Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to this opposition day motion. I commend my colleague across the way for bringing this motion forward.
I do want to be very clear. Make no mistake that our government has had a long-term commitment to keeping taxes low and making life more affordable for all Canadians. By reducing taxes year after year and enhancing direct benefits to Canadians, the government has given families and individuals greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them.
The reality is that Canadian families and individuals will receive $37 billion in tax relief and increased benefits in 2015-16 as a result of the actions our government has taken since 2006.
Unlike the high-tax, high-spend plans of the opposition, our Conservative government believes in low taxes, tax fairness, and leaving more money where it belongs, which is in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
The opposition would have people believe that our government is not interested in cutting taxes. That is hardly the case, which is why I will use my time today to show what our government is doing to help all Canadians, including women.
Our government is delivering broad-based tax relief to all Canadians, including those whose income is too low to pay income tax on nearly everything they buy. We also believe in the importance of balancing the budget. That is why we are balancing the budget while taking prudent action to lower taxes, create jobs and economic growth, and provide security to Canadians.
Indeed, since 2006, we have cut taxes over 180 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Due to measures our government has introduced, small business taxes will be almost 50% lower, which will allow businesses to create jobs and economic growth. Our new family measures, alongside others introduced by the government since 2006, will provide tax relief and benefits of up to about $6,600 for an average Canadian family of four. We have cut taxes over and over again.
It was our Conservative government that lowered the GST twice, from 7% to 6% and then to 5%, providing tax relief to all Canadian families. We did not just lower it on one product; we lowered it for its entire base, so that it benefits all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. However, the New Democrats voted against both of those GST reductions. In fact, they were proud of it. The current NDP finance critic said that cuts to the GST “take us in the wrong direction. I am very proud that our caucus stood opposed to that direction.”
If the members opposite were serious about lower taxes and tax relief for all Canadians, they would have supported our government when it lowered the GST rate. We did not just lower it on one product; we lowered it for its entire base so that it benefits all Canadians, even those who do not earn enough to pay personal income tax. While doing so, we maintained the GST credit level, which translates into about $1.2 billion in GST credit benefits annually for low-income and modest-income Canadians.
Again, for all individuals, we have implemented increases to the basic personal amount, the amount of income that an individual can earn without paying federal personal income tax. As a result of these increases and adjustments for inflation, the basic personal amount one can earn before paying taxes is now $11,327.
We have also reduced the lowest personal income tax rate to 15% from 16%, and increased the amount of income that individuals can earn before facing higher tax rates by increasing the upper limit of the two lowest personal income tax brackets.
We have introduced an enhanced working income tax benefit, allowing lower income Canadians to keep more of their hard-earned incomes and helping them build toward a more prosperous life. We have increased the amount of income that families can earn before the national child benefit supplement is fully phased out and before the Canada child tax base benefit begins to be phased out. This means that more families will be eligible to receive the Canada child tax benefit.
It does not stop there. We also introduced the tax-free savings account, TFSA, a flexible, registered, general purpose savings vehicle, which allows Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to more easily meet their lifetime savings needs. As of the end of 2013, nearly 11 million Canadians had opened a TFSA.