Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of the budget implementation act and to talk about our economic action plan 2014.
I am eager to support the budget implementation act today because it is an example of the commitment and focus we have had on the budget benchmarks and priorities that our government set earlier this year.
Those priorities include returning to a balanced budget in 2015, creating jobs, economic growth, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, and ensuring that hard-working Canadian families have more of their own dollars in their pockets. In fact, the government's commitment to tax relief meant savings of about $3,400 for a typical Canadian family of four in 2014.
We reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. We introduced income splitting for seniors, tax-free savings accounts, and expanded on successful programs, such as the child fitness tax credit and the universal child care benefit.
However, what is most exciting about our government's economic action plan is that we are able to offer these critical programs that Canadians have said they want and support, but at the same time pay down our debt, balance our budget, and make unprecedented investment into infrastructure and small business.
We have been blessed as a result of the decisions that our government has made, and as a result Canada is the envy of the world. We have one of the strongest job growth rates of any G7 country, with nearly 1.2 million net new jobs since the end of the recession in 2009. In fact, Bloomberg ranked Canada as one of the best places to do business in the world, and both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are projecting that Canada will have among the most dynamic growth of any country in the G7 over the years to come.
This success does not just happen. It takes hard work, leadership, sound financial planning, and, perhaps most importantly, decisive and timely decision-making.
We have shown good financial planning and we have shown good leadership. We reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, and we lowered the general business tax rate from 21% to 15%. We have expanded our global markets by reaching crucial free trade agreements with the European Union, as well as the Canada free trade agreement with Korea, which was just given third reading on Wednesday.
The budget implementation act will continue to build on the successes that our government has achieved through our economic action plan, and that is important. The global economy remains fragile. We are not immune to the economic challenges around the globe and outside of our borders. Therefore, it is imperative that we continue to focus on building a strong, vibrant, and robust economy here in Canada.
A healthy economy starts at home. I am proud to stand in support of the bill today because I know it would benefit the families, the small businesses, and the communities in my southern Alberta riding of Macleod.
Alberta is built on dynamic entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers, and business owners, who are willing to take risks to find success. We understand that we must support the economic engine that is driving our country right now. To do this, we must continue to support small business, the economic backbone of our country.
Our government is supporting small businesses through programs such as the recently introduced small business tax credit, which I believe is a vital piece of the legislation we are talking about today. The credit would lower small business payroll taxes by 15% over the next two years. That would be a savings of approximately $550 million for small businesses over the span of that two years. This initiative has been called a big win for small business by groups across the country, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The introduction of this tax credit will build upon our government's strong support of small businesses since 2006. For example, we froze EI premiums to provide certainty and flexibility for small businesses. We have cut red tape by eliminating 800,000 payroll deduction remittances to the CRA each year for more than 50,000 small businesses. The results are clear: a typical small business in Canada is seeing savings of about $28,000 a year. In total, since 2006, small businesses have seen their taxes reduced by 34%. That is substantial
Fittingly we celebrated small business week earlier this month, and, in speaking with business owners in my riding, their message was clear: we must continue to reduce their tax load and the red tape and bureaucracy that they face. It is important to do so because it shows our support for small business. The better off that our small businesses are, the better off the Canadian economy is as well.
A healthy economy is vital, but so too are healthy communities. Time and time again, studies have shown that being active improves focus in the classroom, reduces crime, and aids in the development of vital social skills for the children in our communities. Sports contribute to healthy communities, and I believe being active should be a habit that is encouraged for all of us here today, but particularly children.
Knowing this, our government introduced the children's fitness tax credit in budget 2006, which provided a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 for children under 16 years of age to register in sports and activities. I distinctly remember when this program was introduced and how important it was to my family. As a father of three, I know how expensive it is to pay for registration fees in hockey, volleyball, and dance, and to purchase equipment. I know how difficult it is on families to afford to keep their kids healthy and active. This tax credit provided a financial means to ensure that all of my children could participate in the activities they love. I want to ensure that other Canadian families share the same benefit that my wife and I enjoyed when our children were younger.
Therefore, I was pleased when the Prime Minister not only committed to continue this program, but announced that our government is doubling the children's fitness tax credit from $500 to $1,000 and making it refundable. That means it will increase the benefits for low-income families who want to access this tax credit. This will help children across Canada to lead healthy and active lifestyles, and teach them the life skills that will not only benefit them and their families, but will also be of long-term benefit to the communities in which they live.
My colleagues in the House today understand the devastation that my riding in southern Alberta went through in June 2013. Albertans are resilient. We will come back stronger than ever. However, it is critical that we protect these communities long term, to ensure that we never have to go through a disaster of that magnitude again. Therefore, I was extremely pleased to see that the economic action plan included $200 million over the next five years to establish a national disaster mitigation program, as well as $40 million over that five years for disaster mitigation in first nations communities. This was one of the worst disasters in Canadian history. There were hundreds of people who lost their homes, and key infrastructure was destroyed when the waters overwhelmed our communities in southern Alberta.
The $200-million natural disaster mitigation program will provide vital funding to help these communities prepare for national disasters, prepare emergency readiness plans, and invest in innovative technology and infrastructure to protect these communities. It will give the residents of southern Alberta a renewed confidence, and will certainly play a key role in the recovery process.
This program will not only help Albertans, as these dollars will also be available across the country. I know my colleagues from Manitoba and Quebec have faced similar flooding issues over the years and need our support as well. The mitigation funding is a critical investment from our federal government and will protect communities and infrastructure across Canada.
Macleod has a rich agricultural history, and the family farm continues to be a backbone in my riding as well as many others across Canada. The economic action plan includes a number of measures to support Canada's farmers, including an extension of the tax deferral program for livestock producers when they undergo drought or overland flooding. We have always offered farmers a tax deferral for up to 12 months if they have to liquidate their herds. However, rather than having to pay it off as income tax, they will have the cash on hand so they can purchase replacement stock, which is vital to the health of family farms.
In rural Alberta, access to high speed internet can be a challenge. If we want our small business owners, farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to succeed, they must be able to market their goods and services worldwide and online. Therefore, the connecting Canadians program, which commits more than $300 million to expanding broadband Internet services in rural communities across Canada, is a vital infrastructure initiative. This will provide residents in southwest Alberta with the keys to the global marketplace and will re-energize these economies and innovative communities who are eager to expand their horizons.
The initiatives that this government has implemented in this budget will ensure Canada's economy remains vibrant and robust at a time of global uncertainty. I encourage all members of this House to support the budget implementation act.