Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to participate in a discussion with hon. members about the government's fiscal management. I cannot blame the hon. members opposite for wanting to talk about how the government is strengthening the middle class and growing the economy by investing in people and communities.
Three years ago, Canadians made it clear that they did not want the budget balanced on the backs of hard-working Canadians, or at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. They have seen time and again all around the world, from country to country, what austerity brings. It brings poverty. It causes economies to shrink and collapse. It drives people to desperation and leads countries toward nationalism and upheaval. Canadians have seen this with their own eyes, and they do not want it. They chose a government that will invest to grow the middle class and to create new opportunities for Canadians to succeed, while keeping the deficit on a downward track. They want decisions based on facts and science. They want solutions that work, with a proven record of delivering positive results.
Our government has strengthened the middle class. We have provided real help for those who need it, and we have grown the economy with more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. By investing in people and their communities we have created both hope and opportunities for success. Hard-working Canadians are seizing these opportunities, building better lives for themselves and their families.
These results are not built on ideology. They are built on facts, and the facts are clear. Over the course of the past three years, Canadians have created over half a million full-time jobs. The unemployment rate is at a historic 40-year low and the share of working-age Canadians with jobs is at a historic, all-time high.
Our economy grew at the fastest pace among our G7 peers in 2017, and we are expected to remain among the leaders in growth this year and next year. Most importantly, the benefits of this economic growth are being widely shared among Canadians. Groups that have been under-represented in the labour force, such as young Canadians, new Canadians, women and indigenous people, are seizing the new opportunities we are creating, joining the workforce or improving their position in it, and contributing to a stronger, growing middle class.
We came into office determined to help hard-working Canadians have more opportunities to share in the benefits that come from a strong and growing economy, and that is exactly what we have done. We have taken decisive and effective action based on the shared values that define us as a country, and to make Canadian priorities a reality. We asked the wealthiest 1% of Canadians to pay a little more so that we could cut taxes for the middle class. This middle-class tax cut is benefiting over nine million Canadians.
We created the Canada child benefit, the CCB. Compared with the previous system of child benefits, the CCB is simpler, more generous, entirely tax free and better targeted to those families who need it most. With the CCB, nine out of 10 Canadian families are getting more in benefits than they did under the previous system, and Canadian children are better off as a result. The CCB has helped lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. The extra support it gives makes a big difference to those working hard to make ends meet, including, for example, single working parents. This additional support from the CCB helps pay for things that can make a real difference in a child's future, like nutritious food, sports activities or piano lessons.
Thanks to the middle-class tax cut and the Canada child benefit, by this time next year a typical middle-class family of four will receive on average about $2,000 more each year to help with the cost of raising their children, save for their future and help grow the economy for the benefit of everyone. For a single parent of two children, earning the average wage, or for families with two children where only one parent works at the average wage, the benefits are even more significant. According to the OECD, when the CCB and other benefits are added to family income, those families effectively pay personal tax rates of just 1.8% and 1.2% respectively. This means they keep more than 98% of what they earn. In this respect, I am proud to be able to say that Canada truly is a global outlier.
We have gone even further, to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are widely shared. In our 2018 budget, we introduced the Canada workers benefit, or the CWB. The CWB will put more money in the pockets of low-income earners, encouraging more people to join and stay in the workforce and offering real help to more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class. The CWB will replace the working income tax benefit beginning in 2019, providing a benefit that is more generous and more accessible. To give a sense of what this will mean for Canadians, a low-income worker making $15,000 a year could receive up to $500 more from the Canada workers benefit in 2019 than he or she would have received under the old working income tax benefit in 2018. That money will be used to support their priorities to get ahead, making a real difference for Canadians who are working very hard to join the middle class.
With these investments in Canadians and a growing economy, we are proving what Canadians already know, that a country cannot cut its way to prosperity. A different approach, one that includes smart investments and fair choices, is what keeps us strong, united and, indeed, growing together.
That is especially the case when it comes to Canada's most vulnerable, including many who worked hard to build this country. Rather than balance the books on the backs of the vulnerable, we are supporting our most vulnerable, while bringing the books back toward balance. For Canada's most vulnerable seniors, we have increased the guaranteed income supplement top-up, providing greater income security for close to 900,000 seniors, 70% of whom are women, while helping to lift 57,000 vulnerable seniors out of poverty.
We have also introduced Canada's first-ever national housing strategy. This 10-year, $40 billion plan will give more Canadians a safe and affordable place to call home, lifting 530,000 households out of housing need and reducing chronic homelessness by 50%.
Investments in infrastructure, including public transit, roads and bridges and ports that support trade, water and waste-water facilities, cultural and recreational infrastructure and affordable housing, are helping to improve the quality of life of people across our country while setting the stage for sustained economic growth over the long term.
In addition, support for Canadian scientists, researchers and innovators; and new trade agreements, including the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will mean even greater economic opportunities for Canadians in the years ahead.
Canadians deserve to feel confident that their hard work harnessing these opportunities will be rewarded with a fair chance at success. That is why we are improving the tax system to deliver on this promise. Our government has taken action to support hard-working small business owners by reducing the small business tax rate to 10%, effective January 1, 2018; and to 9%, effective January 1, 2019. Starting next year, the combined federal-provincial-territorial average income tax on small business will be 12.2%, the lowest in the G7 and the fourth-lowest among members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD. For small businesses, our actions mean up to $7,500 in federal tax savings per year. For the average small business, this means an additional $1,600 per year to reinvest in new equipment, growth and job creation.
Small business is a key driver of Canada's economy, accounting for 70% of all private sector jobs. The small business tax reductions introduced by our government will support jobs and growth in small businesses and create new opportunities in communities right across this country. We are taking action to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the opportunities we are creating and continue to benefit from our actions in their retirement years.
We have worked in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners to enhance the Canada pension plan so Canadians can enjoy a secure and dignified retirement.
The CPP enhancement will be phased in starting January 2019. It means more money for Canadians when they retire so they can worry less about their savings and focus more on enjoying their time with their families. Over time, this enhancement will raise the maximum CPP retirement benefit by up to 50%. This translates into an increase in the current maximum retirement benefit of more than $7,000, from just over $13,600 to nearly $21,000 in today's dollar terms.
With the action taken by Quebec to enhance the Quebec pension plan along similar lines, all Canadian workers can now look forward to a safer and more secure retirement.
We have accomplished all of this, creating jobs and economic growth, investing in new opportunities and the future and supporting our most vulnerable, while carefully managing deficits. We are being fully responsible in safeguarding the advantages that Canada enjoys as a result of this approach to financial management.
Canada's strong fiscal position has allowed our government to respond to international developments while keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward track and protecting the long-term fiscal sustainability of Canada's economy.
As hon members will know, in just two days' time, the government will present comprehensive and up-to-date details on the federal fiscal outlook in the fall economic statement. As we head into Wednesday's update, I would like to thank the hon. member for the opportunity to remind the House of the government's accomplishments and the importance of fiscal management and an economy that works for all Canadians.