Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour and privilege for me to rise in the House and speak about jobs and growth as they relate to our budget 2012. Bill C-45 is a continuation of our road map for economic success.
Canada leads the way as a stable financial leader, one of the strongest among the G7. Canada is a better place to do business. In fact, it is outperforming the United States and most countries around the world. Our lower taxes make it possible for businesses to create jobs, especially in these difficult times.
Speaking of creating jobs, the budget measures being debated this week do just that. Our government intends to renew the hiring credit through the act for yet another year. As I heard from business owners in my riding, the hiring credit is very important for job creation. However, the opposition does not support our budget and would therefore vote against this important hiring credit, which has helped local businesses in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and a total of 534,000 employers across Canada last year.
Budget 2012 and the hiring credit rewards those who create jobs. That is particularly important in a rural riding such as mine. If we want people to move their families into rural areas and to remain in rural areas, we must ensure that there are existing jobs and, of course, many new jobs.
Often, people forget that farms are important businesses in the rural areas. In my rural riding, we have a high volume of agricultural businesses. I have heard from the farming community that the hiring credit is particularly good news for farm operations that are looking to expand.
Everyone knows how essential stable businesses are to the prosperity of both urban and rural communities. Not only are they a source of income for Canadian workers, they also deliver indispensable products and services which, in turn, fuel economic growth. What is more, they ensure workers can feed their families.
With budget 2012, the Conservative government continues to support families and small businesses. The extension of the hiring credit is only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, our budget contains several more measures to help taxpayers save money. I sincerely hope opposition members will acknowledge the benefits our budget has in store for ordinary Canadians.
One important measure in Bill C-45 that will help Canadians save for retirement is the implementation of a tax framework for pooled registered pension plans.
Conservatives are committed to helping Canadians save for their retirement, especially Canadians who do not have access to pension plans. Our framework provides a viable retirement savings option for those Canadians who currently do not have access to a workplace pension plan.
Pension plans are an important investment for Canadians to have, and they deserve quality options like the pooled registered pension plan when it comes to saving for the future. This is one of the many reasons the opposition should be supporting Bill C-45.
We also want to support Canadians with severe disabilities and their families by improving the registered disability savings plan. The RDSP is widely regarded as a major policy innovation and positive development in helping to ensure the long-term financial security of children with severe disabilities. It is an initiative delivered by our Conservative government.
The improvements in our budget are the result of extensive consultation with Canadians. Consultations were held with representatives of disability groups, financial institutions, and provincial and territorial governments, including public guardians and trustees. Based on their feedback, a number of positive changes are being proposed that would improve the current system for families with members with disabilities.
Many of us know the great physical, emotional and financial toll that living with a disability can have on families, as they struggle to make their homes and their environment safer and more accessible and to build a better future for themselves. Financial assistance is crucial to them. Our support reflects the government's understanding of the needs of Canadians living with disabilities.
Tax reductions reward Canadians for realizing their full potential and give individuals and families the flexibility to make the choices that are right for them. I must point out that this has been a strong trend within our Conservative government.
In total, our government has introduced more than 140 tax relief measures since 2006. As a result, the average family of four in Canada is saving more than $3,100 per year in taxes. Seniors and pensioners are receiving about $2.5 billion in targeted tax relief for 2012-13 fiscal year. Due to the measures taken since 2006, more than one million low-income Canadians, including about 380,000 seniors, have been removed from the tax rolls as of 2012. The federal tax burden for all Canadians is now the lowest it has been in 50 years.
It is through the implementation of further measures included in our jobs and growth act that we would keep taxes low for families and individuals. I would simply must point out here that in the House we are the only party that advocates for low taxes for Canadians.
As the parliamentary secretary for agriculture, I regularly sit down with farmers from across Canada.
Since 2006, the Conservative government has been working hard on behalf of farmers. Thanks to the hard work and diligent efforts of the Minister of Agriculture, the Canadian agricultural sector is now much stronger, which has greatly benefited farmers.
As parliamentary secretary and as a member of Parliament representing a riding that has many farmers, I have seen with my own two eyes the results of Conservative agricultural programs over the past six years. In our 2012 budget, we will certainly continue to support farmers.
Our government was elected by farmers on a platform to modernize the grain sector in Canada and to keep our economy strong. We have brought in marketing freedom. The next step is to renew the Grain Commission. This has not been done in 40 years. Now, it is definitely time to remove the red tape and unnecessary expenses for our farmers. The changes in the act would eliminate about $20 million in unnecessary costs from the grain handling system, costs that are ultimately passed down to farmers.
Our Conservative government is doing everything it can to reduce costs for all Canadians. For instance, although it was supposed to be debated this week, along with all the other great measures in our jobs and growth act, the changes that we proposed to our MP pension plan have already passed with the support of all parties.
I will take this opportunity to highlight the importance of the approved changes for the Canadian taxpayer, as these are part of our 2012 budget.
It is worth noting that Canadians know the importance of living within their means and that they expect the government MPs and public servants to do the same. That is why the government is committed to managing public finances in a sustainable and responsible way and why we are willing to set an example.
In this five-year period, the portion of premiums paid by the members will go from 14% to 50%, on a 50:50 cost-sharing basis. This means that, come 2017, the premiums paid by members into their pension plans will rise to over $38,000, from $11,000.
This will result in significant savings for taxpayers. What is more, as we all know, the age at which plan members can begin to collect a full pension will also be raised, from age 55 to age 65, beginning in 2016.
This is good news for taxpayers, as we have all agreed.
In addition, public service employees will go from paying 37% of their pensions to 50% by 2017. The age of retirement for new federal workers will also increase, from 60 to 65 years of age. These important changes will not only ensure that the public sector and MPs are paying their fair share, but will also result in billions of dollars in savings. By 2017, the changes to MP pensions and the 420,000 strong public sector pension regime will bring total cumulative savings of $2.6 billion in taxpayer dollars.
I urge the opposition to view the other budget measures that we have drafted with as much energy and support as they did for the changes to the pension plans.
We need to keep our country on the right track of full economic recovery, and that is what our budget would do.
In summary, the budget is great news for my constituents. It is great news for all Canadians. It is a clear road map for economic success. Making decisions during challenging economic times involves making tough choices. I can assure members that our decisions are carefully considered and carefully made, with the priorities and the well-being of Canadians at the forefront.
I urge the opposition to stop playing games with Canadians and the economy and to support the swift passage of this legislation.