Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my distinguished and hon. friend from Wellington—Halton Hills for sharing his time.
During the 41st general election, we all recognized that the economy continued to be a major issue for Canadians. In fact, this was the crucial reason for our success. The economy needs to be among our country's key priorities.
Despite this period of global economic uncertainty, Canada has one of the strongest fiscal positions of the major advanced economies of the world. While many countries' economies are slipping, Canada can say that it is creating employment. Here in the nation's capital, many jobs have been created in the past 12 months.
In October 2010, 505,400 Ottawa residents had work and the unemployment rate was at 6.9%. Helped by vibrant businesses in our solid and credible economic action plan, Ottawa is now turning the corner.
According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, more than 13,000 jobs were created in Ottawa over the past year, resulting in a 1.3% drop in the unemployment rate.
Right now, our region is reaping the benefits of the current government's initiatives and efforts.
Ever since Canadians entrusted us with managing the nation's affairs 2,129 days ago, we have reduced the tax burden over 120 times. We have cut income taxes to 15% of the lowest income earners. We have taken more than one million Canadians completely off the tax rolls.
We have increased the amount that Canadians can earn without paying taxes and the average family in Ottawa—Orléans is saving over $3,000 through the current government's tax reduction plan.
Last Thursday I attended the People's Choice Business Award gala sponsored by the Orléans Chamber of Commerce to recognize outstanding businesses as chosen by their customers. Several award winners eloquently pointed out that Orléans was a vibrant and positive environment for small, medium and large businesses.
The actions taken by the Government of Canada have certainly played a key role in the economic vitality of our beautiful corner of this country.
However, the work is far from over. The strength of the global economy is threatened by unwise choices made beyond our borders. The next phase of Canada's economic action plan is designed to ensure our economic recovery for the good of all Canadians, both today and in the years to come, through a number of targeted measures.
Seniors are among my biggest concerns and on countless occasions I have visited these Canadians with invaluable experience at Club 60, le Rendez-vous des aînés, the Roy G. Hobbs Seniors Centre, the Gloucester Senior Adults' Centre and many other places. They will certainly be pleased to see what their government will be doing for them.
The government will implement a new tax credit of up to $2,000 for caregivers.
The GIS will be enhanced. Eligible low-income seniors will receive an additional annual benefit of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.
Finally, we want to remove the limit on the amount of eligible expenses caregivers can claim for their financially dependent relatives under the medical expense tax credit.
Seniors living in Ottawa—Orléans are very involved in their community and they volunteer their time. The district that I have the honour to represent here includes more than 300 community organizations and they will greatly benefit from our super volunteers.
As a servant of the people of Ottawa—Orléans in this place, I am pleased to note that the government wishes to invest an additional $10 million to promote volunteerism, mentorship and social participation of seniors. This amount will also help expand awareness of elder abuse, of which they sometimes fall victim.
Our young people will not be outdone: Ottawa—Orléans is an excellent place to raise a family, with young people aged 19 and under making up almost 27% of the population of Orléans.
Many of our brilliant young people attend well-established institutions, such as the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale, which recently added a new campus in Orléans, just to name a few.
Two important organizations—the College Student Alliance and the Council of Ontario Universities—welcomed the 2011 budget.
On March 22, 2011, the Council of Ontario Universities wrote in a news release that it:
--applauds the federal government's 2011 budget, and its commitment of continued support and new investments which will help to sustain a robust pipeline of research. We are pleased in these tough economic times that the government continues to invest in university research as a critical driver of Canada's future prosperity and economic recovery--
The Council of Ontario Universities adds that this budget makes it clear that the Government of Canada believes strongly in the important role that research plays in driving positive economic and social outcomes for Canadians.
As well, I am sure that the Ottawa Police Service will be delighted with our $20 million investment to promote programs that help young people from joining street gangs or that help them quit. Ottawa, like many other major Canadian municipalities, is not immune to this terrible reality.
The young people of Ottawa—Orléans and I are deeply attached to the arts. Families will be pleased to see that their government is providing a 15% non-refundable tax credit on the first $500 of eligible fees for arts, cultural, recreational and child development activities.
As for our cities, I am sure that Ottawa City Council will be pleased that this government is putting into effect the annual investment in municipalities with the gas tax. Ottawa receives roughly $50 million per year from this annual investment of $2 billion.
Thanks to this money, the City of Ottawa can continue to improve services provided by OC Transpo. This should help reduce traffic on Highway 174, and the environment will ultimately come out the big winner of this investment.
In closing, I wish to point out that the keeping Canada's economy and jobs growing act, tabled by our friend the hon. Minister of Finance, is a credible and sustainable plan that will provide an added boost to the families of Ottawa--Orléans.
In this period of global economic uncertainty, I am convinced that the people of Orléans, like all Canadians, will have the tools to prosper.
Although we are faced with major challenges, the residents of Orléans, and the people of Canada, have shown that they are able to step up to the plate and keep moving forward. My maternal grandfather, the late Omer Lacasse, participated in the community work project that built the St. Joseph's church in Orléans 90 years ago.
The St. Isidore de Prescott arena was built in 1957 by volunteers from that police village over which my uncle, the late Raymond Galipeau, presided. Do members know how much that arena cost? It cost $3,001. That is less than 1% of the cost of arenas in those days.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was right when he said that “Forced labour is less opposed to liberty than are taxes”.
There is an old saying, “Good workers have good tools”. With this plan, Canadians will have the right tools to build a strong, united and prosperous Canada.
I thank the House for its kind attention. I assure the House that I will hear my colleagues' questions with the same respect.