Mr. Chair, it is a pleasure to talk about economic action plan 2015, our government's latest action to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Though implemented in this year's budget, it is the culmination of many years' work. It is a plan laid out in the worst days of the great recession. In those dark days, we spent billions to create jobs when Canadians needed them most.
At the same time, we made a solemn promise: once the crisis was over, we would take the necessary measures to return to a balanced budget. Economic action plan 2015 is the conclusion of that great work.
However, for such a plan to work, a plan involving billions of dollars over many years, a key ingredient is needed: resolve. When I think of resolve, I recall John Diefenbaker, a great Conservative and a great prime minister. Few men could match his resolve and his devotion to the public. He devoted time to reading letters from ordinary Canadians and writing to them in turn. To those he disagreed with, he was polite. To those who were morally indignant, he often sent the same short reply:
This is to inform you that some crackpot is using your name and has recently written to me over your signature putting forward views so eccentric in nature and so much at variance with your usual logical style that the letter could not possibly come from you. I felt that I owed it to you to bring this to your attention.
I do not write letters quite like Diefenbaker, but I respect a leader with the courage of conviction. Canada has a leader with that courage, our great Prime Minister. His resolve has been ironclad.
That was a necessity because when we promised to balance the budget, there were many naysayers. “They cannot do it”, the naysayers said, and “Even if they can, they should not”. However, we did it. Upon the extraordinary foundation of the Canadian advantage, we have built one more advantage, a balanced budget.
That Canadian advantage flows from the success of Canada's economic action plan, and the evidence of that success is abundant. Canada has demonstrated one of the best economic performances among G7 countries over the recovery. Over 1.2 million more Canadians are working now than at the end of the recession. The majority of these jobs have been full-time, high-wage, and in the private sector. Canada has posted one of the strongest job performances in the G7. The IMF and OECD expect Canada's growth, already ahead of its peers over the recovery, to continue to be solid. We have absolutely the top credit rating from all of the major credit rating agencies.
Today, the overall federal tax burden is at its lowest level in more than 50 years. Bloomberg now ranks Canada as one of the top countries in the world in which to do business, and Canada's total government net debt to GDP ratio is less than half that of the average for the G7. Yes, that is right: half.
These advantages have made Canada an attractive commercial partner and investment destination. Canada is a great trading nation. Jobs and prosperity here are tied to jobs and prosperity in the world economy, yet the world economy today is gloomy. Growth in the eurozone is paltry in some places, stagnant in others. The once roaring growth in China has slowed. The United States is thankfully an exception, but one country, however powerful, cannot carry the weight of the world economy by itself.
Of course, there are geopolitical dangers and the ongoing repercussions with sharp decline in oil prices. The hard truth is that risks and challenges remain. We cannot abandon the resolve that saw us through the great recession, the same resolve that built a balanced budget.
We must resolve to continue taking measures to promote job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. That is exactly what our most recent budget does.
We are cutting taxes relentlessly for job creators, supporting innovation, expanding Canada's free trade presence across the globe, and making unprecedented investments in infrastructure. In economic action plan 2015, we will cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019. This is the largest tax rate cut that small businesses have received in over 25 years. We will provide an accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers and create a new automotive supplier innovation program: $100 million over five years. It would support job-creating research commercialization and build a thriving auto sector for Canadian. That way, for generations to come, the words “made in Canada” will continue to fuel pride.
This is not the only budget measure dedicated to innovation.
Economic action plan 2015 provides for an additional amount of more than 1.5 billion over five years to advance the objectives of the government's science, technology, and innovation strategy.
That means more funding for research in universities and colleges through federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and nearly $120 million over two years for the National Research Council to support research and development partnerships with the industry.
If they work together, we know that the public and private sectors can build a more innovative economy for everyone.
This is creating the jobs of tomorrow, but to create the jobs of today, we know what works. That is building the vital infrastructure that our economy relies on. Infrastructure gets us to work every morning and gets us home at night. Every minute that we spend locked in traffic is a minute that we cannot spend with our families. It also means billions of dollars lost in our economy.
That is why, since 2007, this Conservative government has made the largest and longest federal infrastructure commitments in Canada's history, and we are doing even more. We will invest in a new public transit fund, which would grow to $1 billion a year. Constructing the next generation of transit, it would cut congestion and build our economy. This new fund would help us get people and goods moving across our cities, to our borders, and on to world markets. Because of our Prime Minister, there will be more open markets awaiting them.
Free trade is the heart of our prosperity. Ours is one of the most open and globally engaged economies on earth, and that is a good thing. It creates jobs and growth right here at home. That is why, since 2006, we have concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries, and we are making significant progress toward concluding the trans-Pacific partnership agreement with 11 other Asia-Pacific nations. It is a market of nearly 800 million consumers, with a GDP of over $27 trillion.
These measures create good-paying jobs. Our government is proud of these measures, which will help build a better Canada.