Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me.
It is a great pleasure for me to discuss Bill C-38 this evening.
The United States and especially Europe are in grave trouble. Canada's economy has emerged from the global recession much better than other industrialized countries, especially those in Europe.
Because this government has done its homework since its first victory in 2006, the 2012 election was the first in Canadian history that a government won following a recession. I had voted against holding that unnecessary election.
Those on the other side who had voted for the dissolution of the 40th Parliament remind me of turkeys who vote for an early Christmas. Through this election, voters gave us a clear mandate to keep up the good work with the economy and balance the books as quickly as possible. Canadians want jobs to be created and that is what they expect from us.
Locally, Ottawa roughly had 542,200 people employed at the beginning of the month of May 2012. Between April and May 2012, Ottawa witnessed a drop in unemployed by 9,000, which led to a decrease in unemployment by a tenth of a percent. Since October 2010, the unemployment rate has dropped by an eighth of a percent.
In accordance with the information presented in the 2012 economic action plan, this government has established that it would be near a balanced budget in 2014 and that a balanced would be obtained in 2015.
It is crucial that we return to a balanced budget. It is only under these circumstances that our government can continue to make important investments.
In Ottawa, there is no lack of projects waiting to happen. The cities of Ottawa and Gatineau are calling for a new interprovincial bridge at Kettle Island. The National Capital Commission is currently holding public consultations on this matter. In fact, it held a public hearing yesterday at the Shenkman Arts Centre next door to my constituency office.
On the topic of transportation networks, another project will remain at the centre of discussion for the city over the next few years. July 13, 2011, the City of Ottawa adopted a motion presented by councillor Stephen Blais, to extend the route of the light rail transit towards the east as quickly as possible.
The 2008 transportation master plan does not call for extending the light rail line from Blair station to Trim Road before 2031.
By bringing this motion forward before the master plan is reviewed, the city council is ensuring that the feasibility study for the Orleans LRT extension can be completed as soon as possible so that residents from the east end can have access to light rail sooner. For that, Councillor Blais and his partners, Councillor Rainer Bloess, Councillor Bob Monette and Councillor Tim Tierney deserve kudos.
And Ottawa–Orléans is the North American leader in respect to the use of public transit.
If we want major infrastructure projects like these to become reality, both in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada, we need to balance the budget. It is always easier to make investments with a healthy financial position than with a deficit.
In 2012, federal support for the provinces and territories reached a record high and will continue to rise.
In 2012-13, Ontario will receive record support through major federal transfers, most of which is earmarked for health and will provide this province with $19.2 billion.
This investment represents a 77% increase in transfers relative to those made by the previous government. Even if the government, under the mandate of its Canadian electorate, tightens its belt, its methodology differs from the previous government, now a third party in the House of Commons.
They had slashed the transfers to the provinces. They had slashed the funds reserved for health and education. They had forced the provinces to lay off nurses and teachers.
In addition to drastically cutting funding to the public sector, the previous government balanced the budget on the backs of the provinces, while this government continues to increase its share of federal transfers, therefore towards health care, and proposes a 2% decrease in budget spending in the public service. The previous government had cut tens of thousands of jobs from the public service in one fell swoop.
Our approach is incremental. This means that, despite what doomsayers predicted, job losses have been far less significant than certain predictions would have had us believe, the worst of which predicted that 60,000 public servants would be shown the door.
We are now talking about cutting 4,800 jobs in total in the national capital region in the next three years, and that is after increasing the number of public servants by 13,000 over the past five years.
Despite everything, this decision was not made lightly. We have one of the most competent public services in the world.
But, when we look elsewhere, things do not look so bad here. We are far from the situation in Greece, where 15,000 public-sector employees were cut, and an additional 30,000 people were temporarily laid off.
We are far from the situation in Italy, which almost went bankrupt before an interim government resolved to take the measures deemed necessary. Since then, Italy has increased its sales, housing and property taxes. These are things we are not doing.
Since 2006, the Canadian government has kept its word regarding taxation. Canadian taxpayers today are paying less tax than at any point in the last 30 years.
The budget we are now debating today strongly supports world-class innovation and research. This government believes in innovation. On March 27, I was pleased to announce that nearly $1 million would be allocated for an IT professional mentoring program to encourage primary and secondary school students in Ottawa to take an interest in science and innovation.
I see this measure as a great opportunity for the National Research Council of Canada, located at the doorstep of Ottawa–Orléans.
The good and wise people of Ottawa—Orléans know of my unfailing support for scientific research and development. In this budget the Minister of Finance has taken action on the Jenkins report and is investing $1.1 billion in direct support for R and D and $500 million in venture capital.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are at the core of the Canadian economy and that of Ottawa–Orléans.
Constituents, who on three occasions have given me the honour to serve them in the House, can count on dynamic small businesses. The Orléans Chamber of Commerce alone counts on the support of over 200 members.
Before the budget was drafted, businessmen and businesswomen in Orléans took part in a brainstorming session that I chaired, along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, my friend from Ottawa West—Nepean.
The owners of two SMEs in Ottawa–Orléans, Access Print Imaging and Sure Print & Graphics, shared their ideas, as did Joanne Lefebvre, chair of the Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la capitale nationale, and Jo-Anne Bazinet, chair of the Orléans Business Club.
I am sure that they will be pleased, as will other dynamic members of the Orléans business community, with the important measures we have put forward in Bill C-38. Our government recognizes the vital role that small businesses play in the economy and job creation.
The 2012 economic action plan provides several key measures to support them in their growth.
The hiring credit for small business, a credit of up to $1,000, has been extended. This measure will benefit up to 536,000 employers.
Everyone knows red tape hinders efficiency. It was a point raised at the round table I chaired along with the member for Ottawa West–Nepean.
The government has committed to cutting red tape. It has established the one-for-one rule and pledged to create a red tape reduction plan--