Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in the House, in two capacities, to speak on the budget implementation act.
I am very honoured to represent my home town in Parliament as the member of Parliament for Durham and the communities of Clarington, Scugog and Uxbridge. I will speak to some of the great elements of economic action plan 2015 that concerns my constituents in my riding and issues for which I have advocated.
I also have the tremendous honour to sit in the House of Commons as the Minister of Veterans Affairs. As someone who has served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 12 years and had worked on these issues before joining this Parliament, it is a profound honour that I take seriously. There are some amazing new benefits and programs in the budget implementation act for veterans and their families, which I have made a pledge to pass before Parliament rises for the summer. It is why it is in the budget implementation act itself.
First, as the member of Parliament for Durham, I am very proud of this budget and what we would implement with it, because this is the culmination of four years of dedicated and strategic work by the Prime Minister and by our government.
Budgets do not balance themselves. Governments need to set priorities. They need to plan and they need to ensure they set an environment for job creation and economic growth, without taxing Canadians and small businesses too much, so we can stimulate an active economy and really see job creation and participation in our economy by young people, families and through seniors in their working and retirement years.
First, this budget is a balanced budget. We made a commitment to reach balance in 2015. We did that while raising transfer payments, in my case, to Ontario by over 80% for health and education. We did not take the route the Liberals did to balance a budget by slashing transfers to the provinces and making premiers cut hospitals and nurses. We have been increasing steadily that commitment. We have balanced the budget through growing the economy and by slowing the growth of government to core and strategic areas.
We told Canadians that once we achieved balance, we would offer tax relief for families with young children, seniors who were on fixed incomes and to continue to stimulate our economy. I am proud to say we have done that.
On the universal child care benefit, it is key to recognize that it is universal. Families with children will receive support, and then they can make their own decisions on what best works for their family. Whether one parent steps away from the workforce for a few years, whether one reduces and goes part time, whether they use live-in care, whether they use daycare, whether they use a parent or an aunt to look after the kids, parents make their choices and we empower that through our universal child care benefit. This has been very well received in my riding of Durham.
Now we are increasing it to $160 per month for children under six, which will be almost $2,000 a year for families to make their decisions with respect to child care. We are also enhancing it beyond the age of six, recognizing that there is after-school care. Schools get out 3 p.m. and parents need flexibility. Therefore, there will be almost $720 in a new extension of the universal child care benefit for children 6 to 17. We are increasing the child care expense deduction by $1,000 to allow people who use child care services to have more tax deductibility for that.
With our family tax cut, we are allowing income splitting on a limited basis for families in particular where mom or dad decides to step out of the workplace for a few years or reduce their hours. We are allowing that family unit to be taxed as more of a single unit, because parents are making decisions as a unit when they are raising families. All families do. I see that daily in my area of Courtice, Ontario. Therefore, while they are raising their children, this will allow them to smooth off that income and save up to $2,000 as part of our family tax cut.
For seniors, we are continuing to build on recognizing that seniors built the country, they are on fixed incomes in their pension retirement years and they need our support. Costs are going up.
We introduced pension income splitting a few years ago to allow seniors to be taxed as a unit while on a fixed income. In this budget, we have provided more flexibility so less withdrawals from RRIFs have to occur to allow for more savings. We have increased the tax-free savings account to $10,000 to allow financial planning and certainty for seniors and all families, and to encourage a saving culture.
I am also very proud that this government has listened to the MPs who hear from seniors in their ridings who want to stay in their homes and, in some cases, need modifications made to stay there. We have the home accessibility tax credit of up to $1,500, which would allow seniors to make modifications so they could stay in their own homes.
We are delivering for families and seniors with a balanced budget, as we promised.
Small businesses are the majority of employers across Canada. We have been cultivating the small business sector with over 30% lower taxes for it, allowing small businesses to invest with tax measures and encouraging them to hire in recent years with a new-hire tax credit. I am very proud our government is lowering the small business tax credit in this budget, from 11% to 9%. That allows small businesses to hire a few more people, to invest in their operations, to be competitive and grow. It is about jobs across the country, including in my riding of Durham.
This is how governments should work. It makes a plan, sets priorities, articulates that to Canadians, and then has the leadership that this Prime Minister has shown to deliver on that plan. This budget and the implementation of it recognizes that we are delivering exactly what we said when we reached a balance budget: support for families with young children, support for seniors, and stimulating economic growth and job creation in communities across the country.
In the remainder of my time, I will speak as the Minister of Veterans Affairs. I am very happy that the budget implementation act has some tremendous new benefits for veterans and their families, building on the work of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs last year. The new veterans charter needed to be updated and amended to address our most seriously injured, those who have the most difficult time transitioning from their careers in the Canadian Armed Forces, and some of the gaps in the new veterans charter brought in by the Liberal government, implemented by our government, and voted on by all members in the House. With fixes contained in this budget implementation act, we will get to a veterans charter that will serve more than just most veterans. It will serve all veterans.
The retirement income security benefit addresses the issue of post-65 income for seriously injured veterans, when their earning loss benefit ends at 65 and they hit those retirement years. Under the old system, they would have seen a big drop in income at 65. We fixed that. We are guaranteeing them a predictable level of income post- 65, along with a permanent impairment allowance, another lifetime benefit, which over time I want to see streamlined into a single pension for the most seriously injured. With the retirement income security benefit, the RISB, contained in this implementation act, we will give peace of mind to veterans, who are moderately to severely injured in service to Canada, and their families.
Also in this implementation act is a critical injury benefit, a benefit that recognizes and compensates for the pain and suffering that servicemen and women will go through if they are critically injured in service to their country, an acute injury that leads to hospitalization, intensive care, surgical intervention. In the past, if they recovered, they would get a disability award based on the recovery without recognizing all the pain and suffering of that recovery time. The critical injury benefit would do that.
As well, there is the family caregiver relief benefit for the most seriously injured, which will provide over $7,000 tax free to a family to provide more flexibility. If we know a spouse or adult child is an added caregiver, Veterans Affairs will provide contracted care in the home. However, the home will be changed if someone is seriously injured. We are providing more flexibility, recognizing the critical role of family in the wellness of veterans.
These types of new benefits for the most seriously injured veterans and their families are items for which all parties have asked. They were contained in Bill C-58, but after six weeks of delay, intentional or not, six weeks of criticism of the very reforms that some members of the House asked for last year, I have included all of these provisions alongside our purpose statement of obligation in the budget implementation act.
It is a great act not just as the MP for Durham and the support for families and businesses, but I am profoundly proud of what it would do for veterans and their families.