Pardon me, Madam Speaker.
If we look back at what this government did in 2008, it seems to have a habit of letting things deteriorate before taking action. We need measures, we need a job creation plan, and we need these things now.
Today the opposition calls upon the government to take immediate action to: promote job creation; ensure that all Canadians can rely on a stable retirement future; undertake strategic investments to fix the crumbling infrastructure essential to our economy and the security of Canadians; and maintain the full public sector contribution to the Canadian economy in order to increase Canada's competitiveness and divert another recession.
The total Canadian net government debt is 33.7% of GDP compared to an OECD average of 62.6%. That is about half. Interest rates are at historic lows and money costs much less. This provides an opportunity to make strategic investments in jobs and infrastructure, which are sorely needed. The Toronto Board of Trade emphasizes that a strong infrastructure foundation is a top priority in ensuring economic competitiveness now and into the future. In fact, the OECD has concluded that Toronto's lack of transportation infrastructure is a leading drag on the region's global competitiveness.
We are not just talking about spending but also about investing. There is a difference. We need to express confidence in Canada's economy and attract private sector investment by investing in targeted incentives for the real job creators. With respect to critical public infrastructure and initiatives, we need to invest in roads, bridges, public transit, and broadband Internet, greening the economy, ensuring first nations have potable water in every community, training workers for the new economy, housing, and early childhood education.
The Department of Finance recognizes that infrastructure investment has more than five times the economic impact that corporate income tax cuts have. This fact was published in an appendix to the 2009 budget. Canadians want action on job creation and real economic growth, not billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways and cuts to services. Economists agree. Now is not the time to cut billions of dollars out of the economy. Strategic investment is required to support job creation and economic growth now and into the future.
New Democrats believe the best way to improve our economy and address our debt is through policies that would get Canadians back to work. This is no time to retrench. It is time for public investment. We can express confidence in the Canadian economy by undertaking the significant investments in infrastructure that are necessary for Canada to remain competitive in the future economy.
We all know that jobs are the key to a stable economy. We need to stop politicizing the situation. What we need to be doing right now is putting aside party differences and working together to find pragmatic solutions that encourage job creation, economic productivity and investments that will increase the expertise of our Canadian workers.
These solutions would include a new employee tax credit for employers who retain new hires for a year or more and a reduction in taxes for small businesses, not large corporations. It is small businesses that invest in job creation here at home. That is why we are urging the government to drop the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. That two percentage point tax break would help create jobs and growth right here in our communities.
We need a 21st-century energy strategy, but the Conservatives keep opting for an outdated approach. Canada will not progress if it continues to focus on developing gas and oil instead of clean technology, and that is going to harm both the environment and Canada's economy. It is time to build the economy of the future by investing in green infrastructure so that renewable energy is accessible throughout the country.
The official opposition rises today to call upon the government to put politics aside and focus more on the horizon and less on drawing lines in the sand. It must take immediate action to put Canadians back to work to grow our economy now and into the future.