Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, job creation is strong, with over 450,000 new jobs created in the last two years, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2008. Youth unemployment is also at a historic low.
Canada is now the fastest growing economy in the G7 by a wide margin, growing at an average rate of 3.7% over the last year, the fastest pace of growth since early 2006. Growth is forecast to be 3.1% in 2017, significantly above expectations at the beginning of the year. The fiscal outlook has improved by more than $6.5 billion annually on average from what was projected in budget 2017 last March. This is why we are here today, to consider and discuss the important measures contained in Bill C-63.
I will describe just a few of the key elements briefly, and I encourage the member opposite to pay close attention.
I will start with our help for the middle class and those striving to join it.
This budget implementation bill supports the middle class and those working hard to join it by protecting the rights of federally regulated workers when they request flexible work arrangements from their employers. Flexible work arrangements include flexible start and finish times, the ability to work from home, and new unpaid leave to help employees manage their family responsibilities.
These work arrangements benefit many women who continue to do the majority of unpaid work in the home. Budget 2017 was the first budget in Canada's history to include a gender statement. It seeks to present a frank and honest analysis of the impact the budgetary measures will have on women.
The government believes that having a meaningful and transparent discussion around gender and other intersecting identities will help us better understand the challenges that are faced, and will help it make informed decisions to advance the goals of gender equality, fairness, and stronger workforce participation.
The government also recognizes that youth today face important challenges when it comes to finding and maintaining good, well-paying jobs. While internships can give young Canadians the hands-on work experience they need to make a successful transition into the workforce, some internships, in particular those that are unpaid, can be unfair and exploitative.
The budget implementation act proposes to eliminate unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors where the internships are not part of a formal educational program. These changes will also ensure that unpaid interns who are part of an educational program are entitled to labour standard protections, such as on maximum hours of work, weekly days of rest, and general holidays. It is the right thing to do for our young people trying to gain necessary work experience to enter the labour force.
With regard to tax measures, the budget implementation bill begins to implement changes arising from the government's in-depth review of federal tax expenditures in order to make the tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient.
Bill-based accounting was examined as part of the tax expenditure review. Bill-based accounting allows taxpayers to defer taxes by permitting the costs associated with work in progress to be expensed without the matching inclusion of the associated revenue.
In the 1980s, bill-based accounting was eliminated for all professionals except those designated under the law. At the time, these professionals had limited access to the small business deduction. Since those restrictions no longer exist, this measure eliminates the ability of designated professionals to use bill-based accounting.
We are listening to Canadians. In response to feedback and to mitigate the effect this measure will have on taxpayers, the inclusion of work in progress into income for tax purposes will now be phased in over four years rather than just two.
The government is also proposing changes to the principal residence exemption. The current income tax system provides a significant income tax benefit to homeowners disposing of their principal residence, in the form of an exemption from capital gains taxation. The principle residence exemption is available only to Canadian residents, individuals, and trusts.
Families are able to designate only one property as the family's principle residence for any given year. The government is proposing amendments that will improve the integrity of the tax system and ensure improved tax fairness for homeowners. An individual who was not residing in Canada throughout the year and acquired a residence will not be able to claim the exemption for that year. The ability of trusts to designate a property as a principle residence will be limited to improve fairness and integrity by better aligning the rules applying to trusts with the rules that apply when the property is sold directly by an individual.
Finally, more reporting will be required in respect of the disposition of a property for which the principal residence exemption is claimed. The Canada Revenue Agency will be provided with the authority to assess taxpayers beyond the normal assessment limitation period in respect of unreported dispositions.
The government is continuing to propose measures to ensure fairness for all taxpayers.
By developing in a cleaner, more sustainable way, Canada's natural resource sector will be able to keep making significant contributions to the Canadian economy. The success rate of exploratory drilling has grown considerably since the 1990s. In most cases, discovery wells now lead to production. Under the provisions of the bill before us today, consistent with the usual treatment of enduring assets, expenses associated with oil and gas discovery wells will be treated as Canadian development expenses, unless the wells are deemed unsuccessful.
By improving the tax system's neutrality, this measure supports Canada's international commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and indirectly supports the federal sustainable development strategy's measures and goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Canadians and indigenous peoples deserve to know that their government is doing everything in its power to protect the natural environment while supporting our economy. Our government intends to meet its objective of having a low-carbon economy and this is a step in that direction. This bill includes tangible measures that will move Canada forward as a smart and compassionate country. The government plans to strengthen the middle class and ensure that Canadians have the support, resources, and confidence they need to succeed, create jobs, and keep our economy growing.
Growing the Canadian economy helps the government to improve its record. Canada's financial situation remains solid and the government will see to keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on its downward trend in order to preserve Canada's financial health and allow us to continue investing in those who contribute to our country's success. Every Canadian deserves to benefit from this economic growth. The government has lowered taxes for middle class Canadians and has committed to ensuring that the tax system does not offer unintended benefits to the wealthiest Canadians, or those with a high income. I urge hon. members of the House to vote for this bill that will benefit all Canadians.