Madam Speaker, I am going to be splitting my time today with the great member for Brampton—Springdale.
It is a pleasure to stand and speak about the budget implementation act and all the great things that our government is doing for Canadians. I want to talk about some of the areas that are going to be improving the conditions in my riding of Selkirk—Interlake.
Rural Canada, especially my riding, is made up of small business. Up and down the main street are family businesses. Manufacturing facilities often started off with somebody working out of a machine shed, developing some new products and getting into the manufacturing business quite by accident, like working off the farm and developing a manufacturing company. For us to support manufacturers, like ensuring we extend the accelerated capital cost allowance, would allow them to reinvest in their facilities.
When I talk to business owners in the community and representatives of the chamber of commerce, they say they know that when we bring forward the $1,000 benefit in EI for new hires, all small businesses in Selkirk—Interlake are going to benefit. They know it is going to be well used, help them grow their businesses, and put more people back to work.
Rural areas require those opportunities and I am quite excited about this. Two-thirds of Canadians work for small businesses. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that this has been a high priority and it sees this as something that is going to support small businesses right across the country.
On a frequent basis I spend time in municipalities and over the last month I met with a number of councils. They always thank our government for putting in place the gas tax fund. They are now ecstatic that this fund is going to be put in legislation on a permanent basis, that they will no longer have to ask when it is going to come to an end or what is going to come after that.
Gas tax fund dollars really help them support their infrastructure and green projects. It is going to enable them to provide long-term planning and invest in projects they know are going to be of benefit to ratepayers and communities. This is a major investment and one that is well supported by municipalities right across the country.
Throughout the election campaign and when we brought in the budget last spring, one thing everybody got very excited about was the whole area of helping rural areas find doctors and nurses. There has been a huge shortage of doctors and nurses, especially in rural Canada. In my riding, the regional health authority is trying to recruit doctors and nurses from other countries. That is not a sustainable practice. We have to start producing our own doctors and nurses, train them in Canada, and allow them the opportunity to move to rural areas and have their student loans forgiven through the budget implementation act. Doctors can have $8,000 per year of their student loans forgiven if they practise in rural and remote communities. Nurses can have $4,000 forgiven per year, up to a maximum of $20,000. Those types of investments are going to be highly successful.
A little while ago I heard the member for Scarborough—Rouge River say that this would not provide any benefit whatsoever since rural areas do not have any facilities. That is an insult. I cannot believe she would criticize a program that is going to help rural Canada. There is a real disconnect with that NDP member. She should stand and apologize for insulting rural Canadians. We have our own doctors and medical facilities, and we need to ensure they are well staffed.
Some people would say we have a disadvantage because rural and remote areas do not have all the pleasures enjoyed in urban centres. I think that is a positive thing. I love what rural life provides, but let us make that investment happen, let us appreciate what rural communities bring, and let us allow doctors and nurses to move into rural areas with the benefit of having their student loans forgiven at a nice level. There would be young people moving into rural communities who will have a chance to maybe meet a significant other, start a family and call those areas home. I think that would be highly beneficial to all of us who need good medical care facilities, not just those of us in major urban centres.
The other thing that I heard throughout the election campaign that people are really concerned about has been the direct subsidies to political parties. Most people just cannot get over it that every party gets $2.04 per vote. Most of us go out there, work hard and raise money. We are going to phase this subsidy out over the next four years.
However, I just want to share with members a couple of numbers. Last year, 2010, the Conservatives went out and raised $17.4 million. Canadian taxpayers subsidized us at $10.4 million. So we have a lot at risk here. We have a lot of money on the line.
The Liberals, last year, raised $6.4 million and were subsidized $7.3 million. So they did not even raise 50% of the funds that they have. The NDP is about the same. Its members raised $4.3 million and were subsidized at $5 million.
The one that really gores me and gets my constituents really upset is when they see the Bloc Québécois last year raise $641,000 but was subsidized at $2.8 million. We are providing money to a party that is dedicated to the breakup of this country with $2.8 million of Canadian taxpayers' money. The Bloc funds its entire campaign based on that subsidy and its members do not even bother going out there, working hard, connecting with their voters and supporters, and raising money directly. That is shameful. That is one of the reasons why I applaud the government's efforts to reduce and finally eliminate the direct subsidies to political parties. The vote subsidies really have to go.
Seniors, of course, are important to each and every one of us. They are our parents. They live in our communities. My riding of Selkirk—Interlake is a beautiful riding. People are living up and down Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. They love coming out to cottage country and retiring there. I am hearing from a lot of them that having the extra supplement, through the GIS, of $600 per individual, or $840 per couple, would be highly beneficial.
In rural areas, where a lot of the people did not contribute a lot to CPP, farmers and small businesspeople, they are the ones who are going to benefit from this GIS supplement. Even though it works out to only about $50-a-month per person, it is still something that they would make use of. I have heard them say that this is something that is desperately needed and they congratulate us on doing it.
I was actually just talking to a friend of mine, on the street, just about a month ago. Jim said, “When can we get this done? I could really make use of that extra supplement on the GIS”. He is glad that we are moving forward on it. That is why it is important that we get this bill passed.
Finally, one thing that I also heard a lot in my riding throughout the election campaign, before the campaign and since then, when I have been going around and having my community consultations and round tables, is that people want to ensure that all kids have a chance, those playing sports, at the $500 tax credit that we have been able to put into place for kids involved in hockey, football, basketball, soccer, and figure skating, like my daughter. Those types of investments are welcome, but what about the kids who are making those huge efforts in the arts, taking piano lessons and drama classes, and wanting to become musicians?
By extending this into a new arts tax credit, we have a great opportunity to actually open the door for, hopefully, more kids to actually get involved in the arts, something that I believe in. All my daughters took piano lessons. It would be something that families with small children, families with teenagers, kids who have aspirations to become painters and who want to get involved in drama and acting, would now have a chance to do and receive that tax credit. Those families would be recognized for their investment into the arts. I think that is something for which we should be applauding the government.
I will leave it at that. I am very excited about having the bill move quickly. I am looking forward to all members supporting the budget.