Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in the introduction, the thrust of my speech is about tax fairness, as Bill S-6 is about tax fairness, and talking about the other measures the government has taken with respect to tax fairness. I am happy to continue and bring it back again.
Next year, the combined federal-provincial-territorial average tax rate for small businesses will be lowered to 12.2%, by far the lowest in the G7 and the fourth lowest among OECD countries.
However, tax fairness requires action on multiple fronts, not just Bill S-6.
For example, in each of our budgets we have taken steps to strengthen the Canada Revenue Agency's ability to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance. I know those are issues that have been discussed by the opposition members in questions they have brought up.
The government has also taken action to close loopholes that result in unfair tax advantages for some at the expense of others. Actions like these help ensure the government's ongoing ability to support the programs and services on which Canadians rely.
Today's legislation, Bill S-6, targets strategies used by businesses and wealthy individuals to exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to inappropriately reduce or avoid tax. Bill S-6 greatly enhances our ability to counter tax avoidance strategies that would otherwise abuse Canada's tax treaties and reduce or avoid Canadian tax.
While we have made significant investments in the CRA, we know that fighting tax avoidance is not something that we can do alone. It is not easy work. Bill S-6 implements a multilateral convention that contains a number of treaty-related measures to combat base erosion and profit shifting, or BEPS. BEPS refers to tax avoidance strategies in which businesses and wealthy individuals can use gaps and mismatches in tax rules to avoid tax or shift profits to low-tax or no-tax locations. In other words, these strategies enable businesses and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their full or fair share of taxes.
To implement all these measures in a timely and effective manner, a new approach was required. This new approach is the multilateral convention contained in the bill, ultimately known as the multilateral instrument, or MLI. The MLI is a product of a global initiative, working with more than 100 countries and jurisdictions, including Canada. The purpose of the MLI is to allow participating jurisdictions to adopt measures to combat BEPS without having to individually renegotiate their existing tax treaties. The MLI would also improve the functioning of international tax systems by including measures designed to better facilitate the timely and effective resolution of disputes under tax treaties.
We have listened to Canadians. They want the government to take action to address tax avoidance, and we are committed to that. We are making significant progress.
The bill builds on the government's ongoing work to ensure that we have a tax system that is fair for everyone. Starting with budget 2016, the government has been giving additional funds to the Canada Revenue Agency, so that it can more effectively crack down on tax evasion and combat aggressive tax avoidance. These additional investments continued in 2017, and again in 2018, and they are already paying dividends.
At the close of 2017-18, CRA had 50 ongoing criminal investigations related to the transfer of money that rightfully belongs in Canadian coffers to low- or no-tax jurisdictions. The government is also targeting those who promote tax avoidance schemes and has imposed more than $44 million in fines on those third parties.
We are joining this international collaboration in making these investments in the CRA because Canadians want their money back and want the loopholes through which these tax dollars flow out of Canada closed. If our economy does not work for everyone, if people do not pay their fair share, Canadians grow concerned and they want action.
We invested in the CRA, after years of cuts under the Harper government. Of course, it limited the CRA's ability to prosecute tax offences. We need to fund those who are on the ground. They are essentially police officers, and we saw today in Ontario, during Ontario Police Week, the provincial government cutting $46 million to front-line policing and the OPP.
We are doing the opposite. When we see criminal or illegal activity, in this case tax avoidance, we need to step up and take action. That is why we invested in the CRA. That is why we are putting more officials on the ground. This is not easy work.
Through my legal practice, I know that dealing with cases of fraud and white-collar crime is a very difficult burden for investigative agencies like the CRA. It is not a matter of seeing something on camera or hearing from an eyewitness. It takes a great deal of work to bring forward cases for enforcement and prosecution.
In the absence of investment, there will be a decline, and it will be easier for Canadians to avoid taxation and move their money overseas without fear of getting caught. This needs to be emphasized. The tax system needs to be seen to be fair. Justice should not only be done; it should be seen to be done.
This has been an important part of our investments in the CRA, ensuring that we have a tax system working for every man, woman and child in this country. That is money that needs to work for Canadians, including through some of the tax programs I talked about. It is about making our entire tax system fairer.
We talked about the CCB making the system fairer. I had a wonderful conversation with a constituent who is no longer receiving the CCB. She was able to use the CCB to start up her small business. There is more money in her pockets, tax-free. The opposition voted against this, but she received this benefit and was able to start up her business. She is now making enough money that she no longer receives the CCB. She is employing Canadians. She was able to take the step to help herself and better our community, and that is significant.
Coming back to the middle-class tax cut, I note that one of the first things we did as a government was lower taxes on the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%. Again, it is about a tax system that works for everyone. We were shocked that the opposition voted against this, but it is a measure that Canadians wanted. They wanted to ensure that the wealthiest in our society paid a little more so those who make a little less could get a bit of a break, so that is what we did.
The previous speaker, the hon. member from eastern Ontario, said that families are not better off under our government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The average family is $2,000 better off—