Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-4, a second budget implementation act.
Unfortunately, I only have 10 minutes to talk about the wonderful things that are contained within Bill C-4 and about all of the wonderful things we have done as a government to not only make our economy one of the strongest performing economies in the world, certainly, within the G7, creating over one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession, but also about some issues that are more close to home, rather than the big macro issues, and some of those are in the riding of York Centre.
I am privileged and honoured to represent the wonderful people of the riding of York Centre. Many of the people who reside in York Centre are new to Canada. They come from every country around the world. We have the largest number, for example, of Russian-speaking people of any riding in the country; the third-largest number of Filipinos; and the fastest-growing Latino population. These people are coming to Canada for hope and opportunity. They are coming for the opportunity that our government has created for them.
We have created economic conditions that people can take advantage of. They can create businesses. They can be employed in jobs.
My father came from Europe after the war. He was the only survivor from his family. When I was growing up, I remember peeking out the curtains, waiting for my dad to come home every night and watching him haul himself out of the car and just really dragging his knuckles across the driveway. I really wanted to play with him. I wanted him to help me with my homework. I remember how dead tired he was. He, nevertheless, took the time to help me with my homework, to engage with me, to read to me.
I do a lot of community outreach, as I am sure many of the members do in this chamber. When I go around my riding of York Centre to canvass door to door and go to community events, I see so many people who are new to this country of Canada and who are new to the riding of York Centre. They are trying to be the best Canadians they possibly can because they have come to this country for a variety of reasons, certainly to seek opportunity but also to escape persecution and racism. They are coming here not so much for themselves but more for their kids. When I see them with their kids and with their families so engaged, I remember when I was growing up, feeling exactly the same way. I know how these new immigrants to York Centre are feeling because I see a lot of me in them.
It is wonderful to know that we have a government that is coming to the aid and having the backs of Canadians so that we have fostered an economy whereby we have job creation and we have an environment where small businesses can flourish.
Just to get down to some specifics, Canada is recognized by a number of international organizations, from the OECD to the IMF, as having the strongest economic fundamentals in place. We have these fundamentals in place because we have a plan.
When I am back in the riding, I go to a lot of schools, junior highs and high schools. I ask the kids what their plans are for the future. Everyone has a plan of some sort. Either they are going to go into public service, go into business, seek a job in IT, and so on, but everyone has a plan.
Our plan, since 2006, has been based on job creation and balancing the budgets in a way that would not require us to raise taxes. In fact, we are lowering taxes. What we have done, for example, for the average Canadian family of four, is lowered taxes by $3,200, on average. That is a lot of money for people.
For businesses, we have extended the hiring tax credit. This is going to help 565,000 small businesses in the country, so they can go out and hire more people. This will save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars so they can invest more in their business rather than giving it to the government. Now they can create jobs for people who need them. We know that we have a shortage of skilled labour in this country. People are out, seeking jobs.
Is our job complete? We created over a million net new jobs since the depth of the recession, but is our job complete? No, and it will not be complete until every Canadian who wants a job is able to have a job. That is when we know our job will be complete.
Back in 2006, we inherited an economy that was doing well. Rather than continue to spend and raise taxes, as previous governments had done, and balance our budget on the backs on the most vulnerable Canadians, as the Liberals did in the mid-nineties by cutting social transfers, by cutting the Canada health transfer, we paid down debt. We paid about $38 billion in debt, from 2006 to 2008.
As a result, we had some manoeuvrability, a cushion that we were able to use so we could inject more money into the economy when the recession hit in 2008.
We invested millions of dollars into the economy. These projects that we invested in were shovel-ready. This must be a record for government, getting that money out the door as quickly as possible and getting the projects under way. I think every project that started as a result of the economic stimulus package in 2008, 2009, and 2010 is complete. I would think that is some kind of record in Canadian history.
Our job is not finished, and our government remains focused on what matters most to Canadians. What matters most to Canadians is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. It is not increasing taxes. It is not engaging in wild, hare-brained spending schemes, as the NDP is proposing, or legalizing marijuana, as the Liberals are proposing. We have a thorough economic plan, and it has been in place since 2006.
Our low-tax agenda has served us well. Canadians are happy to know that they are paying less tax today. Lowering the GST, for example, was a commitment we made in the election campaign; we have lowered it from 7% to 6% to 5%. That puts more money back in the pockets of Canadians where it belongs. Canadians take that money and spend it, and when they spend it, it creates jobs and economic activity. That is a good thing.
We are not proposing a $21-billion carbon tax that would increase the cost of everything, as the NDP is. We are heading into the Christmas season now, and we would be paying more for toys for our kids if we had a $21-billion carbon tax. That is not acceptable. It is unacceptable to Canadians and unacceptable to us in the government.
Another thing our government has been focused on is a very aggressive trade agenda. Since we took government in 2006, we have negotiated six additional free trade agreements. So far we have 16 trade agreements and foreign investment promotion agreements. This is a record.
We have just concluded agreement on CETA, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union. This will create thousands of new jobs. It will create employment and economic activity. It will create all kinds of activity for Canadians to find more jobs. It will open up markets in Europe. Half a billion people in Europe will now be able to access the Canadian market, and Canadian manufacturers and sellers will be able to sell their products within the European Union. This is really a good thing.
We hear from the opposition members how anti-trade they are. This is unacceptable, because trade means jobs. We know that and Canadians know that. Canadians sent us here to get a job done. They gave us a majority in 2011 based on an economic platform we put forward to them. They approved of it. They sent us here to get the job done.
As a result of our economic action plan, we have the strongest economic fundamentals of any country around the world. Our debt to GDP ratio, for example, is 35%. We have committed to getting that down to 25% by 2021, as we stated in Los Cabos at the G20.
When I go back to my riding, I see new immigrants who are working extremely hard. Many who have been in Canada for a few years are now starting their own businesses. I see that in a variety of communities, particularly in the Russian and Filipino communities. They are starting their own small businesses and they are starting to hire people. This is a wonderful thing to see. This is why they came to Canada: so they can send their kids to school and to university. It is so they can become professionals, doctors, lawyers, and members of Parliament, or perhaps one day even a prime minister of Russian-speaking descent, or of Filipino descent, or of Latino descent. That would be wonderful to see.
In conclusion, our economy policy is envied around the world. Our economic performance is a model, thanks to our wonderful Minister of Finance, who has been recognized as the world's best finance minister.
Let me conclude by saying that I hope everybody in the House will support Bill C-4 to keep our economy number one in the world.