Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise when I say that Canada is going through tough economic times.
However, along with this real challenge, we also have a real opportunity for establishing the conditions needed for long-term growth, which in turn will create good jobs and contribute to the prosperity of the middle class, the lifeblood of our economy.
First, I would like to elaborate a moment on our government's ambitious economic agenda that sets Canada on the path for economic growth. Our government believes that all Canadians should have a real and fair chance to succeed. Central to that success is a strong and growing middle class, but in the face of this real challenge, there is a real opportunity to put in place the conditions to create long-term growth.
We were elected on a plan to grow the economy, and we have already started by introducing this tax cut in December. From infrastructure investment to responsible environmental stewardship, we are providing needed leadership. Our priority is to strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and delivering on our commitment to Canadians.
Indeed, we fully intend that our plan for economic growth will benefit all Canadians through targeted investments. Let me reassure the House that the government is not daunted by the challenges before us. We are cognizant of our fiscal reality.
Before turning to the content of Bill C-2, I would like to mention that the government's plan will include introducing proposals to create a new Canada child benefit. This new, tax-free, income-tested benefit would lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. In fact, nine out of 10 Canadian families would be better off under this plan. We aim to have payments under the new Canada child benefit begin in July 2016.
The proposed Canada child benefit would simplify and consolidate existing child benefits. It would replace the universal child care benefit, which is not income tested. As we have committed, this new Canada child benefit would be better targeted to those who need it most.
We also recognize that public investment is needed to create and support economic growth as well as job creation and economic prosperity, which is why we will make significant new investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure. We will work together with both the private sector and our provincial and municipal counterparts to advance our shared priorities across a range of fronts.
Here are some of the areas. We will make targeted investments in public infrastructure that would grow the economy, get Canadians moving, and open up more cost-efficient trade options for our exporters with a focus on public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure.
We will also work together with all of the provinces and territories for a cleaner environment and to fight climate change. Canada has a plan to invest historic amounts each year in green technology producers, so they can tackle Canada's most pressing environmental challenges and create more opportunities for Canadian workers. The government will also invest to support innovation and the use of clean technologies in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and the agricultural sector.
We will support our communities and our economy by making significant new investments in green infrastructure and clean technologies. Not only will these strategic investments help us tackle climate change, but they will create jobs. Canadian businesses now have an incredible opportunity to be a part of the solution and to help build a low-carbon economy. The government will prove to Canadians and to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. In fact, we cannot have one without the other.
Protecting the environment and growing the economy are not incompatible goals, and in fact, our future success demands that we do both.
We are committed to a strong and growing middle class, and we want to ensure that all Canadians have a fair and real chance to succeed. This is why our government has enacted legislation to deliver a tax cut to the middle class. This is the fair thing to do and the smart thing to do for Canada's economy.
That is why Bill C-2 is so important for all Canadians.
I would now like to talk about the specific elements of Bill C-2. Our tax cut for the middle class and the accompanying proposals will make the tax system fairer by reducing the second personal income tax rate from 22% to 20.5%; introducing a personal tax rate of 33% on individual taxable income in excess of $200,000; decreasing the $10,000 maximum contribution to a tax-free savings account to its previous level of $5,500; and reinstating indexation of this ceiling.
Recently the Minister of Finance, his parliamentary secretary, and MPs across the country fanned out asking Canadians directly what our government could do to better support them. They met with indigenous leaders, business leaders, and cultural leaders, all with the intent of listening to Canadians and engaging in discussions to find practical solutions to the difficulties we know they are facing. These pre-budget consultations continue online. The response rate and comments received have been absolutely tremendous. With over 146,000 Canadians reached to date, this has been the largest pre-budget consultation on record.
Through these consultations, Canadians confirmed that they want a government that will deliver on strengthening the middle class and that will help those working hard to join it. This legislation would help do just that, and that is why it is a priority for the Government of Canada.
During the pre-budget consultations, it also became increasingly clear that Canada's economic outlook has changed since the election. This only reaffirmed the government's commitment to the path we were elected to follow. More importantly, by engaging with Canadians, we have been able to consider new perspectives and refine our plans that will be included in the federal budget.
The government's approach to consultation recognizes that collaboration is essential to delivering real change. The government has committed to, and has already demonstrated, its willingness to listen, engage, and collaborate with members from all parties to identify ways to find solutions and to avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily.
Given that we have already heard from Canadians and many members of the other parties, I look forward to discussing and debating how best to serve Canadians.
There has never been a better time to make targeted investments to support our country's economic growth. We are confident in our plan to achieve that goal. That is the main reason why I am optimistic about our future prospects. I therefore encourage all members to support this bill.