Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill C-10. In concert with the 1994-95 budget, the 1996 budget continues a comprehensive strategy for federal finances that is determined, measured and responsible.
Jobs and economic growth are the priority of every G-7 nation and certainly are the priority in Canada. Our government was elected on a jobs and growth platform and it has spent the last two and one-half years trying to meet those goals. To meet the objectives of jobs and growth we had to make some tough decisions. The 1996 budget stays the course on deficit fighting and we have made those tough decisions.
As a federal government we need to strike a balance between reducing those deficits in a prudent and measured way while not hurting those most in need. One only has to look at the reaction of the people of Ontario recently to understand that the Tories' slash and burn approach does not work and it is an approach that this government will never emulate.
Listen to some of the comments. John McCallum, chief economist at the Royal Bank said that the Minister of Finance "has struck a good balance between on the one hand having to get the deficit down and on the other hand not inflicting real damage on a struggling economy. I think the course is being steered quite well".
The president of the Quebec Chamber of Commerce stated that the budget gives a positive signal to financial markets and it is felt that the minister will deliver what he promised by cutting the deficit. This is quite contrary to what is being said by the Bloc members across the way who say: "Please, please let us go". Let us remember that Canadians live in Quebec and they have said: "We want to stay in Canada and we will do everything possible to ensure that this country remains united".
In the past 27 months the most common theme I have heard is action. Action is needed. Canadians know that government cannot be all things to all people. They do expect government to spend taxpayers' dollars prudently and to ensure a better future for their children. We will provide that future. We will achieve this through our determination. We are not letting up.
As the Minister of Finance stated, the attack on the deficit is irrevocable and irreversible. We will balance the books. Furthermore we will put the debt to GDP ratio on a constant downward track year after year after year.
Our fiscal action plan is measured; it is not indiscriminate, it is not mindless but it is structured by a pace that is conducive to adaptation. It is not designed to be a quick fix, but it is designed to achieve long term and permanent progress. It is also responsible because it is a strategy that involves carefully weighing the needs of our economy and our society, and equally carefully designing the policy options to meet those needs. Clearly our fiscal house is getting in order. We need to do that to sustain jobs and growth over the long term.
Many in my riding of Lincoln are involved in the small business community. I believe that this budget sends very strong signals, a signal that this government is committed to promoting and enhancing small business. The economic recovery of this country is based on the growth of that small and medium size business sector.
We need to get the fundamentals right. The lethal combination of high interest rates and deficit borrowing meant a growing share of government resources were going to servicing interest payments on our growing debt. This year those charges will cost the government some $47 billion, money that cannot go to lowering the taxes, aiding those in need or helping the economy create those new jobs.
The first budget in 1994 set the course for our fiscal house so that we could create that environment for jobs and growth. In 1995-96 we stayed the course.
It is worth looking at what signals this budget is sending to small business in my community of Lincoln and across the country. The budget recognizes that the role of government is to provide the private sector with a framework for growth. Our budget to date has reflected our fiscal and economic policies of getting interest rates down, of keeping inflation low and of cutting the burden of deficits in order to create that climate.
The budget also announced initiatives to encourage technology and innovation. The Minister of Industry recently released the science and technology package which will form the basis of Canada's global competitiveness in the 21st century.
Again no one is suggesting that this budget or the last two budgets are the panacea for the Canadian economy. However, I think we can all agree that we are certainly on the right track. I can say that with full confidence because just last week I had the pleasure of participating in the opening of the Cosella Dorken plant, a joint venture between Canadian and German companies in Beamsville. It is an innovative company that is poised for growth and export.
Locally, I see the impact of getting the fundamentals right, of getting lower interest rates, of getting low inflation and of cutting the deficits. At the end of the day, tackling Canada's fiscal problem is not the goal in and of itself. Rather it is a fundamental component of our objectives of national growth, new jobs and economic security.
We will continue to set credible, two year rolling deficit targets by using prudent economic assumptions for fiscal planning purposes and by establishing contingency reserves. Credibility is being restored to the nation's finances. We have maintained our focus on reducing program spending because the debt is a problem created by government. We all know that. The solution should focus on cutting in our own backyard.
There are no new tax increases in this budget, not in personal taxes, corporate taxes or excise taxes. Constituents of Lincoln feel confident that this government is listening when they say they are overtaxed and it does not increase taxes.
My constituents are pleased with the direction our government has taken. They are confident that by staying the course and continuing to be sensitive to those most in need Canada can continue to be a model to all the world as a country where fiscal soundness, a competitive environment and social responsibility are not mutually exclusive but rather are all interconnected.
The job before us is clear. It is to build on the progress we have made, to see it translated into good jobs, sustained growth and social programs suited to the millennium that lies ahead.