Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to support the NDP's opposition motion:
That the House call on the government to take immediate action to build a balanced economy, support the middle class and encourage manufacturing and small business job creation by: (a) extending the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years; (b) reducing the small business income tax rate from 11% to 10% immediately, and then to 9% when finances permit; and (c) introducing an Innovation Tax Credit to support investment in machinery, equipment and property to further innovation and increase productivity.
I am the deputy critic for small business, and I am pleased to present our plan to stimulate the economy and help create the next generation of jobs for the middle class.
Unfortunately, Canada's economic situation is precarious. Long-term unemployment is still close to its post-crisis peak, the average number of hours worked remains low, and the percentage of workers occupying part-time jobs remains high. The Canadian economy lost another 4,300 jobs in December, and the youth unemployment rate, at 13.5%, is more than double the national average.
A columnist with La Presse, Vincent Marissal, beautifully summed up the problem of the Conservatives' lack of economic vision. Recently he wrote:
Falling oil prices brilliantly demonstrate the lack of economic diversity in the Conservatives' policies. To some degree, Canada is now in a situation similar to those single-industry towns that are reduced to poverty and mass unemployment when the local mine, sawmill or plant shuts down....
Conservative policies also clearly show a total lack of imagination. Where are the innovation and research programs that are the hallmark of rich countries?
I could not have said it better myself. That is exactly where we are today. We need to make sure our economy is diversified, and not focus on just the traditional sectors, such as resource extraction. The Conservatives have been unable to build a balanced economy, and now Canada's middle-class families are paying the price. By failing to take action, the government has cost the manufacturing sector 400,000 jobs, which has been particularly harmful for Quebec and Ontario. Once again, I do not need to say this, since we all know it; we are all experiencing it in our ridings. Unfortunately, my riding, Québec, has not been spared by these cutbacks.
The Conservatives have also cut millions of dollars in financial assistance to businesses for research and development investments. Indeed, in addition to reducing the scientific research and experimental development tax credit, they have excluded capital expenditures. This puts sectors with high capital costs, like the manufacturing sector, at a huge disadvantage, which hinders economic activity in Canada.
The Conservatives have a less-than-stellar record on the economy. However, we must not forget that although the Liberals were in power for over 10 years, they did not reduce taxes for small businesses, not even once. They did not do anything either. The leader of the Liberal Party told 1.7 million Canadians working in the manufacturing sector that the Liberals see no future for them.
The New Democrats understand that if we want to get Canada back on the right track, we need to diversify the economy by taking advantage of new innovation and growth opportunities. The NDP is proposing concrete measures that could be adopted immediately to support the heart of Canada's economy and to show investors that a New Democrat government will bring in a new era of stability for the manufacturing sector. We want to create an innovation tax credit to encourage businesses to invest in machinery, equipment and goods to stimulate research and development. This will result in savings of nearly $40 million a year for Canadian manufacturers that make significant investments in research and development.
I would also like to quote Éric Tétrault, the president of Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec:
Canada's manufacturers will compete and grow only if they are able to keep pace with the new products, new technologies and new skills required in a modern, innovative and highly competitive economy. Renewal of the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment will accelerate the adoption of new technologies. Tax credits for new product development and commercialization and for employee training are also key measures that support manufacturing success.