Mr. Speaker, there we have it, the first election speech of the Liberal Party right here in the House of Commons.
In any event, our government's top priority is in fact the economy. I appreciate the question from the member for Don Valley East. That is why we will continue to put in place the right conditions for businesses to succeed in this country.
We have made it easier for entrepreneurs to access the funding they need to start and grow their businesses. Under the Canada small business financing program, the government has increased the maximum eligible loan from $250,000 to $350,000, and up to $500,000 for loans toward acquiring real estate.
In my city of St. Catharines, Niagara College and Brock University have received federal support that will allow both of these institutions to help local business innovate and bring new products and processes to the market.
Other businesses in my community that have benefited from government actions are companies like Silicon Knights. The funding received by Silicon Knights will help ensure the city of St. Catherine's continued transition from traditional manufacturing to the tech industry. Their growth and success are important to my community. Not only in terms of job creation but also in terms of attracting and retaining the types of highly skilled workers Niagara needs to prosper.
Our government is taking action to help improve access to business financing. The business credit availability program, Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada are providing significant dollars in direct lending and support like mentorship, accounting and consulting advice all play a role in assisting those companies.
Our government is also working to relieve tax burdens on small businesses. Canada's economic action plan raised the amount of business income eligible for the small business tax rate of 11% to $500,000 from $400,000 as of January 1, 2009.
Moreover, the economic action plan provided significant funding over two years for the National Research Council's industrial research assistance program. This new funding will increase the research, development and commercialization skills of small and medium-sized businesses across Canada, and contribute to the improvement of their productivity and competitiveness.
We have created the advisory committee on small business and entrepreneurship to provide us with insight on the issues and importance of small and medium-sized businesses.
We have heard already from these companies that one of those issues is to simplify regulations and cut red tape. As a result, the government has also created the red tape reduction commission, which has already visited over 10 cities across Canada and is chaired by the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism.
In March 2009, we announced that we achieved our goal of reducing the paperwork burden by 20%. This government believes entrepreneurs should spend their time and energy on building their success and not filing and filling out paperwork.
We have also provided the Canadian Youth Business Foundation with significant dollars over the last two years to support its work with young entrepreneurs and Canada's next generation of business leaders.
We have bolstered our support for the Canada Business Network, where small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs have access in person, on line, and toll-free phone service information about how to start a business, how to manage employees and get specific advice concerning importing and exporting.
The goal of these federal government initiatives is very simple and it speaks directly to the point that the member for Don Valley East has tried to make. We want to make it easier for small business to invest, to create jobs and be successful in this economy.