Madam Speaker, it really is an honour for me to rise here today to speak to the budget implementation act.
We have heard some excellent speeches today about the government's commitment to the well-being of Canadians in the context of the bill.
Three themes come through loud and clear as we look at the bill. First, our government, especially the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, have listened to Canadians. Second, hearing what Canadians want, our government has committed to put money back in their pockets, to promote jobs and economic growth. Third, our government proposes to lay the foundation for all Canadians to become stronger, healthier and better off.
We Canadians enjoy one of the most stable and strongest democracies in the world, a democracy where our people care and a democracy where our leaders listen. The government has consulted extensively across the country. In fact, on January 12, 2009, the Minister of Finance and I arranged for him to consult at our very own Park Royal consumer centre in West Vancouver, part of the riding I so proudly represent. Over 400 people came, some from great distances from across the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, to lend the minister their perspectives for our federal budget. The minister was welcomed with a standing ovation. Members of my community and local leaders have in recent months, and over the past three years, shared with me what they believe should be included in the government's low tax plan for jobs and growth.
The Minister of Finance, my team and I have spoken to a large and diverse range of community groups, local municipalities, first nations, heads of cultural demographic and interest groups. Together we have identified for each group three priorities and three events that most matter to them. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and our government have listened.
The economic action plan, the low tax plan for jobs and growth, responds directly to what Canadians across the country want. A big part of that is putting money back into the pockets of Canadians. Our government proposes to put money back into their pockets by better supporting families, balancing tax measures and by improving infrastructure, the Canadian business environment and Canada's focus on clean energy.
As a government that stands up for families, I am pleased to see the introduction of the family caregiver tax credit for caregivers of infirm dependent relatives. This will enable other Canadian families to care for elderly mothers and fathers in the way our family did. I have seen the benefit to families first hand of enabling them to care for frail or sick dependents at home. In my own case, our family was able to work closely with hospital workers, especially palliative care nurses, occupational health nurses and others to enable us to care for my mother until she passed away in May, 2008. Her quality of life was the best it could be, surrounded by her son, her grandchildren and even the family dog for as long as possible.
Do not just take my word for it. The Canadian Caregiver Coalition has said:
The measures announced in the budget are an important acknowledgement of the vital role of family caregivers. The announcement of a Family Caregiver Tax Credit demonstrates the federal government's commitment to families and the caregiving responsibilities that they assume.
Another major way the government proposes to support families is in repealing mandatory retirement regulations. As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation notes, “People have a right to determine how long they work, and this is a major step towards eliminating poverty for seniors”.
Charitable organizations in Canada are also world leaders. They encourage people to volunteer their time and money to help the needy in Canada and abroad. I have been warmed and inspired by the strength of the volunteer spirit I see demonstrated in Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Bowen Island, West Vancouver and North Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, where I met with constituents over recent weeks in my ride the riding bicycle tour of the majestic riding that I represent.
Many people in the North Shore support Food for the Hungry, for instance, an organization that delivers food and services to needy people overseas. It is an organization I had the honour to chair before becoming an MP. Another great organization in our riding is Linwood House, which assists marginalized women in the downtown east side. Organizations like these will also benefit from the bill, as it strengthens the tax base for charitable donations.
Finally, the government proposes to put money back into Canadian's pockets by investing in clean energy, infrastructure and business. One of the many areas in which people in my riding lead the world is in clean energy. We have seen jobs created and the economy stimulated through independent power projects in many areas of the riding I represent, in Powell River, Squamish, and elsewhere. Steve Davis is one individual, a resident of West Vancouver, who has done much to promote clean energy generation.
A company in the same field, formerly known as Plutonic Power now Alterra Power Corp., has blazed environmentally friendly trails in the Powell River area, creating jobs for aboriginals and other people. So Canadians will be glad to hear that this budget implementation act extends eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and conservation equipment.
Our government also proposes to invest in infrastructure. While our government now strives for deficit and debt control, we are mindful of the need we are fulfilling with infrastructure improvements. Part 9 of the bill provides for payments to provinces, territories and municipalities, first nations and other entities for municipal infrastructure improvements. In late March of this year the Federation of Canadian Municipalities noted that budget 2011 delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a new long-term federal infrastructure plan. We will keep this momentum going.
Our government also proposes to invest in Canadian industry. Many captains of the mining industry reside in the riding I represent, like Ian Telfer and Robert Gallagher. Also in our riding is the B.C. Museum of Mining, an excellent institution that not only preserves the history of our province's pioneers but also helps people understand the importance of the mining industry to jobs and prosperity in B.C. today. I am therefore proud to say that this bill would extend eligibility for the mineral exploration tax credit by one year to flow-through share agreements entered into before March 31, 2012. This is an important way that our government proposes to invest in Canadian industry.
Our government has listened to Canadians, and in response proposes to put money back into their pockets by supporting families, by balancing tax measures, and by investing in clean energy, infrastructure and industry. I dare say our government has listened well and made some very fine proposals.
Finally, besides telling our government to put money back into their pockets, Canadians have told us to lay the foundations for our continued security, health and well-being.
That is why the bill introduces a volunteer firefighters tax credit to allow eligible volunteer firefighters to claim a 15% non-refundable tax credit up to $3,000.
One of the most valiant persons one will meet in Canadian communities is the volunteer firefighter. I have worked with career and volunteer firefighters in the riding I represent to ensure that, to the best of our ability, our government is supporting them.
In direct response to a meeting held in the Lions Bay part of my riding with volunteer firefighters led by Fire Chief Andrew Oliver, I wrote the Minister of Finance requesting that a volunteer firefighter's tax credit be created and along with many other Canadians calling for that tax credit. We found it in this budget and we are happy. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs has said that it strongly applauds the Conservative government's introduction of a $3,000 credit. How happy Canadians are that our Minister of Finance, known as the greatest in the world, wisely recognized these heroes and provided for our continued security in this budget implementation bill.
Our government proposes to support our continued well-being by investing further in Canadians. In our ridings we have an enormous number of artists, musicians, sculptors and others who promote Canadian culture with their every word and deed. Names like Sarah McLachlan, Randy Bachman, Joni Mitchell, Shari Ulrich and Michael Tickner are just a handful of names of such groundbreaking cultural icons.
What a great breakthrough for our Conservative government to introduce the children's arts tax credit up to $500 per child for eligible fees associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities. We cannot wait to see the next generation of artists develop, partly in response to this initiative.
This bill would accomplish what Canadians asked us to do, to provide for their continued security, health and well-being. On behalf of the innovative, hard-working and entrepreneurial people of the riding I represent, and on behalf of all Canadians, I am proud to support this bill, our government and our great country.