Great Lakes and the minimization of the risk of new introductions such as the Asian carp.
I am pleased to support the budget. I think British Columbians are supportive of the budget. I know the premier is.
Under the previous Liberal government the federal government starved the provinces. That is not the approach we are going to take. There is $3.6 billion under the Canada health transfer, $1.5 billion in the social transfer. All of those are increases over the previous years and over the previous Liberal government.
That is why the budget has been welcomed by so many across the country. I encourage all members of the House to support the budget.