Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to Bill C-30 for the second time now. It is a great event when we can implement a progressive trade agenda between Canada and our second largest trading partner, the European Union.
It gives me great pleasure as the chair of the Canada-Italy Interparliamentary Group, as an Italian citizen, a European citizen, as well as a Canadian citizen to say that our two communities are working together. This is an unprecedented trade deal in the world we live in. It will bring great benefits to the Canadian economy as well as the European economy. It will open up new markets for our manufacturers and our service providers, firms looking to create personal wealth for their citizens. It will drive long-term economic growth.
When I look at the trade deal that we brought over the finish line, that we completed as a government, I must congratulate our current Minister of Foreign Affairs for her work on completing the agreement, and I congratulate the European Parliament for passing the agreement and now it will go to the individual European Union members.
When I look at what we are putting in place as a government, I say how are we growing the middle class, how are we strengthening the middle class, which is the backbone of our economy, the backbone of Canadian society for generations, and that is the way it will continue.
This morning we created a thing called Toronto Global, where we joined with our municipal partners and our provincial partners and we invested funds to help grow the Toronto economy, an investment hub in Toronto. Toronto as we know is an economic generator in Canada, along with the oil patch in Alberta, along with the manufacturing sector in the heartland of Ontario, and here we are investing.
A few months ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs created this Investment Canada hub downtown, $218 million over five years, again, to attract investment to Canada. Why? To create good-paying, middle-class jobs for all Canadians, for the future of my daughters, and for folks here who may be grandparents or parents, so that they will have good jobs for their kids.
I look at our progressive trade agenda that has been implemented with the European Union. I look at some of the things we have done with this deal. There is a chapter on environmental protection, a chapter on sustainable development, and a chapter on labour. This is what I would call a trade deal that is win-win, fair, right, and progressive. We need to underscore it, because that is important for our relationship with all countries around the world, and specifically with the European Union.
I look at companies such as Fiat Chrysler Canada, which is part of FCA group headed out of Turin, Italy. I look at investments they have made in cities like Windsor and Brampton. I look at the jobs that they are creating, the good middle-class jobs that they are providing for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is very important.
I look at my own personal background and what trade has done for me. I grew up in northern British Columbia. To pay for my university education, I worked at the Canadian grain elevator, which as we can imagine exported wheat, barley, and oats through Prince Rupert to countries all over the world. These were very good, and still are very good, above-average paying middle-class jobs.
It gives me great pride to acknowledge that trade grows our Canadian economy. Trade is good, and that is what this deal does. The European Union alone imports over $2 trillion worth of goods and services. That is larger than the Canadian economy. We think about the opportunities that Canadian companies will have to export their manufactured goods, but even above that, above the manufacturing sector, we think of the services, so we think of consultants, we think of organizations. We look at the opportunities for procurement, for transportation companies to not only bid on jobs in the European Union, but also to employ Canadians. The opportunities are tremendous.
We look at what we have done to strengthen the middle class in addition to CETA. We look at our plan for infrastructure in Canada. Obviously that will be a plan that will strengthen our ports, our airports, and our waterways, so goods and services can be exported expeditiously and efficiently to countries in Europe.
Another bonus is our plan for middle-class Canadians in terms of taxes. We lowered taxes last year. Nine million Canadians now pay lower taxes in Canada. Over $20 billion of tax relief is another measure to strengthen the middle class. The Canada child benefit is something to strengthen the middle class. CETA is something that will strengthen the middle class. I am very proud to speak to this measure today.
When I look at the country of Italy where my parents came from, the trade that goes back and forth and the strong cultural and historic ties, I can only say that CETA is a win-win for both where I came from and for the country we now call home and love. CETA provides us with a tremendous opportunity to strengthen ties, to invest in both countries, and to create those good-paying middle-class jobs.
I would say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that if they look at the economic data on Canada, we have had very strong gross domestic product and employment numbers in the last two to three months. We have seen a pick-up in Canada. There is uncertainty, but the only thing we can do with uncertainty is to have a steady hand. That is why we have a foreign affairs minister doing what she is doing and a trade minister doing what he is doing, which is reaching out to our counterparts and allies. We will stand together with them, grow the economy through CETA, and continue to do that. I am proud to be a part of that.
On the infrastructure side, there is $181 billion over 12 years. As we know, infrastructure allows for the strengthening of economic growth, today and tomorrow. We will continue to implement that. In a few months, in the riding I am from, they will open a new subway, the York-Spadina subway extension from the city of Toronto. That is infrastructure that is being put to use. Approximately three or four weeks ago, I was proud to announce an investment by the Canadian government for a new inter-regional transit terminal in the city of Vaughan. That will again strengthen the local economy, move goods and services, move people, and strengthen the middle class.
CETA is a trade deal that will help us grow the economy, create good jobs, and at the same time strengthen the middle class. I have to underline that.
CETA's improvements for services, investments, labour mobility, and government procurement are groundbreaking. It will be a model for other trade deals that will occur throughout the world. For Canadian companies, 98% of Europe's tariff lines will be eliminated. Again, this is all great for the economy.
As I have heard this morning and in past days, we have been hit with uncertainty on the horizon. However, CETA provides an avenue of certainty for Canadian firms to know that they can trade and invest with the second-largest economy in the world and the second-largest trading partner for Canada. That will allow us to grow a stronger economy.
I will also look at the other measures we have implemented to strengthen the middle class, such as the CPP enhancement, which was groundbreaking for us. It will allow the next generation to know that they will have a strong and healthy retirement, and allow them to retire in dignity.
I think my time is almost up. However, I would like to say this with respect to the CETA deal. It demonstrates to us just how important relationships are in today's world. I believe that the majority of members in the House are in support of the deal. It demonstrates to all of us the path forward that we, as a government, must take with our international allies, a path forward where progressive trade deals and a progressive agenda win. That is the way we will grow our economy. That is the way we will strengthen our middle class. I continue to underline that.
In reading over CETA and the chapters on environmental protection, the innovative approach to investor protection and investment dispute resolution provisions, and the safeguards that are in place regarding our manufacturers—we have obviously excluded the social services aspect from the deal—this deal is groundbreaking. We have finished it, and I am proud of that fact.
To conclude, as someone who has worked internationally, both in New York City and for some time in London, England, and has travelled extensively in Europe and the United States, I look at this deal as almost guaranteeing for my children the opportunities that I have had. That is effectively what it does. It allows us to grow our economy and provide opportunities for individuals and businesses who want to trade, invest, create wealth, and create good-paying Canadian jobs.