Mr. Speaker, in economic action plan 2012, our government is looking ahead, not only over the next few years but for the next generation. The reforms presented are substantial, responsible and necessary. They would ensure we remain focused on enabling and sustaining Canada's long-term economic growth.
More specifically, economic action plan 2012 would help create high-value and well-paying jobs by investing into entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research. It would support jobs and growth by investing in training, infrastructure and responsible resource development, thereby providing new opportunities for young Canadians, first nations, newcomers and unemployed Canadians.
We believe in sustainable public finances, which is why we have found fair, balanced and moderate savings in government spending. Budget 2012 would take important steps to address the challenges and help take advantage of the opportunities in the global economy, while ensuring sustainable social programs and sound public finances for future generations here in Canada.
Our government recognizes that Canada's seniors have contributed enormously to our country and continue to do so. This is why we introduced new measures to improve their quality of life and expand their financial opportunities.
The ThirdQuarter project is an innovative online approach to help employers find experienced workers over 50 who want to keep using their skills in the workforce. We propose $6 million to extend and expand this successful project across the country.
Our government is also committed to improving the flexibility in choice for senior workers. For those wishing to work longer, we would provide them with an opportunity to voluntarily defer taking up the old age security benefit, starting in July 2013. Those who wish to do so would, of course, receive a higher annual adjusted pension.
With regard to OAS, our government is committed to sustaining our social programs and to securing retirement for Canadians. However, to ensure the sustainability of OAS, the age of eligibility must be raised. As a result, we would be gradually raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, starting in April 2023 and being at full implementation by January 2029. This is nothing new, as 22 of 34 OECD countries have increased or are planning to increase pension ages in their own public pension programs. Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States are increasing their statutory pension age to 67. The United Kingdom and Ireland are raising it to 68. The Netherlands will raise it to 67 and then link it to life expectancy.
Canada is linked to the global economy now more than ever. Increasing our age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67 is no longer a choice but a necessity.
The facts on OAS speak for themselves. The number of Canadians over the age of 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million over the next 20 years. The OAS program is dated from a time when Canadians were not living that long. Canadians who are privileged to live today have healthier lives. Consequently, the cost of the OAS program would increase from $36 billion per year in 2010 to $108 billion per year in 2030. Meanwhile, by 2030, the number of taxpayers for every senior would be down to two, from four in 2010.
To ensure sustainability of OAS, the age of eligibility must be raised from 65 to 67. We have ensured that the changes are made with substantial notice and with an adjustment period and that they would not affect current retirees or those close to retirement and would give others plenty of time to adjust to the changes and plan for their retirement.
Along with supporting our seniors, we must support our students. We all want Canada's students to succeed in the global economy with the help the best education possible. That is why since 2006 our government has provided the much-needed support for our students.
However, in budget 2012, we would be doing even more to ensure Canadians are better equipped and better integrated into the workforce. We would be increasing support for youth employment opportunities with an additional $50 million spending on improving skills links and career focuses for students, through the youth employment strategy. We would also be doubling graduate interns in innovative firms by investing an additional $14 million, to double the resources of the industrial research and development intern program. This would place even more students into practical hands-on research internships in Canadian companies.
The goal is to have as many Canadians working as possible. Budget 2012 would take action to create jobs now and provide more opportunities to Canadians.
To create jobs now, we will be extending for one year the hiring credit for small businesses, a practical, proven measure that encourages businesses to hire more workers. We will provide new funding to improve border infrastructure and we will make new investments in local infrastructure through the community infrastructure improvement fund.
To provide more opportunities for Canadians, we will make it much easier for Canadians who are out of work to identify new opportunities and for employers to find workers they need. For EI recipients in areas of sporadic employment, we will initiate modest changes to the program to better focus our support for Canadians who are eager to work.
We will provide new incentives and opportunities for members of the first nations living on reserve to participate fully in our economy and to gain greater self-sufficiency.
Finally, we will take action to build a fast and flexible economic immigration system that will be better able to fill gaps in our labour force while at the same time attracting more of the entrepreneurs we need.
As a member of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, I am very pleased to speak on our government's continuing commitment to reducing regulatory burdens faced by businesses of all sizes. In January 2011, our government created the commission, fulfilling a budget 2010 promise. After a year of extensive Canada-wide consultations, the commission brought forth recommendations to reduce irritants to businesses that impede growth, competitiveness and innovation. One of our findings was implemented by the government earlier in the year: the one-for-one rule requiring the government to eliminate an existing regulation whenever it adopts a new one. This assures that at the very least, red tape will cease to increase.
As a former small business owner, I appreciate first-hand the vital role small businesses can have in creating jobs. Our government recognizes this too. That is why in budget 2012 we are committed to helping them grow and to succeed. We have concluded a number of key measures to support the growth of small businesses, including the extension of the hiring credit for small businesses, a temporary credit of up to $1,000 against a small firm's increase in its 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2012. This temporary credit will help about 536,000 employers defray the costs of additional hiring.
We will be increasing direct support for business innovation by providing $110 million per year to the National Research Council. This in turn will double support to small businesses through the industrial research assistance program and expand the services provided to businesses through the program's industrial technology advisers.
There will be $95 million spent over three years and $40 million per year ongoing to make the Canadian innovation commercialization program permanent, which will help Canadian businesses demonstrate their innovative products and services through federal procurement.
Finally, $14 million will be spent to expand the industrial research and development internship program in order to place more Ph.D. students into practical research internships in businesses.
Speaking of Ph.D.s, situated very close to my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook is McMaster University. I was delighted to see that it will be receiving $6.5 million over three years for research projects to evaluate ways to achieve better health outcomes for patients while also making the health care system more cost-effective. Having met with a number of constituents attending McMaster University, I am sure they will be pleased with our government's commitment to this sound institution.
The global economy is changing, and the competition for the brightest minds is intensifying. The pace of technological change is creating new opportunities while making older business practices obsolete. Canada's long-term economic competitiveness in this emerging knowledge economy demands globally competitive businesses that innovate and create high-quality jobs. Budget 2012 announces a commitment of over $1.1 billion over five years to support research and development and $500 million for venture capital. These investments and actions will keep our economy strong, create high-quality jobs and ensure that Canada is a premier destination for the world's brightest minds.
In closing, let me say that I believe this budget delivers our promise to maintain a steady course toward both economic recovery and deficit reduction. I applaud the Minister of Finance and I urge all of my colleagues to support Canada and support this budget.