Mr. Speaker, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston right now and all those who travelled there to take part in today's Boston marathon. As law enforcement works to determine responsibility for this terrible tragedy, we extend our support to the men and women in emergency services who are working tirelessly to help those in need. Our thoughts and prayers are with our American friends and their families at this time.
I appreciate this time to speak to the opposition motion and speak against the high tax agenda of the NDP. Let us be clear from the start. The NDP supports higher taxes on Canadians. It has opposed our low tax agenda. The facts also show in no uncertain terms that the economic action plan 2013 and our low tax agenda are the right steps in building on our record of creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity while keeping taxes low for families and businesses and balancing the budget by 2015.
Let us look at the facts. Unlike the tax-and-spend NDP opposition, we do not believe Canadians should pay more taxes. Since coming to office in 2006 our Conservative government has taken action that leaves more money in the pockets of Canadians. Today a typical family is receiving more than $3,200 in extra tax savings.
How did we accomplish this? Rather than listening to the NDP who would hike taxes on businesses and entrepreneurs by $10 billion a year and impose a new carbon tax, we did it with real actions.
For example, we fulfilled our commitment to reduce the GST to 5% from 7%, benefiting all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. At the same time we have maintained the GST credit level, translating into more than $1.1 billion in GST credit benefits annually for low- and modest-income Canadians.
We have increased the amount that all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax. We have reduced the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 16% and increased the amount of income that individuals can earn before facing higher tax rates by increasing the upper limit of the two lowest personal income tax brackets.
We have introduced the tax-free savings account, the TFSA, a flexible, registered, general purpose savings vehicle that allows Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to more easily meet their lifetime savings needs.
We have provided further support to students and their families by exempting scholarship income from taxation, introducing the textbook tax credit, and making registered education savings plans more responsive to changing needs.
Our government has introduced the public transit tax credit to encourage public transit use and the volunteer firefighters tax credit to better support communities.
We introduced the universal child care benefit, which provides $100 per month to families for each child under the age of six.
We introduced and enhanced the working income tax benefit, lowering the welfare wall and strengthening work incentives for low-income Canadians already working while encouraging other low-income Canadians to enter the workforce.
Our government has increased the amount of income that families can earn before the national child benefit supplement is fully phased out and before the Canada child tax base benefit begins to be phased out.
We introduced the tradesperson's tools deduction, which allows tradespersons to deduct from their income part of the costs of the tools they must acquire as a condition of employment, benefiting more than 25,000 tradespersons in 2010 alone.
We brought in the apprenticeship job creation tax credit to encourage employers to hire new apprentices in eligible trades by providing a tax credit of 10% of the wages payable to eligible apprentices in the first two years of their apprenticeship program, benefiting more than 10,000 businesses in 2010.
Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from these tax reductions, with low- and middle-income Canadians receiving proportionately greater relief. Overall, personal income taxes are now 11% lower with the tax relief provided by the government, and more than one million low-income Canadians have been removed from the tax rolls.
In total, our government will have provided almost $160 billion in tax relief for Canadian families and individuals in just six short years. Our government has introduced more than 150 tax relief measures since 2006, bringing the overall federal tax burden to its lowest point in 50 years.
What do these 150 measures have in common besides helping to keep more money in the pockets of Canadians? The NDP voted against every single one of them. Each and every time our Conservative government moved to lower taxes, the NDP stood in this Parliament and voted no. This is all on the public record. This is a fact. The NDP is a party of high taxes, taking more and more money from the pockets of Canadians. Our Conservative government is the party of low taxes, keeping money in the pockets of Canadians.
Economic action plan 2013 builds on this unprecedented record of tax savings for Canadians with measures that will provide $76 million in annual tariff relief on baby clothing and sports and athletic equipment to reduce the gap in retail prices Canadian consumers pay compared to those in the U.S.
Economic action plan 2013 also promotes adoption by enhancing the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the cost of adopting a child. It expands tax relief for home care services to better meet the health care needs of Canadians.
These tax reductions help individuals and families, with greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them. They help build a solid foundation for future economic growth, more jobs and higher living standards for Canadians. I would encourage the NDP to stop opposing these measures and support economic action plan 2013 so that we can continue putting money back into the pockets of Canadian families.
While the opposition wants to raise taxes and kill jobs, our government is also focused on lowering taxes for Canadian manufacturers and businesses. These lower taxes will help them succeed in the global economy and will provide support to the individuals, families and communities that depend on them. These broad-based tax reductions are supporting investment and growth by delivering more than $60 billion in tax relief to job-creating businesses over a six-year period, ending in 2013-14.
Our government has reduced the business tax rate, eliminated the federal capital tax and provided an incentive for provinces to eliminate their own general capital taxes. The last provincial general capital tax was eliminated in 2012.
We are leaving more money in the hands of entrepreneurs and businesses so that they can grow and hire more Canadians, unlike the NDP, which would simply want to hike taxes by $10 billion a year. Canada now has an overall tax rate on new business investment that is the lowest in the G7 and is below the average of the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
We have increased the capital tax allowance rate for manufacturing and processing buildings and have introduced a temporary accelerated capital tax allowance for manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment.
We have expanded the scope of the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation and conservation equipment so that a broader range of applications and technologies qualify for this measure. We have extended this temporary incentive until 2020.
We have eliminated more than 1,800 tariffs on imported machinery, equipment and manufacturing inputs, thus providing $450 million in annual tariff savings and making Canada the first tariff-free zone for industrial manufacturers in the G20. These steps have established an international tax advantage that has allowed Canadian businesses to create jobs and drive economic growth.
KPMG is one of the largest professional services companies in the world and one of the big four auditors. KPMG recently released a study, “Competitive Alternatives 2012”, which concluded that Canada's total business tax costs—corporate income tax, capital tax, sales tax, property tax and wage-based taxes—are more than 40% lower than those in the United States.
Economic action plan 2013 builds on our internationally recognized tax advantage with a range of tax measures to help manufacturers and businesses succeed in a global economy.
It is a shame that the NDP is voting against measures aimed at helping manufacturers, something that is critical to southern Ontario. These include $1.4 billion in tax relief for Canada's manufacturing and processing sector over the 2014-15 to 2017-18 period through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment.
In the words of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, I quote at length:
[Economic action plan 2013] sends an important signal.... It positions manufacturing and exporting at the heart of Canada's Economic Action Plan by focusing on practical steps that will enhance competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and business growth.
[...] This is very good news for companies creating jobs in Canada.... The budget recognizes the importance of manufacturing and exporting for each and every Canadian, as an anchor of high-value, high-paying jobs in all parts of the country and across all sectors of the economy.
[...] This budget will make a real difference in helping our manufacturers and exporters compete and win in global markets.
Too bad the NDP is voting against our manufacturers. Additionally, our plan also offers $225 million to expand and extend the temporary hiring credit for small businesses for one year in recognition of the important role small businesses play as job creators in the Canadian economy. Again, the NDP is, shockingly, opposed to helping our small businesses.
There is more. We are also increasing support for small business owners, farmers and fishermen by increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 in 2014 and indexing the new limit to inflation, at a cost of $110 million over five years.
While we are lowering taxes, we are also cracking down on tax cheats and those who try to exploit tax loopholes. To help keep taxes low and improve the integrity of the tax system, economic action plan 2013 proposes a number of measures to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance and improve tax fairness.
Since 2006, our government has already moved aggressively to close over 75 tax loopholes. The loopholes we are closing amounts to billions annually. Shamefully, the NDP has voted against every single attempt by our government to close loopholes since 2006.
Canada's resilient economic performance in an uncertain world is the clearest evidence needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of our plan, which is continuing to deliver results for Canadians. Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered more than all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession.
Employment has increased by nearly 900,000 since July 2009 and is now more than 465,000 above its pre-recession peak, the strongest job growth among G7 countries. More than 90% of all jobs created since July 2009 have been full-time positions. Close to 80% are in the private sector, and more than two-thirds are in the high-wage industries.
Real GDP is now significantly above pre-recession levels, the best performance in the G7. Canada has weathered the economic storm well, and the world has noticed.
Both the IMF and the OECD expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. For the sixth year in a row, the World Economic Forum rated Canada's banking system as the world's soundest. The three credit rating agencies—Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's—have reaffirmed their top ratings for Canada, and it is expected that Canada will maintain its AAA rating in the year ahead.
Our government also understands that Canada cannot rest on this record of success. We cannot afford to become complacent. While the Canadian economy continues to grow and create jobs, the challenges confronting us remain significant. The global economy remains fragile. The United States, our largest trading partner, is struggling with massive debt and modest economic growth. The euro area remains in recession. At the same time, global competition from emerging markets is intensifying.
In an uncertain global economic environment, the most important contribution the government can make to bolster confidence and growth is to maintain a sound fiscal position. Responsible fiscal management assures the sustainability of public services and low tax rates for future generations, while providing room to manoeuvre in the event of an adverse development across our borders.
Our government is committed to returning to balanced budgets by 2015 and will focus on what it can control in order to achieve this result. Such a commitment explains why, alone among the G7 countries, Canada continues to receive the highest possible credit ratings and a stable outlook from all the major credit rating agencies. Among global investors, Canada has a well-earned reputation for building an internationally competitive tax regime and for responsible fiscal, economic and financial sector management.
In conclusion, today's NDP motion, which attacks economic action plan 2013, is shameful when we consider Canada's record of achievement and the actions we have taken to lower taxes for Canadians. I would therefore encourage hon. members to not only reject the NDP's high-tax agenda but to support the timely passage of economic action plan 2013 so that it can continue to deliver tax relief for Canadians.