Mr. Speaker, before going into the details of the budget, I would like to salute the people of Verner and Lavigne in the south of my riding, who have had access to the parliamentary channel only since April 1 of this year.
I am pleased to rise today in this House to congratulate the Minister of Finance on an excellent budget. This budget is one of confidence and was well received by taxpayers and businesses
alike. The minister put forward an effective, well-balanced action plan that benefits all Canadians.
The people of this country care about their social service network, and the minister reassured them that all services currently in place would be maintained. Our government has been listening and will continue to listen to all the people, as this compassionate budget shows.
We all know how important social programs are. They benefit everyone and help sustain people going through hard times. However, a sluggish economy and the increasing burden of servicing the ever-growing public debt threaten the long term viability of Canada's social safety net. That is why it is so important to breathe new life into the economy and bring the public debt and deficit under control.
It is also necessary to overhaul Canada's social programs and transfer system in order to make them more effective and more affordable, while at the same time preserving the basic fairness of our social safety net.
In this budget, our government vows to revitalize the economy of rural regions and to tackle their problems. The new technologies put in place by this government, like the information highway and the community access component of SchoolNet, help our young people prepare for the emergence of the new knowledge-based economy.
Rural Canada is rich in natural and human resources and faces different challenges than urban areas. The government will take the appropriate and necessary action to make sure that all Canadians benefit from economic prosperity.
The budget will renew the confidence of all Canadians, especially their faith in our social programs. All the measures taken in the budget will serve to reinforce Canadians' shared values in the system. These measures are to be implemented without raising taxes or disrupting the timetable to lower the deficit.
In his budget, the minister is proposing a new seniors benefit. This new system, which will take effect in the year 2001, is designed to protect current seniors, increase pension payments to low income seniors and ensure that income maintenance programs for seniors remain affordable and sustainable for generations to come.
The new benefit will be fully tax free and it will incorporate the current pension income credit and age credit. It will be paid in monthly instalments and, in the case of couples, each spouse will receive a separate and equal cheque.
Those who currently receive the guaranteed income supplement will receive $120 more per year, and spouse's allowance payments will also increase by $120 per year. Moreover, pension benefits will be fully indexed to inflation, which represents an important improvement on the current system.
This proposal will greatly benefit seniors. It will safeguard the pension system for seniors to enjoy now and into the future. Our government is fulfilling its commitment to current seniors and to those about to retire to maintain and, in many cases, to increase pension benefits.
Unlike certain other parties, we are responsive to the needs of seniors and recognize the outstanding contribution they have made and continue to make today to Canadian society.
Let us not forget the younger generation. Our youth are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as more jobs are being created and more money is injected to create summer jobs. Students are also pleased that tax incentives for education have been increased.
On behalf of the mining sector, in which I have been actively involved since the election, I wish to thank the Minister of Finance for his support and concern. I am pleased the minister included in the budget some change to the flow through shares mechanism. It will certainly enhance the incentives for exploration and development activities and will end certain abuses.
The budget proposes that issuers will have an additional period in which to make the expenditures that have been flowed through the investor. In February my recommendation to the minister was to change the 60 day rule of flow through shares and extend it to one year.
Once again I thank the minister for accepting my recommendations. By doing so he is giving a real boost to the mining industry. Furthermore, I congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Davenport, for his contribution to the environment by encouraging the extension of flow through share mechanisms for certain renewable energy and energy conservation projects.
Also included in the budget is the proposal to improve access to financing for the renewable energy and energy conservation sector by relaxing the specified energy property rules. These changes will provide an essential level playing field in the energy sector and recognize the importance of renewable energy to Canada's overall energy supply needs.
In this budget, the government recognizes that special measures and policies need be developed to ensure the economic well-being of rural Canada communities. This budget proposes interesting measures regarding natural resources.
In the budget the government recognizes that rural Canada needs special measures and policies to ensure the economic well-being and viability of this sector.
The budget is following its course on debt and deficit reduction in an orderly and humane fashion compared to the slash and burn approach taken by the provincial Conservative government and the Reform Party. This is why I call upon provincial governments to work in collaboration with this government in its efforts to replace the existing GST. The objective is a system which is fairer for Canadians, simpler and less costly for businesses to comply with and more efficient to administer.
Canadians have demonstrated strongly and clearly that they want one national sales tax. Therefore, it is essential that all provinces reach an agreement on this very important matter.
Canada is a great place to live. Let us work together to ensure unity and prosperity in Canada.
Canada is a great place to live. Let us work together to ensure unity and prosperity.