Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of economic action plan 2013, a budget focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
When we ran in the election of 2011, we asked the Canadian people for a mandate, which included balancing the budget within the term of that mandate, by 2015. This budget presented by the Minister of Finance with the support of the Prime Minister of Canada would keep us on track to having that budget balanced by 2015.
As we move toward a balanced budget, there are three paths we could take.
The first path is to raise taxes, and many governments across Canada have taken the challenge to balance their budgets by raising taxes. However, that is not the path this Minister of Finance took. That is not the path of this government. We will not balance the budget by raising taxes on the people of Canada.
In fact, since we were elected in 2006, we have cut taxes for the average Canadian family by $3,200, and we are still going to balance the budget by 2015. By lowering the tax burden on the people of Canada, we are increasing the jobs, growth and productivity of our country. Low taxes mean more jobs. More jobs means more productivity. That is the path we are taking.
The second path we could have chosen was to cut the transfers to the provinces, as we saw the Liberal Party do the 1990s. Those transfers are valuable to provinces as they try to deliver on the priorities of Canadians in terms of education and health care. We saw billions of dollars taken back from the provinces in terms of those transfer payments in the 1990s, which saw hospitals close, nurses laid off, teachers laid off and Rae days in Ontario. We do not want to go back to that path. We will not support that.
This budget does not cut any transfers to the provinces. In fact, since we took office in 2006, the federal government has increased transfers each and every year. The transfer for health care, the social transfer and transfers for equalization have all been increased each and every year, which is more support for the provinces. Even though we are increasing that support for the provinces, we are still on the path to balance the budget.
In fact, since 2006 when we took office, we have increased those transfers from the federal government to the provinces by more than $20 billion to a record high in 2013-14 of $62 billion. This is an incredible amount of money that our provinces can use to support health care; to support education; to pay doctors, nurses and teachers; and to support other social programs in their provinces. That is an incredible commitment the federal government has made to the provinces, and we are keeping that promise.
My own province of Nova Scotia has seen the transfers from the federal government increase in 2006 from $2.2 billion to almost $3 billion, which is an increase of almost $700 million. That $700 million is a lot of nurses, teachers and support for the priorities of Nova Scotians, and that is contained in this budget.
The third path is the one we chose to balance the budget. It is the path that looks first into government spending to make sure we focus government spending in a pragmatic and prudent way, focusing on the priorities of Canadians. That is what we see in this budget. The budget supports my constituents in a large rural riding on the east coast because it focuses on the same priorities: jobs, growth and prosperity. It supports industries that are needed in my riding that hire the vast majority of the constituents I represent here in Ottawa.
For example, this budget supports infrastructure. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities asked this government to support infrastructure: waste water treatment plants, roads, bridges and all the infrastructure needed to attract business to rural parts of Canada. This is infrastructure that is needed both in urban and rural Canada. This budget focuses on that.
The build Canada plan, which sunsets next year, put in billions of dollars and worked with municipal leaders across Canada to support infrastructure development. However, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asked the government to do a longer-term deal in this budget, which we have done.
It is a 10-year deal for the new building Canada plan, adding $53 billion for infrastructure from coast to coast to coast, for roads, bridges, recreational centres and waste water treatment plants. These are the projects that this fund will help, which will help build the economy in rural and urban parts of the country.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities also asked the government to support it again with the gas tax. We all know that in previous budgets we made the gas tax allowance permanent. That was asked for and delivered. In this budget, we are indexing the gas tax allowance to protect the municipalities from inflation so they can count on that money. It will be continued at an indexed rate so they know they will not be hurt by inflation. That was asked for by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities made and something we delivered on.
Does it support the budget? Absolutely. It stated:
Today's budget delivers significant gains for Canada's cities and communities. We applaud the government for choosing to continue moving our communities forward even as it meets its immediate fiscal challenges....This is also a budget that delivers real gains for Canadians...it will spur growth and job creation while laying the foundation for a more competitive economy.
This budget, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have delivered for municipal leaders across Canada and in my riding.
In Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, there is a large forestry industry. Does this budget support the forestry industry? These are the guys who go out in the woods and cut the trees down. Not only does it support them, but the truckers who transport the logs to the sawmills. It supports the sawmill workers who turn the logs into lumber. It supports the manufacturers who turn the lumber into products which we export not only domestically but worldwide. This is a strong budget in support of the forestry industry.
The Forest Products Association of Canada supports this budget. It stated:
—(FPAC) welcomes the additional support for innovation and market development unveiled in today’s budget and also applauds the government’s focus on skills training....We applaud the government for its continuing support for the forest products sector even at a time when tough measures are needed to reduce the deficit. This is a strategic future-oriented decision that demonstrates ongoing commitment to the transformation of the industry.
We have support from the forestry industry for this budget.
In my riding, agriculture is a heartbeat. It employs literally thousands of my constituents. There are blueberry producers, dairy farmers, beef farmers and poultry farmers. There are agriculture producers who have created innovative products. There are fruit producers in the riding. This government and this budget supports the agriculture sector. It is expanding our markets internationally. It is investing in research and innovation so agriculture producers can develop new products and sell them in new markets. This is a strong budget in support of research, innovation and agriculture and supports, in particular, the extension of international trade so we can produce and export our agriculture products to new markets.
What does the agriculture community say about this budget? The Canadian Cattlemen's Association stated:
The CCA welcomes Budget 2013 and appreciates the Federal Government’s continued commitment to innovation, competitiveness, market development, regulatory cooperation, and addressing labour shortages. These are the top priorities for our industry and for the CCA.
That is strong support for this budget by the agriculture community and the industries that are important in my riding.
Also in my riding there is manufacturing, which is centred around the aerospace industry. There is an IMP plant in Amherst, which employs 400 people. There is an IMP plant in the Halifax airport region, which employs over 1,200 people. There are 1,600 of my constituents who are directly employed in the aerospace industry. I know there are many thousands in the Quebec aerospace industry who put dinner on the table for their families due to direct employment by the aerospace industry.
What does the aerospace industry say about this budget? It stated:
—(AIAC) is very pleased with measures announced in the Economic Action Plan 2013...The measures announced in [this budget] constitute an excellent short-term response to the Aerospace Review report...
Therefore, there is support for this budget by that industry.
This budget supports my riding, the agriculture community, the forestry industry, the municipalities, infrastructure and the aerospace industry. Many of my constituents will benefit very much from the implementation of this budget. I ask all my colleagues in the House to stand and support economic action plan 2013.