Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear from the beginning that I do not think Canadian businesses are so selfish that they would fire employees just so they could continue to be eligible to receive the small business tax credit.
My family has been in small business for over 100 years in Truro, Nova Scotia. To say that small businessmen like my father, grandfather and great-grandfather would lay people off just to stay underneath the limit to get this credit is absolutely ludicrous. They are more interested in hiring good employees, training those employees and keeping those good employees in place so they can be more productive and the business can run better. That is what small businesses do. They grow the economy. They hire people. They build the employment structure in this country. That is what the small business people are all about, not firing people or laying people off to get underneath some limit to get a credit. That is not what small businesses typically do.
All businesses would rather put their efforts into making their enterprises grow, and hire new workers and expand their business. I do not understand why our colleagues across the way are opposed to the small business tax credit, which the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said will create over 25,000 new jobs for Canadians. This measure is the next step in the government's economic action plan, which has made Canada the envy of the world. Job creation and economic growth are the top priorities for our government, unlike the Liberal Party, which would tax businesses and treat the EI fund like a slush fund to pay for reckless investment schemes.
Now let us start with the EI changes that were introduced under the connecting Canadians with available jobs initiative. This helps Canadians get back to work more quickly. The changes were not about restricting access and benefits, but they were about giving unemployed Canadians the information and tools they need to get back to work. We have heard success stories from employers who have said those changes have helped them to find available workers. We have also heard success stories from workers who have been able to connect themselves to jobs that are available.
This was the case, for instance, in a company in Quebec that included 1,500 employees. Now this company, Regroupement des employeurs du secteur bioalimentaire, was able to connect and hire new Canadians because of the connecting Canadians to available jobs program.
As part of the EI changes, we have enhanced our jobs alert system, which has so far sent out 165 million job alerts to over 354,000 subscribers since January of last year.
These changes are just one part of the government's broader agenda to equip Canadians with the skills and training they need to help create jobs. While this country has weathered the global recession better than most, the recovery has varied across regions and across different parts of our economy. By connecting Canadians with jobs that are available and putting our priority on skills and training, we are ensuring that continued economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity remain the priority of the government.
The measures we are taking fit into Canada's economic picture right now. We have recently completed free trade deals with the European Union and South Korea, giving us access to over 550 million consumers. Over half of the global GDP is now available to Canadian businesses to export their goods to. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Canada enjoys free trade with a total of 44 countries. This will have a tremendous impact on the economy and create tens of thousands of new jobs. It is a win-win.
It means growth opportunities for Canadian firms and also more jobs for Canadian workers with the right skills. This is especially true in the extraction and resource industry where hundreds of major projects are scheduled to come on stream over the next decade. For these sectors, projects like this hold much opportunity for prosperity, but they also carry real challenges.
As Canada's population ages, so does our workforce. The pipefitters, engineers, draftsmen and technicians will soon be in short supply because of the retiring baby boomer generation. This is particularly the case in the construction sector, the mining industry and the petroleum sector. At the same time, there will be 550,000 unskilled workers who will not be able to find work by 2016, according the Chamber of Commerce. That number could be well over a million by 2021.
How are we going to meet these challenges? We are going to meet them by moving towards a better way to match skills and training with in-demand and about to be in-demand jobs.
One of the elements of our plan is the Canada job grant, an innovative, employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training to fill new and available jobs. Agreements have now been signed with all the provinces and territories to implement the grant. It is a critical step to ensuring that Canadians are equipped and prepared for the jobs that are going to be out there.
At the same time, we are providing incentives for young people to consider studying a career in the in-demand skilled trades. Since 2007, we have provided Canadians with nearly $700 million in apprenticeship grants. Through economic action plan 2014, we are creating the Canada apprenticeship loan to give apprentices interest-free loans of up to $4,000 during their training. It is estimated that starting in January 2015 at least 2,600 apprentices a year will benefit from this loan.
The government is also working to ensure the well-being of under-represented groups, such as Canadians with disabilities, aboriginal people, and new Canadians. The late finance minister had a special eye on helping those who are less fortunate, by creating the registered disability savings plan. These qualified people are too often sitting on the sidelines without jobs to go to every morning when they are perfectly able to work. For example, there are currently 800,000 working-age Canadians with disabilities who are not working, but whose disability will not prevent them from doing a job. Almost half of these, 340,000, have post-secondary education. That situation needs to change. To this end, we are providing $220 million each year through our labour market development agreements for programs and services, helping Canadians with disabilities to join the labour force.
Recently our government also reformed the temporary foreign worker program, to ensure that Canadians would always come first when it comes to the hiring of new Canadians in available jobs.We have introduced tough measures so that the program remains a last and limited resort when employers cannot find Canadians to do these jobs. Our government recognizes the fundamental importance of small business in fuelling this Canadian economy. That is why our government has announced the introduction of a small business tax credit.
It is estimated that this will result in savings of approximately $550 million for small businesses over the next two years. The introduction of this credit builds on our government's strong support of small businesses since 2006. We froze EI premiums to provide certainty and flexibility for small businesses; we reduced the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%, and we increased the small business limit to $500,000. The results are clear: a typical small business with $500,000 in taxable income is seeing a savings of approximately $28,600. In total, small businesses have seen their tax rate reduced by 34% since 2006, and the list goes on.
I think I have made the point. Our government is wholly committed to helping Canadians find good jobs, and Canadian small businesses are creating these jobs to support our families and communities. Therefore, there is no need for the measure that the Liberals are now promoting. For that reason, I urge my fellow members to join us in saying no to this motion.