Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
It is a great privilege for me to stand in this House today and speak to economic action plan 2014, which is appropriately titled “The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities”.
Our Conservative government has one of the best track records for economic growth and management of national debt in the developed world. We are the envy of many nations around the world who wonder how it is that Canada has done so well.
I think there are a variety of reasons for this, but first and foremost, the leadership and sound fiscal management that our Prime Minister has shown throughout his time in office has had a major impact. I continue to be very proud of the Prime Minister and his efforts. I know of no other leader who has shown such tenacity in making sure that our beloved Canada stays on the right track and eliminates the deficit as promised. In a related subject, I would like to thank our extremely hard-working Minister of Finance. With his economic action plan 2014, he has delivered his tenth budget. The minister continues to do excellent work for Canadians, and we are looking forward to his continuing guidance and leadership as well.
With these things said, this is yet another good plan for Canadians. This is a budget that Canadians can be proud of. This plan will get us back on track and in the black, as promised. Canada will be deficit-free at the federal level by next year, which is the icing on the cake.
This budget is great for the people of my home province of Alberta, as well as the people in my riding of Medicine Hat, which I am so very proud to represent in Ottawa. This budget is indeed good news for my constituents. There are a number of initiatives that will be beneficial to them, and I appreciate the opportunity to enumerate some of those in the time I have today.
I think one of the bigger pieces that applies is with respect to first nations education. I was pleased to attend the announcement last week, near Lethbridge, of the first nations control of first nations education bill, with the Prime Minister and my colleagues. This positive step forward is being highly praised. It is one of those cases where the consultation process worked very well to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all sides.
This bill will mean that first nations students from kindergarten to grade 12 on reserve will have access to accountable and higher education. I am pleased that our government has decided to move forward with these important reforms.
With the economic action plan, we are pledging to reduce the regulatory burden. We will do this through the red tape reduction plan so that small and medium-sized businesses can save time and money. I know that a number of initiatives to reduce red tape have been implemented and have been a boon to small business owners in the Medicine Hat riding. These are things like the one-for-one rule, which means that for every new regulatory burden that is placed on small business, one must be removed.
Another important piece of the budget that will increase economic activity in my riding is a plan to reduce barriers within Canada. This will help local businesses that may be considering markets. One of the best markets is right here at home, and we need to do everything we can in our power as federal legislators to ensure we are not obstructing trade within our own country.
We have already made some progress on this file, with multi-party support. I make reference to the highly praised legislation that was introduced and worked on tirelessly by my colleague from Okanagan—Coquihalla. Thanks to his efforts, the federal restrictions on having wine delivered from other provinces have been removed, and now the ball is in the province's court to act. Our government will continue with these initiatives to foster internal trade between provinces.
With respect to support for farmers, we will continue to hold the best interests of farmers at heart as we craft public policy. I know that many of my farmers are more than satisfied with our government's record on delivering results for people in the agriculture sector. I know that many wheat producers are very pleased that our government got rid of the single-desk at the Canadian Wheat Board. They now have the same rights as wheat and barley farmers in all provinces east of Manitoba.
We will continue to support them with programs, such as the new pilot price insurance program for cattle and hog producers in western Canada. I know that many of my hog producers remember the crisis of the late nineties and early 2000 in their industry. Indeed, that was a dark hour. However, they are resilient folk and they stuck through the lean times. This pilot project will offer insurance against unexpected price declines within a production cycle.
We will also support farmers by extending the tax deferral for livestock to include bees, and all horses over 12 months, that are kept for breeding when sold due to drought or excess moisture.
With respect to the review process for pipeline projects, we will provide $28 million to the National Energy Board to ensure that project applications are reviewed in a comprehensive and timely manner. This is going to be important to my constituents, and indeed all Albertans. As we are aware, Alberta is the energy heartland of Canada. We need to ensure there is a fair process that is implemented within an appropriate amount of time.
We will be taking steps with economic action plan 2014 to strengthen our justice system. In Alberta, we would create two new positions on the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench in order to ensure justice in our communities.
Economic action plan 2014 also supports the implementation of a long-awaited victims' bill of rights. Our government has always stood up for the rights of victims of crime when other parties have failed to do so. I am so very proud of our commitment to supporting victims with economic action plan 2014. We have also pledged $8.1 million over five years, starting in 2016-17, to create a DNA-based missing persons index. Once created, it would help bring closure to the families of missing persons through DNA matching.
We are committed to investing over $150 million over the next five years to enhance the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's food safety programs to ensure that Canada's food supply is safe. I know that will speak to many of the meat packers that rely on that industry in my riding. It also reaffirms our government's commitment to ensure that Canada continues to have one of the highest-rated food safety systems in the world.
With this new funding, the CFIA expects to hire 200 new inspectors and other staff, develop programs that would minimize food safety risks, and enhance Canada's capacity to prevent unsafe food from entering Canada, which would offer better protection for consumers.
One program that has been popular in the Medicine Hat riding is the new horizons for seniors program, which allows more seniors to be active in their community. We would be allocating another $5 million through this economic action plan.
One of the major initiatives announced in this plan is new tax relief for search and rescue workers. We introducing the search and rescue volunteers tax credit in recognition of the important role played by those who put themselves at risk for the security and safety of our communities. I know there are some folks back in my riding who are very active in search and rescue efforts when needed. I think they would definitely take advantage of this tax credit. I hope they will.
We experienced some very heavy flooding last year in Alberta, as is well documented. With this economic action plan, our government would provide up to $200 million to establish a national disaster mitigation program to better protect Canadians and their communities from natural disasters.
For Alberta, total major transfers would be $5.2 billion in 2014-15, including $3.7 billion through the Canada health transfer, which would be an increase of 129% since 2005-06, under the previous Liberal administration. It would also include $1.5 billion through the Canada social transfer, which would be an increase of almost 148% since 2005-06.
Our budget has a major component that focuses on training. We would create the Canada apprenticeship loan, which would provide apprentices in red seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans.
We would also be investing $75 million targeted for older workers.
A topic of interest, especially as of late, has been our continued commitment to our Canadian veterans. I know there has been a certain amount of misinformation out there and I want to ensure that the record is set straight. Our government has invested billions of dollars on programs for our veterans since we came into office in 2006. In the 2012-13 year alone, we spent approximately $3.1 billion in direct support for our veterans and their families.
In economic action plan 2014, we would be implementing our priority hiring of veterans strategy. Essentially, in recognition of their service to Canada, our Conservative government is proposing to enhance employment opportunities in the federal public service for medically released Canadian Armed Forces personnel by creating a statutory hiring priority in the Public Service Employment Act. This would mean there would be a statutory hiring priority for armed forces personnel who are medically released for service-related reasons.
There is a large Canadian Forces base in my riding, CFB Suffield. I am proud that our government is continuing to stand up for our veterans and for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Our government has put Canada on a sound financial footing and continues to ensure that we stay on top as we work to pull our great country out of the great recession. Our record thus far speaks for itself: over one million net new jobs created, many of those in the private sector; low debt-to-GDP ratio; and relatively low unemployment. We have lowered taxes by putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadian families.
With this in mind, I look forward to questions from my hon. colleagues.