Mr. Speaker, the last half hour has been interesting. As I sat here, I could only think back to the Liberal leader's comment that “we just didn't get the job done”. I was reminded of this in the last half hour, and of so many areas where the Liberals completely failed the Canadian public.
The member talked about a child care program that had no children in it. He talked about how the Liberals saw themselves as supporting a trading nation, but they made no trade deals. The Liberals sent our military over to the Middle East in green uniforms, and then they talked about supporting veterans. He talked this afternoon about massive spending. They certainly oppose any tax reductions for which we would think Canadians would be looking. The Liberals have obviously a very distant connection to the middle class. I often think the closest their leader will ever get to the middle class is when he talks to the mechanic who fixes his Mercedes.
This afternoon, I want to discuss our government's budget implementation act, and I am glad to see the enthusiasm from across the way. It is good to see those members engaged in this, but they were probably expressing their failures and apologizing for them.
I want to take this opportunity to discuss our budget implementation bill and the importance that we place on it.
I spent several years as a parliamentary secretary for Natural Resources, and enjoyed it thoroughly. As a western Canadian MP, having oil and gas in my riding, and focused on energy, it was a real privilege to serve in that position.
Natural Resources deals with many different things. It includes forestry to energy, including mining to nuclear. Today I would like to talk about two of the significant initiatives in the bill that fall under the mandate of Natural Resources in Canada, and those are the two subjects of mining and nuclear.
I should acknowledge the tremendous work that the Minister of Natural Resources and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources have been doing. I know the minster had a great minister who preceded him, and certainly the current minister has done an excellent job of leading on this file.
Today I want to talk about the benefits of our government's plan in two areas. One is for the mandatory reporting of the Canadian extractive sector. The second is the restructuring of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
As all members know, all of the natural resources sectors play a key role in the Canadian economy. Natural resource based companies employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and we as Canadians are very proud of this critical sector. Canada's extractive sector alone, through primarily mining, oil and natural gas, generated exports valued at $124 billion in 2012, which is 28% of Canada's total exports.
Again, we can see the danger that would be placed on our country if the New Democrats, for example, were ever to get into power because they so totally oppose resource development. We can get an idea of the impact they would have on our country were they ever able to influence that.
In the past, we have seen that impact in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, we had those NDP governments in place for a number of years, and they left us 30 or 40 years behind our counterparts in Alberta, which were willing to develop their resources while we sat on ours. Thankfully, over the last 10 years, we had a change in Saskatchewan and we have been developing our resources. The complete psychology of our province has changed and we now are able to lead. A lot of that has to do with the strength of the natural resource sector in Saskatchewan.
These resource sectors have an international reach as well. Canadian extractive sector companies account for almost half of the world's mining and mineral exploration activities. Our mining companies have interests in more than 8,000 properties around the globe in more than 100 countries. These companies support jobs, they develop communities and their influence is significant, particularly in resource-rich developing nations. We believe it is very important that their operations and their activities must be above board at all times.
Our government believes that transparency in the extractive sector is important for both industry and for citizens, and that it is important both in Canada and globally. Raising global standards for transparency will help deter corruption. From the sector's perspective, it enhances the reputation and strength of our companies and of all companies that are involved.
That is why last month our Conservative government introduced the extractive sector transparency measures act. This new legislation would implement our 2013 commitment at the G8 leaders summit to establish reporting standards for Canada's extractive sector by 2015.
This new law will require extractive sector entities to publicly report payments of $100,000 or more made to all governments at home and abroad and that relate to the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals. Canada is taking strong action, along with its G8 partners, to contribute to global efforts to put in place those transparency measures for payments made to governments for commercial development. In doing so, we are moving toward common global reporting standards.
As the globe gets smaller, it is important that those expectations are standardized around the world. These measures are being taken to support Canada's brand as a responsible developer of natural resources, and they will enhance Canada's already sound reputation and its ability to compete internationally.
This mandatory reporting initiative will help to ensure that our resource industries continue to lead. They will prosper around the world. They will continue to provide those economic benefits that are so fundamental to Canada's ability to create jobs to bring economic success and long-term prosperity to our own country.
Surely, this is something that all members in the House and all Canadians can support.
I want to turn the second major Natural Resources Canada initiative that is contained in the budget implementation act. We have always maintained a very strong commitment to Canada's nuclear industry, led by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, or AECL. The nuclear industry has played a significant role in Canada's economy for more than 50 years.
In 2007, our government launched a thorough review of AECL to determine how this crown corporation could best participate in the future in the global nuclear marketplace. In 2009, this review concluded that the interests of Canadian taxpayers and Canada's nuclear industry would best be served by restructuring AECL. Today, I am proud to say that our government is meeting that objective.
In 2011, the assets of the Candu reactor division were sold to Candu Energy Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Montreal based SNC-Lavalin. The privately owned Candu Energy Inc. is now seeking opportunities to sell and to service Candu technology around the world.
The first phase of the AECL restructuring was a big step forward, but additional work remains. In 2013, our government announced its decision to implement a government owned and contractor operated model at AECL's nuclear laboratories. This model will be similar to the one that already exists in the United States and in the United Kingdom. A competitive procurement process was launched to procure the services of a private sector contractor to manage and operate the laboratories.
This restructuring and procurement process, which includes the AECL laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario, and Whiteshell, Manitoba, is progressing well. A competitive process is currently under way to select a private sector company that will be responsible for ensuring the efficient and effective delivery of laboratories' missions.
Our objective in both of these AECL challenges has been to reduce the cost and the risk for Canadian taxpayers, while leveraging AECL's facilities and assets to create value. In the meantime, the laboratories' operations and employees have been recognized into a wholly owned subsidiary of AECL, called Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, or CNL. Eventually, ownership of CNL will be transferred to the successful private sector bidder. Its employees will no longer be part of the public service or participants in the public service pension plan.
It is the pension aspect of this restructuring that we are addressing in this bill today. Our government is acting to provide early clarity to CNL employees and to all stakeholders during this time of change at AECL. The budget implementation act would offer transitional pension coverage for employees. We would extend the public pension coverage for three years, beginning the date that CNL would be transferred to the private sector. This would provide greater certainty for both employees and qualified respondents in the procurement process. It would also provide an adequate time period for a new pension plan to be established.
Such a transitional arrangement was offered to former AECL employees who were transferred to Candu Energy in 2011. We believe it is only fair to offer the same to CNL employees. Once restructuring of CNL is complete, all employee benefits, including pensions, will be the responsibility of the new private sector employer.
In addition, a second measure in the bill officially declares that CNL, while it is a wholly owned subsidiary of AECL, is a crown agent. CNL would no longer be a crown agent once it becomes a private sector company.
As members in the House can appreciate, the AECL restructuring has been a significant and complex undertaking. We have worked hard to ensure the process has been methodical, transparent and fair. I should point out that fairness is the one strong element that links both of our topics today, the AECL restructuring and the mandatory reporting.
The measures contained in the budget implementation act are transitional, one-time steps to support AECL workers during restructuring. These measures are fair to AECL, fair to the employees and fair to the taxpayers.
With both of these initiatives, Canada and Canadians will continue to be well served by competitive, leading edge industries. Both will be supported by standards that are second to none. Our industries are positioned to compete successfully with anyone, anywhere in the world. Therefore, I would point out that both of these initiatives represent important initiatives that will lead directly to significant benefits for Canadian taxpayers and for Canadian brands around the world.
As the government continues with its programs, it has had a direct impact on the Canadian economy. When we look at the numbers that have been given, we posted one of the strongest job creation records in the G7 over the recovery period. As everyone here is well aware, nearly 1.2 million jobs have been created since July, 2009. Our real gross domestic product is significantly above pre-recession levels, the best performance in the G7.
We heard our colleagues opposite criticize our trade agenda a little earlier. The reality is that as both the Minister of Trade, and the Minister of Agriculture in particular have moved ahead, we have seen significant improvement and an increase in trade around the world, and we will continue to see that. Those three dozen trade agreements we have signed, which the Liberals made no movement toward at all, are playing an important role in the recovery we are experiencing.
Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development expect that Canada will be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next. That is not an accident. That is happening because of good management. It is happening because we have made commitments that are different than the commitments made on the other side of the House. We have made commitments to reduce taxation for Canadians and Canadian businesses. We have made commitments to increase and expand trade around the world. Those things work together to ensure Canadians benefit consistently.
One of the places that has really impacted Canadians over the last few years is that personal income taxes have gone down, along with the other taxes we have lowered. They are now 10% lower with the tax relief we have provided since 2006. All of these things fit together to create an economy that is strong and moving ahead.
We heard our minister earlier today in question period talk about the fact that the average Canadian family is now saving close to $3,400 that they would have been spending in taxes had the Liberals continued in power. Canadians can be very thankful that our government is in place and that we have done the kinds of things that make it work for them.
The Liberal Party has talked about the middle class and has suggested that what we have done does not work for the middle class. The reality is that it is working very well. I would assume that The New York Times would be unbiased in its analysis. It has found that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada, which were substantially behind in 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. That is a direct impact of our government making decisions to let people keep their own money and make decisions about how they want to spend it.
With balanced budgets in sight, our first priority will be to continue to provide tax relief for hard-working Canadian families so that they can keep more of their hard-earned money and decide how to spend it. Just a couple of initiatives that are part of this budget implementation act that relate to that would be the small business job credit we would initiate through the bill and the children's fitness tax credit.
We have heard a lot about the universal child care benefit that has been brought in, but we should also be aware that the children's fitness tax credit is an important part of the bill as well.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to the bill.