Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Canada's economic action plan for 2015.
I am excited about this budget. In fact, I only have 10 minutes, because I will be sharing my time with the member for Medicine Hat, but there is so much in the budget about which I want to talk.
Before I do that, I would like to congratulate the member for Medicine Hat. I understand this will probably be the last budget to which he will be presenting. I also acknowledge the great work he did on the agriculture committee and in the background in Ottawa to represent his constituents of Medicine Hat. He does such a wonderful job and we will definitely miss him.
I want to talk about what the budget means to the people in Saskatchewan, particularly in my riding of Prince Albert.
When I went through my riding doing pre-budget consultations, my constituents told me that we needed to be focused on jobs and the economy. They told me that we really needed to be focused on doing things that were right so their kids would have jobs in Saskatchewan now and into the future, which is what the budget presents.
We have a balanced budget, about which my constituents are excited and happy. Saskatchewan is the only province that has a provincially balanced budget and now we have a federally balanced budget, and the people of Saskatchewan respect and understand the importance of that. Not only do we have a balanced budget, but we will have a surplus of $1.4 billion, which is huge.
I look back at what we faced in 2008 with the economic downturn and recession and how we handled that. We had to go into deficit to provide the jobs and growth that were required to keep people working right across our great country, and we did that in a strategic way. We put in water treatment plants, sewage and roads. We put in the infrastructure that was required for our economy to grow into the future. Therefore, we are excited to see that we have basically the best debt to GDP ratio in the G7, with 1.2 million net new jobs created, which are high-paying jobs. Again, when my constituents talk to me about being focused on the economy, this budget definitely is focused on the economy.
The other thing my constituents asked for was support for families to ensure they would become strong and thrive. We have done that since we came into power. In fact, when we look at the support we have given to families, an average family have $6,600 in their pockets to spend because of this government. We have done things in such a way that we have balanced the books and have allowed taxpayers and families to keep money in their pockets. That is $6,600 they can spend as they see fit.
There are other things we have done for families. When we look back to previous budgets, we have increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We have removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We have introduced the children's arts tax credit, children's fitness tax credit, the family caregiver tax credit and the first-time donor's super credit. There are a lot of examples of what this government has done that is progressive and beneficial for all Canadians, which is exciting. I know when I go back to my riding in Prince Albert this week, my constituents will thank us for doing these types of things.
We have also expanded the universal child care benefit. For a child under six, parents will now get $160 a month. For children aged 6 to 17, parents will get $60 a month that they never received before. This is exciting, and they will thank us for that because they asked for it.
We will introduce the family tax cut and let families decide how they want to raise their family and how they want to have their income split, which is a great thing. When we think about it, people can split their income with their spouse or partner to bring down their overall family tax to such a rate that they could benefit their entire family. What is wrong with that? It is such a positive and progressive tax idea. It is just wonderful, and I think Canadian families will be appreciative of the fact they can share their income and make decisions based on what is best for their families.
I want to talk about what we have done for small businesses.
The business tax rate has been reduced from 12% to 11%, and now it will go down to 9%, which is fabulous. This is a bit of relief that the small business can take advantage of and hire another employee or student. That is a big deal. This acknowledges that we understand small businesses and that we will help them as they grow their businesses.
Hopefully, as these small and medium enterprises grow, they can take on trade and look outside the great country of Canada, and we will be there to support them. With the benefit of EDC and BDC, businesses can take advantage of the big markets we are opening up for Canadian enterprises, which is one thing this government has done very well compared to previous governments. It is this government's aggressiveness that has opened up world markets, signing free trade agreements with countries like Chile, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, to name just a few in the western hemisphere.
CETA will be tremendous for Canada. The TPP and the agreement with Canada-Japan will cement our ability to grow and foster our economy. We will be able to take advantage of markets and have preferential access compared to our competitors, or at least be on a level playing field with them. Again, the benefits come back right into every small town in Saskatchewan, so we are excited about seeing that.
We also have support for seniors in the budget. Seniors came to us and said that they wanted us to change what they had to withdraw from their RRIFs, that it was not fair, so we did that. We made that change in the RRIF so seniors can withdraw as they see fit because the minimum is different now. This benefit will help seniors enjoy their retirement years.
Another small thing a lot of Canadians have been taking advantage of is the tax-free savings account. We have doubled the amount from $5,000 to $10,000. A lot of people may not put $10,000 in it. Some may put $6,000, some may put $5,000 and some may put $2,000 or $3,000, but it is there. If they should come across some extra cash and they want to go to $10,000 one year, they have the ability to do that.
I look at that as part of a suite of packages we have when we plan for retirement. When we have RRSPs, the tax-free savings account and our pensions, we have a suite of things we can work with as we plan for our retirement, and that will pay dividends greatly into the future years as more Canadians retire.
When we look at the farming community, the average age of farmers is getting older. We have to see what we can do to bring in more young farmers. The best thing we can do to bring in more young farmers is to give them a market in which to sell their product. By removing the Canadian Wheat Board and giving farmers freedom, we are starting to see more young farmers coming into the agricultural community. This is exciting.
When I go to a town hall or to the post office and look around, I do not recognize a lot of the young people in our community. They have come back to take advantage of raising a family on the farm. In order to do that, they realize they have to buy the land. A large number of farmers are at the age when they want to retire. The $1 million capital gains exception for the selling of farmland is huge to them.
These guys have worked hard. The families have worked hard. They have gone through a lot of things over the past 30 or 40 years. They have seen droughts, floods, they have had their hands tied by the Canadian Wheat Board and they have seen rail issues. Every year there is something new and they have had to deal with it, yet they still claw their way through, survive and thrive. Now, as they approach retirement years and they sell their assets, this will allow them to have a proper nest egg as they go into retirement. That is appropriate. They asked for this and we provided for it in the budget.
The farming community is very excited about that. However, the other thing we did for them was the export market development programs. Again, $20 million over two years, helping them expand their exports. We grow more than we could ever consume in Canada, so we need to be able to export that product around the world to get the maximization of prices in Canada. Every once in a while we need to have some help from market development to sell those products that we normally do not consume in Canada, so this $20 million will definitely go a long way.
Whether we are talking about farmers or small business, and small and medium enterprises, the one thing they told us in the trade committee was that they wanted to see us enhance the Trade Commissioner Service. We have done that. In 2015, we have put $14.3 million over two years and $9.3 million per year thereafter to expand the footprint of the resources of the of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.
These guys are great. They are located throughout the world. If individuals own a small or medium-sized enterprise and they want to go into a new market, for example, Brazil, they would phone the Trade Commissioner Service and tell it the product they want to sell, that they want to go into Brazil. Trade professionals will go into the marketplace and tell individuals some good potential partners, potential customers and the nuances the individuals need to know about a marketplace. They do that over and over again to help small and medium enterprises take that leap into becoming exporters.
Ten minutes is definitely not enough to talk about the budget. One thing I will say about it is that when I go back to my riding tomorrow and talk to my constituents throughout the weekend, they will be happy with this budget. In fact, I call it a blue jean budget. Anybody who has ever worn blue jeans will receive a benefit from the budget.
I am excited about that. I am proud to say I am part of it. I am also proud to say that this Conservative government has kept its word and balanced the budget. Going forward, we will have balanced budgets that will leave our economy strong going into the future for our kids and grandchildren.