Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to discuss the 2015 economic action plan—a plan that is tailor-made to meet the needs of hard-working families in Orléans and across Canada.
Before I go forward, I would like to advise that I will be sharing my time with the dedicated member for Lethbridge.
This budget is prudent, reasonable, responsible and, most of all, it gives middle-class families some breathing room.
A balanced budget is the best way to protect public service jobs and the programs that are so important to Canadians.
Canada was the last country to fall into the worst recession since the Great Depression and it was the first country to recover from it. We now have our first balanced budget since that financial crisis.
Thanks to the brilliant work of the late Jim Flaherty, the current Minister of Finance and their economic teams, we have gone from a deficit of $55.6 billion at the depth of the great recession, to an estimated surplus for this year of $1.4 billion. Canada no longer has to use its credit card to cover its bills. This new state of affairs will increase investor confidence in Canada's economic potential.
The future is bright for the best country in the world. More than 1.2 million net new jobs have been created in Canada since the lowest point of the recession.
More than 80% of these are full-time, private-sector jobs and more than half are in high-paying sectors of the economy. The budget is also proof that the city of Ottawa can depend on solid federal support.
Since 2006, we have invested more than $1 billion in close to 100 infrastructure projects in the capital. More than $760 million has gone to phase one of the light rail transit project, $600 million of which came from the building Canada plan and more than $170 million from the federal gas tax fund. Close to $100 million have been invested in the three-phase Ottawa River action plan, a moral issue for the region's environment.
A total of $110 million has been earmarked to renovate the National Arts Centre.
More than $80 million has been allocated to the Canada Science and Technology Museum to upgrade the facility and keep it in east end Ottawa.
Fully $50 million has been invested in building the Ottawa Congress Centre.
Furthermore, the government's decision to extend, double, index and permanently establish the federal tax fund means that the city of Ottawa can benefit from more than $50 million per year for its projects.
These are outstanding results, but you can be assured that we do not plan to rest on our laurels. The 2015 economic action plan is proof of that.
The new budget proposes an investment of $10 million over five years, starting this year, to support the Ottawa Police Service.
This initiative reflects the overall nature of the budget: prudent, reasonable and responsible.
Given the federal presence in Ottawa, the municipal police service has responsibilities that other forces do not, for example, helping to provide security around embassies. We agreed in 2008 that the federal government should provide stable funding rather than reimburse expenses on a case-by-case basis. All parties have benefited from the agreement.
We are very pleased to renew this agreement and continue to assist our Ottawa police force.
Everyone in the region and around the world was saddened by the events of October 22 that took the life of the late Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Once again, the government exhibited discretion and some judgment by significantly improving security, while not turning Parliament Hill into an armed fortress. In addition, the government plans to allocate more than $60 million over three years to tighten security on the Hill.
This funding will enhance security not only for parliamentarians but also for the people who work on the Hill and the many visitors and tourists who come here.
Not a week goes by without someone telling me how excited he or she is about the celebrations to mark Canada's sesquicentennial. Whether I am at the Royal Canadian Legion in Orléans, the friendliest legion in the region, or the Carlsbad Springs Community Centre, the wise people of Ottawa—Orléans want to talk about the this upcoming event.
As an aside, I would like to take a moment to congratulate the recently retired city councillor, Rainer Bloess, for his work as co-chair of Ottawa 2017.
Residents of the National Capital Region and people across the country welcomed our plan to invest $210 million over four years to support Canada's 150th anniversary.
Yes, 150 years is worth celebrating!
When the good people of Orléans first elected me to serve them in this House, and it was 3,399 days ago, I chose to make autism my personal cause.
On my recommendation, the Société franco-ontarienne de l'autisme has received close to $1 million in funding since 2006 through Canada Summer Jobs.
Thanks to this program, the agency will be able to hire 36 students this summer.
Naturally, I hoped that the 2015 economic action plan would give additional support to these vulnerable members of our society.
Through the teamwork of some 50 government MPs, we convinced the Minister of Finance to include $2 million in funding to create a working group in partnership with the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance.
Of this amount, $1.5 million will go to support stakeholder participation in the working group.
The group will develop a plan for a Canadian autism partnership that will address three key areas: sharing information and research; early identification, diagnosis and treatment; and to support families.
This initiative is very promising and it marks the start of what I hope will be a great future.
My time is running out and I would like to conclude by talking about our decision to support families. I have always supported income splitting for families.
In most families, the wage earners pool their incomes. Canada's tax system must reflect this reality.
As a result of actions taken by the government since 2006, a typical four-person family will receive increased benefits of up to $6,600 following the adoption of the 2015 economic action plan.
Once again, the opposition is crying foul and saying that these measures will only help the rich.
However, this initiative will support middle-class and lower-middle-class families.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, 68% of the people benefiting from this tax relief have a family income of $120,000 or less. That is more than two-thirds of households!
The Parliamentary Budget Officer also noted that 17% of households would benefit from income splitting having a family income of less than $60,000.
If I had more time, I would talk about our other progressive proposals, such as reducing the amount of mandatory withdrawals from registered retired income funds, tax cuts for small businesses and greater support for caregivers, but I will have to leave that for another time. For today, I am just satisfied to give the facts instead of the ideology.