Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon. Bill S-6 is along the lines of what our government's platform and agenda has been over the past three and a half years. The bill fits well within our tax treaties with our international partners and international organizations. It is a routine bill, a routine tax convention, which we need to have implemented.
If I may, I will take a step back in terms of what our government has done over the last three years with regard to improving our tax system, investing in the CRA and investing in middle-class Canadians. Yesterday we had Statistics Canada report to us on the annual Canadian Income Survey, 2017. As an economist by training and someone who reads the daily notices from Statistics Canada, it was wonderful for me to see this report. It was wonderful to know that from the work we have been doing for three years, not only have 900,000 jobs been created by hard-working Canadians and Canadian entrepreneurs but also that the growth that has occurred is inclusive, widespread and benefiting Canadian families from coast to coast to coast, including families and their children in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. It was great to see that over 850,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty.
We based our platform three years ago on the Canada child benefit, which benefits nine out of 10 Canadians. It is tax free, simple and monthly. We based it on cutting taxes for nine million middle-class Canadians, which benefits them and their families. We also asked the 1% of Canadians, the wealthiest, most fortunate in our country, to pay a bit more. Now we see the fruits of those results, which have lifted hundreds of thousands of Canadians and their families out of poverty.
We ran on a platform of strengthening the middle class and helping those working very hard to join the middle class. I am happy to say that we are getting there. We have seen our poverty rate decline significantly. We know we have more work to do.
We have seen tens of thousands of seniors now being lifted out of poverty. That 10% increase in the guaranteed income supplement for our most vulnerable seniors is benefiting my riding and the 17,810 seniors who, according to Statistics Canada, live in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. I know that 1,530 of those vulnerable seniors in my riding received, on average, $800 more every year from the 10% increase in the guaranteed income supplement we campaigned on, that we promised and that we implemented.
I look at this Canada–Madagascar tax convention bill, Bill S-6, as another step forward in improving our tax treaties with our international partners and in building a stronger Canada by ensuring that all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes and that all Canadians can depend on the services that we, as a government, deliver. When I say we, I mean all members of Parliament.
Over the past three years, we have taken action on multiple fronts to ensure that this happens, because when everyone pays his or her fair share, the government can continue to deliver the programs and services Canadians need while keeping taxes low for middle-class families. Again, I allude to the fact that we cut taxes for nine million Canadians, as we promised at the outset. Promise made, promise kept.
As members know, one of the government's first actions was to cut taxes for middle-class Canadians. Over nine million Canadians are now benefiting from this change, with nearly $20 billion over five years of tax relief for families from coast to coast to coast. To help pay for this middle-class tax cut, we asked the wealthiest to pay a little bit more.
Next we made changes to better provide targeted, more generous and simpler support for Canadian families with children. We accomplished this with the introduction of the Canada child benefit, or the CCB, which was implemented, proudly, on July 31, 2016.
In my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, in looking at the numbers for one of the time periods, I see that nearly 17,000 children benefited, and 9,510 payments were made on a monthly basis for nearly $5 million.
If I look quickly at the numbers for the year, I see that nearly $57 million was paid out from the Canada child benefit to families in Vaughan—Woodbridge. That is incredible. That is lifting families and their children out of poverty. That is helping families save for a rainy day and pay for their kids' winter boots. I understand it is a snow day back home in Vaughan—Woodbridge and that the buses were cancelled. If those funds paid for those kids to have an extra pair of boots or a new pair of boots, then I am proud of that.
The CCB is particularly helpful for families led by single parents. These families are most often led by single mothers, who tend to have lower total incomes. In fact, close to 95% of CCB amounts paid to single parents with incomes below $30,450 are paid to single mothers.
The government is committed to ensuring that Canada's tax system is fair, effective and competitive. I am certain that all hon. members know how important small businesses are to Canada's economy. They account for 70% of all private sector jobs and are vital drivers of economic growth in communities all across the country.
In looking at Bill S-6 and this tax convention with Madagascar, we see that this is another tax treaty that is made for the benefit of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. We need to know that we as a country are eliminating barriers to investment and eliminating barriers to trade, and we have done that with the implementation of CETA and the implementation of the CPTPP and, mostly recently, the newly signed USMCA accord with the United States and Mexico, our two largest trading partners.
This is about creating good middle-class jobs, growing the economy, and growing the economy in an inclusive manner that benefits all Canadians, all middle-class Canadians and all those working very hard to join the middle class.
When small businesses succeed, Canada succeeds. That is why the government reduced the small business tax rate to 10% in January 2018, with a further reduction to 9% coming on January 1, 2019. These low tax rates will enable small businesses to create good, well-paying jobs in communities across Canada.
We know that the best poverty reduction plan is a job. It is giving Canadians skills training and lifelong learning. Hard-working Canadians and entrepreneurs, such as the 13,000 small business owners in the city of Vaughan and in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge, have created approximately 900,000 jobs in Canada since we were first elected. The unemployment rate hit around 5.4%—I think it is at 5.6%—because people are being drawn into the labour market. The unemployment rate is at a 40-year low, something that we should be proud of.
We know there is more work to do, but the fact is that there are over 500,000 job openings in Canada currently. The fact is that people from all over the world want to come and work and invest in our country. There is a reason for that: We have the best entrepreneurs, we have one of the best educational systems in the world, and we are a great place to invest. We have access, through three major trade deals, to all our major trading partners. We have free trade access to over 1.6 billion people, and businesses across the world know this.
These low tax rates will enable small businesses to create good, well-paying jobs in communities across Canada. When we say we expect these results from small business tax cuts, it is because we have a track record of success, giving us confidence in the direction we are headed.
Many positive signs tell us our plan is working. Since 2016, hard-working Canadians have created—as I said, to re-emphasize—hundreds of thousands of jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to a 40-year low and giving Canada one of the strongest records of economic growth in the G7.
Canadian workers are experiencing the strongest wage growth in a decade. We have seen some of the numbers that came out yesterday from the Canadian income survey, showing that after two years of stagnation, wages are on the rise and incomes are on the rise. That is more money in the pockets of Canadians, whether they are low-income, middle-class or upper-class. That is a good-news story. It is more income to invest, more income for Canadians and their families to save.
Most importantly, I would argue, as we compare our finances of governments around the world, that we have had the flexibility in Canada to invest in Canadians. We invest not only in skills training and the Canada child benefit but also in infrastructure through a $180-billion, 12-year infrastructure plan. We sat down at the table with our municipal, regional and provincial partners and worked on both the urban side and rural Canada, where we invested funds in both broadband and public transit. That is due to the inherent flexibility in our fiscal strength in Canada, where we can make these investments and plan for the long term.
Canada's net debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest among all G7 countries, and we intend to maintain it and bring it down over the medium and long term. However, we understand, as Canadians do, that more needs to be done to encourage long-term economic growth. As I said earlier, one of the things we need to do is ensure that everyone pays his or her fair share of taxes. It is unacceptable that some corporations, both foreign-owned and Canadian, take advantage of Canada's tax rules to avoid tax. It is unacceptable that some wealthy people use offshore jurisdictions to hide income and evade tax.
I am happy to re-emphasize that we as a government, since taking office, have invested nearly $1 billion in CRA to provide it with resources, after a number of years when the prior government cut funding to agencies like CRA and did not allow them to have the tools to do their jobs effectively. We have reversed that. Canadians understand and appreciate that, because our services are delivered and funded through taxpayers, and, as a government, we respect them. We have lowered taxes for nine million Canadians, but we have also asked the wealthiest 1% to pay a little more, and those who attempt to avoid paying their fair share need to be held accountable.
We have addressed base erosion and profit shifting, which was recently debated in the House and which we had the pleasure of speaking to, and we have worked with our multilateral partners to look at ways to deal with transfer pricing for corporations, strengthening the exchange of information with our multilateral partners and providing the tools to CRA to do its job effectively. We need to ensure that corporations and wealthy individuals continue to pay their fair share of taxes and that our tax laws are being enforced judiciously, diligently and effectively.
In order to stop this profit shifting from happening, the Canada Revenue Agency needs information from foreign jurisdictions. That is why the tax convention in this bill puts in place measures to make possible the exchange of tax information from one country to the other. Bill S-6 would help Canadian tax authorities prevent international tax evasion while gathering the information they need to enforce our tax laws.
Canada's network of 93 income tax treaties currently in force is one of the largest in the world. However, we must keep updating and expanding this network in order to encourage international trade and make it easier for other countries to invest in Canada. In this way, getting our tax treaties in order will help the Canadian economy and Canadian businesses compete globally and enable them to hire workers, invest, grow our economy and improve the future of middle-class Canadians, such as those living in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. Bill S-6 gives Canadians more certainty about the tax implications involved in doing business with, working in or investing in Madagascar.
This bill would make our tax system more efficient, while also ensuring tax fairness for Canadians who already pay their fair share. It would encourage more foreign investment in Canada, remove barriers to international trade and help grow and strengthen the middle class across the country. I encourage all members to support this bill.
As I conclude my remarks on Bill S-6, an act to implement the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, I see this bill much like Bill C-82 on base erosion and profit shifting and much like the work we have done in the finance committee on a study with regard to tax avoidance and tax evasion, which was done very judiciously by the finance committee.
It is great to see committees doing the work that they are tasked to do independently. They work judiciously, make recommendations and produce reports, which are then looked at both externally and internally by ministers.
On this issue of a tax convention and its implementation, it is obviously very important for Canada as a country to work with all of its international partners, no matter how big or small, no matter how near or far, to ensure that we have the proper information exchanged between the two entities so that on a technical basis we ensure that we eliminate double taxation between the two countries for individuals investing both ways, reduce the risk of burdensome taxation and ensure that taxpayers are not subject to discriminatory taxation.
In closing, I will say that by strengthening our ties with Madagascar, our government is seeking out the kind of investments and trade opportunities that are vital to grow the economy.
I have spoken about the treaties we have put in place on the trade front, such as CETA, CPTPP and USMCA. I have also spoken of our plan to grow the economy by lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians and asking the 1% to pay a little more, and the results are bearing fruit. The numbers that were produced yesterday by Statistics Canada show that over 850,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty in the last two and a half years. These are real people working hard every day to provide for a better future for themselves and their families. We as a government will continue to invest in them, believe in them, work with them and work with all of our partners.