Mr. Speaker, you do reaffirm my belief in the wisdom of the Chair. I can do this on a very repetitious basis, drawing every example I use back to the fact that it requires comprehensive legislation. If the opposition wishes that I do that, I may fall into what you have suggested is not appropriate, and that is repetitiveness. I will try not to do that either.
What I was speaking about was Europe and the threat to the global economy, the indecisions, the lack of a comprehensive plan among the European Union community.
I will go back to my first statement that a comprehensive plan requires comprehensive legislation. That is what the budget implementation act, Bill C-38, was. I suggest there will be comprehensive legislation following soon to implement the rest of a comprehensive plan to keep Canada on track.
Another example I would use is in the U.S. There seems to be some indecision down there, a lack of being able to make a firm decision, perhaps a lack of a comprehensive plan such as we had in Bill C-38, which was a comprehensive legislation.
The U.S. needs to get its fiscal house in order. We are well on our way to doing that. It also needs to ensure that there is certainty in the short term so markets and investors can be confident that economic growth will not be interrupted. That is what we saw in our comprehensive legislation in the spring.
In these uncertain times, Canada's economic stability depends on the implementation of a clear plan, a comprehensive plan to safeguard our economy. This situation demands that Canada cannot be complacent. We cannot allow political gridlock and instability to stall vital economic and fiscal reforms as we are witnessing in the U.S. and Europe.
Moreover, in a rapidly changing and global marketplace where Canada faces tough competition from emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, China and India, we cannot afford to delay action to support our economy and measures to return to balanced budgets.
Therefore, in budget implementation one, Bill C-38, we actually put forward solutions to allow our Canadian companies to compete.
I think the argument is very valid, that in order for our economy to continue to grow, we need to put in place legislation and we need to do that soon. We gathered it together in a budget implementation act and we will have the second one coming soon that actually does that. It will allow our Canadian companies to compete internationally, to be able to export their resources, to streamline that process and to ensure that it is an environmentally sound plan. That is all part of our comprehensive budget plan.
The challenges that our economy faces are not small and one dimensional and neither is our plan. It is comprehensive and ambitious. It responds to the magnitude of the threats that Canada faces in this uncertain climate today.
In order to implement the plan, certain measures require legislation to be adopted by Parliament. In April 2012, we introduced Bill C-38, the one I would suggest the Liberals are referring to here today, which included provisions to spur job growth, to keep social programs sustainable, to eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending of taxpayer dollars and much more, hence, the comprehensive budget implementation bill.
Let me give the members opposite some examples of this action and explain how we plan on spurring job growth. One is by developing our resources responsibly. The NDP, when it comes to resources, has suggested it would like to implement a job-killing carbon scheme that would increase the price of absolutely everything we buy and consume. That was not part of our plan and it never will be.
Our government knows that this would not work. Instead, we are focused on responsible resource development, which will streamline the review process for major economic projects by providing predictable timelines for project approvals. It will prevent long delays that kill potential jobs and stall economic growth by putting valuable investments at risk. Most important, responsible resource development will create good, skilled, well-paying jobs in cities and communities all across this great country while at the same time maintaining the highest possible standards for protecting the environment. That required a comprehensive piece of legislation, Bill C-38.
With emerging economies in Asia and around the world providing the potential to create even more jobs and growth, our government will act swiftly to implement its plan for responsible resource development in the interests of the Canadian economy.
However, that is not all, as we have much more to do. We are making employment insurance a more efficient program, one that is focused on job creation and opportunities by removing disincentives to work and supporting unemployed Canadians.
We are also helping build a fast and flexible economic immigration system to meet Canada's labour market needs by reducing the backlog in the federal skilled worker program, returning applications and refunding fees to those who applied prior to February 27, 2008.
Our government is also making fiscally responsible decisions to ensure that spending stays in check and does not go down the path that we have seen in many European countries. To help achieve this we are modernizing Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system. This as well requires changes to legislation and is why we table comprehensive legislation. This alone will save taxpayers $11 million every year.
Nonetheless, this plan is about much more than reducing spending. As a government we have a responsibility to Canadians to ensure that Canada's social programs remain sustainable over the long term. That is why in budget 2012 we took action to ensure that the retirement security of all Canadians, now and into the future, is sound by placing Canada's old age security program on a sustainable path. Beginning in April of 2023, the age of eligibility for OAS and the guaranteed income supplement will gradually begin to increase from 65 to 67. These changes reflect demographic shifts in Canada's population and are necessary to ensure that OAS and GIS are available for future generations of Canadians. This also requires comprehensive legislation so that we can enact the necessary changes to make both of these programs sustainable.
The problem with the members opposite is that they do not think down the road; they do not realize the changes that we need to make to make sure that these programs stay sustainable.
Our government is taking real action to ensure that Canada's economy continues to create jobs and grow. What, you may ask, does our government's plan do for Canadian families and communities? That would be one of the best questions to ask here today and I shall answer it.
I will talk about economic action plan 2012 and how it builds on our government's strong record by proposing new measures for Canadian families. For example, our action plan will improve the application of the GST and HST and income tax systems to a number of health care services, drugs and medical devices to reflect the evolving nature of the health care sector and to better meet the health care needs of Canadians.
That was required both in the comprehensive legislation that we passed and in legislation that will be forthcoming soon. Specifically, it would mean exempting from the GST and HST pharmacists' professional services, other than their prescription drug dispensing services, which are already zero-rated under the GST and HST.
It would also mean expanding the zero-rated treatment under the GST-HST for corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses supplied on the prescription of an eye-care professional to include corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses supplied on the order of a qualified optician who is authorized, under provincial law, to issue such an order.
It would mean expanding the list of health care professionals on whose orders certain medical and assistive devices are zero-rated under the GST and HST so as to reflect the increasing involvement of health care professionals, such as nurses, in giving orders for these devices.
It would also mean adding to the list of non-prescription drugs that are zero-rated under GST and HST.
It is obvious that we needed to open up the Income Tax Act to do that. It is part of the budget. It was referred to in the budget. It is part of our action plan. It requires comprehensive legislation to do that. That is just one of the reasons I will be opposing the motion today.
It would also mean expanding the list of GST and HST zero-rated medical and assistive devices and the list of expenses a person may claim for income tax purposes under the medical expense tax credit to include such things a blood coagulation monitors for use by people who require anti-coagulation therapy.
Every time I say zero-rated, I see a confused look on the faces of the opposition members. This is not surprising since we all know that the Liberals actually favour higher taxes. Perhaps that is why they actually opposed our budget implementation act, Bill C-38.
We know what the Liberals do when they have a chance to support initiatives that would lower taxes for Canadian families. We have seen example after example. They simply vote against these measures. That is exactly what they did with policies like the refundable working income tax benefit back in 2007. That is exactly what they did with our government's economic action plan.
Let us take a look at some of the initiatives that would also help Canadian communities but which the opposition also voted against.
Our government's plan would make direct investments in research that would support our communities. Canada's position as a world leader in research excellence is a key source of the discoveries, innovations and advanced skills that not only result in better health outcomes but also drive job creation and opportunities in the knowledge economy.
The measures in the economic action plan would help strengthen Canada's leadership position by supporting industry/academic research collaborations, as well as advanced health and public policy research initiatives of strategic importance. We all understand how important that is. The minister sitting near me here today is leading that incredible challenge, and we are winning on that.
We are announcing new chairs at universities and colleges across this country. Why is that? It is because we enacted legislation that would allow and fund that. We are proud of that record.
We have many examples. For example, in the area of health research, we have allocated $15 million per year for patient-oriented research. That was part of Bill C-38, which the opposition voted against.
I could go on and on about all the things the opposition voted against, However, I think the fundamental comment I will finish with is that I am proud to oppose the opposition motion this morning. We have great reason to think we are on the right track.