Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and speak tonight in support of this bill.
Before I start, I want to take a moment to mention that there is a dangerous situation unfolding as we speak here tonight in the city of Moncton in New Brunswick, my home province. I just want to let the people of Moncton know that they are definitely in our thoughts and prayers this evening. I ask that they listen to the authorities and stay inside and stay safe until the situation is over. Thank you for the opportunity to say that, Mr. Speaker.
I want to echo the words of my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley when he paid homage to our good friend and former colleague, the Hon. Jim Flaherty, because what we are talking about tonight are the fruits of the former minister's labour.
He worked very hard over his time as Minister of Finance to bring us back to balance. This budget, this economic action plan 2014, puts us squarely on track for returning to balance. It does exactly what the minister set out to do. I am very pleased to be able to stand here tonight to speak to this bill, because it speaks very firmly to what is so important to my riding.
I truly believe that all politics are local. That is why, when I speak about this bill this evening, I want to speak to how it impacts my riding and my province and what it will do to enable our province to take advantage of the opportunities that are there in front of us today. I say this because the Province of New Brunswick, not unlike a lot of other provinces, has been having a rough time, to be frank. Our fiscal situation and fiscal outlook have not been very rosy.
This budget does exactly what it should be doing: it respects the provinces, it does not cut transfers, and it does not try to bring the budget back to balance in the same way that previous governments did. It does not do that. It does not balance the budget on the backs of the provinces. It respects the provinces for what they have to do. It respects the taxpayer. It respects Canadians. That is what is important. It is important that we do that.
It is not just words that I am echoing here tonight. Our government has been solid on respect for the provinces and on growing the transfers to the provinces. To a province like New Brunswick, those transfers are very important. In this fiscal year, those transfers will total $2.6 billion for the Province of New Brunswick. Of that $2.6 billion, $1.7 billion will be through equalization. There will be $682 million under the Canada health transfer and $267 million will be through the Canada social transfer. Those dollars are extremely important, and those dollars have been increasing over the life of our government.
Since 2006, our government has increased those numbers. In equalization alone, those numbers have increased by 24%. In health, they have increased by 37%, and for the Canada social transfer, they have increased by 26% since 2006. That is important.
I talk about these numbers and about how important they are because I have a background with the Province of New Brunswick, which many members in this House have heard me speak about different times. I was a provincial member of the legislative assembly. I know how important these transfers are and I know what they do for the work that the province does on an ongoing basis.
The fact that we have been able to bring our budget back to balance without doing it on the backs of the provinces is laudable. We have done it by providing tax relief to Canadians and we have done it by providing new investments to provinces such as New Brunswick. Those new investments are very important, and that tax relief is so important to a province like New Brunswick.
As I said, our fiscal outlook is not very good. Our fiscal situation is rough, although there are some good signs on the horizon. There are some good things happening in New Brunswick. There are some real opportunities, and this budget allows us to take advantage of those opportunities. There are opportunities out there, such as our resource sector, which remains undeveloped for the most part. We talk about a resource sector that is just waiting for us to develop it.
I talk about shale gas development. I talk about potash. I talk about some of the things we have within my own city. I talk about the port and the opportunities that lie with the pipeline from western Canada. That energy east pipeline will come to Saint John, New Brunswick. Something that puts us in an enviable position is our deepwater ice-free port. Not only do we have a deepwater ice-free port, but we have the largest refinery in North America, and we are anxious to see the pipeline come to Saint John, New Brunswick, so that we can support and grow our industry and take advantage of some of those opportunities.
I talk about having the largest refinery in North America. I talk about our ice-free deepwater port, but we also have an LNG terminal that is anxious to transform itself from an import LNG terminal to an export terminal. Those opportunities come from the fact that we have this port.
The market is craving energy, and the people of New Brunswick have been waiting for some time to see their economy transformed. We have been waiting to see this happen. Unlike most New Brunswickers, I was born there, I was raised there, and I have watched a lot of my friends and relatives have to leave there for the opportunities that are sitting on our doorstep. They have to leave our province. Many of them go to western Canada. Many of them go to Newfoundland on a weekly basis.
I travel here to take my seat in the House of Commons to represent the people of my riding. I sit on airplanes with many people leaving my city and province to go to Newfoundland or western Canada as they look for opportunities. Those opportunities are right there at home for those people; we just need to take advantage of them.
The economic action plan gives us the tools to be able to take advantage of those opportunities. It invests in job creation. It gives us the opportunity to develop the skills and develop the workforce. Through the Canada job grant, we will be able to work with the provinces to develop our workforce so that when these opportunities come forward, people will be able to take full advantage of them.
We talk a lot in the House about temporary foreign workers. We have to bring temporary foreign workers into New Brunswick, and one might wonder why. It is because a lot of our trained workforce has left the province and there are situations that need temporary foreign workers, but we want to see our people come back home. We want to work with the province to bring our citizens back to New Brunswick to take advantage of these opportunities. They want to come back to do the same thing they are travelling west to do, the same thing they are travelling to Newfoundland to do: they want to develop our natural resources, and they want to do it at home. They want to contribute to the economy. They want to see their families, and there is nothing wrong with that.
We want to give them the opportunity. We want to give them the ability to do that. It is so important for this budget to move forward so that we will be able to do those things. We have to have a strong economy in the province. We have to have the tools in place to do it, and this government has done that through economic action plan 2014.
We provided funding of $28 million over the next two years to ensure that the National Energy Board review process goes smoothly. It is important that we put our money where these opportunities lie. There are many opportunities out there. We have supported these things and we want to see them move forward.
I could talk for quite some time on the budget and what it means to the people of New Brunswick and to the people of Saint John. Most of all it means that we will have the opportunity and the ability and the tools to take advantage of what lies in front of us, and that is all we are asking for.
We are asking for the chance to do that. We want members of the House to help support us and give us the ability to do that.