I want to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, and the other Speakers who have been appointed to be the pilots in the House of Commons to ensure that everyone gets fair and equitable time on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Kitchener Centre.
As this is my first speech in the 41st Parliament, I would like to take the opportunity to thank a few people who worked so hard for me in the last election. First of all, I want to thank my family, especially my husband and my children, who supported me in a major way to get re-elected.
I want to thank John Feldsted, who was my campaign manager, and Kaz Malkiewicz, who was my official agent and worked so hard to ensure that the campaign was run very well.
I want to especially thank the Kildonan--St. Paul Electoral District Association. These people are dedicated and they worked very hard.
My thanks also go to the number of volunteers who came in every day to go door-to-door and who worked hard to ensure I was elected. I am pleased to say that it was a resounding victory.
Last but not least, I want to say a special thanks to the constituents of Kildonan--St. Paul, who have asked me to return to Ottawa to represent their concerns and their values.
Kildonan--St. Paul is an amazing riding. It has diverse ethnic groups. I am just so pleased to stand here in the House of Commons to speak to this budget today representing those constituents.
As the member of Parliament for Kildonan--St. Paul, there is no more important responsibility placed on me than accounting for the finances of our federal government. I have to give a special congratulations to our Prime Minister. History will tell that we have the best prime minister that this country has ever had.
I also want to congratulate our finance minister, who has done yeoman's work. He listened to Canadians and associations, and groups all across this country to produce a balanced approach in the budget, an approach that will stabilize Canada's economy, an approach that will keep people working and families in their homes. The budget addresses many of the issues that families are concerned with on a daily basis.
I have to congratulate the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister for ensuring that commerce and trade, business, and public safety are well balanced. Our country is well ahead of many other countries. We have very strong leadership. The last election proved that to be true. Canadians have a stable Conservative majority government that will continue to serve the public in the next four years. This was a real vote of confidence from the people of Canada and a special thanks to the people of Canada for giving us this opportunity.
Today we live in an age of global fiscal uncertainty. However, our Conservative government has taken significant measures to ensure Canadians can prosper, provide for their families, and strengthen our economy.
On June 6, 2011, the Minister of Finance presented the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth. The budget focuses on four key priorities: first, supporting job creation; second, supporting families and communities; third, investing in innovation, education and training; and fourth, preserving Canada's fiscal advantage. This is very important to the economy and growth of our country.
During the last election, many of my constituents took the time to share with me their concerns and priorities. Among the issues raised, there was a clear and consistent theme: my constituents wanted our government to provide for Canada's seniors, who have invested their lives to build our great nation.
They wanted support and tax relief provided for their families. They wanted our streets to be kept safe from violent criminals. In particular, they wanted to support small businesses because, like infrastructure, they are the engines that support our economy all across this nation. As well, what continually came forward was providing support for our brave volunteer firefighters.
Having listened carefully to the presentation of the budget last week, clearly I am delighted that our Minister of Finance has carefully and thoughtfully constructed a budget that addresses the needs of my constituents in Kildonan—St. Paul and indeed addresses the needs of Canadians all across our nation.
Since 2006, our government has provided significant assistance to seniors. It has provided over $2.3 billion in annual tax relief for seniors and pensioners, and removed over 85,000 seniors from the tax rolls. However, there is more to be done in my riding and across our nation.
By enhancing the GIS, eligible low income seniors will receive an additional annual top up benefit of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. During the last election, as I was having coffee parties and speaking to seniors groups, they were absolutely delighted with that. It was a long time coming. They were very happy that this would happen under a stable Conservative government. This represents an investment of more than $300 million per year. This measure will further improve the fiscal security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors across our nation.
An additional $10 million was put into the budget for the very important new horizons for seniors program to promote volunteerism, mentorship, the social participation of seniors, and to expand awareness of elder abuse. This enhanced support will further the program's objectives by funding a greater number of projects. In my riding, this new horizons for seniors program has done much good. Seniors get together, they socialize, they learn, and they grow. It has been a catalyst for promoting many wonderful things for our seniors.
Also, an additional $50 million will be used to extend the targeted initiative for older workers.
Support and tax relief for families has been well-established through this budget. That is why the 15% non-refundable new children's arts tax credit of up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and development activities is something that is very beneficial to families.
Many families are in what we call the sandwich generation whereby they are taking care of elders. The 15% non-refundable new family caregiver tax credit on an amount of $2,000 for caregivers of all types is very important, especially for relatives that they are taking care of.
There are many other things such as the enhanced medical expense tax credit; the eco-energy retrofit program, that the member from Sarnia has just talked about; and the benefits to help students. These have enhanced families to such an extent that they can balance their budgets, look forward to educating their children, and look forward to having a balanced, stable budget from the government.
We have cut taxes over 120 times since forming government. We have cut the personal income tax rate to its lowest level of 15%. We have removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We have increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 back in the pockets of an average family. We have done many more things. We have introduced the universal child care benefit, offering families more choice in child care.
We have done many other things to build families, enhance their ability to grow their families, and to prosper in this country.