Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Peace River.
I am very proud to rise here today to speak in favour of the budget presented by my hon. colleague, the Minister of Finance. I am proud of our government's economic management in a time of a financial crisis, management that allowed us to come out ahead of most major industrialized countries.
Indeed, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Canada will be the first G7 country to return to a balanced budget. Our government has chosen a prudent yet rigorous approach to reduce public spending and eliminate the deficit. We are focusing on low taxes, job creation and sustained growth, in order to maintain the social programs that are so important to Canadians, while creating a solid financial foundation to ensure long-term prosperity.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is determined to make its activities more efficient and effective, and to save Canadians money. In this regard, the department wholeheartedly supported the Government of Canada's priority to return to a balanced budget through a strategic review of all departmental spending. Public Works and Government Services Canada met all the requirements of this very important exercise. Among other things, PWGSC will continue to support the reallocation of resources under the strategic and operating review announced in the budget in order to meet the government's most important priorities.
Canada's economic action plan has been a great success. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, I know that this department has played a major role in the economic action plan through its accelerated infrastructure program.
I am very proud of what PWGSC has achieved in terms of revitalizing the government's important capital assets; these achievements are nothing short of exemplary. I am very pleased that we have been allocated an additional $148 million over five years to preserve PWGSC's engineering assets.
We are fully committed to ensuring that public infrastructure meets the highest safety standards while creating jobs for local economies.
In the Canada first defence strategy, our government promised Canadians that it would provide our men and women in uniform with the equipment they need to do their difficult and dangerous work. We have already begun to make good on this promise, and we have made excellent progress to date, particularly in the area of shipbuilding. The national shipbuilding procurement strategy is a completely new approach to military procurement. We are optimistic that the lessons learned from this initiative will help us to improve procurement strategies in general.
First and foremost, we decided that our ships would be built in Canada by Canadians. This means that, in addition to building the ships that our navy and Coast Guard need to defend our country, we will also be creating permanent, highly skilled jobs across the country. We will support the marine industry, which is one of the key drivers of the economy and the lifeblood of many communities, and we will do so while fully respecting the department's fundamental values of openness, transparency and fairness.
We consulted extensively with the industry, and listened to what it had to say, before implementing the national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Therefore, we know that long-term planning and stable funding are essential to business growth. That is why we are making this commitment.
We also learned that we must work more closely together within the public service. Therefore, we adopted a teamwork approach for the entire government with respect to defence procurement by placing the emphasis on streamlined monitoring and approval processes.
These significant improvements to the military procurement process can guide our approach to procurement in general. Hence, industry will be able to do business with a Government of Canada that has reduced red tape and the time it takes to sign a contract and start the work.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is pleased, and rightly so, to have reduced the time required to purchase important military goods by more than half. For example, with respect to replacing our aging fleet of Hercules aircraft, the request for proposal for the 17 aircraft was issued in August 2007 and the $1.4 billion U.S. contract was awarded in December 2007. This procurement process, which was approved in June 2006, was completed in just 18 months, well within the anticipated time frame of 48 months.
My government believes that our procurement spending can and should be used to maximize our aerospace, shipbuilding and defence sectors' global competitiveness, and we will ensure that that is the case. The same goes for procurement in general. It must be in line with all of our economic objectives, and one of the areas we are actively targeting is innovation.
Innovation is an essential economic driver, and governments are in a position to choose to support entrepreneurs and dreamers who create, innovate and invent.
In last year's budget, we introduced the Canadian innovation commercialization program to help launch Canadian innovations. I am pleased to announce that the first round was a huge success and that we will soon be starting a second round. The Canadian innovation commercialization program helps Canadian businesses market their new technologies, products and services. Our work will help strengthen and diversify our economy.
Public Works and Government Services Canada is looking for government partners to test the innovations and to provide feedback to the businesses to help them successfully market their innovative products. In short, our government is doing more than innovate, since, in purchasing goods and services to support employment and our country's key industries, we are reaching out to businesses that create jobs and we are supporting them as they develop new products and profitable services. This is an entirely new approach to working with the private sector to help us build the prosperous and safe Canada that we want and are working so hard to achieve.