Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to be able to join the debate on Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, our government's plan to keep Canada on course toward long-term growth and prosperity. I want to emphasize to my opposition colleagues in the NDP, the Liberal Party and others in this place that, through the measures that they have undertaken to delay this budget, they are in fact indicating that their concern is not with everyday Canadians who want to see long-term economic growth and prosperity in this country.
At a time when the global economy remains fragile, our government is focused and will remain focused on those Canadians hardest hit by the economic downturn by helping create and protect jobs.
When it comes to creating a job market that is strong and efficient, our government continues to take strong and responsible action. We talk a lot in this place about jobs. We talk about the importance of providing opportunity for everyday Canadians. How does a government do that? Clearly, a government does not hire each and every person who is looking for a job. We create an environment that attracts investment and opportunity and provides that opportunity to Canadians. So far, by any measure, this government's actions are clearly providing results for everyday Canadians.
Since 2009, I know that this number has been said many times in this place, employment has increased by over 760,000 net new jobs. We have said many times that it is the strongest job growth in the entire G7, but that is actually understating it. It is the strongest job performance in the G7 by a very wide margin. It is in no small part due to the measures in Canada's economic action plan dating back to January 2009. I was pleased to participate in the creation of the budget. I think frankly Canadians, generations from now, will look back and say that it was an incredible plan and an incredible document, and that the government of the day should be celebrated for its foresight. More than nine in ten jobs created since July 2009 have been full-time positions, and close to 80% of them are in high-wage industries in the private sector.
When we listen to what Moody's, a respected global credit rating agency, had to say about Canada we should all be encouraged as Canadians. It stated:
In the view of Moody's sovereign analysts, the Government of Canada's Aaa ratings are based on the country's very high degree of economic resiliency, its high government financial strength and its low susceptibility to event risk....The outlook for Canada's ratings is stable. The country was affected less than most other advanced economies by the global credit crisis and recession, and its government financial position remains comfortable.
However, we cannot rest on this success.
I just heard my hon. colleague from Essex speak a few moments ago. I know he is passionate about the southwestern Ontario economy and creating opportunity in that economy. His economy is not so different from mine. The foundational strength of my economy, originally founded locally, was in settling the land and in agriculture, but later grew. Along with the Canadian Pacific Railway, we grew a manufacturing base in Peterborough and in our region that has supported families and economic growth for generations.
However, we want not just to preserve that but to create growth in that sector. In Peterborough we have seen significant growth in our manufacturing sector, contrary to what members may hear. Through the Kawartha manufacturing initiatives, the Tri-Association Manufacturers Initiative, we have been able to create a significant number of jobs. We have done it with skills, with skills training, with innovation, all supported by this government and its economic action plan. That is how the next generation of manufacturing and the people who will manufacture those goods will find success in this country. We will do it by focusing on innovation and by investing with these companies and supporting them.
My colleague talked about the auto sector, but it is obviously much further and much broader reaching than just the auto sector, but we will also open markets.
So much of what we are working to do, not just in this document, but every day, and when we are focused on the economy, we are focused on opening up markets, providing opportunities and creating jobs right at home.
I want to go through a few measures in our economic action plan 2012. As I said, it reinforces the government's commitment to move toward an immigration system, which is focused on the economy as well, with the following three key steps, and this is also something that is very important in my region.
First, we will return applications and refund up to $130 million in fees to certain federal skilled worker applicants. This measure will improve responsiveness of Canada's immigration system by more immediately directing our efforts toward addressing modern labour market realities.
Second, we will work with the provinces and territories and other stakeholders to support further improvements of foreign credential recognition and to identify the next set of target occupations beyond 2012.
Third, we will continue to consider additional measures to strengthen and improve the temporary foreign worker program and we will help support economic recovery and growth by better aligning the program with labour market demands.
This is all part and parcel with our larger plan to ensure that we do not just create jobs, but that we have the skilled people we need and, frankly, the raw people power to support the growth of our economy. When our economy grows, it benefits all of us. It provides all of the funding for so many things that so many people in this place care about, whether it is health care, or education, or transfers to the provinces, or support for our foreign embassies and the many good activities that Canada undertakes through CIDA and other agencies, all of these things, all of the strengths that the federal government has is based on a strong economy, a strong labour market, a strong natural resources sector. It is critical.
It never ceases to amaze me that when we come forward with a plan like our economic action plan 2012, the opposition will find things that they claim for that reason and that reason alone they will vote against the entire document. I would argue that there are so many strong and important measures in this document. I do not see how members can vote against it.
When Canadians look at the government's overall approach toward providing and protecting the economy, toward creating long-term economic growth and prosperity, they will receive this budget as good news. They will support it. In the future, members in the House will be held accountable for how they voted on this very important document.
As I said, we have made great progress such as 760,000 net new jobs created and the growth in our GDP leads the G8. We continue to outperform comparable industrial economies. The focus of this government is to back the promise we made to Canadians.
There is one more sector that I want to address. It is agriculture. It seems often it gets lost among the debate in this place. It does not get mentioned as much as it should and it is so critically important to the well-being of our overall economy.
I have heard many people talk about the Fisheries Act and the changes to it. Farmers in my riding have come forward many times on these amendments and have said that they do not understand why, having farmed areas for generations, they would be harassed for regulations that do not make any sense. That is why we are making these changes. That is why I am proud to support them.
I am proud to support this budget. It contains important measures for the people of Peterborough and, indeed, for the people of Canada.