Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to be able to speak to economic action plan 2015, which I feel is a capstone on strong, stable Conservative government in terms of Canada's long-term growth prospects in our economy.
Since coming into office in 2006, our government has been squarely focused on ensuring equality of economic prosperity for all Canadians. This means a very purposeful, focused policy approach on this particular issue.
After we came into government, between 2006 and 2008, we aggressively paid down Canada's debt. We paid down billions and billions of dollars on Canada's debt during this period, because we understand that we need to have balanced budgets and a reduction in debt in order to ensure long-term economic prosperity for Canadians for generations to come.
However, when the economic downturn hit in 2008, we understood that a large portion of this economic downturn related to debt burden. We knew that if we were going to undertake stimulus measures, which would increase consumer confidence and ensure the long-term prosperity of Canada's economy, those measures needed to be short term and impactful in terms of ensuring economic infrastructure.
That is why we put in place things like the knowledge infrastructure program, which has legacy projects across the country in Canadian universities.
As well, Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Prince Edward—Hastings, who has wonderful winemakers in his region.
Continuing on, these infrastructure programs left a legacy of economic infrastructure across the country. They positioned Canada for long-term economic success. However, once they were completed, they did not increase the size of government and they did not create entrenched long-term government bureaucracy, which meant that once we were through the worst of the economic downturn, once we started to see a sign of recovery in 2009, our government was squarely focused on coming back to balance.
On this side of the House, we know that budgets do not balance themselves and that we need to be very aggressive in terms of having a plan, both for efficiencies and spending. We have to make sure that, as a government, we understand how to deliver services to Canadians in a most effective and efficient way and be wise stewards of taxpayer dollars but also, on the other side of the balance sheet, create opportunities for growth.
Since 2009, we have aggressively pursued a trade agenda. When we came into office in 2006, I believe the figure was five free trade agreements. We now have more than 40, including historic access into the European market, with more than 500 million new consumers for Canadian goods and services, and entry into the Asian supply chain with this Canada-South Korea free trade agreement.
This places Canada in a historic, world-leading position in terms of attracting foreign direct investment, because we can trade with other nations in an unprecedented way.
We have tried to build a very skilled labour force with things like the Canada job grant and our apprenticeship programs.
The capstone of this budget is that we have created a very low tax burden on both Canadian families and job-creating companies.
Between our coming into office in 2006 and today, a Canadian family of four has $6,600 more in its pocket than before we came into office. When I listen to members across the aisle and I hear the Leader of the Opposition say that only affects the wealthy, I think we would be hard-pressed to find a Canadian family to say, “Wait a second; I am rich; that doesn't help me.” I think that is actually rich.
When opposition members go to the polls in the fall and try to spread that message to Canadians, they will be in for a very big surprise.
We understand that the role of the state is to get out of the way as much as possible, while ensuring the health and safety of Canadians and creating economic opportunity, not creating government for government's sake and not running on power for power's sake.
In this budget, we have measures such as reducing taxes on small business. Since we came into office in 2006, small businesses pay 44% less in taxes than before we came into office. That is an incredible milestone. That means that small businesses can hire more people, they can innovate, they can spend more money on developing new products and services, they can increase productivity, and they can weather economic storms, because hopefully, they are in a position where they can be liquid.
Canadian families have choice in child care. They have choice in how they spend their finances.
My colleague opposite, in the last question, talked about a taboo topic. I do not think it is taboo to talk about Canadians having more money in their pockets, that somehow being a bad thing, and somehow governments know how to spend Canadians' money better than Canadians do. That is the difference between this side of the House and my colleagues opposite.