Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the motion before the House today.
First, let me state that our government supports the motion, as it provides a great opportunity for the government to share the unprecedented federal investments that have been made and continue to be made in housing initiatives. I am sure the hon. member for Shefford would agree that important progress is being made to prevent and reduce homelessness and to ensure Canadians have access to affordable housing. Our government has already made investments to improve access to affordable housing and to address the issue of homelessness in communities across the country. We have funded more than 16,500 projects to do just that.
Motion No. 331 calls on the government to ensure that federal housing programs provide economic benefit to local housing construction businesses. I would like to focus my remarks today on this particular aspect of the motion. Specifically, I want to explain how federal housing initiatives and investments under Canada's economic action plan help create jobs for Canadians while expanding and improving the stock of social housing across the country.
As I am sure the member opposite is aware, our economic action plan invested record amounts in social housing, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across more than 10,000 projects. Our government responded decisively in January of 2009 to the global economic crisis with a plan to stabilize the economy and put Canadians back to work. Over the past few years, we made important investments that have helped Canadians weather the global recession and provide the solutions needed to secure our long-term growth and prosperity.
Our government mobilized all its resources and engaged with all its partners to deliver a $60 billion shot in the arm to the economy, and the plan worked. Budget 2012 reported that more than 30,000 projects were completed under the stimulus phase of the economic action plan, while projects have contributed to a strong labour market recovery with more than 693,000 net new jobs created since July of 2009.
A good number of those jobs have been in the housing sector. Thanks to targeted government investments in housing and the industry's ability to quickly ramp up construction and renovation activities, housing was a source of economic strength and stability in Canada throughout the recession. This was no accident. Our government recognized that housing is a great job creator. Housing construction and renovation employs a large number of Canadians with good wages, and people were put to work quickly. We know that most of the materials used are Canadian-made, and this generates even more jobs and economic activity.
There are other good reasons to invest in housing. Benefits flow to communities all across the country. Certainly not the least of all, investments in housing provide permanent benefits in the form of improving housing and living conditions for Canadians. This is why Canada's economic action plan provided a total of $7.8 billion to build quality housing, encourage home ownership and enhance home energy efficiency. This resulted in more than 15,000 individual projects, which is truly a testament to our strong, decisive action to support Canadians during the downturn. It included everything from tax breaks for first-time homebuyers to a temporary home renovation credit that millions of families took advantage of. These investments encouraged Canadians to improve their homes, generating business for renovation contractors, building product manufacturers and retailers across the country.
Even though the party across the way voted against all of these initiatives, I am sure the hon. member will be pleased to know that we continue to invest heavily in housing. The economic action plan also included more than $2 billion over two years to renovate existing and build new social housing, which has resulted in more than 1,300 social housing projects. To ensure that these funds flowed as quickly and effectively as possible, the majority of these investments were delivered by provinces and territories through amendments to existing housing agreements.
These initiatives in social housing targeted some of the most vulnerable groups in society. Over two years, our government provided $400 million to build more housing for low-income seniors, which created 21,000 projects, and $75 million to build housing for people with disabilities, which created more than 400 projects. A further $200 million was set aside to create more than 200 projects for Canadians living in the north, and $400 million was invested in housing on reserve.
Our Conservative government also invested $1 billion to renovate and retrofit existing social housing, to help vulnerable Canadians with needed improvements to their homes.
This funding supported energy retrofits, such as upgrades to heating, electrical and ventilation systems, as well as improvements to structural elements and other building components so that these units could continue to provide safe, affordable housing for years to come.
Thanks to these economic action plan investments, budget 2012 reported that an estimated 16,500 social housing units and first nations housing projects had been completed or were under way across Canada. In addition to expanding and improving the stock of social housing, these projects created jobs and helped protect Canada's economy from the deepest global economic downturn since the 1930s.
Hon. members will recall that Canada's economic action plan also included $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure projects in new or existing residential areas. These loans were intended to help municipalities undertake a wide range of projects, everything from upgrading or expanding water, waste water or solid waste systems to building or repairing roads, bridges, sidewalks or green spaces.
As we would expect, the interest from municipalities was strong. More than 270 loans were approved under this program for the full $2 billion that was available. The municipal infrastructure lending program not only allowed municipalities to undertake needed projects earlier and at a lower cost than expected, but it also freed up municipal tax dollars for other important purposes.
What this means for Canada is communities that are better able to meet the needs of current residents and better positioned to manage growth in the future. It also meant jobs, a lot of jobs, more jobs for Canadians.
The Canadian economic recovery is under way, reflecting the extraordinary measures in our government's economic action plan and Canada's strong economic fundamentals.
Canada's economic action plan is now in its next phase, a low-tax plan for jobs and growth. Economic action plan 2012 focuses on the drivers of growth and job creation: innovation, investment, education, skills and communities.
Our government continues to invest in housing. We know from past experience that these investments will provide economic benefits to local housing construction businesses as called for in the motion by the hon. member for Shefford.
We also know that they will expand the stock of affordable rental housing. They will improve quality of life for low-income Canadians, seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in society, and they will contribute to stronger communities and a stronger economy.
Let me again thank the hon. member for his motion. Ensuring safe, affordable housing for Canadians is a matter of interest for everyone in this House. We have no hesitation in supporting the motion by the hon. member for Shefford because we have delivered on housing initiatives for Canadians.