Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and speak to economic action plan 2013.
I rise in the House to better inform not only members here but more specifically Canadians on the impact that the act would have and the key measures in economic action plan 2013, as well as certain previously announced tax measures to help create jobs, stimulate the economy and secure long-term prosperity across our great nation.
I am pleased to first address our government's continued reduction of Canada's deficit. This past Tuesday the Minister of Finance introduced the “Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada” for 2012-13. The report shows the continued downward track of Canada's annual deficit. In 2012-13 the deficit fell to just under $19 billion. This was down by more than one-quarter, or $7.4 billion, from the deficit just last year, and down by nearly two-thirds from the $55.6 billion deficit recorded in 2009-10. This shows that we are still on track to balance the budget by fiscal year 2015-16.
Economic action plan 2013 would provide support for job creators. Since 2006 our government's top priority has been the economy and job creation. We are extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which will benefit an estimated 560,000 employers right across this great country of ours.
Currently, there are thousands of jobs available across Canada that are unfulfilled. In fact, CIBC World Markets stated in a report in December 2012 that 30% of businesses in Canada are facing skilled labour shortages. In addition, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business stated in its “Business Barometer” report that 34% of small and medium-size businesses identified a shortage of skilled labour as a constraint to their growth.
Difficulty in hiring has increased over the recovery and is becoming a key issue for employers in some sectors and regions of our country. In particular, persistent pockets of unfilled positions exist for skilled tradespeople and professionals such as electricians, millwrights, carpenters, machinists, heavy equipment operators, engineers and architects, just to name a few. The hiring credit for small business will continue to bridge that gap.
In recognition of the importance of small business owners, farmers and fishers, economic action plan 2013 proposes to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 from $750,000. The lifetime capital gains exemption increases the potential rewards of investing in small business, farming and fishing. The exemption also helps these entrepreneurs better ensure their financial security for retirement and facilitates the intergenerational transfer of their businesses.
From speaking with farmers in Northumberland—Quinte West as well as small business owners, whether they be at the corner store, an insurance agency or many other businesses, this is their RRSP in addition to the money they have been able to save, and in some instances it might not be that much. This is their future. This is their ability to be able to retire after a lifetime in some cases of working from about 5:30 in the morning until about 8:30 to 9:30 at night and sometimes longer.
Furthermore, to provide support to job creators, we are freezing employment insurance premiums for the next three years. This will leave $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.
Economic action plan 2013 would ensure that the government will promote education in high demand fields, including the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and math. It is critically important for young Canadians to have access to information on a variety of careers in order to make informed choices about their education early in their lives. Making good choices early can help ensure that young Canadians obtain the skills and experiences necessary to find work quickly, avoid unnecessary debt and get a better start to their careers.
Economic action plan 2013 proposes to reallocate $19 million over two years to help inform young people about the fields of study that are relevant to the existing and forecasted demand for labour in particular occupations. The government would provide more information on job prospects and the benefits of working in various occupations and it would develop new outreach efforts to promote careers in such high demand fields as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as the skilled trades.
Economic action plan 2013 would help break down youth employment barriers. This past June, in my riding of Northumberland—Quinte West, a community training and development centre in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity Northumberland received over $90,000 from the skills link program for one of its projects. The skills link program is part of the Government of Canada's youth employment strategy. With annual funding of approximately $300 million across Canada, the youth employment strategy helps youth, particularly those facing barriers to employment, obtain career information, develop skills, find jobs and stay employed.
If I can go back to the Habitat for Humanity program that I am referring to, the particular Habitat project in question is called the “Faith Build”. For the benefit of those outside of Northumberland, who are unaware of this particular build, Habitat for Humanity wanted to build one housing unit for a worthy family. Of course, we know that Habitat for Humanity depends on a lot of volunteer help. Madelaine Currelly, who works at the community training and development centre, was successful, as I mentioned, in obtaining a $90,000 grant. Ten young people who were experiencing barriers to employment were hired to work on this project, utilizing this $90,000. Today, I am told that the vast majority of those young people are now working in full-time jobs because they obtained the necessary skills and experience on that project.
In addition to pre-existing funding, economic action plan 2012 invested an extra $50 million to enhance the youth employment strategy with a new initiative that connects young Canadians with jobs in high demand, and helps them develop tangible skills and gain work experience. Economic action plan 2013 proposes an additional investment of $70 million over three years to create 5,000 more internships.
Furthermore, our government not only assists youth in finding jobs, it also assists young scientists and engineers with the launch their businesses. Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation launched two initiatives in collaboration with FedDev Ontario, the Spark Centre and the IDEAHUB in Port Hope. Scientists and engineers in business provide matching performance-based grants to graduates of science, technology, engineering or math, or as we refer to them, the STEM programs.
The CFDCs offer free business counselling and financing for small and medium-size enterprises for start-up and expansion, strategic planning support for local projects and community economic development in rural areas right across our great country. Economic action plan 2013 would continue to fund programs such as the Community Futures Development Corporations, which promote the growth of science and technology, as well as other fields.
Manufacturing in Ontario must increasingly seek to become more competitive by investing in innovation and moving up the value chain. That is why, in economic action plan 2013, we propose to provide a new, advanced manufacturing fund to be delivered by FedDev or the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Firms in manufacturing sectors, including information and communication technologies, life sciences, machinery and equipment, and sophisticated niche sectors are pursuing competitive advantage through the development of transformative products and technologies that open and expand markets. To support the efforts of advanced manufacturing in Ontario to become more competitive, economic action plan 2013 would provide $200 million over five years for the creation of an advanced manufacturing fund. The new fund would support investments by manufacturing firms and activities that create new and innovative products or production methods, such as prototyping, demonstrating projects and advancing product testing.
I am confident that economic action plan 2013 will continue to provide for Canadians, and in the face of global economic uncertainty, keep our economy strong.
I am prepared now to answer any questions and hear comments from my fellow parliamentarians.