Mr. Speaker, I would like to say good afternoon to all my hon. colleagues as we return from our two-week constituency period.
It is always a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on the issues that are important to the residents of my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge and all Canadians, the budget or our government's fiscal plan being the most important. I am an MP who represents one of the most economically dynamic areas in the country. The city of Vaughan is home to over 13,000 businesses.
As someone who worked in the global financial markets in New York City and Toronto and spent time overseas in Europe for over 20 years before entering public service, and, more importantly, as an individual who has ingrained in him the values of hard work, sacrifice and planning prudently for the future, there is nothing more important or even indicative for me on how we lay out a plan to grow the economy, create jobs and ensure a brighter future for the benefit of all Canadians.
Several weeks prior to budget 2022 being presented and prior to the invasion of Ukraine occurring, I authored an editorial entitled “The Path Forward for the Canadian Economy?” In that piece, and in the introduction, I wrote the following: “Canadian policy-makers have a generational opportunity to move forward with policies that have a clear goal, to raise the standard of living of all Canadians through robust and sustained economic growth. Our singular focus should be on long-term investments that increase the productive capacity of our economy by providing the tools that Canadian workers and businesses require in a post-pandemic world. In my view, a post-pandemic world will be characterized by a rise in economic nationalism, increased global competition, an acceleration of the adoption of digital technologies underlying the importance of connectivity, a sustained withdrawal of global fiscal and monetary stimulus, and a renewed focus on energy security.” Yes, that is a renewed focus on global energy security. “Policy-makers must also consider a reshaped geopolitical world, including the United States responding to the competitive challenges of China, a renewed and interwoven EU, and a post-Brexit U.K.”
As a long-time student of economics, economic history and the global financial markets, this economist was again proven correct in his views. On energy security, my comments were on a renewed focus on global energy security. Frankly, the world needs more of Canada's energy resources, both renewable and non-renewable, and Canada's know-how or innovation. We are blessed as a country with both the natural resources and the innovative know-how to play a critical role in the global energy industry. Frankly, the world will need both renewable and non-renewable energy for years to come.
After a thorough examination of budget 2022, I characterized it as fiscally responsible, grounded, measured, and a demonstration of what I would state is responsible leadership for the uncertain times we are dealing with by addressing the challenges and opportunities we are facing as a country. Budget 2022 continues to address major issues around affordability, which we know to date have been driven by COVID and the impact from the war in Ukraine, and we know that affordability is a paramount concern for Canadians.
We should all applaud the signed and delivered national day care and early learning accords that the Deputy Prime Minister reached with all provinces and territories. We know that, in less than a year, this agreement will save my family and tens of thousands of families across Ontario, and hundreds of thousands of families across the country, literally thousands of dollars and in the longer term be a positive for our economic growth by increasing participation rates for women in the labour force.
As chair of the Liberal housing affordability caucus in my first term as an MP, it is great to see this budget introduce a three-pillar approach to tackle housing affordability: increasing the supply of housing, namely through the $4-billion housing accelerator fund; providing an opportunity for first-time homebuyers to accumulate savings to purchase a home through the tax-free new home savings account; stemming speculation in the housing market, and introducing a number of measures, including a homebuyers' bill of rights, a ban on foreign investment in housing activity, an anti-flipping tax and taxing assignment sales.
My riding and the city of Vaughan are home to Canada's largest housing builders in the country, the ones who employ tens of thousands directly and indirectly support hundreds of thousands of jobs. I speak with them often, and I visit them often. They are ready to do their part to accelerate new home construction across the country and build the homes that Canadians could raise their families in. We as a government will work with all pertinent levels of government and the private sector to ensure that it happens in the years to come.
Budget 2022, under the guise of reasonable leadership, also continues to take large steps forward to embrace the opportunity of the largest economic transformation the world has gone through since the industrial revolution: going green and moving to a low-carbon economy. We must remain laser-focused on this transformation, which will be led by innovation and driven by private capital. It will not only be an industrial transformation, but, I would argue, will be combined with the digital transformation that also is occurring. As chair of the Liberal auto caucus, over $515 billion of private capital is currently being put to use in this electric vehicle transformation. The opportunity is there. We will work with industry, and we are doing so with the number of great announcements that have been made, to ensure these jobs are created right here in Canada.
Budget 2022 also deals with Canada’s productivity issue. It is only through raising our country’s productivity levels that will we increase each individual Canadian’s well-being or standard of living. On this front, the budget puts forth three pillars, which together will drive a stronger economic future for Canadians. They are investing in people, investing in the green transition and investing in innovation and productivity. Along with that was the government’s announcement to launch a world-leading Canada growth fund, with an initial capitalization of $15 billion, and the creation of Canada's innovation and investment agency to strengthen Canada’s R and D story, which continues to lag its G7 partners. In addition, there is the announced review of the SR and ED program, which I have thought about and called for for a long time. It is long overdue and it needs to undergo an extensive cost-benefit analysis.
In my editorial, I put forward four themes for policy-makers to ensure that we raise the standard of living for all Canadians or, more simply, that we continue to strengthen the middle class and help those wanting to join the middle class.
First, we must strengthen our framework to incentivize Canadian business investment and innovation to raise productivity levels, which continue to lag our principal trading partner, the United States.
Second, we must provide Canadians with the ongoing opportunity to upgrade their skills, particularly in a highly changing technological world. In budget 2022, as I and many others on this side of the aisle have advocated for, the labour mobility tax deduction of $4,000 for tradespeople will be implemented. We will also double the union training and innovation program to $84.2 million over four years, which will help create over 3,500 apprenticeship spots in the skilled trades.
My riding is home to the training centres of LiUNA Local 183 and the Carpenters Union. They train the next generation of tradespeople to build our communities and critical infrastructure. We, as a government, have been and will be with them every step of the way. I look forward to addressing the CBTU this evening as it opens its conference here in Ottawa and meeting with many of its members, as I do frequently.
Third, digitization of government services must be the focus of all levels of government. The pandemic accelerated many trends in the digitization space.
Fourth, Canadians expect their government to be a solid financial or fiscal manager. With that, I asked the government to undertake a full program expenditure review in my editorial and redirect savings to higher-impact programs. It is positive to see the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance introduce a fiscal framework where we continue to see the debt-to-GDP ratio declining. The government will also begin a program expenditure review or, as noted, a strategic policy review, which is very prudent and I argue absolutely necessary. The strategic policy review will target $6 billion in savings over five years and $3 billion annually by 2026-27.
I finished my editorial with the following statement. Canada’s economic future is bright. However, we cannot take it for granted. Our competitors are not standing still, but we know that with the right set of policies, Canadian businesses and workers, we will win. Budget 2022 is, frankly, a budget that I am very proud of and very happy to support. It has a number of measures that will move our economy forward not only today, but longer term. As much as we plan at home for our own financial well-being, this government is putting the interests of Canadians first.