Mr. Speaker, I will begin again then. I am honoured to speak today to Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act.
As Canadians know, our government's top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. We have ensured that we have provided initiatives that will build a strong economy and foster job growth. We are dedicated to supporting Canadian families and communities, protecting our environment and supporting business and development.
We invested over $63 billion in targeted stimulus, an investment that helped to protect Canada from the worst global recession. It is no wonder that Canada has been envied by countries around the world as we have weathered the economic slowdown much better than other countries.
Our government understands that the global recovery remains fragile. There are still a lot of Canadians looking for work and that is why economic action plan 2012 moves ahead to secure jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canada.
We are supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world-class research. We are acting on the Jenkins report, announcing $1.1 billion to directly support research and development, and $500 million for venture capital.
Prior to becoming the member of Parliament for Willowdale, I was an entrepreneur. I started five businesses and had staff in these businesses ranging from 5 people to 400. These measures are important to Canadian entrepreneurs.
Innovation in science and technology is important to our government and that is why we will invest $37 million annually to Canada's granting councils.
We know that it is important to improve conditions for business investment and that is why we believe in responsible resource development. We are ensuring that major resource projects are not bogged down by the regulatory system that one project receives only one review in a clearly defined timeframe.
In undertaking the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history, we know it is important to growing our trade relations with countries that offer markets in which we need to expand.
As a former entrepreneur, I know all too well the importance of having good business conditions. In extending the hiring credit for small business, we want to encourage additional hiring and lower total business payroll taxes by $205 million.
This government knows that it is important to keep Canadian families strong, and that is why economic action plan 2012 introduced several key measures to help Canadian families. They include: first, improving the registered disability savings plan to help ensure the long-term financial security of children with severe disabilities; second, improving first nations water infrastructure with over $330.8 million to ensure safe and clean drinking water on first nations reserves; third, investing in small public infrastructure with $150 million to support repairs and improvements to existing community facilities; fourth, promoting more active lifestyles with continued support for participation and its community-based physical activity and fitness programs; and fifth, enhancing the victims fund to ensure victims of crime have an effective voice in the federal justice and corrections system.
Those build on top of the strong action our Conservative government has taken to support families since 2006.
I will give the House other examples of what we have done to help Canadians. We have cut taxes over 140 times since forming government. We cut the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%. We removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We reduced the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly $1,000 back in the pocket of an average family. We introduced the universal child care benefit, offering families more choice in child care by providing $1,200 a year for each child under the age of 6. We introduced the family caregiver tax credit, a credit of up to $2,000 for caregivers of all types of infirm dependent relatives, including spouses, common-law partners and minor children. We introduced the child tax credit, providing personal income tax relief of up to $320 in 2011 for each child under the age of 18.
We introduced the children's fitness tax credit, promoting physical fitness among children through a tax credit of up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with physical activity. We introduced the children's arts tax credit of up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with children's artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.
We brought in the landmark tax free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP.
We doubled the in-study income exemption to $100 a week, allowing full-time students to earn more money without affecting their loans.
We eliminated the marriage penalty for one-earner families by increasing the spousal amount to the same level as the basic personal amount.
We introduced the registered disability savings plan to help families with children with disabilities.
In addition, families are benefiting from other new targeted measures, like the first-time homebuyers tax credit, the expanded homebuyers plan and the public transit tax credit.
I know that my constituents of Willowdale work hard for their paycheques and they believe in lower taxes. I am proud to be part of a government that supports low taxes and leaving more money where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadians and job-creating businesses. That is why we have cut taxes over 140 times since 2006, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. We have removed over one million low-income families, individuals and seniors from the tax rolls altogether.
We have cut taxes in every way government collects them: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes and much more. This includes cutting the lowest personal income tax to 15%; increasing the amount Canadians can earn tax free; providing seniors with pension income splitting; reducing the GST from 7% to 5%, putting nearly another $1,000 back in the pockets of an average family; introducing the child fitness tax credit and child art tax credit; bringing in the landmark tax free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP; reducing the small business tax from 12% to 11%; and lowering business taxes to 15%, as passed in Parliament in 2007.
Indeed, our Conservative government low tax record has provided tax savings for typical Canadian families totalling over $3,100.
Due in part to the government's low tax plan, Forbes Magazine ranked Canada number one in the world for business to grow and create jobs.
Our economic action plan 2012 builds on our Conservative government's low tax record, including extending the hiring credit for small business for an additional year and providing business with a credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2012 employment insurance premiums over those paid in 2011. This new tax credit will help up to half a million employers with additional hiring, reducing small business' 2012 payroll costs by about $205 million.
Supporting Canadian students is also a priority for this government. Seneca College is located in my riding of Willowdale. I was honoured recently to join the Minister of State for Science and Technology in the announcement of a grant to bridge innovation and commercialization. We know that Canada's students need to succeed in the global economy with the help of the best education possible. That is why, since 2006, our Conservative government has provided much needed support for our students.
I will now share with the House some of the measures we are taking to prepare our youth for the challenges of the 21st century. We are investing more than $10 billion annually in students and education, including more than $3 billion in transfers to the provinces for post-secondary education and over $7 billion in direct support for students and their families.
We are investing $2.5 billion per year to help students to deal with the cost of education through grants, scholarships and basic programs.
We have established the Canada student grant program, which is providing up to $250 per month of study to low-income students and up to $100 per month to middle-income students.
We are providing $140 million per year to encourage more young Canadians to pursue apprenticeships, including the new apprenticeship incentive grant and apprenticeship completion grants. We created the new apprenticeship job creation tax credit to encourage employers to hire new apprentices.
We have lowered the in-study interest rate for part-time Canadian student loan recipients from prime plus 2.5% to zero, bringing them in line with full-time students.
We have increased the family income threshold for part-time Canada student loan and Canada student grant recipients, bringing the eligibility thresholds in line with thresholds used for the full-time students.
We have invested $9 million in the north to expanded territorial colleges' literacy and numeracy programs, including in remote communities.
However, in the economic action plan 2012, we are doing more to ensure Canadians students are even better equipped and better integrated into the workforce. We are increasing support for youth employment opportunities. We are doubling graduate internship to innovative firms. We are clarifying eligibility for federal loan forgiveness.
I am proud of the measure that this government has taken. I know that these initiatives will be good for my constituents in Willowdale and for all Canadians. I am proud to stand in support of the economic action plan. I ask members of the House to support this plan today.