Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to add my comments to the debate.
Two years ago, Canadians elected our government and gave it clear instructions: create jobs, grow the economy, keep taxes low and balance the budget.
Canada has faced challenging times, and we have faced tough decisions. I am very pleased to say that we have made the right choices for Canadian workers, businesses, families, and communities.
The results of these choices are clear: debt is low, and deficits are falling.
Our economic action plan has made Canada one of the top economic performers in the G7, both during the recession and throughout the economic recovery.
Here are the facts.
Since July 2009, the worst point in the global recession, Canada has created over a million net new jobs, 90% of which are full-time, with nearly 85% in the private sector.
With Canada's continued economic growth in the third quarter, this is the ninth consecutive positive quarter, another sign that our economy is on the right track.
The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years, and it is significantly lower than it is in the United States, a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades.
For the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system the soundest in the world.
The federal tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years.
We have achieved positive results for Canadians, but we are under no illusion that our work is finished. The global economy remains fragile, with growth in advanced economies somewhat slower than expected.
In addition to the threats to the Canadian economy that lie beyond our borders and beyond our shores, I am concerned about the potential threats to the Canadian economy from within our own nation, such as the threats from the leader of the NDP. As if imposing a $20-billion carbon tax was not enough, the leader of the NDP has another multibillion-dollar tax hike he wants to impose on Canadians. He just recently reaffirmed his plan to take billions of dollars, each and every year, out of the pockets of Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses to fund big, bloated government schemes. This NDP tax hike would target job creators, especially small and medium-sized companies, the engine of economic growth. With a nearly 50% increase in their tax bills, it would be devastating, particularly at a time of global economic uncertainty.
Canadians know better. That is why Canada's economic action plan actively pursues new trade and investment opportunities, particularly with large, dynamic, and fast-growing economies.
Our government recently reached an agreement in principle on the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement. That agreement will add the equivalent of 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy.
Economic action plan 2013 focuses on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth, while balancing the budget by 2015.
During the recent great recession, our government took the necessary steps to safeguard our economy, our families, and our jobs. Indeed, it responded quickly and effectively in January 2009 with Canada's economic action plan. It included investments in infrastructure and tax relief for Canadian families. It was instrumental in getting Canadians back to work. At the same time, we kept government expenditures under control.
However, unlike previous Liberal governments, we have not and will not cut major transfers to Canadian families or to other levels of government in order to balance the budget.
That is possibly the most important factor. We all remember the mid-90s, when the previous Liberal government reduced the deficit, yes, but did it on the backs of health care and education for our children.
Instead of our Conservative government taking that approach, we have set clear targets to bring down the deficit and return to a balanced budget by 2015. Our government will also not engage in a risky spending scheme.
Our government does not want to be involved in risky spending schemes. It will not impose a $20 billion carbon tax or increase corporate taxes.
Indeed, our plan to return to balanced budgets is working. Just as our government tackles debt, we are also tackling expenditures. We are reducing the size and cost of government to ensure that taxpayers get value for their money.
We must always find a way to add value to every dollar of Canadian taxpayers' money that is spent.
In addition, we are trying to target, and are doing so very effectively, a lot of tax loopholes. We are addressing aggressive tax planning, clarifying tax rules, combating international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and improving fairness. When we ensure that everyone pays his or her fair share, it keeps taxes low for all Canadian families and businesses and thereby improves the incentive to actually work, save, and invest in our Canada.
Overall, measures taken by our government since budget 2010 will result in ongoing savings of roughly $14 billion, and our government will go further, enshrining in law its successful and prudent approach to balanced budget legislation.
Just as Canadian families know that they cannot prosper by continually spending money they do not earn, this is how we are managing the Government of Canada. Our Conservative government believes not only in keeping families strong but in keeping people employed. That is why Bill C-4 would deliver a three-year freeze on employment insurance premiums, delivering tax relief for small-business owners and the workers they employ.
I have a number of citations from people, such as the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who have applauded these efforts and say that this is exactly what is required for the Canadian economy. Indeed, Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada, commented in exactly the same way. I want to share what Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said:
...an EI rate freeze is fantastic news for Canada's entrepreneurs and for their employees. This move will keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy.
I could go on with a number of these. The freeze will help attract foreign investment in Canada. It will help create jobs for Canadians and will foster long-term economic growth.
It will encourage job creation and economic growth, which will generate long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
Unlike the opposition, our government understands that tax relief is important to all Canadians. I encourage all members of the opposition parties to vote in favour of this important measure, Bill C-4, which will leave more money in the hands of the average Canadian.
Of course, we have adopted many other measures that will create jobs, encourage economic growth and generate long-term prosperity for Canada. However, I do not have time today to list them all today.