Mr. Speaker, we have kept our promise to Canadians, and the budget is balanced. Some underestimate the discipline involved. It was widely reported that there were some in the House that believed budgets magically balanced themselves. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Let me state for the record and the benefit of all members that magic cannot be counted on to balance the budget, and Hogwarts is not the London School of Economics. Our budget is balanced due to the fiscal responsibility of our government, not by waiving the magic wand. While the Liberals and the NDP are making billions of dollars in new political promises, I encourage both of those parties to dust off their calculators as their numbers do not add up. In fact, their budgetary plans have more holes in them than Swiss cheese.
Balanced budgets are the only way to ensure long-term prosperity in our economy. It allows for further tax relief for hard-working families and for our seniors. It bolsters our top credit rating, supports lower interest payments and protects health care transfers to the provinces. We cannot borrow our way to prosperity, no matter what some of our opposition colleagues might say. Now is not the time to spend money we do not have, which, if done, would only lead to massive deficits and larger debt payments.
For generations, Westman families have understood the path to prosperity and that we must not compromise tomorrow by spending recklessly today or pile on debt that we cannot afford. Rather, we must invest sensibly for a financially secure future.
My approach of standing up for hard-working taxpayers has been clear and consistent: take as little as possible and give back as much as we can. That is why I am pleased to stand and voice my support for this budget implementation act, as federal taxes are now the lowest they have been in 50 years. Countless seniors from my constituency of Brandon—Souris, and from across the country, have been taken off the tax rolls completely. Benefits are going directly to families, and we have reduced numerous taxes rather than funding an over-burgeoning and inefficient bureaucracy that can help few.
I also support this budget implementation act and budget 2015 because our Conservative government is supporting the good people of Manitoba like never before. Since 2006, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, health care transfers have risen by 57%. Unlike the previous Liberal government that drastically cut and slashed vital health care funding to Manitoba and other provinces to balance its federal budget, we took a much different approach. In fact, federal support has never been higher.
I am also pleased that the new building Canada plan is making critical infrastructure investments to grow Westman's economy, such as tripling the size of Manitoba's regional airport terminal at McGill Field, expanding the town of Deloraine's water treatment plant, and ensuring more homes and farms have access to clean drinking water in the rural municipality of Elton.
I would be remiss not to point out that the opposition voted against the funding of all these projects. The people of Westman are not pleased that every time the NDP and the Liberals have a chance to stand up for Brandon—Souris, they have sat on their hands. While the Liberals like to crow about infrastructure funding, they forget that their record of investing in Manitoba is abysmal. We only have to look at their lackluster infrastructure record of only investing $370 million in Manitoba over 12 years. In comparison, our Conservative government has already invested $1.2 billion into Manitoba's infrastructure, and we are well on our way to investing another $1.2 billion in the coming years.
Since the first day I had the honour of being elected as the member for Brandon—Souris in Parliament, I have reached out and consulted widely with local residents on ways we can continue to grow our economy and enhance our quality of life. I would like to briefly touch on the new measures contained in budget 2015 that support our seniors, reduce taxes for small business owners, and assist Westman farmers under initiatives that will close the skills gap and lead to the creation of new high-paying jobs.
Budget 2015 builds on our record of supporting seniors whose efforts have helped to make Canada the strong and prosperous country that it is today. We will reduce the minimum withdrawals for registered retirement income funds that will allow seniors to preserve more of their retirement savings to better support their current income needs.
Budget 2015 also introduces a new home accessibility tax credit for seniors and persons with disabilities to help with the costs of renovating their home so they can remain safe, secure and accessible.
There has been much hoopla from the opposition, which has something against Canadians putting more of their hard-earned money into a tax-free savings account. Without a doubt, the TFSA is the most important tax saving vehicle since the introduction of RRSPs. Providing Canadians a further incentive to save and invest is not only sound economic policy, it encourages future growth. The TFSA provides the flexibility of such things as saving for a new home and paying for their children's education. It is there for those who have an unexpected expense and need to quickly draw on their investments.
While our Conservative government will enhance the TFSA, the Liberals want to claw back this enhancement and, in turn, force Canadians into a mandated and compulsory increase in the CPP rather than trust Canadians to make investment decisions with their own money.
It should be noted for the record that regardless of what the Liberals may say about the tax-free savings account, 60% of those who have opened a TFSA make under $60,000 and close to half of those people with TFSAs are seniors. I can think of no greater example that highlights the difference between our government's economic agenda and the Liberal plan to force Canadians into larger, forced, mandatory CPP contributions.
While our plan allows Canadians the option of where they want to invest their money, the Liberal plan says that it knows what is best for them and while it is at it, it will take thousands of dollars out of the pockets of their employers as well.
Speaking of job creators, budget 2015 will help Westman's small business grow and create jobs. While we have already reduced the small business tax rate to 11% and increased the amount of income eligible from $300,000 to $500,000, this budget will further reduce the small business tax rate to 9%. This is in addition to the small business job credit that is providing relief for EI premiums.
As well, many Westman farmers will welcome the increase in the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million, which will allow them to retain more of their capital for retirement.
While our government's approach is to allow small businesses to keep more of their money to reinvest and hire even more employees, all of our hard work could be reversed if the Liberal CPP tax hike took effect.
Make no mistake, the Liberal, job-killing plan will hurt Westman's small business owners. While our government is investing in skills training and education for future growth, the Liberal tax plan will dampen the confidence of the private sector. Many in the House have raised the issue of the skills gap and how it affects their local economy. In many Westman communities, small business owners are having a hard time filling job openings.
The skills gap is an impediment and barrier not only to our local economy, but also to the national economy. That is why I am pleased our budget financially supports harmonizing apprenticeship training and certification requirements to targeted Red Seal trades.
I am also pleased that our government has made historic investments in apprenticeship training. We have supported post-secondary institutions, such as the Assiniboine Community College, so it can provide the skills and knowledge to meet local demands. Through programs such as the apprenticeship incentive and completion grants, we are providing young people with necessary financial assistance to finish their training. In addition to these, the tradesperson tool deduction and apprenticeship job creation tax credit and the Canada job grant are having a real world effect on our economy.
While there are those who have voted against some or all of these measures in the past, I encourage all colleagues in the House to support this legislation in front of us today. We cannot grow the Canadian economy if our workforce does not have the skills to fulfill the jobs of tomorrow.
I ask all of my colleagues, particularly those in the opposition, to join our government and stand up in favour of this budget implementation act. I ask that they stand up for hard-working taxpayers, seniors, students and for the long-term prosperity of our country. As I have said repeatedly, we must all work together to build a stronger Canada than we inherited, and this budget implementation act would do just that.