Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand in the House today to highlight some of the many positive measures contained in economic action plan 2014.
Before I begin my remarks, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the great people of Richmond Hill for giving me the privilege of representing them in the House and for their trust and confidence.
Canada's economic action plan is working. Over one million net new jobs, the vast majority being in the private sector and high-wage occupations, have been created since the trough of the recession. These include 15,000 jobs in Richmond Hill and 86,000 jobs in the York region in the manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, professional and business service sectors, and more. It is because of the focus of our government on what matters most to my constituents in Richmond Hill and to all Canadians, that being jobs and economic growth, that Canada boasts the strongest job creation record of all the G7 countries, and importantly, Canada's total government net debt burden remains the lowest by far of any G7 country and among the lowest of the advanced G20 countries.
That is why I am thrilled that economic action plan 2014 maintains its focus on strengthening our economy while keeping taxes low and returning to a balanced budget by 2015.
Balancing the books is essential to our long-term prosperity. Our long-standing belief that a sound fiscal position is essential for Canada's long-term economic growth is the driving force behind economic action plan 2014.
The actions in economic action plan 2014 will not only return us to budgetary balance by 2015 but will produce savings totalling $9.1 billion over the next six years. These savings are in addition to our previous actions taken since budget 2010. These actions over the last four years, including 160 different tax reductions and lowering federal tax to levels not seen in 50 years, benefit Canadians every single day.
At the same time, we are supporting the sustainability of the services and programs Canadians rely on and inspiring investor confidence. We are making record transfer payments to the provinces and territories. For example, transfers in Ontario are currently $19.2 billion per year from the federal government. This is an increase of 76% from what they were under the old Liberal government.
These actions have all contributed to making Canada a recognized leader on the world economic stage for prudent fiscal management. Canada has recently leapt from sixth to second in Bloomberg's list of the best places in the world to do business. This is an incredible accomplishment.
The height of the global economic crisis in fiscal year 2009-10 was not that long ago. That same year, at the urging of and with the support of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, our government took a deficit of $55 billion. That spending was necessary to pull Canada out of the depths of the deep and sudden recession, and it worked. Owing to the prudent actions of our government prior to that global economic collapse, when we paid down $37 billion worth of debt that we had inherited from the Liberal government, we had the room to react quickly when it was required to do so.
The complete elimination of a $55 billion deficit in just five years is nothing short of amazing, and I thank the world's greatest Minister of Finance for that historic accomplishment. Balancing the budget and reducing debt will allow tax dollars to be spent on more important programs instead of interest costs. It will strengthen our ability to respond to longer-term challenges, such as an unexpected global economic shock or an aging population.
Indeed, economic action plan 2014 steps up to the plate in response to the reality of a looming older demographic. For example, $5 million has been allocated annually to the new horizons for seniors program. This is in addition to the current allocation. The new horizons program has been incredibly successful in Richmond Hill. It has provided funding for community-based projects that encourage seniors to share their skills and experience with others and it allows them to benefit from and contribute to the quality of life in the community.
By providing a way for seniors to mentor others, volunteer, and enjoy and benefit from social and educational opportunities, new horizons for seniors is improving the quality of life of our seniors in Canada from coast to coast to coast.
Our Conservative government recognizes the challenges many working Canadians face in balancing their work obligations with caring for an infirm or older adult at home. In response, we would launch a Canadian employers for caregivers plan that would identify promising workplace practices that support caregivers.
We also know that small businesses are crucial to Richmond Hill's economy, to Canadian communities across the country, and to Canada's long-term prosperity. We are firmly committed to delivering both lower taxes and less red tape.
I am pleased that economic action plan 2014 would provide further support for our small businesses and entrepreneurs so that they could create even more jobs in our communities. For example, the reductions in the small business tax rate to 11% and increases in the small business income limit to $500,000 would provide small businesses with approximately $2.2 billion in tax relief in 2014. That is money that could be invested in equipment and new jobs.
The need to cut business red tape was consistently one of the top recommendations I heard at my Richmond Hill pre-budget consultations. I will be pleased to tell them that cutting unnecessary red tape is exactly what this budget would commit to doing. In so doing, entrepreneurs would have more time to focus on what they do best: creating jobs and economic growth.
During our pre-budget consultations, small businesses told us that now is not the time to increase CPP or EI premiums. I am pleased that our budget would maintain the levels at 2013 levels.
The business sector in my riding is pleased with this support. I was happy to receive an email yesterday from the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce that said:
This budget presents the continuity of a plan for economic growth that builds on Canada's economic and fiscal advantages. The measures announced by the government will help Canadian businesses prosper and compete.
Also high on the list of recommendations from my residents was an investment in skills training, beyond that of just resumé or interview preparation, that would actually provide the on-the-job training necessary for new employees to succeed. I am happy to tell them that the new Canada job grant would be launched to better align training with labour market needs.
Employers have told us that they would support skills training in a way that is easy to access and that has minimal red tape. The Canada job grant would do just that by taking into account the flexibility employers need. Businesses with a plan to train unemployed Canadians would receive two-thirds of the cost, up to $10,000, in government contributions.
The federal government is working closely with provinces and territories toward the implementation of the Canada job grant and the renewal of labour market agreements. In jurisdictions where agreements are not secured, the Government of Canada would deliver the Canada job grant starting April 1, 2014, directly through Service Canada.
I would also like to highlight that a new generation of labour market agreements for persons with disabilities would also come into effect. Over the next four years, we would provide $222 million annually through those transfers, to be matched by the provinces and territories, to better meet the needs of people with disabilities.
There are many other ways economic action plan 2014 would benefit Canadians. It would take additional steps to support the charitable sector, improve the health of Canadians, support our arts and cultural communities, honour our veterans, and help Canadians in need. It would strengthen the regulatory environment and provide the basis for the implementation of an expression-of-interest economic immigration system to support Canada's labour markets.
As it has been mentioned elsewhere, our plan to return to balanced budgets is not an end unto itself but a means to increase Canada's economic potential, improve employment opportunities for all Canadians, and raise our standard of living.
On behalf of my constituents in Richmond Hill, I look forward to the speedy passage and implementation of economic action plan 2014. I call on all members of the House to support its passage.