Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the points raised by the hon. member opposite with respect to the motion on employment insurance, and more generally, what our government has done to create more and better jobs for Canadians.
Let us start with the obvious one. Canada has had a remarkable job creation record in recent years. Our prudent management of the nation's finances and careful targeting of incentives to spur our economy's job creators, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, are in large part the drivers behind this success.
The fundamental strength of the Canadian labour market has been particularly evident after the recent global recession. Despite the weak global economic environment, the Canadian economy has experienced one of the best performances among the G7 economies in terms of both output growth and job creation, with over 1.2 million jobs created since June 2009. That is not all. Nearly 90% of the jobs created since June 2009 are full-time positions; almost 85% are in the private sector, and nearly 60% are in high-wage industries.
Canada has weathered the economic storm well and the world has noticed. For example, the World Economic Forum rated Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the seventh year in a row in its annual “Global Competitiveness Report”.
This economic resilience also reflects the actions our government took before the global crisis, actions such as lowering taxes, paying down debt, reducing red tape, and promoting free trade and innovation. Unfortunately, Canada is not immune to external developments. Recently we have seen a struggling global economy which has had its effects here. To a large degree this was reflected in the sharp drop in global oil prices and its impact on investment activity in the oil sector. Economic growth in the United States was also very weak during the first quarter. As our main trading partner, weaker U.S. growth has also had a negative impact on Canada.
In this context, I am happy to report to the House that the government has a clear plan for achieving even better performance. This is crucial, given that there are still too many Canadians either out of work or unable to find a job that they are trained for at a time when skills and labour shortages are re-emerging in certain sectors.
This need for more and better jobs is why the government published its “Jobs Report: The State of the Canadian Labour Market”, last year. While the Department of Finance continuously monitors and analyzes the labour market situation, the jobs report provided a snapshot of Canada's labour market in 2014.
The results are clear. Despite significant labour mobility in Canada, Canadian firms are having more difficulty in hiring than the unemployment situation would normally warrant, with imbalances between unemployment and job vacancies persisting in certain regions and occupation groups. There is evidence of a misalignment between the skills of the unemployed and those required by employers, with higher job vacancy rates in the skilled trades and science-based occupations.
A number of groups are not reaching their full potential in the labour market, including less-skilled individuals, recent immigrants, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and older Canadians.
From 2000 to 2011, the number of apprentices completing training and obtaining certification doubled, but apprenticeship completion rates averaged only 50% over this period.
Our government believes that the solution requires a more mobile, flexible and highly skilled labour force to keep up with rapidly advancing technology and increased worldwide competition. The good news is that Canada is off to a strong start. Among our OECD peers, we have the largest share of population with at least a post-secondary education.
Canadians are fairly mobile. They respond well to labour market signals and move to regions and occupations with better employment opportunities. However, significant disparities in regional unemployment rates persist. Evidence suggests that there remain institutional and non-economic barriers to mobility in Canada. The evidence shows stubborn imbalances between labour supply and demand in certain occupation groups and regions. These imbalances are larger than the unemployment rate would normally warrant.
Our government will continue to be there for Canadians. As long as Canadians are looking for work, our government will be committed to creating jobs for them to find.
Under the fiscal leadership of our Prime Minister, our government has created an environment that fosters new investments, sustainable growth and job creation. To this end, since 2006, the government has implemented a plan to achieve a higher performing economy now and into the future. The plan has substantially improved Canada's business tax competitiveness, expanded trade and opened up new markets, contributed to modernizing Canada's infrastructure, supported research, innovation and creation of large-scale venture capital funds, streamlined the review process of major economic projects, improved incentives to save and work, and strengthened Canada's retirement income system.
However, we are faced with some irony here with this motion. Both opposition parties have a reckless view that when it comes to job creation in Canada, the Liberals and the NDP have both promised to attack job creators with massive tax hikes. In fact, the Liberal leader was quoted as saying that he wanted to introduce a mandatory tax hike on employers and employees. Let me be clear. That is a $1,000 mandatory tax hike for both the employer and the employee.
That is not how to create jobs in Canada, but members should not just take my word for it. Canadian businesses have been clear that the last thing they need are tax hikes and the mandatory CPP expansion as it would not only mean freezing or cutting salaries, but it could also result in having to fire workers. This is on top of the Liberals and the NDP both wanting a 45-day work year that would drastically increase EI premiums by 35%.
I could go on longer, but we have two examples of how the opposition does not have a credible plan to create jobs here in Canada.
Our government has acted on employment insurance, which is why we are moving toward a seven year break-even rate that would result in a substantial reduction to the EI premium rate. The savings from this action alone would benefit over 16 million Canadians by 2017.
The recent great recession was an unprecedented global challenge. As we have seen throughout history, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I am proud to say that our government acted decisively and precisely when strong action was needed most.
Canada's labour market has generally succeeded in meeting challenges and performs well compared to most nations in a number of areas, including job creation and post-secondary attainment. The last thing we need is increases to taxes. However, as the hon. member opposite will no doubt agree, we can do better, and indeed, we must do better for Canada and Canadians.
Our Conservative government will remain focused on the policies we put in place to create an environment conducive to new investment, economic growth and job creation. Most of all, we will continue to keep taxes low for employees and employers. If the opposition NDP and the Liberals had their way, Canadians would have to brace themselves for massive tax hikes, which would do extreme harm to the job market in Canada and to families.