Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise today on behalf of the people of Palliser to support budget 2007.
Throughout the great constituency of Palliser, in Moose Jaw, Regina, Avonlea, Wilcox, Rouleau, Caronport, Caron, Pense and other communities throughout Palliser, our constituency is blessed with families who work hard and seniors who have spent their lives building their communities.
Palliser is made stronger through the work of our farm families, whose dedication to the land is an inspiration, and through the small businesses that create the jobs we need to sustain a strong economy.
The people of Palliser want a government that delivers results, a government that cuts taxes for working families and invests in priorities like health care, the environment and infrastructure. That is what our Conservative government has done in budget 2007.
This budget delivers real results for Saskatchewan families. It invests in the important social and health priorities of Saskatchewan people while cutting taxes for families and addressing the fiscal imbalance by delivering the best equalization deal to Saskatchewan of any federal government in our history. This latter point is significant.
Our government campaigned in the last election on the promise to fix the fiscal imbalance that had been allowed to continue under the previous Liberal government. This budget delivers on that commitment by offering the province of Saskatchewan the option of excluding natural resources, as we promised, and delivering $226 million in equalization payments to Saskatchewan this year, the best equalization deal in our province's history.
In fact, under the fiscal balance package in this budget, Saskatchewan will enjoy the largest per capita increase of any province.
A renewed equalization deal is part of the $1.4 billion this budget delivers to Saskatchewan in transfers for health care, infrastructure, post-secondary education, child care and other measures under the Canada health and social transfer.
I want to remind Saskatchewan residents of what happened the last time a Liberal finance minister brought down a budget in this House, a budget that was supported by the NDP. That budget contained no measures to exclude Saskatchewan's natural resources and nothing to provide additional resources to Saskatchewan as part of a long term equalization deal.
Where both the Liberals and the NDP failed Saskatchewan, our government has delivered.
Even Janice McKinnon, the former NDP finance minister in Saskatchewan, agrees with us. She says that Premier Calvert's desire to negotiate a side deal for Saskatchewan is “particularly disturbing” and that “he wants to take us back down the road that got us into this mess”.
It is not just through a new equalization deal that Saskatchewan people are benefiting from this budget. I want to take a moment to list the benefits that the people of Saskatchewan will see because of our government's budget.
The benefits include: $250 million for Saskatchewan farmers as part of our plan to provide producers with a new farm income stabilization program; $75 million for infrastructure; $24.8 million through the patient wait times guarantee trust over the next three fiscal years; $8.9 million to implement an immunization program to combat cervical cancer over the next three fiscal years; $44.4 million from the Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change; and $10 million to support the Canadian Police Research Centre to establish its permanent base in Regina.
Budget 2007 will provide the residents of Saskatchewan with over $878 million in new money. That funding will be used to directly improve the lives of Saskatchewan residents and deliver real results on the priorities of Saskatchewan people.
Not only does the government's budget provide increased transfer payments to Saskatchewan to address the fiscal imbalance and invest in the priorities of Saskatchewan people, it provides concrete benefits to families and seniors.
Budget 2007 contains a new $2,000 child tax credit for families. This measure will save Saskatchewan parents $45.2 million this year.
The budget increases the basic spousal amount to provide up to $209 of tax relief to a supporting spouse or single taxpayer supporting a child or relative, saving Saskatchewan residents an estimated $7 million.
As well, it contains a working income tax benefit that will provide $19.4 million in tax relief to low income workers in Saskatchewan.
Our government has delivered for seniors.
Budget 2007 delivers on our commitment to allow senior couples to split pension income. It also increases the age credit amount by $1,000 to $5,066, while increasing the RRSP and registered pension plan maturation age, saving Saskatchewan taxpayers $3.9 million this year.
These are the benefits budget 2007 delivers to seniors and families.
Budget 2007 also delivers results for businesses in Saskatchewan.
Our budget will help manufacturing and processing businesses make major investments by allowing them to write off their capital investments in machinery and equipment acquired on or after March 19, 2007, and before 2009, through a special two year 50% straight line rate. This will provide $13 million to assist Saskatchewan businesses this year.
The budget supports Canada's job creators by increasing the capital cost allowance rate from 4% to 10% for buildings used in manufacturing and processing and from 45% to 55% for computers.
The budget rebalances the tax system to encourage investments in oil sands and other sectors in clean and renewable energy while phasing out the accelerated capital cost allowance for oil sands development.
Budget 2007 will provide $3 million in tax savings for farmers and small business owners by increasing the lifetime capital gains tax exemption to $750,000.
Through these measures, plus $75 million for infrastructure in Saskatchewan and $23.6 million in gas tax funding for municipalities in Saskatchewan, our government is delivering real tax relief and enhanced support for my province.
Our government believes in balance. While we have continued to provide real tax relief to Canadian families and businesses and have addressed the fiscal imbalance, we have also strengthened investment in health care and the environmental security of our country.
I have already outlined some of the new funding our government will provide for health care in Saskatchewan, but I want to talk about the commitment that our budget makes to the environment.
Battling climate change and creating a sustainable environment for Saskatchewan people is a priority for this government. Through our budget, Saskatchewan will receive over $44 million from the Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change initiatives.
Our government is also taking action to preserve and protect the environment by assisting Canadians to make green choices. We will do this through rebates of up to $2,000 to assist Canadians in buying fuel efficient vehicles, through a green levy that will apply to the most fuel-inefficient vehicles and through an incentive plan to retire older, polluting vehicles.
In addition, we will provide $500 million to Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support private sector production of next generation renewable fuels. Iogen, one of Canada's leading biotechnology firms, is seeking $180 million to build a new plant in Saskatchewan and would be a candidate for funding.
We will also be allocating $1.5 billion toward operating incentives for producers of renewable fuels. This funding will help Saskatchewan farmers by creating new market opportunities and creating value added jobs here in Canada.
The measures contained in the budget are good news for Palliser residents, good news for Saskatchewan and good news for Canadians.
Through budget 2007, our government has taken action to build a stronger, better and safer Canada. Our government has delivered a balanced budget that cuts taxes for working families, invests in priorities such as health care, the environment and infrastructure, and moves to restore fiscal balance by giving provinces the resources they need to deliver the front line services that matter to Canadians.
In addition to investing in spending priorities, we are cutting debt by $9.2 billion, bringing our government's total debt reduction since taking office to over $22 billion, or $700 for every man, woman and child in Canada. As well, we are delivering on the tax back guarantee by dedicating over $1 billion in debt interest savings to ongoing personal income tax reductions.
I am proud to support this budget on behalf of the people of Palliser and I am proud to be a part of a government that continues to take action to build a better future for the people of Palliser and for Canadians across our great country.