Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
Those in Waterloo region are very fortunate. The national unemployment rate is 6.2%, a nine-year low. Kitchener's unemployment rate is just 4.5% and it is experiencing an almost 5% job growth.
Our plan seems to be working. Canada's economy is the fastest-growing economy in the G7. Canada's economy is growing faster than it has in a decade. Job growth is among the highest in a decade. In just two years, over 450,000 jobs have been created. Canada has the lowest unemployment since 2008.
Youth unemployment is the lowest on record. In 2015, the national unemployment rate was around 7% and youth unemployment was double the national average. In my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, our doubling of the Canada summer job program has meant that for the past two summers, we have made a half a million dollars available to help social service agencies and private enterprises create summer jobs for young people, which will help them build their work experience, their resumés and equip them with the necessary skills they will need after graduating to secure good, well-paying jobs.
As a result of the excellent growth of our economy, government revenues have grown by more than an estimated $6.5 billion annually, on average, improving our budget to the extent that we are able to index the Canada child benefit two years ahead of our original plan.
In the last month for which I have figures, the Canada child benefit has meant that in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, a total of 10,770 payments were made, benefiting just over 19,000 children. That is more than $6 million a month that moms and dads in Kitchener South—Hespeler have to buy clothes for their kids, shoes, school supplies, nutritious food, and learning and recreational activities. That money can now be spent locally in my riding.
Not only do nine out of 10 families in Canada now have more money to spend, not only have 300,000 children been lifted out of poverty, but economic experts, including the governor of the Bank of Canada, tell us that the Canada child benefit has been highly stimulative, which means that it has been very good at growing our economy. That should not surprise anyone.
The North American economy, Canada's economy included, is consumer-driven. When parents' responsibilities require them to spend on necessities for their children, the economy improves and grows, sales increase, profits rise, and employment increases. Therefore, the Canada child benefit helps parents raising the next generation and, at the same time, helps grow our economy.
As promised in our election campaign platform, we are lowering the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% to help small businesses invest, create jobs, and grow. Dan Kelly, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said, “This decision will pump hundreds of millions of dollars back into the small business community, helping them create more jobs and grow the economy.” Therefore, not only have we improved the situation of families with children and caused the economy to grow, thereby improving business, but we have also reduced the tax burden on household businesses.
We have also been investing in transit, such as the Waterloo region LRT. We are investing in Canada and Canadians. Over the past year, I participated in a number of announcements and investments in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler, and I would like to outline some of those now.
There was a $15.8-million investment in Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. As a result of this investment and investments like it, students, professors, and researchers will work at state-of-the-art facilities to advance the country's best researchers. They will collaborate in specially designed spaces that support lifelong learning skills and training. They will work in close proximity with partners to turn discoveries into products and services. In the process, they will train for and invent the high-value jobs of the future. Their discoveries will plant the seeds for the next generation of innovators.
We will be investing $2.7 million in 3E Nano Inc. of Kitchener. 3E Nano produces a window coating that will make it easy to defrost car windows and make windows more energy efficient by increasing energy retention or rejection without reducing clarity.
We will make a repayable contribution of up to $3 million to Grand River Foods Ltd. in Hespeler to increase production and explore new export opportunities.
Our government will provide $96 million to widen Highway 401 from six to ten lanes for a distance of approximately five kilometres, between Hespeler Road and Townline Road. The work includes new high occupancy vehicle lanes and the replacement of two bridges at Hespeler Road and Franklin Boulevard over Highway 401. Once completed, the project will help improve safety and traffic flow by easing congestion and providing faster and more reliable travel and commute times on one of Canada's most important trade corridors. The addition of high-occupancy vehicle lanes will promote environmentally friendly transportation, such as carpooling and the use of public transit. By widening and improving the highways, we can get products to market faster, adding to the growth rate and continued success of our current economy.
We are also building an innovative economy that will create more good jobs for the middle class today and in the future. As part of our innovation and skills plan, we are investing nearly $1 billion over five years to create jobs and accelerate innovation through superclusters.
Superclusters are innovation hotbeds. They are areas of high growth, like Silicon Valley, that bring together the most talented people, the newest technologies, and the fastest growing companies. This is what we want to create in regions across Canada.
This legislation will take the next steps in our innovation and skills plan, an agenda that focuses on people and addresses the changing nature of the economy to ensure that it works for all Canadians. It will enact several key parts of our plan, including $600 million in new financing for clean technology firms and $400 million to put into place the venture capital catalyst initiative.
I want to conclude by mentioning some of the initiatives that our government has put forward. We have put forward an economic plan that has created 450,000 jobs in two years. The unemployment rate was at 7% when we took office and it is now down to 6.2%. The economy is growing faster, at an average pace of 3.7%. Canada has the fastest growing economy in the G7. Nine out of ten families have benefited from the child benefit, and we have lifted over 300,000 children out of poverty.
I want to share that record with the members of the House to show that our record is successful, it is working, and it is working for most Canadians.