Thank you, to my colleagues.
Let me also thank and recognize that Canadians gave our Prime Minister and this government a very strong mandate. That includes a strong mandate from Essex as part of that.
I rise today in support of Bill C-3, our budget implementation bill, an act supporting vulnerable seniors and strengthening Canada's economy. It is a budget that was in large measure originally tabled in March. The budget this time around is nearly identical to that one, with many benefits for the Windsor-Essex region back home and, of course, important benefits for Canada.
Bill C-3 and its measures build on our government's impressive record, a record where, for example, our economic action plan has created over 560,000 jobs in the last two years; where we have been on a low tax track for businesses, both small and large; where, during the downturn, stimulus was temporary, as we wanted it only to sustain us and to stimulate the economy at that time, not to create long-term structural deficits; a record where we paid down debt before we went into the great recession and one that will balance the budget or better by 2014; and a record that includes a 33% increase in funding to support public health care.
There are important new changes since the March budget. There is the beginning of the phasing out of the per-vote subsidy for political parties and also the beginning to set aside funds for the federal government's obligatory one-time transitional payment to Quebec for its impending decision to harmonize its retail sales tax with the goods and services tax. I am surprised, of course, that opposition MPs from Quebec voted against this measure when voting on the budget in principle. Such harmonization and the amount of the transitional payment, as I recall, were unanimously supported by the National Assembly in Quebec.
The measures in Bill C-3 that are important for Windsor-Essex and for our country are first of all the very specifically articulated increased support in our budget for the Windsor-Essex parkway. That is the extension of Highway 401, where it currently ends outside the city of Windsor, to what will be a new international border crossing, a bridge between Windsor and Detroit. Our commitment in 2007, of course, was to fund up to 50% of the eligible capital costs of that particular project, a project that will create 12,000 jobs for one of the highest unemployment areas in Canada.
If I could take a step back, budget 2006 established our borders and gateway crossings fund, about $2.1 billion. Budget 2007, which we termed “Advantage Canada”, laid out a five page vision statement on the border crossing at Windsor and Detroit and in that budget we made a $400 million down payment toward the Windsor-Essex parkway. As we see now in budget 2011, the current incarnation of our budget, we are promising up to $1 billion to be set aside from that fund. So, that is a very critical one.
As I talk about our government's support for this project, I am disappointed to see that New Democrat members are opposed, particularly the two New Democrat MPs from Windsor West and Windsor—Tecumseh. They profess verbally to support the DRIC, the new international crossing, and the Windsor-Essex parkway that connects Highway 401 to that important crossing.
I will remind members that this is no minor infrastructure project. We talked about 12,000 jobs from the parkway, up to 30,000 jobs to be created by the parkway and the bridge crossing. It is the top infrastructure priority in Canada, supporting a huge bilateral trade relationship with the United States. These New Democrat members should have been standing in their place and voting for it in 2006, 2007, and now on budget 2011, and actually supporting this project.
If they had the courage of their convictions, where they say they support it, they should actually be standing, even if it means breaking ranks with their party to support our budget.
Second, what is important about our budget implementation?
It is good for industry. The accelerated capital cost writeoff, for example, was begun in 2006 under our government and was extended again in a later budget to 2011. Now, Bill C-3 extends that, our budget extends that for a further two years. It is timely for the retooling for our industries, our manufacturers, increasing their productivity precisely at a time where the Canadian dollar is high. Couple that with previous budget measures where we created a tariff-free zone for machinery imports and we have a perfect nexus, the perfect opportunity for our industries, particularly the machine, tool, die, and mould sector back home which supports not only the auto industry but the aerospace and other sectors. It is a perfect time. It is a historic boost, allowing them to continue their retooling, increasing their productivity and their competitiveness.
The boost of funding for the industrial research assistance program, IRAP, is a huge one. Our economic action plan gave a historic boost during the stimulus period for our businesses. We are continuing that with increases to the IRAP this time around.
Bill C-3 is good for rural Canada. How about more rural doctors and nurses, a new firefighters' tax credit, and new funding for agriculture, especially to improve food safety? All are very critical for rural Canada.
Our budget is obviously very good for seniors with an immediate boost to the guaranteed income supplement. I understand we are working against a very critical deadline of July 1 to get that critical funding to our poor seniors. This GIS measure represents continued progress on retirement security begun by this government with improved rules around direct benefit, direct contribution pensions, RRSPs, RRIFs, our commitment with the provinces on a new pooled retirement pension plan and our continued ongoing talks with the provinces and territories over a modest enhancement to the CPP.
The opposition can join us in furthering retirement security by supporting our budget and this immediate boost to the guaranteed income supplement.
What else is in store from the government with respect to the budget?
How about an increase for Canada's summer jobs, an additional $10 million a year during the stimulus period. Guess what? Now it is permanent. It is ongoing. That is 3,600 student summer jobs. That is not insignificant when they are looking for valuable skills that they can later take into full-time employment and beyond.
These measures are built on our government's record. We have had a low-tax plan for jobs since 2006, especially in 2007, a $200 billion package over five years, not only for businesses but for consumers by lowering taxes, increasing disposable income for consumers to stimulate the economy and create jobs. We have our economic action plan, the stimulus that has created 560,000 jobs in the past two years. We are on a low-tax plan for our families saving $3,000 per year for the average family of four. Our move to balance the budget will create the room for us to implement a family tax cut. With regard to income splitting, we did it for seniors with respect to their pensions. We are now going to do it for families. That is an incredible thing.
Our record includes strong support for the auto industry. In 2008, we established a national automotive strategy and we backed it with money. The first investment went to the Essex engine plant down our way to increase and expand the footprint of the automotive industry. It includes our investments in health care.
I will be supporting this bill. It supports rural Canada, our manufacturers and farmers. It will allow the immediate and timely boost to the guaranteed income supplement for our poor seniors. It supports the single largest infrastructure project in Ontario, the DRIC crossing and the Windsor-Essex Parkway, specifically.
I call on opposition members to support Bill C-3 with their conscience and also with their votes.