Mr. Speaker, I talked about the fact that the Canadian economy is the envy of the world. However, the NDP wants to sink us back into red ink so it can waste money on its pet projects, while taxing away our prosperity. That makes no sense, particularly when the Fraser Institute released a report on the state of the Canadian economy just this morning, a report which stated that the adult unemployment rate was at the historic low level, and:
—we have seen a marked increase in high-wage factory jobs in Canada in recent years...There are few reasons to think the recent crisis has damaged the key ingredients propelling long-term growth in most of the world...More policy stimulus is not needed in North America at this time
Even worse, the member opposite wants to put all of this wasteful new spending on Canada's credit card, raising our debt, forcing our children and grandchildren to pony up for the bill of his party's big spending dreams. The promise of tax hikes for coming generations to pay for the NDP's irresponsible and reckless plans is not responsible leadership.
The NDP's so-called economic plan could jeopardize all of the hard work that Canadians have done to achieve the prosperity we have today. We reject this plan, as do Canadians.
There is a better way for Canada, a Conservative way, a low-tax, balanced budget plan for jobs and growth that is working. It is the plan our Conservative government is following, and it is a plan that works.
I would now like to remind the House about the key planks at the cornerstone of that plan: first, the solid fundamentals that come with fiscal responsibility; second, keeping taxes low for families and job-creating businesses; and third, expanding opportunity by cutting red tape and opening new markets.
Let me begin with fiscal responsibility.
Solid fiscal fundamentals start with a principle; that we have a responsibility to spend within our means. Families have to do that every day, and as a government, we must also respect that tried and true principle.
When our government came to power in 2006, the world was a very different place. The markets were flourishing and economic growth was strong. We reduced the federal debt. We lowered taxes for Canadians and for job-creating businesses, and we took on an ambitious plan to renew Canada's aging infrastructure. Then the storm hit, coming from outside our borders.
We all remember the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The subsequent financial crash erased $10 trillion in global market value, destroying the savings of families around the world.
That was how the great recession began, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a downturn that cost 62 million jobs globally. It did not start in Canada, but it hit us none the less.
Historic action was required so we took historic action. Our economic action plan made unprecedented investments in thousands of infrastructure projects, investments in roads and bridges and in knowledge infrastructure, like research labs, universities, colleges and broadband Internet access for rural Canadians. These investments created the jobs we needed right when we needed them most. They created jobs at a time when jobs were being destroyed everywhere.
Fast forward to today and the evidence is clear. Our plan worked. We have accomplished so much, as Canadians, together. We have created over 1.2 million net new jobs since the depths of the recession. The overwhelming majority of those jobs are full time, in the private sector and in high-wage industries.
According to the International Labour Organization's global wage report, Canada has the second best pay gains in the G20. The Center for American Progress states that Canada has experienced continuing middle-class growth, while for many countries it has halted. A recent analysis done by The New York Times found that after-tax middle class incomes in Canada now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact, the Canadian middle class is among the richest in the developed world.
Indeed, the very CIBC report that the NDP cites in this motion pointed out that for the past year the number of full-time jobs in Canada rose twice as fast as part-time jobs. This is the reality, a reality supported by objective evidence and real facts.
This reality did not prevent the NDP from voting against all of the job-creation measures taken by this government, such as freezing EI premiums, lowering taxes for the manufacturing sector and investing $70 billion in infrastructure to create stable, predictable jobs.
In contrast, when the time for stimulus was over, we did the responsible thing: we set out on a course to balance budgets. This took hard work and a plan. Canadians know that budgets do not balance themselves, though I hear having a trust fund is a big help. However, for those of us without that advantage, we have to plan ahead. Therefore, we made a plan. Then we followed our plan and it worked. We will balance the budget this year just as we promised Canadians we would, and we will not fall into the tax-and-spend ways of our Liberal and NDP opponents, which brings me to the low-tax part of our low-tax plan. We know that the Liberals and NDP are contemptuous of low taxes. To them, a dollar back in the pockets of families is a wasted dollar, a dollar lost for their big government pet projects.
It was the Liberal finance critic who said that the Liberals believe Canadians will not be bothered by being taxed more and more. It was the NDP author of this motion who called our Conservative government's universal child care benefit a “slap in the face”. The real slap in the face is every vote the Liberals and NDP cast against more money for moms and dads.
We have all heard about the inevitability of death and taxes. Will Rogers once joked that the only difference between death and taxes is that death does not get worse every time Congress meets. That is the kind of Parliament a Liberal or NDP government would deliver. However, that is not the Conservative way. We trust parents to raise their kids better than any social engineer would. We trust Canadians with their hard-earned money, more than the NDP or Liberals ever could. The Prime Minister has the best tax record of any prime minister in decades. Under his leadership, we have provided tax relief over 180 times since taking office. We brought the GST down to 5%. We created the popular tax free-savings accounts. We cut corporate taxes and small business taxes. We made Canada the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G20. Last year we cut taxes for every family with children. Today the overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in over half a century.
Not since John Diefenbaker was the prime minister have Canadians paid so little tax to Ottawa. Canada's economic competitiveness has hugely improved, creating new jobs for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. KPMG says Canada's total business tax costs are the lowest in the G7, 46% lower than in the United States. Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Bloomberg ranks us the second most attractive place in the world to do business. By lowering taxes, we are building a stronger economy for all Canadians.
To that end, we are cutting red tape and opening new markets. We established the one-for-one rule.
Every time the government imposes a new regulation, it must eliminate a regulation.
Businesses now spend 290,000 hours less a year on paperwork, which kills jobs.
By cutting red tape, the government is helping businesses save around $75 million a year, which helps more than 5,000 small businesses.
We know that our approach works. According to a study of 189 countries carried out by Public Works Canada, preparing, filing and paying taxes each year takes 25% less time for a business in Canada than for a business in the United States.
Canada is the only G7 country to rank among the top 10 based on the overall ease of paying taxes. Conservatives know that for Canada to create well-paying jobs, we need job creators spending their time growing their businesses, not choking on red tape and high taxes, but we also know that we have an obligation to open new markets to those job creators. We need to expand their opportunities so they can reach their full potential. Under Conservative leadership, Canada's free trade network now touches every corner of the globe. I cannot overstate the importance of this to the Canadian economy.
When our government took office in 2006, Canada had free trade agreements with five countries. That was not good enough for a country where 60% of GDP and one in five jobs are tied to trade. We now have free trade deals with 43 countries. In 2012, Canada joined the ambitious trans-Pacific partnership negotiations, and in March, the Prime Minister concluded negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea, Canada's first in Asia.
The National Post called Canada a free trade empire that now covers the two largest markets in the world, the United States and Europe. This latter deal is a game changer. The European Union is the world's largest economy. This trade agreement is the most comprehensive free trade agreement in the history of our nation, more ambitious than NAFTA itself. The EU agreement will provide more open access to 28 countries, a market of 500 million people, and annual economic activity of $17 trillion.
Mr. Speaker, I will conclude today by reminding Canadians of what is at stake in the upcoming election. The policies I mentioned today work. These are policies that helped our country out of the worst of the recession and that have made Canada one of the most economically resilient countries in the world.
However, with the NDP and the Liberals, we have an opposition that wilfully ignores this success. Our jobs would be at risk, our economy would be at risk, our pocketbooks would be at risk, but with this Conservative government, under our Conservative Prime Minister, Canadians are in safe hands. Under our Prime Minister, we can all look forward to the serious and experienced leadership that Canada needs for these all-too-chaotic times in the world economy.