Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today to discuss the benefits of economic action plan 2014 for the residents of Bruce and Grey counties, and indeed for all Canadians.
Before I begin, I would like to express my congratulations once again to our Minister of Finance, who has presented a very commendable budget that delivers on promises this government has made and that seeks to advance the lives of all Canadians. It is great work by the minister.
I would like to start by clarifying what exactly we are talking about here. With all the rhetoric presented in this place, it is often difficult to understand what exactly we are discussing. A budget is defined as “an itemized allotment of funds...for a given time period” and a plan of operations based on this allotment. By this definition, we have hit the nail on the head with economic action plan 2014. This budget clearly sets out where various amounts of funding will be going and presents a clear plan forward as to how these funds will be used. This budget makes it very clear that the government has a plan and is executing and carrying out this plan in the most efficient way possible.
It is a basic economic principle that a government must spend in times of trouble to stimulate the economy and must save in times of growth. This government certainly knows this and has done very well in executing these principles. We have been spending when spending is necessary and saving when saving is possible. This budget continues with this proven successful economic agenda.
I would now like to outline various measures within the budget that I feel will be very welcome news in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
Perhaps the most welcome piece of information contained within this budget is the fact that we are on a pace to return to balanced budgets by 2015. Remember, the Minister of Finance is balancing this budget; it is not doing it itself. The budget will bring the projected deficit down to $2.9 billion by 2014-15 and forecasts a surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015-16.
As I stated earlier, we have spent when spending was necessary, and now that it is possible, we are saving. These savings are coming from controlling departmental spending. However, supports, such as seniors benefits and provincial transfers, will continue to grow at record levels.
Another principle of economics is that when consumers have money to spend, and when they are protected in the marketplace, they will spend money to stimulate the economy. This government has been committed to consumers, and this budget continues this commitment. Since 2006, we have cut taxes over 160 times, which leaves more money in the pockets of consumers.
Economic action plan 2014 would better protect Canadian consumers through various important measures. One of these measures would increase competition in the telecommunications market. This would be done by amending the Telecommunications Act to cap wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates. Furthermore, the budget would put an end to cross-border price discrimination by cracking down on companies that use market power to charge higher prices.
There are members on both sides of the House who have spent time working in municipal politics. Having been a mayor myself and having sat on councils, I believe I can speak for all in saying that having long-term and steady infrastructure funding is one of the greatest challenges faced by lower-tier levels of government. That is why I was very pleased to see the recent announcement of the details of the $53 billion building Canada plan. With $53 billion allocated to infrastructure, the new building Canada plan will be the largest long-term federal infrastructure plan in Canadian history and will provide stable funding for a 10-year period. Furthermore, over $32 billion will be available specifically for municipalities through a permanent and indexed gas tax fund and the incremental goods and services tax rebate for municipalities. This is very welcome news in my riding, and I look forward to seeing some of that funding used to develop local infrastructure.
Continuing our commitment to improve Canadian infrastructure, this budget contains measures that specifically address the needs of rural areas. I was very pleased to see that $305 million would be invested to extend and enhance broadband service for up to an additional 280,000 Canadians. In today's high-tech world, with reliance on services provided through the Internet, broadband service is very much needed in rural areas. This is certainly a welcome announcement in my riding.
Furthermore, as a representative of a riding that is surrounded by water on three sides, I am very aware of the importance of stable funding to support small craft harbours. This budget would invest $40 million to accelerate repair and maintenance work at small craft harbours across the country. These harbours are vital pieces of infrastructure that communities rely on for tourism; recreation, including recreational fishing; and economic growth. Strong and well-maintained harbours provide a stable source of economic input for these communities.
Many Canadians are concerned about the well-being of our environment. There are many environmental groups and organizations with an agenda to support and protect our environment. However, I often find that sportsmen's associations and conservation groups are omitted from this list. Sportsmen are true stewards of the environment and are very committed to seeing healthy ecosystems across the country. This budget would allow sportsmen's associations and other groups to continue the important work they do for our environment.
The budget would invest an additional $15 million in the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program to further support the conservation of recreational fisheries habitat. That is something the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette and a number of my other colleagues worked very hard to get in the last budget. To see this expansion in it is something we are all very happy about.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to welcome the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to my riding to announce funding for a couple of projects under this program. The plans for the projects being funded were very well developed and well researched. This funding would certainly go a long way in supporting our local recreational fisheries.
A stable recreational fishery also creates strong local economies. There are many communities in my riding that promote tourism through their promotion of the excellent fishing we have in Bruce and Grey counties. The Sydenham Sportsmen's Association has been hosting the Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular for 26 years now, which always draws a large crowd of between 4,500 and 5,500 anglers. It is a great event.
Continuing on the theme of recreation and tourism, this budget would invest $10 million to improve snowmobile and recreational trails across the country. I can say that with all the snow we have in my part of the world this year, many snowmobilers were out on the trails that run through the countryside. The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and the local snowmobile clubs and communities across the country do tremendous work in ensuring that the trails are well maintained and used properly. With trails that wind through the bush and across fields, snowmobiling is a great way to get out and enjoy the northern environment. This investment would be another welcome measure in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, as it would give further support to recreational trails.
Finally, I would like to touch on the importance of connecting students and the workplace. As we discuss the economy, it is important to note that emphasis needs to be put on training future workers. Without properly qualified and educated workers, economies will collapse.
The budget addresses the need to properly train employers through several measures. It would create the Canada apprenticeship loan. This loan would provide apprentices and Red Seal trades with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year. It is often the reality in my riding that many students move directly from high school to an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are a vital link connecting students with the workplace, as oftentimes apprenticeships lead to full-time employment. As an example, one of my sons did an apprenticeship through a local employer and received his training this way.
Furthermore, the budget would create more paid internships for young Canadians. This would be done by investing $55 million to create paid internships for recent graduates in both small and medium-size businesses in high demand fields. When students graduate, they are often hard-pressed to find jobs in their fields of study. This investment would allow students to get their feet in the doors of businesses and, like the apprenticeship program, could lead to future employment.
In conclusion, action plan 2014 presents a very comprehensive plan for sustained economic growth. The global accolades that Canada has been receiving are staggering.