Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill C-38, the budget implementation act. Indeed, I am proud to participate in this debate, the longest ever allotted for a budget bill certainly within the last 20 years.
Our government's priority remains the economy. This budget is squarely focused on job creation and economic growth for today and into the future. It has been said before, and it is worth repeating, that the best way to reduce poverty is to ensure that Canadians have jobs. That is exactly what this budget will accomplish. How will we do that? By keeping taxes low, investing in our future, creating opportunity and returning to balanced budgets at an appropriate pace. At the same time, we are supporting our families, investing in our communities and taking care of our most vulnerable.
Our government has proven to be excellent managers of the economy. In fact, we are the envy of the world. As members know, Forbes magazine ranks us as the best country on the planet in which to invest and grow a business. That is not accidental, but a result of six years of focused work.
In 2006, members may recall, we launched Advantage Canada, our strategic and comprehensive economic plan to foster strong, sustainable, long-term growth. We set out to show the world who and what we are, a modern, dynamic and tolerant country. We did this by understanding and building on Canada's advantages.
Our tax advantage comes from setting out to reduce taxes for all Canadians and establishing the lowest tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Our fiscal advantage comes from charting a course to eliminate Canada's debt. I am proud to say that we paid down $37 billion before the global recession struck in 2008. Our entrepreneurial advantage comes from committing to reducing unnecessary regulation and red tape and increasing competition in the Canadian marketplace. Our knowledge advantage comes from creating the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world. Our infrastructure advantage comes from building the modern infrastructure we need.
We set out four principles which would guide our policy decisions to improve our quality of life and make Canada a world leader for today and future generations.
We are focusing government on what it does best, so that it is responsible in its spending, efficient in its operations, effective in its results and accountable to taxpayers.
We are creating new opportunities and choices for people by creating incentives for people to excel right here at home, reducing taxes and investing in education, training and transition-to-work opportunities so that Canadians can achieve their potential and have the choices they want.
We are investing for sustainable growth by investing and seeking partnerships with the provinces and the private sector in strategic areas that contribute to strong economies, including primary scientific research, a clean environment and modern infrastructure.
We are freeing businesses to grow and succeed to create the right economic conditions to encourage firms to invest and flourish.
I raise these points today because it is important for Canadians to know that their government has a focused, long-range strategic plan committed to improving their quality of life. Our economic plan is working. Budget 2012 is a continuation of our unwavering commitment to keep Canada the envy of the world.
I am proud to be a member of a government that understands the fundamental economic principle that resources are limited, and that there is only one taxpayer. Unlike the opposition, we understand that governments cannot continually raise taxes. Indeed, government, just like all Canadians, has to keep its house in order. That is what we are doing with budget 2012. We are getting our house in order. Through generating ongoing savings from operational efficiencies and making modest reductions, we are on track to returning to balanced budgets over the medium term. I emphasize that we are doing this without reducing transfers to persons or to other levels of government.
In fact, federal transfers to provinces and territories will reach an all-time high this year of $59 billion, which is $3 billion more than last year.
The facts speak for themselves. We have created almost 700,000 net new jobs since the recession ended in July 2009. These are good jobs: 90% of them are full time. We are one of only two G7 countries to regain all of the jobs lost in the recession. We continue to garner global praise for our management of the economy.
I mentioned that our priorities are jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. I would like to highlight some of the ways we are accomplishing these.
We are lowering taxes. Today the average family of four is paying $3,000 less in taxes than when our government took office in 2006. We did this by reducing the GST from 7% to 5%; allowing seniors to split their pensions between spouses; establishing a working income tax benefit for low-income, working Canadians; establishing the registered disability savings plan and the tax-free savings plan; reducing the lowest personal income tax rate from 16% to 15%; and bringing in measures such as the children's arts tax credit, the children's fitness tax credit and the very popular tax-free savings account.
We reduced business taxes. By reducing corporate taxes to 15%, we are now one of the most attractive places to invest, an incredible advantage we worked hard to achieve. We will see the benefits of this now and in the future. We cut the small business tax rate to 11% and we increased the threshold to $500,000. In total we have provided $60 billion in business tax relief, money that is available for reinvestment, purchasing and, most importantly, hiring.
We created new opportunities through trade. Since 2006 we have signed nine free trade agreements. These are benefiting people in Newmarket—Aurora and all of Canada. As a result, our businesses are benefiting from new economic opportunities that extend beyond our borders. We have exciting possibilities with many more agreements. They are progressing with the EU, India and Japan, just to name a few. Economic action plan 2012 proposes to intensify Canada's pursuit of new trade opportunities.
We are growing the economy by creating value-added jobs through innovation. Canada's long-term economic competitiveness in the emerging knowledge economy demands globally competitive businesses that can innovate, collaborate and create high-value jobs.
We are enacting a comprehensive plan to improve support for business innovation and to make Canadian firms compete better in the global marketplace. We are doing this by investing $1.1 billion to directly support research and development. We are refocusing the National Research Council and injecting an additional $110 million into that institute, which will include the doubling of support for the international research assistance program.
We are helping high-growth, innovative firms to access risk capital by making $500 million available for venture capital activities. This is most welcomed by the entrepreneurs in my riding of Newmarket—Aurora. Investments through programs like the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the industrial research assistance program have helped businesses expand, bring products to market and create jobs. Companies like Gum Products, Axiom, Your Solar Home and Treefrog International have all added high-value jobs and helped diversify our local economy.
We are making investments to assist more young people gain the skills and experience they need by investing in training, infrastructure and opportunity. We are putting $30 million into the opportunities fund to help Canadians with disabilities acquire work experience. We are making EI predictable for employers, allowing them to better make employment decisions while removing the disincentive to work at the same time.
We have also reduced red tape for businesses. Reducing red tape is good for everyone. It helps our businesses compete and creates jobs for Canadians. It represents a low-cost way to stimulate the economy and boost productivity. That is why we are working hard for Canadians.
I look forward to questions from my colleagues.