Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Tobique—Mactaquac.
I am happy to discuss economic action plan 2014, because I feel that it is the right budget for Canada and for Canadians. After all, Canada has the strongest job creation record among the G7 countries, with more than one million net new jobs created since the depth of the global recession. Economic action plan 2014 would continue our government's focus on creating more jobs and growing the economy even further, including in my riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton, in Brampton, Ontario.
Economic action 2014 contains provisions that focus on putting money back into the pockets of my constituents and Canadians from coast to coast, with no new taxes on families or businesses. When I am door-knocking in my riding or visiting local businesses, keeping taxes low is a topic that comes up often. Canadians know that the Conservative Party is the party of lower taxes. It is our government that manages to save Canadians money while at the same time managing to balance the budget in the medium term. At the end of the day, that takes hard work, fiscal prudence, and a lot of planning, because unlike the leader of the Liberal Party, our government is fully aware that budgets do not magically budget themselves.
I would like to speak to a very special area of the budget that is close to my heart, which is the great investment in sport, an investment that would help our high performance athletes and individuals in our communities. I would like to focus on a proposal to invest in stronger communities by contributing an additional $10.8 million over the next four years to support the efforts of Special Olympics Canada.
Special Olympics Canada is national in scope, with provincial organizations across the country. It provides sports training and competition opportunities for over 36,000 athletes of all ages with an intellectual disability. It has a network of more than 16,000 volunteers, including more than 12,000 trained volunteer coaches. Its vision is to continue to improve and expand the quality, opportunity, and accessibility of sports for the individuals it works with. Along with this, it strives to improve both awareness and the support of the community with regard to Special Olympics Canada and those involved with it.
In fact, here is what Sharon Bollenbach, CEO of Special Olympics Canada, had to say following the release of economic action plan 2014:
Special Olympics Canada is very pleased to be included in today's 2014 federal budget announcement. This commitment will allow Special Olympics Canada and the twelve provincial and territorial Chapters to extend our reach to even more Canadians with an intellectual disability. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada and thank them for their ongoing support and commitment to Special Olympics in Canada.
I am confident that we would be giving the tools to Special Olympics Canada that would allow it to support the growth and ongoing delivery of community-based programs, in particular to increase the number of registered athletes and volunteers.
There is much more. Economic action plan 2014 would see continued support for Canada's Olympic and Paralympic athletes, along with funding for organizations such as le Grand défi. I am also proud of the support our government provides to such groups as Canadian Tire Jumpstart, KidSport, and Canadian Sport for Life.
Now, as I highlight the government's ongoing record level of commitment to sport, including the continued enrichment of the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport and competition, the promotion of healthy lifestyles for Canadians, and providing amateur athletes with greater retirement savings opportunities, I would like to discuss why it is needed.
Sport strengthens our communities and is a powerful means of enhancing the lives of Canadians of all ages, particularly children and youth, by enabling them to become active and healthy. Sport contributes to our sense of national pride through the pursuit of excellence by our high-performance athletes. Our government is committed to encouraging healthy lifestyles for Canadians.
Meanwhile, when it comes to our high-performance athletes, income contributed to an amateur athlete trust currently does not qualify as earned income in determining an athlete's annual registered retirement savings plan contribution limit. This rule limits the amount of RRSP room available to amateur athletes to save for retirement, entailing another sacrifice for amateur athletes who delay their careers to represent Canada internationally. Economic action plan 2014 proposes to allow income contributed to an amateur athlete trust to qualify as earned income for the purpose of determining an athlete's annual RRSP contribution limit. It is just one more way our government is working to support our high-performance athletes who represent our country so well on the national and international stages.
Economic action plan 2014 would also help our amateur athletes because it proposes to maintain the Government of Canada's record level of investment in sport, including ongoing programming support for our Olympic, Paralympic, and Special Olympic athletes and coaches. Beginning in 2015-16, economic action plan 2014 proposes to dedicate ongoing funding of $23 million per year for the sport support program, which goes to help Canada's national sports organizations, and in turn, our athletes. This includes $11 million for winter sports through Own the Podium, $6 million for team sports, $5 million for the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and as announced on February 5, 2014, $1 million for the Special Olympics.
I am also proud to reiterate that our government has already committed to investing up to $500 million in the 2015 Pan American Games and Parapan American Games in the GTA. Canadian sports excellence and culture will be on display as Canada hosts up to 10,000 athletes, coaches, and officials from 41 countries for the Pan American Games in July and the Parapan American Games in August. These games will create a lasting legacy for Canada for both the athletes and their communities for years to come.
Sport contributes to the development of life skills by our children and youth and promotes healthy, active lifestyles and strong communities. For athletes with an intellectual disability, the impact is even more far-reaching. The program offered by Special Olympics Canada develops lifelong physical fitness habits and contributes to confidence, high self-esteem, and the development of other life skills.
It is my hope, going forward, that our government will continue to support Canadian athletes and our sports system and will work closely with Special Olympics Canada and le Grand défi to implement the renewed programming.
By allowing income contributed to an amateur athlete trust to qualify for the purpose of determining RRSP limits, the measure would provide more flexibility for amateur athletes to save for retirement on a tax-assisted basis and would ease their eventual integration into the workforce by deferring tax on income from their athletic endeavours.
Getting away from my discussion of sports, I want to finish my time by discussing our government's number-one priority: jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity.
One major component of Canada's economic success will require the successful integration of new immigrants who can meet Canada's current and future labour-market demands. Our government remains committed to transforming Canada's immigration system, making it faster, more fair and flexible, and responsive to the country's labour market. Already, under our government, the backlog of permanent resident applications has been reduced by approximately 50% since our taking office.
I am proud to say that since 2006, our country has welcomed an average of 254,000 newcomers each year, the highest level ever, while the demand for citizenship has increased by more than 30%. Earlier this year, our government unveiled the first comprehensive reform to the Citizenship Act since 1977 to further improve the citizenship program.