Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to address the House on this issue. As this is the first time I have been able to formally stand in the House since my election in May, I hope the House will indulge me for a few moments for some brief comments.
First, I want to thank all those constituents who had confidence in me and voted for me to return to Ottawa as their representative to our federal government. It is an honour and a privilege to be returned to Ottawa as the member of Parliament for the great riding of Medicine Hat, and I am humbled by the opportunity and r the overwhelming support I received from constituents from Bassano to Brooks, Barnwell to Taber, Vauxhall to Scandia to Rosemary, Bow Island to Foremost, Elkwater to Irvine, Redcliff to Medicine Hat, and all those exceptional communities in between.
I especially want to recognize some individuals who volunteered and worked so hard giving their time and energy to re-elect me under the excellent direction of my campaign manager, Dan Hein and his wife Pat, and all their tireless work. Our sign coordinator, Bob DesRosiers; official agent, Dale Stein; our office staff managed by Judy and Earl Morris; and the many enthusiastic volunteers and friends without whom the campaign would have been much more difficult. I thank each and every one of them.
I also thank my children and grandchildren for their encouragement. Most of all, I thank my life partner, my wife, Micheline. Without her support I would not have been able to carry on the rigorous campaign or to continue the extremely important role as a member of Parliament. I promise that I will do my utmost to ensure that their concerns are heard here in Ottawa. They deserve nothing less. Not only did they show wise judgment and character in re-electing me, but also by helping send a strong, stable, national, majority Conservative government to Ottawa they were sending a clear message to all Canadians. The people of the Medicine Hat constituency wanted a party with a solid grip on the economy and the only party with the experience to push the agenda through. Our government has shown that it cares about communities and ridings like my own.
We are assembled here today to discuss an important bill, the budget implementation act. It would create jobs and growth, which, of course, is a key part of our plan. As members know, the heart of our plan builds on five years of work that has already been completed by our government. We will continue to deliver on our low tax agenda. We will continue to support a highly-skilled, innovative workforce, which is key to growing our economy and ensuring that we will remain in the top of the pack when it comes to job creation.
Although we have made much progress in ensuring Canada has stayed strong during the global economic downturn, we have much more to do to ensure that we are well equipped to resist future economic pressures.
it is important to note that we have had seven straight quarters of economic growth since 2009. Our government's progressive economic policies have led to the creation of at least 600,000 jobs as well.
We have made it the foundation of our government's plan to support Canadian families. We have delivered numerous tax credits to families and individuals. Families now pay, on average, $3,000 less in taxes than they did before we introduced our tax reduction in our government's economic action plan.
Our government has promised to deliver investments in education. Our plan is to invest millions of dollars in research and development.
Our plan also involves the hard-working taxpayer whose contributions allow us to make Canada a great nation. That is why we have committed to closing tax loopholes and resorting to other measures to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang for their bucks.
The President of the Treasury Board has also been given a mandate to find $4 billion of savings by finding inefficiencies in all federal government departments.
We have done so much to promote job creation and economic growth. Our government has expanded tax support for clean energy generation to encourage green investments.We have extended the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors by one year to support Canada's mining sector.
This government has simplified customs tariffs in order to facilitate trade and lower the administrative burden for businesses. We have extended for two years the accelerated capital cost allowance treatment for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment. This will allow manufacturing processing firms in my riding of Medicine Hat to improve production efficiency and further job creation opportunities.
We have eliminated the mandatory retirement age for federal regulated employees. We have also ordered the formation of the red tape reduction committee. We are supporting unemployed workers by strengthening the EI system so that newly unemployed Canadians can use their best 14 weeks for EI claims. A new hiring credit for small business has been initiated. This is a temporary, one-time credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2010. The new credit will help up to 525,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring.
We are also supporting our young entrepreneurs by investing $20 million to enable the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to continue to help young entrepreneurs succeed.
What do industry stakeholders say? Well, the Toronto Board of Trade said that it:
...welcomed new initiatives to spur small-business productivity and hiring, such as the Hiring Credit for Small Business. SMEs are the engines of job growth. Spurring productivity and employment growth among SMEs, as this Budget does, should help Canada’s economic recovery.
As I mentioned before, we will continue to support families and communities across Canada, communities like my own in the Medicine Hat constituency. We will legislate a permanent annual investment of $2 billion in the gas tax fund to provide predictable, long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities.
We will introduce a volunteer firefighter tax credit of up to $3,000 for volunteer firefighters who bravely serve their communities. We will implement a new children's arts tax credit up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, cultural, recreational and development activities. We will implement a new family caregiver tax credit in an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of loved ones with infirmities, including, for the first time, spouses, common-law partners and minor children.
Again, we have found support among industry stakeholders. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities said:
...budget  delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a new, long-term federal infrastructure plan.
I will go back to our plan to support education, innovation and training. Our government has committed to forgiving debt for doctors and nurses who pledge to work in remote and underserved areas. The following is what the Canadian Medical Association had to say:
The initiative to address the shortage of primary care physicians recognizes the particular challenges of providing health care in rural and remote areas of the country.
I will now talk about the targeted initiative for older workers for which the budget adds $50 million. In particular, this program was very successful and the working in successful employment, or WISE program, has been very successful in Medicine Hat. Actually, seven out of ten individuals who took that program have already secured employment.
Some of my colleagues talked about the housing initiative. In the Medicine Hat riding, some $741,000 has gone toward funding for housing. I also want to talk very briefly about the Medalta historic site in Medicine Hat. We received about $3.4 million to help with the renovations and construction on this national historic site. That was in our budget from the historic society, as well as $3 million from the community adjustment fund.
Those are just a few examples of what has happened under Canada's economic action plan. The people of the Medicine Hat constituency live in a more prosperous and productive economic environment. Our government has continued to support the communities in the riding of Medicine Hat and other communities right across this country.
The next phase of our economic action plan, contained in budget 2011. encompasses many ways of achieving this as we deliver our great country toward prosperity. There is no doubt that budget 2011 is worthy of support.