Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to contribute to today's debate on Bill C-4. This very important legislation for all of us is the next step in our government's continued effort to support job creation and economic growth in Canada.
Since 2006, our government has been taking concrete action to ensure that Canada's economy remains strong. After all, it was our government that acted in such a fiscally responsible manner so we were able to weather the global economic storm better than most other industrialized nations. I feel as though I should remind the members of the opposition of this fact, as it is a fact they seem to frequently forget. Thankfully, Canadians remember.
Remember when faced with the worst global recession since the Great Depression, our government responded with Canada's economic action plan. This plan included investments in infrastructure and tax relief for families and was instrumental in fuelling growth and putting Canadians back to work. Since then, this has helped create over one million net new jobs, the majority of which are high-wage, full-time, private sector positions. That is the strongest job creation in the G7 by far.
Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level since December 2008, and remains below that of the U.S., a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. Indeed, the IMF and OECD both project that Canada will have among the strongest growth in the G7 in the years ahead. All of the major credit rating agencies have affirmed Canada's AAA rating for the sixth straight year. The World Economic Forum rated our banking system the world's best. This is a record Canadians can be proud of.
With that said, allow me to share with members one of the most significant factors behind Canada's economic success: keeping taxes low. Unlike the high tax the NDP and Liberals, our Conservative government believes in keeping taxes low and leaving more money where it belongs, in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job creating businesses. In fact, since 2006, our government has cut taxes more than 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to the lowest level in 50 years.
I would like to now talk about the speech and the comments by the previous speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre, who is an icon for the NDP. He represents the NDP's toxic view of the economy. While the Liberals have no policy and no ideas, the NDP policies are purely toxic when it comes to the economy, and the environment as well for that matter. The New Democrats oppose free markets and free trade, two policies that have lifted the world out of economic depression time and time again. The New Democrats have no idea about how to create wealth. They are really good at spending money.
In fact, I saw a cartoon once of an NDP cabinet minister's day-timer. Monday was spend: Tuesday was spend, spend; Wednesday was spend, spend; Thursday was off for a rest; and Friday was spend, spend. That is all the NDP knows how to do. The New Democrats do not understand the concept of a sound business climate either. I hate to break it to my NDP friends, but before one can spend money, one has to earn it. What a revolutionary concept that is. It is through free markets and free trade that we create the wealth so we can support our cherished social programs. I should add that most of Canada's major social programs were instituted by Conservative governments.
I should make the point that the NDP's failed economic policies have been tried around the world. Look at Greece, France, Italy, the city of Detroit, the city of Chicago. High spending, high public sector wages and high tax drove those cities and those countries to economic ruin.
The other dirty little secret of the Liberals and the New Democrats is that they actually want people dependent on government. Through their policies, they worm their way into society and create more and more dependence on governments. That I find utterly shameful.
The situation of Saskatchewan is most instructive. Saskatchewan was stagnant under the previous NDP government. As soon as the Saskatchewan Party took over, instituting sound Conservative policies, the Saskatchewan economy took off. That is a story that Canadians are only beginning to appreciate, that Saskatchewan has gone from a have not province to a net contributor to the equalization program of Canada. If there are any Saskatchewan MPs here, they deserve a round of applause because their government in Saskatchewan has created an economic miracle in Saskatchewan by implementing Conservative economic policies.
For the members opposite, I like to quote the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, who said, “The facts of life are conservative and nobody can dispute that”.
Going back to what we are doing in our budget, a small business' bottom line is significantly impacted by the cost of EI. As it stands right now, employers pay 60% of the current EI system. We, more than any other party, understand that small business is the cornerstone of our economy, creating jobs that support families in our communities. That is why we are freezing EI premiums for the next three years. We are promoting stability and predictability for job creators and workers and we are leaving $660 million in their pockets in 2014 alone. Rather than spending money on payroll taxes, it can be used by small business owners to hire more employees and grow their businesses.
Despite what the opposition would have us believe, this tax relief will help support Canada's continued economic recovery and sustain business-led long-term growth. This is fantastic news for Canada's entrepreneurs, but do not take my word for it. Let us see what other people are saying.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which speaks for the small business community and which the member for Winnipeg Centre spoke about, said the move to freeze EI rates for three years will “keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy”.
The Canadian Home Builders' Association said:
We congratulate the Government on its support of job growth by reducing the burden on businesses...This move will support stable financial planning for businesses, and therefore job growth.
Lower employment costs will also encourage businesses—and particularly small business—to invest in younger workers, helping to address the critical need to develop the next generation of skilled tradespeople...
That is not all. This is what the Retail Council of Canada said:
The retail sector is Canada’s largest employer and as a result bears the bulk of the burden of paying into the EI system. This freeze on premiums will mean more money for employers to invest in other important areas such as employment, training and infrastructure...As a small business owner, I applaud Minister...for recognizing that even the smallest tax relief goes a long way to helping businesses grow and thrive.
Unlike the opposition, we will not attack job creators with massive tax hikes. While we are focused on fostering growth in our economy, the NDP and Liberals are busy opposing measures that help small business and small business is the engine of growth for our society. Indeed, as a member of Parliament who represents a very large rural constituency composed of dozens and dozens of small communities, small business is what makes my region grow and thrive. I have hundreds of small businesses and I am always struck by the work ethic of these entrepreneurs who day in and day out work to make our communities better places to live.
I really hope the members opposite will change their tune and support efforts to create jobs and growth for Canadians, instead of pushing high tax schemes to kill jobs, like the NDP's infamous $20 billion carbon tax, a multi-billion dollar tax hike on jobs. Indeed, the leader of the Liberals is talking again about a carbon price. If they want to make amends, they can start right now and vote in favour of this bill.
I should note in terms of my own constituency, the Canada-European free trade agreement that was recently negotiated is a huge boon for my community. For example, Manitoba is the largest hog producer in the country. Interestingly, Canada produces some 25 million tonnes of hogs and pork every year. That is about equivalent to the increase in pork consumption worldwide. Europe is a major market for Canadian pork and this is very important for my communities, my producers and the people who process hogs in my constituency.
On this last note, I ask that all members of the House support Bill C-4. It is important that we implement these job creation measures as soon as possible.